Us Brits have been going to the seaside for as long as we’ve been allowed time off work! Resorts such as Blackpool, Bournemouth, Scarborough, Margate and Southend are typical seaside towns that continue to draw flocks of tourists as soon as the sun appears. If you’re looking for a break from the crowds or to discover somewhere new, check out our top ten UK seaside spots that are a bit more off the beaten track.
1. Alum Chine, Bournemouth
Escape the crowds and head out of Bournemouth to Alum Chine. Blessed with a fantastic, blue flag beach as well as lush tropical gardens, this is Bournemouth’s best kept secret. There’s an adventure playground for kids as well as a paddling pool for those who are wary about going into the waves. There is also a designated dog friendly section so it’s no problem if you want to bring your four-legged friends. As the sun goes down, fire up a barbeque for the perfect end to your day at the beach.
2. Westward Ho!, North Devon
The only place in the British Isles with an exclamation mark in its name, Westward Ho! lies on the North Devon coast near the towns of Barnstaple, Bideford and Bude. An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, its beach is popular with surfers and tourists alike. Follow the coast and you’ll find Northam Burrows Country Park, a marshy area separated from the sea by grassy sand dunes with a great stony beach. Continue aound the headland to the beautiful fishing village of Appledore. Try the local ice cream, Hockings, made with real Devon cream, relax with a drink on the riverside patio at The Beaver Inn or watch the fishermen unloading their catch on the quayside.
3. West Kirby, Wirral
When I was young my mum always used to tell us our legs would dissolve if we paddled in Liverpool Bay but these days the water quality is much improved! There are large stretches of sandy beaches around Formby and Crosby but head to West Kirby on the Wirral Peninsular for the full Victorian seaside town experience. Stroll along the promenade and enjoy the views across to North Wales, paddle your own canoe on the Marine Lake or walk across to Hilbre Island (a nature reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest). Check the tide times though, the island is only accessible at low tide, make sure you don’t get stranded!
4. North Uist, Outer Hebrides
If it is solitude you’re looking for there’s no better place to escape the rat race than the Western Isles of Scotland. Leave your worries on the mainland and head to North Uist in the Outer Hebrides. Here you’ll find wide, white sand beaches, sparkling green seas and a real feeling of calm and tranquillity. Walking along the beaches you may never see another human being but you’re sure to spot plenty of wildlife like deer, seals and even otters. Walk through the dunes and boulders of the Udal Peninsula before enjoying a delicious meal at Hammersay House Brasserie, famed for its locally sourced seafood.
5. Staithes, North Yorkshire
If you’ve ever seen Old Jack’s Boat on CBeebies then you’ll recognise this picturesque fishing village instantly. With its steep, cobbled streets and fisherman’s cottages, Staithes really is a picture-postcard location. On your way down to the harbour, pop into the Staithes heritage centre which is the sort of museum that time forgot! A wonderful clutter of items related to the town’s fishing industry and past life in North Yorkshire in general. Explore the “Dinosaur Coast” beyond the harbour before retiring to the pub; The Cod & Lobster on the harbour side serves amazing crab sandwiches alongside a great selection of beers, wines and ciders.
6. Broadstairs, Kent
The self-titled “Star of the Sea” is a quaint seaside resort on the eastern tip of Kent. There’s a beautiful crescent of beach below the town which is great for swimming (you may want to hire a beach hut to avoid the old changing under a towel ritual!) Much is made of the town’s links to Charles Dickens; the author wrote David Copperfield while staying in the town and named another book after his residence, Bleak House (that’s it in the top left corner of the photo) The town itself is packed with restaurants, cafes and pubs and of course there are British seaside staples like mini-golf and floral gardens.
7. Clovelly, North Devon
Similar to Staithes, Clovelly is a tiny fishing village with a steep, cobbled main street leading down to the harbour. So steep in fact that sledges are used for moving goods around and donkeys plod up and down the hill (they were once used to carry fish from the boats but these days you’re more likely to see children on their backs!). The village is largely unchanged since it’s heyday in the 19th century and represents a real step back in time for visitors. Pick up some fresh seafood from the shop in the harbour, enjoy a drink in the Red Lion or a famous Devonshire cream tea. If you don’t fancy the walk back up there is a fare-paying Land Rover service back to the top.
8. Newhaven, East Sussex
Overshadowed by its neighbours such as Brighton, Eastbourne and Hastings; Newhaven has a charm all of its own as well as beautiful sand and shingle beaches that stretch all the way to nearby Seaford. Take some time to explore the 19th century fort that overlooks the harbour where the river Ouse joins the Channel, a walk along the ramparts gives breath-taking panoramic views of the South Downs coast.
9. Studland Bay, Dorset
A sandy peninsula jutting out into Poole Harbour, Studland and Godlingston Heath National Nature Reserve, to give it its full title, features miles of sandy beach and blue waters with a backdrop of dunes and heathland. Knoll Beach to the south is popular with families and water sports enthusiasts but venture further up the coast for a real desert island feel around Shell Bay. Take the chain ferry from the tip of the peninsula over to Sandbanks and see how the other half live!
10. Red Wharf Bay, Anglesey
Known to the locals as Traeth Coch, Red Wharf Bay is a wide sweep of beach and an area of outstanding natural beauty on Anglesey’s east coast. At low tide there are nearly ten square miles of beach to explore with an abundance of flora and fauna including wading birds such as oystercatchers, sandpipers and curlew.
Where’s your favourite secret seaside location? Let us know in the comments section below…