Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside; oh I do like to be beside the sea.
The eternal British quest for sunshine sometimes takes us to foreign climes and aware from the great beaches right on our doorstep. We sometimes forget that beaches are not all about getting a cracking tan. In Britain we have secluded beaches, walker’s beaches, family beaches, and beaches for wildlife spotting, so in the search for that elusive mahogany tan step away from the Costa del Sol template and the tanning oil! (Don’t worry; we’ve included some awesome Blue Flag awarded bays great for catching the rays too.)
So British beaches might not rival the Caribbean, but they’ve got character, and hey, dodging the showers in a beach hut and huddling behind windbreakers is kind of charming, really.
From the North- South…
Huisinis, Harris, Scotland: The island of Harris, 30 miles off the north-west coast of Scotland is home to arguably the least know and most breath-taking UK beach, Huisinis. A pristine tiny bay of white sand at the end of a 15-mile, single-track road on the mountainous north coast, Huisinis boasts views across the Atlantic to the uninhabited island of Scarp.
Sinclair’s Bay, Caithness, Scotland: A beach of soft white sand and blue waters. This atmospheric bay has not one but two 16th-century castles. If you get bored of the seclusion then you can enjoy boat rides out to see in the chance making friends with porpoises and whales.
Blackpool. Lancashire: Slot machines, rock, donkeys, Blackpool pleasure beach, a massive pier and a long sandy beach, welcome to Blackpool. So it isn’t the most picturesque or quaint place in the UK, but kids will love it.
Downhill, County Derry, Northern Ireland: Golden sands run from Magilligan Point to Mussenden Temple, one of Northern Ireland's most photographed buildings. These sands stretch for seven glorious miles.
Whiterocks, Portrush, County Antrim: Knobbly rock formations rise out of the sea at this unusual beach. They are named the atmospheric almost fantastical names of Shelagh's Head, the Giant's Head, Wishing Arch, Elephant Rock and Lion's Paw. Limestone cliffs, labyrinth of caves and arches stretch from Curran Strand to the atmospheric Dunluce Castle.
Whitby Beach, North Yorkshire: With imposing cliffs at one end of the bay, and looked over by the creepy Whitby Abbey, the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, beaches don’t come much more atmospheric than this.
Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire: This hidden bay is inaccessible by car, which means only a few visitors seem to find this beauty spot. It’s so secluded you might need these following directions! From the tiny harbour of Stackpole Quay, go on the cliff path over the dunes, through the stone archways and down a steep, wooded downhill descent to the yellow sands of Barafundle. Surrounded by limestone cliffs, this beach is east-facing so there's no Atlantic wind which makes for calm waters and a sun trap.
South Beach, Tenby, Wales: Of all the Tenby Beaches South Beach is a gem, a mile of golden sand this blue flag beach is backed by powdery dunes. From the beach you can see Caldey island, which is owned and run by Cistercian monks who produce their own chocolate, ice-cream, shortbread, yoghurt and perfumes which are available to purchase. Boats leave from Tenby harbour to the island. However not on Sunday because that’s the holy day, silly.
Holkham Bay, Norfolk: Sand dunes, backed by pine forests, a secluded beach, sounds idyllic doesn’t it? We’re describing the vast expanse of Holkham Bay in Norfolk, which is part of a Nature Reserve managed by Holkham Estate.. Windswept tidelines, a maze of creeks and saltings, miles of dunes and sandpits, scented pinewoods, green pastures, marshes and the sand, oh the sand is powdery golden goodness. Perfect for walkers and sun seekers alike and If you’re a star spotter, this beach’s claim to fame was that it has graced the presence of Gwyneth Paltrow’s feet as she walked across Holkham Bay at low tide during the closing scenes of the film 'Shakespeare in Love.' It’s not bad on a rainy day either, as there’s something quite atmospheric about a rainy beach.
Hunstanton, Norfolk: This coastal town in East Anglia unusually faces west, and as such there is a warm bay and stunning sunsets. This blue flag ticks all the seaside pursuit boxes and is backed by red-and-white-striped cliffs, which echoes the rock that is sold in the seaside town.
Weston-super-Mare, Somerset: Massive beach and bay, the tide goes out a really long way! Donkey rides are famous here, with plenty of bay to explore as when the tide is out this bay is vast!
Brighton, East Sussex: This iconic pebbly beach with the famous Brighton Pier is picture postcard perfect. On hand our water sports and sailing activities if you should get tired of the Blue Flag pebble beach.
Woolacombe, Dorset: This three mile long beach whips surfers up into a frenzy and this this stretch of blue flag beach is backed by a bustling seaside town. If that’s not enough for you, then the fact that it holds the ‘England for Excellence Gold Award’ for best family resort and was even voted by the Mail on Sunday as the Best British Beach.
Weymouth, Dorset: If you’ve dreamily been staring at the tele watching the Olympic sailing and pondering what lovely shores are these? You’ve said to yourself: this cannot be the UK? Well, it’s Weymouth and Portland Bill. Chesil Beach in Portland is an unusual beach joining Weymouth with the Isle of Portland, on the beach you can find Jurassic fossils, so keep your eyes peeled. Weymouth bay is sandy and family friendly and there always seems to be a circle of clouds behind Weymouth, which never dare to impose onto the sunny bay.
Bournemouth, Dorset: Woah! Seven miles of beach you say? If you’re a surf dude/dudette then you’ll be pleased to hear that Bournemouth beach contains Europe’s first artificial surf reef, and as such the beach has become one of the UK’s premier surfing spots.
West Wittering Beach, Chichester: This is one of the premier Blue Flag beaches in the country. It boasts views of Chichester Harbour and the South Downs. Wind and kite surfers love his spot. Shallow lagoons are left on the extensive sandy flats at low tide and are perfect and safe spots for children to play in. The journey to the beach is pretty awe-inspiring too, 54 acres of open Sussex countryside leads into this beautiful beach of sand.
St. Ives, Cornwall: Oh Cornwall, you are lovely. If you’re trying to get some British sunshine there’s nowhere better than the beaches of Cornwall. In St.Ives there are sandy beaches for fifty miles along the Cornish coastline. Beauteous bays in St.Ives include the golden sands of Porthminster beach, which stretches for nearly half a mile and offers a scenic walk to nearby Carbis Bay. Porthemeor is a Blue Flag Atlantic Ocean family and surfing beach with spectacular sunsets.
Fistral Beach, Newquay, Cornwall: The beaches of Newquay, all eight of them, are delightful with their own personality. Fistral Beach is a surfer’s paradise with surf school and regular surfing championships held here annually.
Tregirls Beach, Padstow, Cornwall: People go mad for in Tregirls Beach in Padstow. You can reach the beach by the South West Coast Path which, at 630 miles, is the longest coastal path in Britain. But don’t worry, you don’t have to walk all of it to get to Tregirls, just park in Padstow and follow the directions along the coastal path. Tregirls contains two coves Hawers cove and Harbour cove which are just crying out to be explored and a large stretch of sandy beach makes it perfect for sunbathing and family games.
Summerleaze, Bude, Cornwall: Bude has many beaches, but of particular note is the picturesque Summerleaze Beach. The beach has the rather unusual features of canal lock gates, and is where the River Neat flows into the sea. Colourful fishing boats line the bay and there is even an open air sea pool popular with families.
From Northern bays to Southern shores this isle offers an array of bathing hotspots. So whether you want a relaxing beach walk or a fun filled family day stop maxing out your air miles and look no further than good old Blighty. Now, where did I put that bucket and spade…