Tag Archives: Best British Beaches

Just beachy – 11 brilliant seaside escapes

It’s that time of year when nothing beats an ice cream, a paddle in the sea and a relaxing rest on a British beach, just watching the hazy horizon and breathing in the briny air.

Birling Gap, photo by John Miller, National Trust Images
Birling Gap, photo by John Miller, National Trust Images

I was at Birling Gap on Saturday with my kids throwing pebbles into the water and digging in the (tiny patch of) sand – the sun shone and a sea breeze rippled through the grassy cliffs above.

It’s a National Trust beach and so is wonderfully managed and clean – here are some of my other NT faves for a family adventure…

Kynace Cove, Cornwall, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images
Kynace Cove, Cornwall, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images

Lizard Point and Kynance Cove, Cornwall
When you think of Cornwall, you think of beaches and what better place to spend time as a family than this dramatic and historic stretch of the Cornish coast. Lizard Point, the most southerly part of the British mainland, is a great place to admire some spectacular views and to take a treasured family photograph. Kynance Cove is a hidden gem of the Cornish coast and is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. This beach is a must for all sun-lovers and sea-paddlers where you can experience incredible scenery, white sand and clear turquoise waters. At low tide you can descend the steps down to the sand and picnic on the shore. Facilities on the beach include the renowned green toilets and a fantastic café which serves food between Easter and November. The Lizard’s other top beaches include: Poldhu Cove, Gunwalloe Cove and Mullion Cove.

Best Beach Activities:
· Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool
· Jump over waves
· Go on a barefoot walk
· Catch a crab

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lizard

 

Studland Beach, photo by David Levenson, National Trust Images
Studland Beach, photo by David Levenson, National Trust Images

Studland Beach, Dorset
Studland’s scenic four mile stretch of golden sand has something for everyone to enjoy. In the summer the beach comes truly alive, with many taking to the seas in the boats available to hire. This safe and friendly beach is perfect for picnics and for building sandcastles, and the heathland that lies behind it has a treasure trove of wildlife for kids to explore. With gently shelving bathing waters and views of Old Harry Rocks and the Isle of Wight, the beach is an ideal place for water sports and to watch the world go by. If you fancy making a day of it why not hire a National Trust beach hut and tick off some of those ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ activities with the kids. Be sure to bring buckets and spades with you for a blissful day on the sands.

Best Beach Activities:
· Skim a stone
· Catch a fish with a net
· Hunt for fossils and bones
· Go swimming in the sea

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/studland-beach/

 

Woolacombe dog John Millar
Woolacombe Bay, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images
Woolacombe JOhn Millar
Walkers above Woolacombe Bay, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images

Woolacombe beach, Devon
This beautiful three mile stretch of coastline has plenty of things to see and do for all. Rolling hills provide a wonderful backdrop to a beach where many come to swim and surf on sunny days. In the summer holidays you’ll find National Trust beach rangers on hand to show little ones how to go on rock pool safaris and build the best sandcastles for miles around. Baggy Point and Morte Point – also known as the ‘stegosaurus back’ – are both perfect for rock scrambling. If it’s a walk that you prefer, the South West coastal path will take you on a journey around the enticing coves and distinctive slate cliffs that the area is so well known for.

Best Beach Activities:
· Create some wild art
· Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool
· Catch a crab
· Jump over waves or go swimming in the sea

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/woolacombe-mortehoe-ilfracombe/

 

Dunwich Heath and Beach, Suffolk
Tucked away on the Suffolk coast, the peaceful, colourful heath-land of the Dunwich Heath Nature Reserve, with its shingle and sand beach, is rich with wildlife and ideal for birdwatchers, nature lovers, walkers, and families looking for a great day out. Head to the shingle beach for a walk along the shoreline where you can witness the constantly changing coastline. Late summer sees a patchwork of purple and yellow heather come into full bloom, making it an unmissable experience. The beach is rich in wildlife with Dartford warblers, nightjars, and woodlark ready to spot. There are plenty of activities to get involved with as well, especially for families wanting to keep the kids entertained, including geocache trails, scavenger hunts and flying kites in the summer sunshine.

Best Beach Activities:
· Skim a stone
· Jump over waves
· Go stargazing
· Fly a kite

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dunwich-heath-and-beach/

 

Sandy flats at Blakeney Point, photo by Joe Cornish, National Trust Images
Sandy flats at Blakeney Point, photo by Joe Cornish, National Trust Images

Brancaster and Blakeney, North Norfolk Coast
With four miles of golden sand, Brancaster beach is the perfect place for a family day out. Famous for its mussels, the fishing village of Brancaster Staithe lies on the shores of the beautiful north Norfolk coast. The Staithe offers a great place to start exploring the coast, and you can launch a boat and sail in the sheltered waters of Scolt Head Island.

Brancaster harbour, National Trust Images
Brancaster harbour, National Trust Images

If you continue a little further along the coast you can enjoy miles of golden sand for long or short walks, find great places for building sandcastles and designated areas for power kiting sports. There are so many things to see and explore at Blakeney; crabbing is a must for all ages or you can take time out and relax with a view at Blakeney Point.

Seal at Blakeney Point, photo by Joe Cornish, National Trust Images
Seal at Blakeney Point, photo by Joe Cornish, National Trust Images

The area is home to a colony of common and grey seals that can be seen most of the year from any of the seal boat trips that leave from Morston Quay.

Best Beach Activities:
· Catch a crab
· Make a mud pie
· Canoe down a river
· Skim a stone

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/brancaster-estate/
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/blakeney/

The beach at Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters Coast, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images
The beach at Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters Coast, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images

Birling Gap, East Sussex
Birling Gap is part of the world famous Seven Sisters chalk cliffs, one of the longest stretches of undeveloped coastline on the south coast. One minute you can be walking on ancient downland, the next you could be rock pooling below towering cliffs of chalk. Spectacular, unspoilt views of the sea can be seen for miles and the beach below is ideal for seaside picnics and exploring the craggy rocks. The whole family can hunt for fossils on the beach and this is a great time of year to uncover hidden treasures. With a south-west-facing beach, Birling Gap is also one of the best spots to surf in the South East. If you’re feeling a bit peckish after a day on the sands, head to the relaxed clifftop cafe where there’s delicious lunches, outdoor seating and uninterrupted sea views.

Best Beach Activities:
· Hunt for fossils and bones
· Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool
· Fly a kite
· Skim a stone

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/birling-gap-and-the-seven-sisters/

Isle of Wight, photo by Joe Cornish, National Trust Images
Isle of Wight, photo by Joe Cornish, National Trust Images

Isle of Wight, Hampshire
Welcome to the 50 Things Island just a 30 minute ferry ride away from the mainland, where you can tick off lots of adventures in the great outdoors. Compton Bay is a spectacular spot along the Isle of Wight coastline showcasing some of the best beach side scenery around. It has a firm sandy beach – perfect for sandcastle building, and the tide doesn’t go out too far so it’s great for swimming. It isn’t too crowded either, and there are excellent views towards the Needles and Dorset beyond. This family friendly beach also has a section open for dog walkers all year round, making it a great trip out for a walk, whilst also offering a brilliant space for surfing and swimming. The bay is one of the best places on 50 Things Island to follow in the footsteps of dinosaurs. Look carefully and you can find many dinosaur footcasts on the sandy beach. Nodes Point near St Helens Duver is an excellent place for exploring the hidden wildlife in rock pools and if you look carefully see what you can discover in the pools once the tide’s gone out.

Best Beach Activities:
· Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool
· Fly a kite
· Jump over waves
· Go swimming in the sea

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/isleofwight

Stackpole Head, photo by Joe Cornish, National Trust Images
Stackpole Head, photo by Joe Cornish, National Trust Images

Stackpole, Pembrokeshire
Stackpole has two fabulous beaches, Barafundle and Broadhaven South. This summer, get up close and personal with the Pembrokeshire coast with an adrenaline-fuelled session. Barafundle is regularly voted among the top beaches in the world and is a great place to go rock pooling, paddling and building sandcastles. This golden horseshoe backed by gorse-flecked dunes and woodland is accessible only via steep steps in the limestone cliffs on either side and is a great place for a swim. Freshwater West, six miles west of the estate, is a great surf beach and Stackpole Quay is the perfect place to launch your kayak or to try some coasteering along the rocky coastline.

Best Beach Activities:
· Camp out in the wild
· Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool
· Catch a crab
· Go on a barefoot walk

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stackpole/

 

Flying a kite at Rhossili Bay, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images
Flying a kite at Rhossili Bay, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images

Rhossili and South Gower Coast, Swansea
With some of the most splendid views on the Welsh coast, you won’t want to miss this magnificent three mile long beach. If you stand at Rhossili Down, you can see not only the peninsula, but the coast of west Wales and the north Devon coast visible on the horizon. With its breathtaking clifftops, and wonderful bay, it’s a perfect place to spend summer days with all your friends and family.

People walking above Rhossili Bay, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images
People walking above Rhossili Bay, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images

To stretch the legs, you can take the level walk from the National Trust shop and Visitor Centre along the cliff top to the Old Coastguard Lookout where they would have kept watch for ships in trouble on the high seas. This beautiful site is perfect for all kinds of activities, from walks and swimming to surfing and kite-flying.

Best Beach Activities:
· Jumping over waves
· Catch a fish with a net
· Go swimming in the sea
· Try rock climbing

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/rhossili-and-south-gower-coast/

 

 

Rockpooling, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images
Rockpooling, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images

Embleton and Newton Links, Northumberland Coast
Embleton Bay is a magnificent stretch of sand and dunes between Low Newton and the majestic ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle, perfect for an easy wander with the family. The fourteenth-century ruins dominate the horizon, but you will also find a whole variety of wildflowers living amongst the dunes. With the backdrop of the Castle, this fine sandy beach is one of the most spectacular in England. It’s popular for paddling, building sandcastles and has some great surf conditions as well. Low Newton by the sea has a natural rock harbour and golden beach sheltered from the tides by an offshore reef – it’s an excellent place for marine wildlife and spotting birds.

Best Beach Activities:
· Go bird watching
· Fly a kite
· Catch a fish with a net
· Jump over waves

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/embleton-and-newton-links/

 

Formby Point, photo by Joe Cornish, National Trust Images
Formby Point, photo by Joe Cornish, National Trust Images

Formby, Liverpool
The sweeping sands of Formby beach entice people from miles around to come and enjoy a bracing day out. With plenty of space for everyone, families can run and play to their hearts content. Spectacular sky-scapes can be glimpsed at sunset and if you stand on top of the sand dunes the beach stretches as far as the eye can see. The glorious sandy beaches of Formby are perfect for family picnics, coastal walks, wave jumping, kite flying or just lazy days at the beach. A closer look reveals thickets of pine woodland which are home to cherished local celebrities, the red squirrels. Check out the signage to find out about the surprising history of the beach from prehistoric footprints to asparagus farming. A coffee cart and ice cream van are onsite most days so why not enjoy a tasty treat with the sand between your toes.

Best Beach Activities:
· Jump over waves
· Fly a kite
· Create some wild art
· Find a Geocache

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/formby/

ALISON TYLER

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