Map of the English Channel
The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the English Channel as follows:
The IHO defines the southwestern limit of the 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°59′06″N 1°55′00″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°10′00″N 1°24′00″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 (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 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 and the 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 is frequently referred to as the Bay of the Seine (French: Baie de Seine).
There are several major islands in the Channel, the most notable being the Isle of Wight off the English coast, and the Channel Islands, British 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 strait 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 seaChannel Islands, the west coast of the Cotentin Peninsula and the north coast of Brittany. 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.
to more than 6 metres as observed in the
In the UK Shipping Forecast the Channel is divided into the following areas, from the east: