Around Sunderland there are quite a few beach activities which all the family can take part in; kite flying, crabbing, rockpooling and searching for seaglass are probably the most common. It is probably advisable to take some antiseptic hand wipes and be prepared by taking some sun cream.


Let's go fly a kite

We have a couple of kites for guests use and the lovely expanse of sand at Roker beach is the nearest place for young or old to try their luck. Obviously there is a need for some wind in order to get a kite up and flying sucessfully.

  1. When the leaves and bushes start to move but before they are blowing all over the place is the right time to get out with your kite.

  2. Never fly near power lines, roads or during the weekend of the Sunderland International Airshow which takes place close to Seaburn beach!

  3. Never fly in rain or during lightening

  4. In light and medium winds use the delta kite, strong winds use the parafoil kite

  5. Hold the string with a friend holding the kite, you should have your back to the wind, if the wind is behind the kite it won't rise

  6. Unwind about 20 metres of string

  7. Signal your friend to let go of the kite whilst you keep some tension on the string, you should not run to get your kite in the air, let the wind do the work

  8. Now you're on your own!

Rockpooling and Beachcombing

At Thistledowne we have fishing nets for children to use for a spot of rockpooling, along with the necessary buckets. Best places nearby are at Seaburn; if you are driving then park in Stanhope Street and cross over and down to the rocks by the Cat and Dog steps, or at the far end of Seaburn at the area between South Bents and Whitburn by Sea Lane and Latimers Seafood Deli. Do check the tide times!


Obviously anywhere along the twin beaches of Roker and Seaburn is ideal for beachcombing although after a stormy high tide may produce the best results. If you find anything natural but unusual on the beach then take a photograph and ask the scientists and experts at the Natural History Museum to identify it for you. Experts at the Natural History Museum will also help you identify bugs, fossils, plants etc.


The good thing about crabbing is that you can achieve success at any age and with very little skill at all. All you do need is enough patience to let the crabs find the bait and other than some smoked bacon or other crab delicacy such as fish heads, squid, raw chicken etc. everything else you will find available at Thistledowne. We have crab lines, crab nets and buckets to get you started and all we ask is that you put the crabs back in the sea before returning to the house and dry the nets, lines, buckets off before storing them!

How to catch a crab:

  1. Best catches are got on an incoming or high tide. BE AWARE OF THE TIDES and if you are on Roker Pier be aware of the waves. Just because the gates are open does not mean it is safe on Roker Pier. Freak waves have washed plenty of fishermen off their feet

  2. Half fill the crab bucket with whatever water you are catching the crabs from (and seaweed if possible for sheltering crabs)

  3. Attach bait to crab line or crab net

  4. Dangle over pier or rocks until bait is lying on the bottom

  5. Try and leave for 5 minutes before slowly and steadily reeling in the line or crab net, use fishing net to hold under line in case the crab decides to leave go of the bait. Most crabs will leave go once they realise they are out of the water

  6. Pick them up by either side of their shell or top and bottom of the shell. Remember their pincers are very sharp

  7. Be responsible - crabs are living creatures. Do not keep them too crowded in the bucket, do not keep them in the sun or for too long out of their natural habitat

Searching for Sea Glass

Seaham is world renowned for its seaglass although as time passes it is becoming more and more difficult to find. From the mid 19th century to the 1920's the local glass factory disposed of unwanted glass at the end of every day by throwing it over the cliffs into the sea. Over the years the glass has been worn smooth by the action of the waves and is now used in jewelry making. Blast beach to the south of Seaham is the best place to search although Ryhope and Easington beaches are also good areas to try. The best times are just after stormy weather when the tide has turned and is going out. Search along the tide line and don't forget to check the tide tables before you venture out.

Our first, and only, piece of sea glass so far. Found on the beach at Marsden Grotto.

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