Online poll launched to find best coastal sounds

THE raucous screech of seagulls and the unique musical sound made by quartz sand being scrunched underfoot on a remote Hebridean island beach are the two Scottish entries shortlisted in a poll to find the nation’s favourite coastal sound.

Seagulls at Monreith  a joy or a pain in the posterior? Picture: Getty
Seagulls at Monreith  a joy or a pain in the posterior? Picture: Getty

Voting in the online poll opens today in the “Sounds of our Shores” project run by the National Trust for Scotland, the National Trust and the British Library.

The final ten sounds on the three-month crowd-source project include the Singing Sands beach on Eigg on the Inner Hebrides and the sound of seagulls in Monreith, Dumfries and Galloway.

Other sounds shortlisted range from ferries in the fog on the River Mersey to the noise made dredging for oysters in Brightlingsea, Essex.

Nearly 400 sounds have been uploaded to the library’s website, receiving 25,000 listens, including 30 from Scotland.

Voting finishes at midnight on 27 August with the winner announced on 4 September.

Cheryl Tipp, curator of wildlife and environment sounds at the British Library, who helped curate the final ten sounds, said: “In just six weeks we’ve had some brilliant recordings which show just how diverse the sounds of the coast really are.

“At the end of the project all of the sounds that appear on the map will be added to the British Library’s sound archive, where they will join more than 6.5 million sounds dating back to the birth of recorded sound in the 19th century.”

Eigg is famed for its beaches including Singing Sands, (Tràigh a’ Bhigeil) with its quartz sand beach whose grains emit a squeak when stood on.

Maggie Fyffe, secretary of the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust, said she hoped the nomination would help attract more tourists to the island.

“This is brilliant news and the beach well deserves to win this competition.

“It is a beautiful wee beach with beautiful rock formations. When you walk on it when it is dry it makes a gentle squeaking noise like singing.

“Tourists are attracted to the name and hopefully this nomination will make more people want to visit.”

But Hilary Pavitt, who runs Hawthorn House bed and breakfast in Port William near Monreith, said: “I must say I’m slightly surprised at the seagulls. They are a pain in the posterior. I think people have suggested them because it make them think of the seaside and the coast rather than the noise they make.”

Musician and founder member of Human League and Heaven 17, Martyn Ware, will use the sounds to create a piece of music for release next February.


1 – Children playing, Brean Sands, Somerset

2 – Dredging for oysters, Brightlingsea, Essex

3 – Ferries in the fog, River Mersey, Merseyside

4 – Ghost train ride, Brighton, West Sussex

5 – Kittiwakes, Northumbria

6 – Raft race, Mumbles, Wales

7 – Seagulls, Monreith, Dumfries and Galloway

8 – Seals calling and snorting, Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland

9 – “Singing Sands”, Eigg, Inner Hebrides

10 – Waves breaking on the beach, Trwyn Llanbedrog, Wales