A shingle beach. Apart from the fact that it's made up of pebbles, it looks normal enough. The pebbles themselves are made mainly from flint which has been eroded from the cliffs by the waves and then tossed around until they are relatively smooth.
What you can't see from this angle is the banking and shelving characteristic of shingle.
The waves wash the pebbles up, but because pebbles are so much more porous than sand, the backwash is much less strong and so the pebbles aren't sucked back into the sea. It causes some difficulty for local fishermen, as you can see, but at the same time provides a safe place to pull up boats, well above the reach of the tides.
Of course waves don't often hit the beach at right angles so the wash is at an angle while the backwash drags straight down. This causes what is known as longshore drift, a zig-zag path moving along the shoreline.
This can, in time, have quite a dramatic effect.
I presume at one time it was necessary to climb down to the beach from the path. Now there is barely any difference between the two levels.
Considerable effort is put in to maintaining the shingle beaches. Not only do they provide key wildlife habitats, but they are a great defence for the shoreline by absorbing a lot of the impact of the waves. Although in the area of these photos the shingle seems to be accumulating, a short distance down the coast there are houses built on the beach in an area where the sea has been encroaching.
|Copyright Ron Strutt of Geograph under this Creative Commons Licence|