Author Topic: Beach etiquette (UK)  (Read 10645 times)

anthonygordon

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Beach etiquette (UK)
« on: August 21, 2017, 10:36:24 PM »
Stupid questions (possibly) of the day.  I'm fairly new to naturism, and wondering if there's some unspoken beach etiquette i've missed.  I went to Church Norton beach on the weekend (which I read in some UK beach guide that is clothing optional).  The beach was almost empty, apart from some hardy 60 year olds (clothed, not naturists), a couple of bird watchers with professional camera gear in the distance, and one guy with a wind break away from the water who I didn't see till later.  I found myself a spot away from the older folks, close to the water, stripped off and sunbathed (when the sun appeared) for an hour or so.  At one point, a group of guys setup their fishing gear about halfway between me and the golden oldies, and apart from a couple of curious looks, pretty much ignored me and concentrated on their fishing.   

A small group of people walked past after an hour or so.  The woman in the group almost came to a skidding stop when she got close enough to see that I was naked. But then they walked past without comment, nor paying any attention after that, and went away after their walk.  When I got bored, I decided to go for a walk myself; I covered up with my towel when I went past one of the bird watchers, and then stripped off again when i was far enough away that I thought I wouldn't bother her.  At that point I noticed the guy further up the beach (away from the water with his windbreak) giving me a funny look as I walked past.  Possibly another naturist but I wasn't close enough to really see.

So stupid questions:  was I supposed to be sunbathing away from the water or something (seems stupid, but the woman's reaction was amusing, and somewhat disconcerting)? And was I not supposed to be walking along the beach naked (also seems stupid to me, but maybe there's a naturist's handbook somewhere which has got "the unspoken rules of beach nudism" which I haven't read)?

John P

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Re: Beach etiquette (UK)
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2017, 12:45:41 AM »
I think you may have figured out most of this already! But first of all, I hope you're sure of where the nude beach actually is, or at least, the part of it where people sometimes go nude.

If you've got the place right, then it might be that when the weather is cool and there aren't many people around, the ones who do show up don't know that it's a "nude beach" at all, and if they see a single nude person, they're surprised. In warm weather the textiles might avoid the place, or they'd get plenty of reminders about nudity. Frankly, if I went to a nude spot and the people I saw were clothed birdwatchers or fishermen, I'd be intimidated about getting my clothes off. And I do think there's some kind of psychology about "your" territory versus someone else's, where if you sit in one place you might feel more comfortable nude, but if you walk around, you'd feel that you have to respect other people who've established their own places.

As far as etiquette is concerned, I think the main point is that a "nude beach" may not have that status in people's minds, if the weather isn't warm and there's hardly anyone there.

Bob Knows

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Re: Beach etiquette (UK)
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2017, 06:11:10 AM »
Most people are just not used to seeing other humans.  They usually only see covers over humans.  Sometimes they are startled by the unusual sight they did not expect to see.  The woman in your story was startled, and then gathered her composure and went on. 

The cure is to be seen more by more and more people until everyone is accustomed to occasionally seeing actual humans, members of their own species. 

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Peter S

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Re: Beach etiquette (UK)
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2017, 07:30:14 AM »
I think John has summed things up very well - I'd just add that if everyone thought it wasn't a nude beach it sounds as though they all took it quite well that you were naked, left you to it and didn't call the police 😳

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ric

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Re: Beach etiquette (UK)
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2017, 11:29:05 AM »
legally there are no nude beaches in uk. they are all clothes optional... nudity is not illegal provided theres no intention to cause distress.
however common sense and the avoidance of hassle means nudists tend to herd together on beaches where nudity has historically been common and accepted by other beach users.  however there are some brave soulswho will discretely use any rural beach after assessing the other beach users.    fishermen in the distance no problem    ,  families with kids close by  better to move on elsewhere ... its very much down to personal assessment of the likelyhood of somebody being outraged enough to cause hassle and how thick skinned / confident you are.

i often use a backpack, plonked on the sand by ones hip it effectivly blokes the view from one side.

anthonygordon

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Re: Beach etiquette (UK)
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2017, 02:20:35 PM »
...families with kids close by  better to move on elsewhere ...

i often use a backpack, plonked on the sand by ones hip it effectivly blokes the view from one side.

Yep if there were kids around I would've moved well away (as it was, I was the one of the first people on the beach apart from the hardy gray-haired brigade who got there earlier and were already in the water -- hardier than me, it was too dang cold!)  Regarding the backpack, unfortunately I think that was part of the problem.  I had strategically placed my backpack, so that I think it wasn't particularly obvious until they came much closer, which might've provoked the initial reaction, now that I think about it.  I think going forward I *won't* use the backpack, so that it's at least obvious from further away that I'm clothing challenged.  ;D

BTW, question to any UK naturists in the West Sussex region. I just googled around again and now I can only find Church Norton listed here (as clothing optional): https://www.walkingclub.org.uk/nudist-beach/Church-Norton-near-Chichester.html.  And there's some mention that there were "no naturism" signs posted around (although I didn't see them).  But I'm pretty sure I remember seeing it listed elsewhere when I looked previously.  It's certainly not listed here: https://www.thebeachguide.co.uk/naturist-beaches though.  I'd been planning to go there for a while, and admittedly I didn't go back and check.  Do any locals know for sure - is it not a naturist beach any more?

Peter S

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Re: Beach etiquette (UK)
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2017, 03:17:59 PM »
Ric's right on the legal front, but of course most people don't know the law and believe that being naked is illegal. Some beaches, like part of Brighton front, have been designated as nude beaches by local councils; I'm not sure about their legal standing but of course it makes for good marketing, which is usually more important than legal considerations!

The hassle factor of trying to explain the law to people who "know" nudity is illegal anywhere is why we are always wary of encounters and why we tend to exercise our legal rights far from the maddening crowd

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John P

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Re: Beach etiquette (UK)
« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2017, 03:30:54 PM »
legally there are no nude beaches in uk. they are all clothes optional... nudity is not illegal provided theres no intention to cause distress.

Sorry, Ric is not right on the legal front! People keep repeating this non-fact about British law, and I don't know where it comes from.

When there is enforcement activity against nudity in England and Wales, it's most often under Section 5 of the Public Order Act, which says, "A person is guilty of an offence if he... uses threatening or abusive words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour... within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby." There's no requirement for deliberate action towards another person, and in fact harassment, alarm or distress doesn't need to occur-- it only has to be "likely". (At least in theory, but in fact, I don' t think there have been any cases without a witness willing to claim that they were really distressed.) Sometimes people have been convicted for nudity under Section 5, sometimes not. And sometimes they've been convicted but got off on appeal.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_Order_Act_1986
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harassment,_alarm_or_distress (section 5 of the  Public Order Act)

See also this report on Steve Gough's conviction for public nudity (in a town, not on a beach, so he was being pretty extreme, but that's Steve Gough for you):
https://ukhumanrightsblog.com/2013/10/31/freedom-of-expression-nakedness-in-a-public-place/
« Last Edit: August 22, 2017, 03:36:44 PM by John P »

anthonygordon

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Re: Beach etiquette (UK)
« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2017, 03:41:32 PM »
Personally I think Gough is hindering rather than helping the situation.

And I wish the CPS would come out with something more definitive than a "Recommended Approach...":

Quote
Recommended approach to naturism

Although every case should be considered according to its own facts and merits in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors a consistent approach to naturism should be adopted to maintain public confidence in the CPS. Where none of the features exist that would bring behaviour within the ambit of one of the offences set out in the section on Other offences that might involve nudity below, the recommended approach to naturism should be as follows.

In the absence of any sexual context and in relation to nudity where the person has no intention to cause alarm or distress it will normally be appropriate to take no action unless members of the public were actually caused harassment, alarm or distress (as opposed to considering the likelihood of this).

In this case such conduct should be regarded as at most amounting to an offence under section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986; and regard needs to be had to the question of whether a prosecution is in the public interest.

John P

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Re: Beach etiquette (UK)
« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2017, 05:07:14 PM »
I'm actually not sure that the Crown Prosecution Service ought to be issuing clear instructions. It seems backward, but what would be happening then would be that the CPS--essentially anonymous bureaucrats--would be making laws that Parliament could have made, but chose not to. As it stands now, the law (and note that Section 5 doesn't mention nudity and isn't particularly directed toward it) is used as if it said "You can be naked in public, but not if you're too blatant about annoying people", and that's what the CPS tried to clarify.

Think how people would respond if they were asked "Can someone go around naked anywhere, any time?" I think the answer would mostly be, "No, there are times when I'd be really uncomfortable with that, and I want to have a law that enforces it." Then think of what the answer would be to "Do you want to see a person prosecuted if they were seen naked anywhere, under any circumstances?" There I think the answer would be "No" again. So if nudity is going to be prohibited under some conditions but not others, where's the distinction ever going to be made? It has to be left to an evaluation of the situation, which means the law will always be unclear. Most of the time, you can be naked in England or Wales (not Scotland!) and get away with it. But that's because most people, most of the time, choose locations where they don't expect have trouble. Steve Gough is not in that group!

Last year Steve Gough's mother developed dementia and other health problems, and he gave up his naked ways to provide care for her without being taken off to jail. I heard that she died, but not that he ever resumed public nudity. He might have retired permanently, I don't know.

Peter S

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Re: Beach etiquette (UK)
« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2017, 06:24:58 PM »
The essence of much of British statute is to be vague and leave it to the courts to decide based on actual events, rather than try to cover all eventualities. Thus case law fills in the blanks, and can be subtly amended by the courts as the need arises, and fashions change. Nudity is not illegal under British law - whether in the garden, on the beach, or even down the high street -  but there is enough vagueness and wriggle room for those on the ground to allow or challenge any given situation, as several cases that have seen the light of day in recent years have shown.
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milfmog

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Re: Beach etiquette (UK)
« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2017, 07:27:29 PM »
legally there are no nude beaches in uk. they are all clothes optional... nudity is not illegal provided theres no intention to cause distress.

Sorry, Ric is not right on the legal front! People keep repeating this non-fact about British law, and I don't know where it comes from.
Quote from: British Naturism (in their legal guidance document)"
Important considerations regarding Naturism and the law
There is no general prohibition of nudity and Naturism is not a criminal offence, per se. Nudity is legal in a much wider set of circumstances than is sometimes assumed and “a balance needs to be struck between the Naturist's right to freedom of expression and the right of the wider public to be protected from harassment, alarm and distress”

I would side with Ric on this; it is not illegal to be naked in public in England and Wales. Which is not to say that there are no vague half baked laws that can be brought into play.

However, I believe I am right when I say that there have been no successful prosecutions for simple nudity in England and Wales under Section 5 or 6 of the Public Order Act since BN began to challenge them. The CPS guidelines were issued after BN  and NAG (Naturist Action Group) spent a lot of time in consultation with the CPS and the CPS saw several cases thrown out either in trial or later at appeal.

Having said that, the law is always a game of chance to some degree, so "you pays your money and takes your chance" applies and even an innocent person charged with an offence can run up significant legal bills which will not be covered when the CPS decides not to prosecute.

Have fun,


Ian.

PS: The BN legal guides for England and Wales  and for Scotland (different legal system) can be found here.
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eyesup

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Re: Beach etiquette (UK)
« Reply #12 on: August 22, 2017, 08:24:18 PM »
I would expect most general rules to be the same most places you go. Those specifically directed at how naked people behave around each other tend to be universal.

Other rules may be unique at different beaches depending on the locals and the municipal codes for each. Googel "etiquette at nude beaches" and you will get the general responses. The local rules require a little more research about laws and what the locals expect.

As for what the law says, vague laws can be a double edged sword. Sometimes good other times bad. It’s best to not try and get congress’ or parliaments involved in trying to micromanage human behavior. We have ample examples of how this always proves the law of unintended consequences.

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Duane

nuduke

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Re: Beach etiquette (UK)
« Reply #13 on: August 27, 2017, 10:39:24 PM »

Anthony,


returning to your query about where to be nude on a particular beach, I have had the same difficulty but more from the desktop than the shoreline!  I have never been to a nudist beach in the uk (although I have been nude on uk beaches...well a beach).  The reason for this is neither lack of opportunity or diffidence.  It is the sheer difficulty of finding most of them!
Online info for a beach the instructions usually are so complex that at least in my case, I am unable to locate the actual naturist beach area on maps.  Even the official public naturist beach at Brighton is hard enough to find.


The instructions usually say something along the lines of " Drive to the market cross at Little Sausage on the Wolds, round the corner is a patch of ground between two rancid cow dung heaps.  Leave the car and walk for about 1/2 a mile in a southerly direction keeping left along the rock formations.  If you see the novelty rock emporium you have come too far in a westerly bias, so backtrack to the bit of wood shaped like a piano leg behind a rock shaped like Ken Dodd's teeth.  From here walk another 2 miles and eventually you will come to a rocky beach which may or may not be clearly the naturist area.  Note that discarded razor wire, glass and unexploded mines are pretty common on this beach so take care.".  Try looking that up on Google Maps!  To be fair most of the guides give grid references or GPS coordinates but I'm afraid I've never acquired the secret to using either aid.


Mind you, I've only ever lived within a day trip of 2 or 3 beaches.


So the beach you visited was probably further up the coast where the beach users don't usually venture.  I've never heard of Church Norton and I couldn't find it listed in the BN list.  Where is it?  Most beaches aren't easy to get to - it's a sort of necessity I guess.  Many of them need a determined hike to get there.


Have I described the situation fairly, UK beach users?  I admit I speak from having been more frustrated in my attempts than rewarded.


John




milfmog

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Re: Beach etiquette (UK)
« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2017, 08:05:04 AM »
John,

I can't say that I have struggled finding beaches in meatspace, though sometimes the instructions have been unmappable and made little sense before I arrived. Generally though, Google will turn up the information you need pretty fast. This was the second or third option when I searched "Church Norton Beach" and includes several different map options.

Have fun,


Ian.
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