Rocky Shores are one of the most dynamic, stressful and interesting habitats on the planet, they exhibit a strong environmental gradient, and the distribution of the organisms reflects this.

This introductory course will allow learners to begin to identify the inhabitants of this fascinating environment and see how they are adapted to living where they do. We will examine the marine animals, seaweeds and lichens present in this coastal environment in an attempt to gain an understanding of how the whole rocky shore ecosystem works.  Identification will be based on characteristics that are visible in the field with nothing more sophisticated than a hand lens. You will have time to explore your surrounding environment to find some specimens, learning valuable observational and comparative field identification tips.

Be inspired and engaged by the expertise of our specialist tutor and enjoy being surrounded by like-minded individuals to share your interests. This informative coastal course offers a weekend learning opportunity in Pembrokeshire, Wales, to improve your knowledge around British rocky shores and their inhabitants.

Who Should Attend?

Level: Introductory. Level descriptors can be found on the following webpage: Eco-Skills Framework and Course Level Descriptors

Nature enthusiasts, Students, Rangers, Early career consultants and ecologists. No existing knowledge, or experience is needed for this course. Just a willingness to explore and learn.

This course will include:

    • Introduction to the shore environment and zonation
    • Techniques to sample and analyse organisms living in each of the four zones
    • Field visits to exposed and sheltered shores

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

    • Describe the differences between exposed and sheltered shores
    • Identify species and their distribution between zones
    • Explain how rocky shores can be sampled and analysed
    • Share this knowledge with friends, family, and fellow volunteers

The course gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new subject and acquire novel skills. Our fantastic tutor John Archer-Thomson will combine the use of classroom-led learning and outside learning opportunities to give individuals the skills and confidence to learn more about rocky shores.

    • See the ‘Example Timetable’, ‘What’s Included’ and ‘Before You Attend’ sections below for more information about this course.
    • Upon booking you will need to provide individual details of all attendees
    • Please email [email protected] if you have any questions

Group Bookings Made Easy

If you have a group of 10 or more individuals wanting to complete one of our courses, our team are available to discuss your options – from discounts to private team courses.

  • Discounted rates
  • Privately run courses for your group
  • Bespoke courses developed specifically for your needs

Tutor: John Archer-Thomson

For many years John Archer-Thomson was Assistant Head of Centre at FSC Dale Fort. He is now working as a freelance coastal ecologist, writer and photographer and runs a number of courses at Dale Fort each year. He co-wrote Rocky Shores, Volume 7 in Bloomsbury’s British Wildlife Collection.
  • Rocky shore at low tide
  • Marloes Sands
  • Flat periwinkles mimicking gas bladders on Bladder Wrack
  • Dogwhelks with eggs
  • Barnacles and periwinkles

Your course takes place set in a spectacular location high on the cliffs within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, South Wales. It is ideally located for coastal studies and for accessing Skomer Island with its renowned resident sea bird populations.

Please Note: There is no accommodation with this course. If you would like to book accommodation, lunch and an evening meal at FSC Dale Fort, please email [email protected]

Book with Confidence

We understand the difficulties of making plans in the current situation when guidelines continue to change, and insurance conditions are being tightened. In response, we will continue to offer additional flexibility. Find out more here

Example Timetable

Example Timetable

This timetable is subject to change but should give a clear outline of what to expect

  • Please arrive in time for the course to start promptly at 10:00am
  • The course will end at 5:00pm.

Day 1

10:00am Introductions
10:30am Classroom session covering:

  • Introduction to shore environment
  • Impact of environmental factors
11:30am Break and prepare for the field session
11:45am Field visit to a sheltered shore
1:30pm Break for lunch - Not included
2:30pm Continued field time
3:45pm Break and return to centre
4:00pm Classroom plenary and final questions
5:00pm Finish

Day 2

10:00am Introduction to the day and prepare for the field session
10:30am Field visit to an exposed shore
1:00pm Break for lunch - Not included
2:00pm Continued field time
3:00pm Classroom session covering:

  • Analysis of data collected
  • Comparison of shores
4:30pm Classroom plenary and final questions
5:00pm Finish

What's Included

What's Included

  • Classroom learning covering the theory of the species
  • Field excursions to apply new knowledge
  • Expert tuition for which the FSC is renowned
  • Clear objectives and progression

You can rest assured that the absolute best content from an expert in environmental education will be provided. In choosing an FSC course, you will be joining thousands of people who learn with us each year.

PLEASE NOTE lunch, refreshments and accommodation are not included

Before You Attend

Covid Measures
In order to keep our customers and staff safe, we ask that anyone attending our centres:

  • Wears a face covering when in shared indoor space (unless exempt).
  • Maintains social distancing.
  • Cleans their hands regularly.
  • Takes a Covid-19 test before they arrive.

What to Bring

  • Lunch and refreshments
  • Warm clothing.
  • Waterproof jacket and trousers (can be borrowed from Centre).
  • Outdoor footwear – sturdy shoes or boots and wellies, these might get wet.
  • Day rucksack.
  • Warm hat and gloves for inclement weather and sunhat and sun cream for sunny days.
  • A hand lens if you have one, we have some at the Centre for you to borrow.

There will be a member of staff with first aid training and access to a first aid kit on site. If you have special medical or access requirements, please let us know as soon as possible so we can plan the course.


Covid Measures

In order to keep our customers and staff safe we ask that anyone attending our centres:

  • wears a face covering when in shared indoor space (unless exempt).
  • maintains social distancing.
  • cleans their hands regularly.
  • takes a Covid-19 test before they arrive.


Sorry this course has ended