With summer nearly in full swing, it won’t be long before hordes of people set off in their droves looking for a slice of sun, sand and sea. But where do you go if you’re looking to escape the crowds? Here’s a rundown of six secluded British beach spots, perfectly placed well away from the tourist trail.
Winterton Beach, Norfolk
Situated on the picturesque East Norfolk Coast, just eight miles north of Great Yarmouth, this tranquil stretch of golden sand is one of Norfolk’s best-kept secrets. Backed by a ridge of sand dunes, itself a designated National Nature Reserve, this area is a haven for wildlife with a colony of grey seals, adders, rare natterjack toads and the UK’s largest colony of little terns calling this region home. There are some superb walks starting from here, with miles and miles of beach and the marshlands of the Broads right on your doorstep. Post-ramble, enjoy a slice of cake in the beach’s charming café or discover Norfolk’s tallest church tower on your return.
Mwnt, Cardigan Bay
The tiny settlement of Mwnt arguably personifies the term ‘idyllic’. Perched on the windswept Ceredigion Coast, just a few miles from Cardigan, this picture-perfect hamlet is all about great walks, beautiful hidden coves and dramatic coastal views. Don’t miss a chance to tackle the 76-metre-tall Foel-y-Mwnt hill for panoramic views of Cardigan Bay and the glistening green waters of the Irish Sea. If the weather is playing ball, you may just be lucky enough to spot the mighty mountains of Snowdonia National Park to the north. Besides beaches, this pretty hamlet is also famous for its Grade I-listed Church of the Holy Cross, a remote landmark dating all the way back to the early 13th century. Come to the area during the summer months and you stand a good chance of spotting bottlenose dolphins, harbour porpoises, sunfish and even basking sharks frolicking in the waves.
Seilebost Beach, Isle of Harris
Scotland is full to the brim of off-the-map, unspoilt beaches, and you’re practically guaranteed the silky sands to yourself at most of them. One such example is the incredibly photogenic Seilebost Beach on the dreamy Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides. This tranquil, rugged stretch is the place to come for a spot of peace and quiet, with brisk, windswept walks and glorious sunsets being the order of the day. The waters here, though crisp, are so clear and blue that you’ll find it hard not to jump on in and enjoy a dip. You’re also just a stone’s throw from Luskentyre Sands, an award-winning beach billed as one of the ‘UK’s best beaches’ in the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards. The best way to explore this stretch of sand and other beauty spots is by cycling along the Hebridean Way Cycling Route.
Botany Bay, Kent
One of Kent’s best-kept secrets, this gorgeous stretch of sand and chalk cliffs makes for an easy weekend escape with a group of friends or family. Situated just a few miles to the east of Margate and slightly north of Broadstairs, you can get here in under two hours from central London; it’s the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic and a scenic amble when the sun is shining. Come here for low tide and peruse rockpools for fossils, crabs, fish and more, and don’t miss a chance to discover the region’s caves and tunnels – a favourite haunt of smugglers looking to store their booty back in the day. After a day on the beach, there’s no better place to enjoy a pint and a plate of fish and chips than in the Botany Bay Hotel, a clifftop retreat offering fantastic panoramic views over the beach below.
Chapman’s Pool and Dancing Ledge, Dorset
With swathes of access to the famed Jurassic Coast, the county of Dorset has access to some of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the entire United Kingdom. Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove and Chesil Beach are the major players here, combining spectacular scenery with turquoise waters and sweeping, sandy bays. But there are plenty of other super-scenic spots where you won’t have to compete with the crowds: if you fancy following in the footsteps of the pirates and smugglers of years gone by, head to Chapman’s Pool, a wonderfully wild beach only reached by foot, where a small stream joins the sea from a plunging ravine cut into high cliffs. Strong swimmers should stop off at the aptly-named ‘Dancing Ledge’, a natural infinity pool cut out of the rock. If you’re in need of some sustenance after all this exertion, enjoy a pint and pasty at the Square and Compass pub, dating all the way back to 1752.
Porthgwidden Beach, Cornwall
Cornwall is no stranger to picturesque beach locations, and this one is a real humdinger. Situated close to the pretty port town of St. Ives, this beach is a veritable sun trap given its location in the lee of ‘The Island’. Often overlooked in favour of other beaches in the area, Porthgwidden is well worth a visit due to its relaxed atmosphere, panoramic ocean views and Blue Flag status. If you’re feeling in the mood for a swim, the water is clean and clear and mostly calm, given its sheltered location. Be aware, however, that there are no lifeguards here, so extra caution should be taken during rougher spells of weather. Post-dip, warm your cockles with a coffee and pastry in the Porthgwidden Beach Café, which offers fantastic views across St. Ives Bay to Godrevy Lighthouse.