You might well have thought that the construction of a sandcastle was simply a matter of packing the buckets and spades, then heading to the nearest beach for a few hours of fun. However, a team of experts from Bournemouth University has discovered that there is, in fact, a winning formula for making a sturdy sandcastle: mix one part water to eight parts sand. “If you get the combination right, you will have hours of fun,” explains team leader Professor Matthew Bennett. “The correct mix of sediment and water is crucial to any castle. Too much water and sand will liquefy; too little, and the sand won’t bind.”
After combing the UK coastline in search of the best beaches for making sandcastles – analysing the technicalities of sand, such as grain distribution and visual aesthetics – the team found that Torquay in Devon had the finest grains for the job. They also named Great Yarmouth, Newquay, Bridlington, Herne Bay and Eastbourne beaches as building hot spots. “Britain has a wealth of beaches extremely well suited to sandcastle building,” concludes Bennett.
However, regardless of the beach you choose for your next building endeavour, here are some tips for creating your ideal castle. Pick a site near water, but not too close to the shore. If you can’t get the one-to-eight water/sand ratio right, dig a hole down to where the sand is dark and moist and scoop sand out from here, then work fast to prevent the sand from drying out before completion. The best way to build your tower is by forming and stacking sand patties about the size and shape of a thick pancake. Once you have your tower, carve it into shape using a plastic spatula; try not to pound it into submission, as this is more likely to destroy your creation. Instead sculpt by gently jiggling your spatula, then smooth over your castle with wet sand for a perfect finish.
This article previously appeared in Junior magazine as a print article