With nearly 8,000 miles of coastline, we’re never far from a good beach, Here are some of OAG’s best shore bets.
1. Holkham, Norfolk
Holkham has lent it’s shores to many a film, including Shakespeare in Love
Best for: Playing in the sand
Everyone dreams of endless golden sand, and this privately owned beach on the North Norfolk Coast has just that. With four miles of unspoilt, uncrowded coastline backed with saltmarshes, pine trees, a stately home and even the odd nudist. Whether you’re after a hearty jaunt with the dog around the dunes, a horse ride across the sand or just a picnic and paddle with the kids this is the place to do it.
2. Walberswick, Suffolk
Best for: Catching Crabs
Across the estuary from crowded Southwold (or Kensington-on-sea as the locals have deemed it) is the much simpler village of Walberswick, complete with its year-round dog-friendly beach. It’s also the not-so-well-known host of the British Open Crabbing Championships. The bridge crossing the car park to the dunes is great place to hone your crabbing skills after a swim.
3. Bedruthan Steps, Cornwall
Best for: Exploring nooks and crannies
One of the most dramatic beaches you’ll come across with huge great monoliths dotted amongst the sand. At high tide the whole bay is submerged underwater, with just the rocky outcrops visible. This isn’t one for swimming due to strong currents, nor for the faint-hearted – with a slippery 142 stair descent from the cliffs above.
Best For: Safe swimming
Those enterprising Victorians carved tunnels through the rocks to three manmade pools, making for a very unique bathing experience. One of the pools survived erosion, making it one of the safest swimming spots around. Just make sure you catch it within three hours either side of the low tide. It’s also a great base for kayaking, with tonnes of hidden coves to explore. Admission £2.50 pp, £1.95 for Children (free if under 3)
5. Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire
Best for: Surfing
A strong swell and big waves makes this a favourite with Welsh surf bums, as well as for those looking for some solitude among the sands. The vast beach is also a bit of a movie star, having featured in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood and the final Harry Potter film. You wont catch Daniel Radcliff taking a dip here though – the rip current’s too strong for swimmers (even wizards).
6. Bamburgh, Northumberland
The beach at Bamburgh is flanked by the mighty Bamburgh Castle – great for unexpected rain!
Best for: Historic sites
With the mighty Bamburgh Castle as backdrop, there’s a whole mile of sand between the sea and the coastline, and further three miles along the coast. Plus, if the weathers not playing ball, you can hotfoot it to the castle or even visit the tidal Holy Island of Lindisfarne.
7. Applecross Beach, Highland
Best for: Sand Sledging
Miles from the rest of the world on a remote peninsular lies the beach of Applecross. It boasts great swimming, kayaking and local walks but the best attraction is its 70ft sand dune piled up against the cliffs – perfect for a bit of summer sledging. Getting there involves driving through Beachlich na Ba, the highest mountain pass in the Uk, so check the weather before you go and be prepared for some hairpins.
8. Sandwood Bay, Sutherland
Best for: Wild Camping
The most remote beach in mainland UK, you need to be prepared to trek for this beauty: it’s a four-mile walk across the moors from the village of Kinlochbervie. But the ragged cliffs, rolling dunes and rose-gold sands make it all worthwhile. If you don’t fancy making the return journey the same day it makes a great base for some wild camping. Just make sure you bring some food (and extra tent pegs).
9. Formby Beach, Merseyside
Best for: Going Wild
Despite being just down the road from Liverpool, Fornby offers a huge expanse of unspoilt coastline. As well as the usual beach gaffer, there’s a National Trust reserve. Get the kids searching for ancient deer footprints in the sand or head into the pine trees that border the beach. It’s home to a lively colony of red squirrels as well as a free geocaching centre.
10. Downhill Strand, County Derry
Downhill Strand’s silky-looking beach
Best for: Fishing
A 7 mile long, blue-flag beach that’ll keep you busy all day. There’s plenty to do here; from swimming and walking right through to horse-riding and windsurfing. It’s also the perfect place for a spot of sea-angling. It’s flanked by the iconic Mussenden Temple – thought to be the most photographed building in Ireland.
Images: Visit Britain and Tourism Ireland