Not everyone loves Blackpool, but you’ve got to admit, there are some cracking beaches in the UK.
When we wrote an article earlier this year featuring some of our top picks from across the UK and Ireland we received lots of feedback on our selection. Some of you were please (Saunton Sands, Tenby, spot on) some of you doubted our wisdom (where was the Gower Peninsula??) whilst others offered insightful local knowledge and alternatives.
So, here are ten more of Britain’s best coastal spots, as suggested by you, our lovely readers. See if yours is on the list and if not, leave any suggestions in the comment box at the end.
1. Rhossili Bay, Wales
Ok, we admit, its omission from the original list was a mistake: Rhossili, considered ‘the supermodel of British beaches’ by The Independent, is a beaut! Three miles of golden sands, picturesque picnic areas, some awesome surf and water sports spots – it’s no wonder it’s been voted Britain’s best beach by TripAdvisor and ninth in the world! This stunning beach is just one of a number of glorious seashores along the Gower Peninsula in south Wales. To get there pull into the tiny town of Rhossili and head down the steps from the clifftop until you feel the sand between your toes – there are quite a lot of steps and unfortunately there is no wheelchair access. Fancy an old fashioned 99? Grab ice cream, cake or coffee from one of the small cafés which are just 400m from the bay or in the nearby village. For a seaside scran with a view head to The Bay Bistro, open until 5:30pm every day, offering staples like sandwiches, jacket potatoes and full-on cream tea with Welsh Cakes and fresh scones.
2. Margate, Kent
A family favourite in the 1960s which subsequently becoming a by-word for kiss-me-quick seaside tat, Margate has undergone a facelift in recent years. New restaurants and hotels have been popping-up all over town and the latest addition designed to draw the crowds to Britain’s original seaside is a £30m renovated Dreamland Pleasure Park. Experience ‘pleasure without measure’ (as the park’s slogan goes) for £17.95 a ticket (£14.95 if you pre-book) and ride the vintage rollercoasters, chase your friends on the dodgems or make merry on the carousel, all whilst trying not to sick up the candy floss you’ve been scoffing – Instagram addicts will be beside themselves. Aside from retro rides, Margate’s seaside is a hive of creativity, famously inspiring artists like Tracy Emin, whose work you can see at the Turner Contemporary gallery (free admission, open Tuesday to Sunday).
3. Whitby, Yorkshire
Surrounded by the wilds of the North York Moors National Park, fringed by some of Britain’s most beautiful bays, Whitby is a charming place to explore. Once an important sea port, there are plenty of fine fishing villages in the area to discover, such as Robin Hood’s Bay which is just a short 13 minute drive or a two hour coastal walk from Whitby centre. Join local legend Harry Collett for a chilling 75 minute ghost tour of Whitby town, departing at 8pm from the Whale Bone Arch on West Cliff, and go in search of Dracula – Bram Stoker found inspiration for his famous character after a stay on Whitby’s West Cliff. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you grab some grub in The Magpie Cafe, a local institution and famed for its fish and chips – the daily queues out the door prove just how popular this traditional seafood restaurant is.
Read more: 10 best bike routes in Yorkshire
4. Gott Bay, Isle of Tiree, Scotland
Stretching from the ferry terminal to Ruaig and Soa, Gott Bay is one of Scotland’s most stunning sandy spots, located on the east coast of Tiree up in Argyll and The Isles. Tiree is nicknamed the Hawaii of the north and whilst we can’t promise the same sizzling temperatures as the American island state, it’s definitely got the waves. Attracting international surfers, the white sands also bring people flocking for the Tiree Wave Classic windsurfing event every October. Take a Caledonian Ferry across from Oban via the Isle of Coll – a four hour trip that costs £20.60 return for an adult, £112 for a car – and stay the night at the Tiree Lodge Hotel, overlooking Gott Bay. If you’re there on a Sunday then settle in for a roast dinner from 12pm to 4pm.
5. Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire
Another award-winner on the list, Barafundle recently bagged the 2015 Green Coast Award for being one of Britain’s tidiest beaches. Getting down to the bay is a bit of a walk (it’s half a mile from the nearest car park at Stackpole Quay) and the steps from the clifftop make it unsuitable for wheelchairs or tiny tots in prams, but once you’re on the sand the spectacular views will banish any thoughts of the hike back to the top. Build sand castles on the dunes or bathe in the clear waters, so blue they give the Caribbean a run for their money! Make sure to bring a picnic though, unless you fancy trudging back to Stackpole for your sarnies, as there are no beach facilities.
6. Achmelvich Beach, Highlands, Scotland
Achmelvich flies the blue flag for Scottish beaches. The nearest town is Lochinver, three miles south of the coast, and the town is accessed by a single track dirt road that leads from the coastal B869 route. With a handful of camping and caravan parks in Auchmelvich, there are few self-catered accommodation options for staying in the area. If you don’t fancy sleeping under the stars then perhaps the best option is the Youth Hostel which is just 300m from the beach – they offer beds from £17 and private rooms from £44 a night. The former school and cottage is a great place to base you and your crew if you plan on walking through Quinag Mountain or along Stac Pollaidh ridges.
Read more: 11 spectacular Scottish views – in pictures
7. St. Ives Bay, Cornwall
Also known as Cammas an Tewyn in Cornish, which means ‘bay of sand dunes’, you can imagine the views that greet you as you pull off the B3301 coast road and on to the seafront at any point between Godrevy and Hayle. Explore the coast on foot by following the South West Coast Path which loops the bay, turning inland at Hayle Estuary. Surfers set off for the east side of the bay, with its soft sands and Towan dunes, as this is the place to catch the best waves – most board bums jump in at Gwithian. The west side is rockier and the beaches here are separated by headlands, but as a result you’re likely to find a private patch to spend the day on soaking up the south-west sunshine. In St. Ives itself art lovers should check out the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, whilst a burger from Blas Burgerworks should keep any grumbling tummies satisfied – go the West Country way and try yours with a slab of Cornish Blue.
8. Sandown Beach, Isle of Wight
Forget the festival, the Isle of Wight’s got much more to offer: from families looking for a great spot to start their own sand castle kingdom, to couples looking for a romantic getaway that won’t leave them out of pocket. Sandown Beach is the quintessential British seaside town, with its esplanade lined with chip shops and sweet stalls flogging sticks of rock sugary enough to rot at least three teeth during your trip. Take a stroll along the pier and enjoy a game of crazy golf, or simply plonk yourself in a stripy deckchair on the seafront – please leave the knotted hanky hat at home! If the kids get bored on the beach then there’s Dinosaur Isle just a half a mile walk from the coast, where they can get up close to life-sized models of five dinosaurs known to have roamed the island millions of years ago – children get in for £3.50 and adult tickets are a fiver. Once you’re on the Isle of Wight (ferries runs from Portsmouth, Southampton and Lymington) get down to Sandown by hopping on the Island Line train, which runs from Ryde Pier Head to Shanklin, and walk 15 minutes from the station to the sand.
9. Chesil Beach, Dorset
Fun fact: this 18 mile stretch of beautiful British coast is made of over 180 billion pebbles – hats off to the person who had to count them all! Much of it is separated from the mainland by a body of super salty water, known as Fleet Lagoon, and it forms part of the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the English Channel that contains evidence for 180 million years of geological history. But the beach itself was the setting for Ian McEwan’s 2007 novel On Chesil Beach and was home to a number of defences built there during World War II – the ruins of some survive today. Less than a mile from the beach you can pick up lunch at The Kennel’s Café, open daily from 10am until 5pm and serving a delicious range of locally sourced food. If you do nip in for a quick bite then it’s worth stepping through the gates of the Swannery just past the café to see the world’s only managed colony of free-flying mute swans – adult tickets are £11.50 and kids’ cost £8.50, although you get a 20 per cent discount if booking two days before you visit.
10. Southend-on-sea, Essex
If you live in London and you’re after a quick seaside fix, then Southend-on-sea is probably one of the most convenient options, just 40 miles east of the city and a turn or two off the M25. If you’re coming from further afield, or you just don’t fancy coughing up £1 an hour for parking, then there are also two railway stations, Southend Victoria and Southend Central, with trains running to and from London every 20 minutes – and if you really are jetting in then there’s even an airport two miles from the city centre. Ok, so you’ve arrived, but what is there to do? Well, you’re first stop has got to be the famous pier, the longest in the world at just over a mile long (2158m) jutting out into the Thames Estuary. It’s been through the wars a bit and has suffered some damage over the years, but there’s still plenty to see and do here: spend the day fishing, enjoy afternoon tea in The Royal Pavilion, watch a traditional puppet show, or simply sit back on the sun-deck and take in the 360˚ views. Check the website for the pier’s opening times as they vary with the seasons, but during the summer month’s it’s open until 8pm and it costs £2 to walk both ways, or you can take the train to the end and back for £4.
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