Monday, August 13, 2012

A Family Trip to Great Island Common

The weather has been pretty nice lately, so the other day, Jill got me to do something that she has never been successful in doing before. She got me to go to the beach with her! I’m not a beach goer by any means. In fact, I would go as far as to say that I dislike the beach. I’m not a big swimmer and for that reason, the ocean scares me. I feel it is similar to the weather in the Whites. If you don’t respect it, it can kill you very easily. Also, I’m a rather fair skinned fellow. I never felt like there was a whole lot to do at the beach other than sit in the sun, which is not my favorite thing to do. So how did she get me to go you ask…she said Lylah loved the beach and we should go as a family! How can you argue with that?

Great Island Common's Sign

Old Glory flying on the grounds

Jill found this great little, secluded beach up in New Castle, New Hampshire called Great Island Common. I was pleasantly surprised when we pulled in to see that it wasn’t strictly just a beach. There was a very large common and picnic area, a huge playground for the kids and a small beach area which contained by rocky and sandy terrains. It also had changing and bathroom facilities available. Best of all, it wasn’t crowded. Lylah’s eyes definitely lit up when we headed out to setup our spot.

View from the parking area over to the shore line

 View of the beach area...notice we are all by ourselves :)

When we first got there, I looked around and saw a couple lighthouses, very visible from the shoreline. Also, there seemed to be an island not too far out with a steepled structure on it of some sort. I was also surprised to see a couple dozen Canadian geese swimming along the shore. I was surprised because I thought geese only enjoyed fresh water swimming, not salt water. That certainly wasn’t the case for these guys on this day.

 The Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse, off to the left of the beach area

Whaleback Light (Lighthouse), seen out in the distance, to the right of the beach area

We headed down to the water to dip our feet in. It only took Lylah a couple quick dunks into the water to get over her initial timidity before she was running around in the waves by herself. She had a blast collecting rocks and see shells and piling them up in the sand. I also enjoyed looking for seashells and finding hermit crabs running along the shallow water.

Old house, secluded out on a peninsula

The Canadian geese, swimming in the salt water!

Old posts sticking up from the ground, I believe for an old dock or something like that

After playing in the water, we headed back up to our blanket and had a snack. I used Lylah’s toys to make her a seahorse and dolphin out of wet sand, but she was more interested in stomping them out than admiring them.

Lylah, heading down to the water

Lylah's stash of rocks and shells. Notice the rock on the right. I believe this was an old
brick that wore down into a rock shape over the years...pretty cool!

Lylah's little footprints

The morning got away from us quickly and before we knew it, it was almost lunch time. We went down to the water one last time to wash most of the sand off from us and packed up our things. We changed into dry clothes and played with Lylah on the playground for a bit before taking off. On the way home, we swung by The Icehouse Restaurant for some ice cream. It was delicious as usual.

Lylah and me waiving to Jill in the water

The playground on the grounds

Lylah, living the dream!

I must say, I was skeptical and fairly unexcited to hit the beach. But after getting there, I was pretty happy that I went. It’s certainly someplace I would visit again, as this was not your typical beach (the ones I like to stay away from), where the sand is crowded, there isn’t much to do, etc. There was great scenery and some awesome sea creatures. Definitely a great compromise for the typical beach goer (Jill) and the nature lover (me)!

Some information on and history on Great Island Common here.



  1. Mike / troutbumnh@gmail.comAugust 14, 2012 at 9:25 PM


    If you want some more history about Great Island Common, and a lot of what you were looking at, check out:


    you were at the (former) Camp Langdon. The "old house" is the Wood Island Lifesaving Station. Some folks are trying to save it:


    One seacoast guy to another

    1. Hi Mike,

      Thanks very much for this information. It's very cool stuff. The site you sent me on the bases of Portsmouth is super. It has a lot about Camp Langdon that I had no idea. A couple other spots on that page peaked my interested too, like Fort Dearborn (Odiorne's Point). I may just write an addendum for this post regarding it.

      The Lifesaving Station info was very neat too. Thanks again for sharing it all!


    2. Mike (mlavoie@gmail.com)August 15, 2012 at 8:15 AM

      Karl-- No problem at all... my wife and I have a 10.5 month old daughter and we're always looking for a new place for a picnic or a walk. Have you taken Lylah to Mt. A, or to the water district trails across the street from Mt. A? Good stuff up there, and there's a new map of the Mt. A. area that adds a lot to those who hadn't made their own maps...

      You can also wander around Ft. Stark on Newcastle... you can explore inside some of the batteries, and if you go to the very end, you can sit about 30ft above the water with great views... On one of our humid Sundays recently, we escaped the heat out there with perfect ocean breeze.

      Keep the reports coming!


  2. Karl, you are a master of capturing unique detail, such as Lylah's tiny footprints, and her stash of rocks gathered at the shore! Very well done!

    Also, I have to agree with your sentiments about going to the beach. It's also one of my least favorite things to do. But like you, when my kids were young, my wife and 2 daughters did it, and 75% of our foursome immensely enjoyed the experience. Whereas the 25% minority had just sort of an okay time of it! ;-)


    1. Hi John,

      Thanks very much for your kind words.

      I guess some of us are just wired for the woods and mountains, and others (I particularly think women, not to sound sexist) are wired for coastlines. The good thing about some coast lines, such as this particular one and parks like Odiorne's Point are so full of great history and some pretty cool sea creatures and features that guys like us can always find something to do there! Now, if you go to the straight out beach (hampton, all sand, lots of people and sun)...that's what I have the hardest time with!

      Take care, John.

    2. Mike (troutbumnh@gmail.com)August 15, 2012 at 8:18 AM

      And since I'm replying to the other one, I have to give you guys a +1 on this topic. Another guy wired the same way... Mountains trump the beach every time!...

      That said, as I was walking along the Pemi last weekend on the Pine Island Trail, it sure seemed like the beach came to the Wilderness with all the sand in the woods from Irene!

  3. What a great trip - Lylah is adorable. I'm not a super-beach person, either, given a choice, I'd rather go to the mountains. With lack of mountains, I'll take the beach, at least it is outdoors!