ListMoto - English Channel

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The ENGLISH CHANNEL (French : la Manche, "the Sleeve"; German : Ärmelkanal, "Sleeve Channel"; Breton : Mor Breizh, "Sea of Brittany"; Cornish : Mor Bretannek, "British Sea"), also called simply THE CHANNEL, is the body of water that separates southern England
from northern France
, and links the southern part of the North Sea
North Sea
to the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean

It is about 560 km (350 mi) long and varies in width from 240 km (150 mi) at its widest to 33.3 km (20.7 mi) in the Strait of Dover
Strait of Dover
. It is the smallest of the shallow seas around the continental shelf of Europe, covering an area of some 75,000 km2 (29,000 sq mi).


* 1 Geography

* 2 Name

* 2.1 Ancient references * 2.2 History and Etymology

* 3 Geological origins; giant waterfalls and catastrophic floods

* 4 Human geography

* 4.1 Route to the British Isles
British Isles
* 4.2 Norsemen and Normans
* 4.3 England
and Britain: Naval superpower * 4.4 First World War * 4.5 Second World War
Second World War

* 5 Population

* 5.1 England
* 5.2 France
* 5.3 Channel Islands
Channel Islands

* 6 Shipping * 7 Ecology

* 8 Transport

* 8.1 Ferry * 8.2 Channel Tunnel
Channel Tunnel

* 9 Economy

* 9.1 Tourism

* 10 Culture and languages

* 11 Channel crossings

* 11.1 By boat * 11.2 By air * 11.3 By swimming * 11.4 By car * 11.5 Other types

* 12 See also * 13 References * 14 External links


Map of the English Channel
English Channel

The International Hydrographic Organization
International Hydrographic Organization
defines the limits of the English Channel
English Channel
as follows: On the west. A line joining Isle Vierge (48°38′23″N 4°34′13″W / 48.63972°N 4.57028°W / 48.63972; -4.57028 ) to Lands End (50°04′N 5°43′W / 50.067°N 5.717°W / 50.067; -5.717 ). On the east. The southwestern limit of the North Sea
North Sea

The IHO defines the southwestern limit of the North Sea
North Sea
as "a line joining the Walde Lighthouse (France, 1°55'E) and Leathercoat Point (England, 51°10'N)". The Walde Lighthouse is 6 km east of Calais (50°59′06″N 1°55′00″E / 50.98500°N 1.91667°E / 50.98500; 1.91667 ), and Leathercoat Point is at the north end of St Margaret\'s Bay, Kent
(51°10′00″N 1°24′00″E / 51.16667°N 1.40000°E / 51.16667; 1.40000 ). The Strait of Dover viewed from France, looking towards England. The white cliffs of Dover on the English coast are visible from France
on a clear day.

The Strait of Dover
Strait of Dover
(French: Pas de Calais), at the Channel's eastern end, is its narrowest point, while its widest point lies between Lyme Bay and the Gulf of Saint Malo near its midpoint. It is relatively shallow, with an average depth of about 120 m (390 ft) at its widest part, reducing to a depth of about 45 m (148 ft) between Dover and Calais
. Eastwards from there the adjoining North Sea
North Sea
reduces to about 26 m (85 ft) in the Broad Fourteens where it lies over the watershed of the former land bridge between East Anglia
East Anglia
and the Low Countries
Low Countries
. It reaches a maximum depth of 180 m (590 ft) in the submerged valley of Hurd\'s Deep , 48 km (30 mi) west-northwest of Guernsey
. The eastern region along the French coast between Cherbourg
and the mouth of the Seine river at Le Havre
Le Havre
is frequently referred to as the Bay of the Seine (French: Baie de Seine). Three French river mouths. Top to bottom: the Somme , the Authie and the Canche

There are several major islands in the Channel, the most notable being the Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight
off the English coast, and the Channel Islands , British Crown Dependencies
Crown Dependencies
off the coast of France. The coastline, particularly on the French shore, is deeply indented; several small islands close to the coastline, including Chausey and Mont Saint-Michel , are within French jurisdiction. The Cotentin Peninsula in France
juts out into the Channel, whilst on the English side there is a small parallel channel known as the Solent
between the Isle of Wight and the mainland. The Celtic Sea is to the west of the Channel.

The Channel acts as a funnel that amplifies the tidal range from less than a metre as observed at sea to more than 6 metres as observed in the Channel Islands
Channel Islands
, the west coast of the Cotentin Peninsula
Cotentin Peninsula
and the north coast of Britanny . The time difference of about six hours between high water at the eastern and western limits of the Channel is indicative of the tidal range being amplified further by resonance .

For the UK Shipping Forecast the Channel is divided into the following areas, from the west:

* Plymouth
* Portland * Wight * Dover


Map with French nomenclature


* Mare Britannicum Roman time; * Mare Gallicum Roman time; * "Sea near Gaul" Roman time; * Oceanus Gallicus 6th - 7th century ( Isidore of Sevilla ); * Sūð-sǣ 11th century ( Ælfric ); * mare anglicum 12th century ( Suger ); * Gallico mari 12th century ( William of Newburgh ); * "arm of the sea south of the country that allows to sail to Gaul" around 1100 - 1155 ( Geoffrey of Monmouth ); * "Beyond the sea" End 14th century ( Jean Froissart ); * Oceanus Britannicus in 1477 ( Taddeo Crivelli ); * Oceanus Britannicus in 1482 ( Nicolaus Germanus ); * Britannico Oceano in 1482 ( Francesco Berlinghieri ); * Mare Anglica in 1540 ( Sebastian Münster
Sebastian Münster
); * Mer Oceane or mare oceanum in the 16th century on various maps; * Britannicus Oceanus et La Grand Mer Occeane in 1570; * Oceanus Britannicus 16th century; * Mer de France
* Mare Britannicum 16th century ( Jean Jolivet ); * British Ocean
in 1595 ( John Norden ); * Channel en 1593 ( Shakespeare
); * mare normandicum, ocean de bretaigne, mer de France
16th to 17th century * The British or Narrow Sea to the 17th century; * British Sea or the Chanell 17th century; * le Manche (masculine) in 1639 (Nicolas Sanson); * la manche d’Angleterre in 1611 ( Cotgrave ) * La Mer Britannique, vulgairement la Manche in 1623; * British Channel in 1745 ( John Renshaw ); * English Channel
English Channel
18th century;


Throughout the centuries until the 18th, the English Channel
English Channel
did not have any fixed name in English and in French. It was never defined as a political border and the names were more or less descriptive. It was not considered as the property of a nation. Strangely, before the development of the modern nations, British scholars very often referred to it as "Gaulish" (Gallicum in Latin) and the French one as "British" or "English". The name English Channel
English Channel
has been widely used since the early 18th century, possibly originating from the designation Engelse Kanaal in Dutch sea maps from the 16th century onwards. In modern Dutch, however, it is known as Het Kanaal (with no reference to the word "English"). Later, it has also been known as the British Channel or the British Sea having been called the Oceanus Britannicus by the 2nd-century geographer Ptolemy
. The same name is used on an Italian map of about 1450, which gives the alternative name of canalites Anglie—possibly the first recorded use of the Channel designation. The Anglo-Saxon texts often call it Sūð-sǣ ("South Sea") as opposed to Norð-sǣ ("North Sea" = Bristol Channel ). The common word channel was first recorded in Middle English in the 13th century and was borrowed from Old French chanel, variant form of chenel "canal".

The French name la Manche has been in use since at least the 17th century. The name is usually said to refer to the Channel's sleeve (French: la manche) shape. Folk etymology has derived it from a Celtic word meaning channel that is also the source of the name for the Minch in Scotland, but this name was never mentioned before the 17th century, and French and British sources of that time are perfectly clear about its etymology. The name in Breton (Mor Breizh) means "Breton Sea", and its Cornish name (Mor Bretannek) means "British Sea".


The Channel is of geologically recent origins, having been dry land for most of the Pleistocene
period. Before the Devensian glaciation (the most recent ice age that ended around 10,000 years ago), Britain and Ireland
were part of continental Europe
, linked by an unbroken Weald-Artois Anticline , a ridge that acted as a natural dam holding back a large freshwater pro-glacial lake in the Doggerland
region, now submerged under the North Sea
North Sea
. During this period the North Sea
North Sea
and almost all of the British Isles
British Isles
were covered by ice. The lake was fed by meltwater from the Baltic and from the Caledonian and Scandinavian ice sheets that joined to the north, blocking its exit. The sea level was about 120 m (390 ft) lower than it is today. Then, between 450,000 and 180,000 years ago, at least two catastrophic glacial lake outburst floods breached the Weald–Artois anticline .

The first flood would have lasted for several months, releasing as much as one million cubic metres of water per second. The flood started with large but localized waterfalls over the ridge, which excavated depressions now known as the Fosses Dangeard . The flow eroded the retaining ridge, causing the rock dam to fail and releasing lake water into the Atlantic. After multiple episodes of changing sea level, during which the Fosses Dangeard were largely infilled by various layers of sediment, another catastrophic flood carved a large bedrock-floored valley, the Lobourg Channel , some 500 m wide and 25 m deep, from the southern North Sea
North Sea
basin through the centre of the Straits of Dover and into the English Channel. It left streamlined islands, longitudinal erosional grooves, and other features characteristic of catastrophic megaflood events, still present on the sea floor and now revealed by high-resolution sonar. Through the scoured channel passed a river, which drained the combined Rhine
and Thames
westwards to the Atlantic.

The flooding destroyed the ridge that connected Britain to continental Europe, although a land connection across the southern North Sea
North Sea
would have existed intermittently at later times when periods of glaciation resulted in lowering of sea levels. At the end of the last glacial period , rising sea levels finally severed the last land connection.


This precious stone set in the silver sea, Which serves it in the office of a wall Or as a moat defensive to a house, Against the envy of less happier lands. William Shakespeare
, Richard II (Act II, Scene 1)

The Channel, which delayed human reoccupation of Great Britain
Great Britain
for more than 100,000 years, has in historic times been both an easy entry for seafaring people and a key natural defence, halting invading armies while in conjunction with control of the North Sea
North Sea
allowing Britain to blockade the continent. The most significant failed invasion threats came when the Dutch and Belgian ports were held by a major continental power, e.g. from the Spanish Armada
Spanish Armada
in 1588, Napoleon during the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
, and Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
during World War II . Successful invasions include the Roman conquest of Britain , the Norman Conquest in 1066 and the invasion by the Dutch in 1688, while the concentration of excellent harbours in the Western Channel on Britain's south coast made possible the largest invasion of all time, the Normandy Landings in 1944. Channel naval battles include the Battle of the Downs (1639), Battle of Goodwin Sands (1652), the Battle of Portland (1653), the Battle of La Hougue (1692) and the engagement between USS Kearsarge and CSS Alabama
CSS Alabama

In more peaceful times the Channel served as a link joining shared cultures and political structures, particularly the huge Angevin Empire from 1135 to 1217. For nearly a thousand years, the Channel also provided a link between the Modern Celtic regions and languages of Cornwall
and Brittany
. Brittany
was founded by Britons who fled Cornwall
and Devon
after Anglo-Saxon encroachment. In Brittany, there is a region known as " Cornouaille " (Cornwall) in French and "Kernev" in Breton In ancient times there was also a " Domnonia " (Devon) in Brittany
as well.

In February 1684, ice formed on the sea in a belt 3 miles (4.8 km) wide off the coast of Kent
and 2 miles (3.2 km) wide on the French side.


The approximate extent of Old Norse and related languages in the early 10th century around the North Sea. The red area is the distribution of the dialect Old West Norse , the orange area Old East Norse , and the green area the other Germanic languages with which Old Norse still retained some mutual intelligibility.

Remnants of a mesolithic boatyard have been found on the Isle of Wight . Wheat was traded across the Channel about 8,000 years ago. "... Sophisticated social networks linked the Neolithic
front in southern Europe
to the Mesolithic peoples of northern Europe." The Ferriby Boats , Hanson Log Boats and the later Dover Bronze Age Boat could carry a substantial cross-Channel cargo.

Diodorus Siculus and Pliny both suggest trade between the rebel Celtic tribes of Armorica and Iron Age
Iron Age
Britain flourished. In 55 BC Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
invaded, claiming that the Britons had aided the Veneti against him the previous year. He was more successful in 54 BC, but Britain was not fully established as part of the Roman Empire until completion of the invasion by Aulus Plautius in 43 AD. A brisk and regular trade began between ports in Roman Gaul
and those in Britain. This traffic continued until the end of Roman rule in Britain in 410 AD, after which the early Anglo- Saxons
left less clear historical records.

In the power vacuum left by the retreating Romans, the Germanic Angles
, Saxons
, and Jutes began the next great migration across the North Sea. Having already been used as mercenaries in Britain by the Romans, many people from these tribes crossed during the Migration Period , conquering and perhaps displacing the native Celtic populations.


The Hermitage of St Helier lies in the bay off Saint Helier and is accessible on foot at low tide.

The attack on Lindisfarne in 793 is generally considered the beginning of the Viking Age . For the next 250 years the Scandinavian raiders of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark dominated the North Sea, raiding monasteries, homes, and towns along the coast and along the rivers that ran inland. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
they began to settle in Britain in 851. They continued to settle in the British Isles
British Isles
and the continent until around 1050.

The fiefdom of Normandy was created for the Viking
leader Rollo (also known as Robert of Normandy). Rollo had besieged Paris but in 911 entered vassalage to the king of the West Franks
Charles the Simple through the Treaty of St.-Claire-sur-Epte . In exchange for his homage and fealty , Rollo legally gained the territory he and his Viking allies had previously conquered. The name "Normandy" reflects Rollo's Viking
(i.e. "Northman") origins.

The descendants of Rollo and his followers adopted the local Gallo-Romance language and intermarried with the area's inhabitants and became the Normans
– a Norman French -speaking mixture of Scandinavians , Hiberno-Norse , Orcadians , Anglo-Danish , and indigenous Franks
and Gauls

Rollo's descendant William, Duke of Normandy became king of England in 1066 in the Norman Conquest beginning with the Battle of Hastings
Battle of Hastings
, while retaining the fiefdom of Normandy for himself and his descendants. In 1204, during the reign of King John , mainland Normandy was taken from England
by France
under Philip II , while insular Normandy (the Channel Islands
Channel Islands
) remained under English control. In 1259, Henry III of England
recognised the legality of French possession of mainland Normandy under the Treaty of Paris . His successors, however, often fought to regain control of mainland Normandy.

With the rise of William the Conqueror
William the Conqueror
the North Sea
North Sea
and Channel began to lose some of their importance. The new order oriented most of England
and Scandinavia's trade south, toward the Mediterranean
and the Orient.

Although the British surrendered claims to mainland Normandy and other French possessions in 1801, the monarch of the United Kingdom retains the title Duke of Normandy in respect to the Channel Islands. The Channel Islands
Channel Islands
(except for Chausey ) are Crown dependencies of the British Crown . Thus the Loyal toast in the Channel Islands
Channel Islands
is La Reine, notre Duc ("The Queen, our Duke"). The British monarch is understood to not be the Duke of Normandy in regards of the French region of Normandy described herein, by virtue of the Treaty of Paris of 1259 , the surrender of French possessions in 1801, and the belief that the rights of succession to that title are subject to Salic Law which excludes inheritance through female heirs.

French Normandy was occupied by English forces during the Hundred Years\' War in 1346–1360 and again in 1415–1450.


From the reign of Elizabeth I
Elizabeth I
, English foreign policy concentrated on preventing invasion across the Channel by ensuring no major European power controlled the potential Dutch and Flemish invasion ports. Her climb to the pre-eminent sea power of the world began in 1588 as the attempted invasion of the Spanish Armada
Spanish Armada
was defeated by the combination of outstanding naval tactics by the English and the Dutch under command of Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham with Sir Francis Drake
Francis Drake
second in command, and the following stormy weather. Over the centuries the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
slowly grew to be the most powerful in the world.

The building of the British Empire
British Empire
was possible only because the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
eventually managed to exercise unquestioned control over the seas around Europe, especially the Channel and the North Sea. During the Seven Years\' War , France
attempted to launch an invasion of Britain . To achieve this France
needed to gain control of the Channel for several weeks, but was thwarted following the British naval victory at the Battle of Quiberon Bay in 1759.

Another significant challenge to British domination of the seas came during the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
. The Battle of Trafalgar took place off the coast of Spain against a combined French and Spanish fleet and was won by Admiral Horatio Nelson , ending Napoleon 's plans for a cross-Channel invasion and securing British dominance of the seas for over a century.


The exceptional strategic importance of the Channel as a tool for blockade was recognised by the First Sea Lord Admiral Fisher in the years before World War I
World War I
. "Five keys lock up the world! Singapore, the Cape, Alexandria
, Gibraltar, Dover." However, on 25 July 1909 Louis Blériot made the first Channel crossing from Calais
to Dover in an aeroplane. Blériot's crossing signalled the end of the Channel as a barrier-moat for England
against foreign enemies.

Because the Kaiserliche Marine surface fleet could not match the British Grand Fleet, the Germans developed submarine warfare , which was to become a far greater threat to Britain. The Dover Patrol was set up just before the war started to escort cross-Channel troopships and to prevent submarines from sailing in the Channel, obliging them to travel to the Atlantic via the much longer route around Scotland

On land, the German army attempted to capture Channel ports in the Race to the Sea
Race to the Sea
but although the trenches are often said to have stretched "from the frontier of Switzerland to the English Channel", they reached the coast at the North Sea. Much of the British war effort in Flanders
was a bloody but successful strategy to prevent the Germans reaching the Channel coast.

At the outset of the war, an attempt was made to block the path of U-boats through the Dover Strait with naval minefields . By February 1915, this had been augmented by a 25 kilometres (16 mi) stretch of light steel netting called the Dover Barrage , which it was hoped would ensnare submerged submarines. After initial success, the Germans learned how to pass through the barrage, aided by the unreliability of British mines. On 31 January 1917, the Germans restarted unrestricted submarine warfare leading to dire Admiralty predictions that submarines would defeat Britain by November, the most dangerous situation Britain faced in either world war.

The Battle of Passchendaele in 1917 was fought to reduce the threat by capturing the submarine bases on the Belgian coast, though it was the introduction of convoys and not capture of the bases that averted defeat. In April 1918 the Dover Patrol carried out the famous Zeebrugge Raid against the U-boat
bases. During 1917, the Dover Barrage was re-sited with improved mines and more effective nets, aided by regular patrols by small warships equipped with powerful searchlights. A German attack on these vessels resulted in the Battle of Dover Strait in 1917 . A much more ambitious attempt to improve the barrage, by installing eight massive concrete towers across the strait was called the Admiralty M-N Scheme but only two towers were nearing completion at the end of the war and the project was abandoned.

The naval blockade in the Channel and North Sea
North Sea
was one of the decisive factors in the German defeat in 1918.


British radar facilities during the Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain

During the Second World War
Second World War
, naval activity in the European theatre was primarily limited to the Atlantic . During the Battle of France
in May 1940, the German forces succeeded in capturing both Boulogne and Calais
, thereby threatening the line of retreat for the British Expeditionary Force . By a combination of hard fighting and German indecision, the port of Dunkirk
was kept open allowing 338,000 Allied troops to be evacuated in Operation Dynamo . More than 11,000 were evacuated from Le Havre
Le Havre
during Operation Cycle and a further 192,000 were evacuated from ports further down the coast in Operation Ariel in June 1940. The early stages of the Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain
featured air attacks on Channel shipping and ports, and until the Normandy Landings (with the exception of the Channel Dash ) the narrow waters were too dangerous for major warships. Despite these early successes against shipping, the Germans did not win the air supremacy necessary for Operation Sealion , the projected cross-Channel invasion.

The Channel subsequently became the stage for an intensive coastal war, featuring submarines, minesweepers , and Fast Attack Craft . 150 mm Second World War
Second World War
German gun emplacement in Normandy As part of the Atlantic Wall , between 1940 and 1945 the occupying German forces and the Organisation Todt constructed fortifications round the coasts of the Channel Islands, such as this observation tower at Les Landes, Jersey.

Dieppe was the site of an ill-fated Dieppe Raid
Dieppe Raid
by Canadian and British armed forces. More successful was the later Operation Overlord ( D-Day
), a massive invasion of German -occupied France
by Allied troops. Caen
, Cherbourg
, Carentan
, Falaise and other Norman towns endured many casualties in the fight for the province, which continued until the closing of the so-called Falaise gap between Chambois and Montormel , then liberation of Le Havre
Le Havre

The Channel Islands
Channel Islands
were the only part of the British Commonwealth occupied by Germany
(excepting the part of Egypt
occupied by the Afrika Korps at the time of the Second Battle of El Alamein
Second Battle of El Alamein
, which was a protectorate and not part of the Commonwealth). The German occupation of 1940–1945 was harsh, with some island residents being taken for slave labour on the Continent; native Jews sent to concentration camps ; partisan resistance and retribution; accusations of collaboration ; and slave labour (primarily Russians and eastern Europeans) being brought to the islands to build fortifications. The Royal Navy
Royal Navy
blockaded the islands from time to time, particularly following the liberation of mainland Normandy in 1944. Intense negotiations resulted in some Red Cross
Red Cross
humanitarian aid, but there was considerable hunger and privation during the occupation, particularly in the final months, when the population was close to starvation. The German troops on the islands surrendered on 9 May 1945, a day after the final surrender in mainland Europe.


The English Channel
English Channel
is far more densely populated on the English shore. The most significant towns and cities along both the English and French sides of the Channel (each with more than 20,000 inhabitants, ranked in descending order; populations are the urban area populations from the 1999 French census, 2001 UK census, and 2001 Jersey
census) are as follows:


The Spinnaker Tower , Portsmouth

* Brighton
Littlehampton : 461,181 inhabitants, made up of:

* Brighton
: 155,919 * Worthing
: 96,964 * Hove : 72,335 * Littlehampton : 55,716 * Lancing – Sompting : 30,360

* Portsmouth
: 442,252, including

* Gosport
: 79,200

* Bournemouth
"> The walled city of Saint-Malo
was a former stronghold of corsairs .

* Le Havre
Le Havre
: 248,547 inhabitants * Calais
: 104,852 * Boulogne-sur-Mer
: 92,704 * Cherbourg
: 42,318 * Saint-Brieuc : 45,879 * Saint-Malo
: 50,675 * Lannion Perros-Guirec : 48,990 * Dieppe : 42,202 * Morlaix
: 35,996 * Dinard : 25,006 * Étaples Le Touquet-Paris-Plage : 23,994 * Fécamp : 22,717 * Eu – Le Tréport : 22,019 * Trouville-sur-Mer Deauville
: 20,406


* Saint Helier , Jersey
: 28,310 inhabitants * Saint Peter Port , Guernsey
: 16,488 inhabitants * Saint Anne, Alderney
: 2,200 inhabitants * Sark
: 600 inhabitants * Herm : 60 inhabitants


Automatic Identification System display showing traffic in the Channel in 2006

The Channel has traffic on both the UK- Europe
and North Sea-Atlantic routes, and is the world's busiest seaway, with over 500 ships per day. Following an accident in January 1971 and a series of disastrous collisions with wreckage in February, the Dover TSS the world's first radar -controlled Traffic Separation Scheme was set up by the International Maritime Organization . The scheme mandates that vessels travelling north must use the French side, travelling south the English side. There is a separation zone between the two lanes.

In December 2002 the MV Tricolor , carrying £30m of luxury cars sank 32 km (20 mi) northwest of Dunkirk
after collision in fog with the container ship Kariba. The cargo ship Nicola ran into the wreckage the next day. There was no loss of life.

The shore-based long range traffic control system was updated in 2003 and there is a series of Traffic Separation Systems in operation. Though the system is inherently incapable of reaching the levels of safety obtained from aviation systems such as the Traffic Collision Avoidance System , it has reduced accidents to one or two per year.

Marine GPS
systems allow ships to be preprogrammed to follow navigational channels accurately and automatically, further avoiding risk of running aground, but following the fatal collision between Dutch Aquamarine and Ash in October 2001, Britain's Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) issued a safety bulletin saying it believed that in these most unusual circumstances GPS
use had actually contributed to the collision. The ships were maintaining a very precise automated course, one directly behind the other, rather than making use of the full width of the traffic lanes as a human navigator would.

A combination of radar difficulties in monitoring areas near cliffs, a failure of a CCTV system, incorrect operation of the anchor, the inability of the crew to follow standard procedures of using a GPS
to provide early warning of the ship dragging the anchor and reluctance to admit the mistake and start the engine led to the MV Willy running aground in Cawsand bay, Cornwall
in January 2002. The MAIB report makes it clear that the harbour controllers were informed of impending disaster by shore observers before the crew were themselves aware. The village of Kingsand was evacuated for three days because of the risk of explosion, and the ship was stranded for 11 days.


As a busy shipping lane, the Channel experiences environmental problems following accidents involving ships with toxic cargo and oil spills. Indeed, over 40% of the UK incidents threatening pollution occur in or very near the Channel. One of the recent occurrences was the MSC Napoli , which on 18 January 2007 was beached with nearly 1700 tonnes of dangerous cargo in Lyme Bay, a protected World Heritage Site coastline. The ship had been damaged and was en route to Portland Harbour .


The beach of Le Havre
Le Havre
and a part of the rebuilt city


Main article: Channel Ports

The number of ferry routes crossing the Strait of Dover
Strait of Dover
has reduced since the Channel Tunnel
Channel Tunnel
opened. Current cross-channel ferry routes are:

* Dover Calais
* Dover– Dunkirk
* Newhaven –Dieppe * Plymouth
Roscoff * Poole
* Poole– Saint Malo * Portsmouth
–Cherbourg * Portsmouth– Jersey
and Guernsey
* Portsmouth– Le Havre
Le Havre
* Portsmouth– Ouistreham * Portsmouth–Saint Malo * Rosslare –Cherbourg * Rosslare–Roscoff * Weymouth –Saint Malo


Main article: Channel Tunnel
Channel Tunnel

Many travellers cross beneath the Channel using the Channel Tunnel, first proposed in the early 19th century and finally opened in 1994, connecting the UK and France
by rail. It is now routine to travel between Paris or Brussels
and London on the Eurostar train
Eurostar train
. Freight trains also use the tunnel. Cars and lorries are carried on Eurotunnel Shuttle trains between Folkestone
and Calais



The Mont Saint-Michel is one of the most visited and recognisable landmarks on the English Channel.

The coastal resorts of the Channel, such as Brighton
and Deauville
, inaugurated an era of aristocratic tourism in the early 19th century, which developed into the seaside tourism that has shaped resorts around the world. Short trips across the Channel for leisure purposes are often referred to as Channel Hopping .


Kelham's Dictionary of the Norman or Old French Language (1779), dealing with England's Law French
Law French
, a cross-Channel relic

The two dominant cultures are English on the north shore of the Channel, French on the south. However, there are also a number of minority languages that are or were found on the shores and islands of the English Channel, which are listed here, with the Channel's name following them. Celtic Languages

* Breton – "Mor Breizh" (Sea of Brittany) * Cornish – "Mor Bretannek" * Irish : Muir nIocht – "Merciful Sea"

Germanic languages

* English * Dutch – "het Kanaal" (the Channel)

Dutch previously had a larger range, and extended into parts of modern-day France. For more information, please see French Flemish . Romance languages

* French – "La Manche" * Gallo – "Manche", "Grand-Mè", "Mè Bertone"

* Norman , including the Channel Island vernaculars:

* Anglo-Norman (extinct, but fossilised in certain English law phrases) * Auregnais (extinct) * Cotentinais – "Maunche" * Guernesiais – "Ch'nal" * Jèrriais
– "Ch'na" * Sercquais

* Picard

Most other languages tend towards variants of the French and English forms, but notably Welsh has "Môr Udd".


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As one of the narrowest and most well-known international waterways lacking dangerous currents, the Channel has been the first objective of numerous innovative sea, air, and human powered crossing technologies. Pre-historic people sailed from the mainland to England for millennia. At the end of the last Ice Age , lower sea levels even permitted walking across .



March 1816 the French paddle steamer Élise (ex Scottish-built Margery or Margory) was the first steamer to cross the Channel.

9 May 1816 Paddle steamer Defiance, Captain William Wager, was the first steamer to cross the Channel to Holland

10 June 1821 Paddle steamer Rob Roy, first passenger ferry to cross channel

The steamer was purchased subsequently by the French postal administration and renamed Henri IV.

June 1843 First ferry connection through Folkestone-Boulogne

Commanding officer Captain Hayward

25 July 1959 Hovercraft
crossing ( Calais
to Dover, 2 hours 3 minutes) SR-N1 Sir Christopher Cockerell
Christopher Cockerell
was on board

22 August 1972 First solo hovercraft crossing (same route as SR-N1; 2 hours 20 minutes) Nigel Beale (UK)

1974 Coracle (13 and a half hours) Bernard Thomas (UK) As part of a publicity stunt, the journey was undertaken to demonstrate how the Bull Boats of the Mandan Indians of North Dakota could have been copied from Welsh coracles introduced by Prince Madog in the 12th century.

14 September 1995 Fastest crossing by hovercraft , 22 minutes by "Princess Anne" MCH SR-N4 MkIII Craft was designed as a ferry

1997 First vessel to complete a solar-powered crossing using photovoltaic cells SB Collinda —

14 June 2004 New record time for crossing in amphibious vehicle (the Gibbs Aquada , three-seater open-top sports car ) Richard Branson (UK) Completed crossing in 1 hour 40 minutes 6 seconds – previous record was 6 hours.

26 July 2006 New record time for crossing in hydrofoil car (the Rinspeed Splash , two-seater open-top sports car ) Frank M. Rinderknecht (Switzerland) Completed crossing in 3 hours 14 minutes

25 September 2006 First crossing on a towed inflatable object (not a powered inflatable boat ) Stephen Preston (UK) Completed crossing in 180 min

July 2007 BBC Top Gear presenters "drive" to France
in amphibious cars Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Clarkson
, Richard Hammond , James May
James May
(UK) Completed the crossing in a 1996 Nissan D21 pick-up (the "Nissank"), fitted with a Honda outboard engine.

1960's First crossing by water ski .

An annual Cross Channel Ski Race was run from the Varne Boat Club from the 1960s onwards. The race was from the Varne club in Greatstone on Sea to Cap Gris Nez / Boulogne (latter years) and back. Many waterskiers have made this return crossing non stop since this time. Youngest known waterskier to cross the Channel was John Clements aged 10, from the Varne Boat Club on 22 August 1974 who made the crossing from Littlestone to Boulogne and back without falling.

20 August 2011 First Crossing by Sea Scooters A four-man relay team from Scarborough, North Yorkshire, headed by Heath Samples, crossed from Shakespeare
Beach to Wissant. It took 12 hours 26 minutes 39 seconds and set a new Guinness World Record.

Pierre Andriel crossed the English Channel
English Channel
aboard the Élise , ex the Scottish p.s. "Margery" in March 1816, one of the earliest seagoing voyages by steam ship .

The paddle steamer Defiance, Captain William Wager, was the first steamer to cross the Channel to Holland, arriving there on 9 May 1816.

On 10 June 1821, English-built paddle steamer Rob Roy was the first passenger ferry to cross channel. The steamer was purchased subsequently by the French postal administration and renamed Henri IV and put into regular passenger service a year later. It was able to make the journey across the Straits of Dover in around three hours.

In June 1843, because of difficulties with Dover harbour, the South Eastern Railway company developed the Boulogne-sur-Mer
-Folkestone route as an alternative to Calais-Dover. The first ferry crossed under the command of Captain Hayward .

In 1974 a Welsh coracle piloted by Bernard Thomas of Llechryd crossed the English Channel
English Channel
to France
in 13½ hours. The journey was undertaken to demonstrate how the Bull Boats of the Mandan Indians of North Dakota could have been copied from coracles introduced by Prince Madog in the 12th century.

The Mountbatten class hovercraft (MCH) entered commercial service in August 1968, initially between Dover and Boulogne but later also Ramsgate
( Pegwell Bay ) to Calais. The journey time Dover to Boulogne was roughly 35 minutes, with six trips per day at peak times. The fastest crossing of the English Channel
English Channel
by a commercial car-carrying hovercraft was 22 minutes, recorded by the Princess Anne MCH SR-N4 Mk3 on 14 September 1995,


Main article: List of English Channel crossings by air

The first aircraft to cross the Channel was a balloon in 1785, piloted by Jean Pierre François Blanchard (France) and John Jeffries (US).

Louis Blériot (France) piloted the first airplane to cross in 1909.


Main article: List of successful English Channel swimmers

The sport of Channel swimming traces its origins to the latter part of the 19th century when Captain Matthew Webb made the first observed and unassisted swim across the Strait of Dover, swimming from England to France
on 24–25 August 1875 in 21 hours 45 minutes.

In 1927, at a time when fewer than ten swimmers (including the first woman, Gertrude Ederle in 1926) had managed to emulate the feat and many dubious claims were being made, the Channel Swimming Association (CSA) was founded to authenticate and ratify swimmers' claims to have swum the Channel and to verify crossing times. The CSA was dissolved in 1999 and was succeeded by two separate organisations: CSA (Ltd) and the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation (CSPF). Both observe and authenticate cross-Channel swims in the Strait of Dover. The Channel Crossing Association was set up at about this time to cater for unorthodox crossings.

The team with the most number of Channel swims to its credit is the Serpentine Swimming Club in London, followed by the International Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team.

By the end of 2005, 811 people had completed 1,185 verified crossings under the rules of the CSA, the CSA (Ltd), the CSPF and Butlins.

The number of swims conducted under and ratified by the Channel Swimming Association to 2005 was 982 by 665 people. This includes 24 two-way crossings and three three-way crossings.

The number of ratified swims to 2004 was 948 by 675 people (456 men, 214 women). There have been 16 two-way crossings (9 by men and 7 by women). There have been three three-way crossings (2 by men and 1 by a woman). (It is unclear whether this last set of data is comprehensive or CSA only.)

The Strait of Dover
Strait of Dover
is the busiest stretch of water in the world. It is governed by International Law as described in Unorthodox Crossing of the Dover Strait Traffic Separation Scheme. It states: " exceptional cases the French Maritime Authorities may grant authority for unorthodox craft to cross French territorial waters within the Traffic Separation Scheme when these craft set off from the British coast, on condition that the request for authorisation is sent to them with the opinion of the British Maritime Authorities."

The CCA, CSA, and CS -webkit-column-width: 30em; column-width: 30em; list-style-type: decimal;">

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Wikivoyage has a travel guide for FERRY ROUTES TO BRITISH MAINLAND .

Wikimedia Commons has media related to ENGLISH CHANNEL .

* Full Channel swim lists and swimmer information * Oceanus Britannicus