From hidden gems to family favourites, some of the world’s best beaches can be found right here on our doorstop. Here are five that made our shortlist this summer.
1. Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire
Barafundle Bay has to be one of the prettiest beaches in Wales. It’s half a mile from the nearest car park and there are a fair few steps, but you’ll be rewarded with beautiful coastal views as you walk. And the bay is well worth the effort.
White sands and calm, clear waters await you. If you fancy a change of scene, just pack up and move along to the next beach – Broadhaven South is within walking distance, as are the Bosherston Lakes.
2. Bamburgh Beach, Northumberland
Much loved by dog walkers, families, surfers and nature lovers, Bamburgh beach is a 1.5 mile long stretch of sand that really does have something for everyone. The 11th century Bamburgh Castle towers over the beach and is definitely worth a visit.
Shops and restaurants are all within an easy walk. Kids will enjoy searching for crabs in the rock pools and you’ll want to head up to Sandy Hills – a Site of Special Scientific Interest – where you’ll find a variety of flora and fauna amongst the dunes. No visit to the area would be complete without a boat trip to see the puffins over on the Farne Islands.
3. Branscombe Beach, Devon
As a pebble beach, Branscombe tends to be much quieter than its more popular neighbours, but it’s still a firm favourite with the locals. There’s a pretty thatched café right by the beach, which is handy for ice-creams and cakes. Or take a walk along the cliffs to Beer, where you’ll find plenty of restaurants and gift shops. The walk is pretty steep at times, but the views are incredible.
4. Garry beach, Tolsta, Isle of Lewis
Looking for miles of white sand, clear water and the chance to escape the crowds? Head to the Outer Hebrides. On a sunny day, it’s hard to believe you’re still in the UK. If you’re not content to just sit and take in the views, then dig out your bodyboard (or steal the kids’).
Tosta is famed for its swells and popular with surfers, so you should get some decent waves. Or take a walk along the coastal path. You can actually hike all the way to Ness (around 10 miles), although there are some rather boggy bits so you might end up with wet feet. You’ll pass over the Bridge to Nowhere – so called because the road over it was originally intended to reach all the way to Ness but was never finished.
5. Wells-next-the-sea, Norfolk
Windswept dunes, golden sands, salt marshes and stilted beach huts all combine to make Wells one of the most striking beaches in England. It is very popular, but when the tide is out, Wells is plenty big enough to never feel overcrowded.
There are lots of easy walks nearby to keep you entertained if you’re spending more than a day here, and several highly rated cafés and restaurants. To add to the fun, you can reach the beach by miniature railway.