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GO HERE INSTEAD | Our 10 favourite beaches in the UK

By Rebecca Miles – 6th May 2020

Being an island has its advantages. In the UK, we’re lucky to be surrounded by the sea and just over 19,000 miles of coastline, which means near-endless opportunities to discover beautiful beaches, cosy coves and spectacular seafronts across the country.

Here at Girl About, we love a beach and we love our local areas, so our Blog Squad have pulled together their favourite sandy spots around the country. They’re a mix of the well known and the not so well known, the wild and remote, the award-winning and the unexpected, but the one thing they all have in common is they’re guaranteed to encourage you to make amazing memories.

While we stay home and stay safe, dreaming of the sea seems to be a common theme in lockdown. But please be patient, these beauties aren’t going anywhere, and we’re not suggesting everyone rush to these the second restrictions are lifted. These are special places to explore over the years to come – discover these beaches… later.

Runswick Bay, North Yorkshire

Nominated by Nat, Girl About North Yorkshire, Runswick Bay is just north of Whitby. It has all you need for a nostalgic seaside trip – rock pools, fossils to hunt, and big sea walls to picnic on.

“Runswick Bay is one of the Yorkshire Coast’s dreamiest destinations,” says Nat. “It’s very family friendly and a great place to holiday. The vast sheltered, golden beach is hugged by a picturesque bay dotted with quaint little seaside cottages. It has some stunning coastal walks and some of the most breathtaking sea views, which remind me of the magical illustrations in my favourite seaside book, a collection of Shirley Hughes stories.”

Rickham Sand, South Devon

One of Emma, Girl About Hertfordshire’s happy places, Rickham Sands is a remote cove on the South Hams coast in Devon, between the Salcombe estuary and Prawle Point.

“We can’t get enough of this beach,” says Emma. “It’s a beautiful walk down to it from the stunning coastal path, with views to take your breath away. There are no facilities down there so it’s not commercialised or busy – it’s just you, the sea, the sand and the rocks. It’s great for surfing and exploring across the rocks, just be mindful of when the tide is coming in so you don’t get stuck! Last year, a family of seals made this beach their home, which was beautiful to watch from a distance.”

Belhaven Bay, East Lothian

Belhaven Bay holds lots of happy memories for Courtney, Girl About Edinburgh. Just over half an hour’s drive from Edinburgh, it stretches from Belhaven to the mouth of the River Tyne and is backed by sand dunes, salt marshes and grasslands.

“My favourite by far is Belhaven Bay, which is part of the John Muir Country Park and regularly wins the award of Best Scottish Beach,’ says Courtney. “But it’s not just for its beautiful long sandy beach, perfect surf and bridge to nowhere that it has a special place in my heart, this is the beach where my husband and I had our first date, got engaged and then got married on. It’s the place we learned to surf together and it’s the first beach that our son ever went to. There are many more breathtaking beaches that Scotland has to offer, especially on the Isle of Lewis, but this one will always be my number one.”

Lunderston Bay, Inverkip, Inverclyde

The closest sandy beach to Glasgow, Lunderston Bay gets Girl About Lancashire Francesca’s vote, and is a great starting point for exploring the beautiful west coast of Scotland.

“A great stretch of coast, you can walk here from Inverkip beach,” says Francesca. “I love this beach because despite being close to Glasgow it feels secret and hidden, and has some great rock pools. From it, it’s easy to get to Gourock’s outdoor swimming pool and, if you have a car, you’re then five minutes from Gourock Esplanade and the highly recommended ice creams at the Esplanade café.”

Viking Bay, Broadstairs, Kent

One of those quintessential British beaches, Broadstair’s Viking Bay comes highly recommended by Kirsty, Girl About Kent. A pretty seaside town between Ramsgate and Margate, Broadstairs has all a family could want from a beach trip.

“Viking Bay is somewhere I’ve been going since I was a child and now somewhere I take my little boy,” says Kirsty. “It’s a beautiful sandy beach with a quaint harbour and is overlooked by Bleak House, a home of Charles Dickens. I love to walk along the promenade and get an ice cream from Morelli’s, the perfectly retro parlour that has been there since 1932!”

Watergate Bay, Cornwall

Molly, Girl About Derbyshire, has a soft spot for Watergate Bay in Cornwall. Just outside Newquay on the north Cornish coast, it’s a huge, two-mile-long sweep of golden sand and surf.

“I love Watergate Bay in Newquay for its rugged beauty,” says Molly. “You can while away the hours watching the surfers and then have a delicious lunch at the Beach Hut.

“We stayed in the penthouse suite of the Watergate Bay Apartments, which would be a perfect base for a family beach holiday. The balcony has a beach view and is the perfect spot for a few sundowners and people watching after getting the kids to bed.

“Jamie Oliver has a restaurant nearby and one day I’ll return to eat there and stay at the luxe Watergate Bay hotel.”

Avon Beach, Christchurch, Dorset

An award-winning beach on the Dorset coast, Avon Beach is a firm favourite with Sarah, Girl About Hampshire. Spoilt for choice living close to the Hampshire/Dorset border, she also loves the pier at Southsea and the wild, remote Lepe Beach on the edge of Lepe Country Park next to the New Forest.

“A five-minute walk from my area is Avon Beach, in Dorset,” says Sarah. It has everything you want from an English beach – sand, sea, beach huts, and amazing fish and chips and ice cream. You can also go crabbing at nearby Mudeford, which is great fun with kids.”

Wells-next-the-Sea, North Norfolk

Megan, Girl About Rutland, loves the beach at Wells-next-the-Sea. On a stunning stretch of coast along the top of Norfolk, it’s between Holkham and the Blakeney National Nature Reserve.

It’s a vast, sandy beach with pretty beach huts plus there’s a bustling little harbour with plenty of activity for watching the world go by.

“I love the pine woods and the sand dunes, plus you can do an amazing sunset cruise,” says Megan.

Frinton, Walton and Clacton, Essex

Picked by Girl About Essex Katie, this trio of Essex beaches show just what this varied county has to offer. Between Mersea Island and the Hamford Water National Nature Reserve, Clacton, Frinton and Walton come highly recommended by Katie.

“The triplets of Essex beaches, Frinton, Walton and Clacton, are all within a stone’s throw of each other, with each offering something a bit different,” says Katie.

“Frinton combines a quintessentially English town front that suddenly halts at a cliff top and turns into sparkling waters and golden sands; Walton combines history (visit the Naze for a fix of nostalgia and nature-spotting, with the waves crashing in the distance); while Clacton is the classic English seaside destination, complete with a pier, coin machines and even a mini theme park. Whether you hop in a car or jump on the train, they’re all easy accessible from London and are the perfect places to while away some lazy hours in the sunshine. Whether you’re going with your partner for a romantic trip to the beach, taking your kids to build sandcastles or even just fancy a change-of-scenery for an off-season dog walk, these three sets of beaches are absolute gems – I feel lucky to have them so close to home.”

Robin Hood’s Bay, North Yorkshire

Another vote for the North Yorkshire coast, this time from Rhiannon, Girl About Lincolnshire, for Robin Hood’s Bay, just south of Whitby.

“Wild, rugged, a window back to the past – if you listen really carefully you can almost hear the call of the smugglers on their boats…” says Rhiannon. “Probably not your traditional lay and bake beach but it’s full of rock pools, there are miles of wide-open sand and fabulous adventures to be had, plus it’s a great spot for a picnic in the summer. It’s one of my fave places in the world (only sorry it’s not in Lincolnshire!).

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