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While Britain is not usually associated with cliché descriptions of azure waters and powder-white sands, the UK is home to some pretty impressive beaches. Their quaint charm and laid-back atmosphere draw returning visitors for bracing winter walks and snatched moments of sunbathing come summer, while nothing beats fish and chips by the sea. So grab a bucket, spade and cagoule and head out to explore these best-of-British beaches.
Bamburgh Beach, Northumberland
For long windswept walks, head to Bamburgh Beach in Northumberland, where history meets nature on a gorgeous sandy coastline. Overlooking the white dunes sits the ancient Bamburgh Castle which has dominated the skyline since the 6th century, while just opposite are the islands of Inner Farne, once home to hermits and monks. There are plenty of interesting coves and rock formations towards the north of the beach, which is also scattered with seashells – find some washed-up fishing twine and string yourself a souvenir necklace.
Rhossili Bay, Swansea, UK
British beaches certainly don’t just mean striped awnings, melting 99s and lobster-red tourists. This three-mile long expanse of wide beach with fantastic views from atop Rhossili Down and an exposed shipwreck which is visible at low tide is a truly exceptional stretch of the British coastline – so much so that we listed it as one of our favourite beaches in the world.
Botany Bay, Kent
Named after an Australian bay where smugglers are said to have been deported, Botany Bay is a quintessentially British beach boasting magnificent views of white cliffs, chalk stacks and surprisingly clear waters. The bay is just a stone’s throw from the picturesque seaside towns of Broadstairs and Margate – well worth a visit for those seeking a traditional British experience. When the tide is out, hunt for fossils and delve into rock pools before heading to the Botany Bay Hotel for a good old pub lunch.
West Wittering, Sussex
West Wittering is an all-time favourite among beachgoers and it’s not hard to see why. Soft sand, shallow lagoons and neat grassy areas beckoning for a picnic rug make it an ideal spot for a day out, while the area holds a blue flag award for safety and cleanliness. With wonderful views of Chichester Harbour and the South Downs as well as rows of candy-coloured beach huts that are available to rent, this is a snapshot of British summertime.
Marloes Sands, Wales
It’s not all grey skies and rain in Wales – the country boasts some of the UK’s most incredible topography. One such place is Marloes Sands in Pembrokeshire, where over a mile of golden dunes meet striking cliffs, making it a favoured walking spot among families and birdwatchers. The coast surrounding the peninsula is a designated marine conservation zone where you can spot grey seals, porpoises, dolphins and rare sea birds. At low tide, there is also plenty to explore; the rock strata has divided the beach up into lots of little bays where you can find rock pools and even a shipwreck sticking out of the sand.
Saunton Sands, Devon
Famous for its ideal surfing conditons, Saunton Sands stretches for three miles on the north coast of Devon, backed by the Baunton Burrows, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The long, straight stretch of coastline is perfect for swimmers and watersports lovers as well as those after more of a relaxed ramble. The neat, picture-perfect shore is incredibly aesthetically pleasing, which is probably why Robbie Williams featured Saunton in his “Angels” music video.
Studland Bay, Dorset
This National Trust beach is the gem of the south coast, overlooking nearby Bournemouth and neighbouring the Hartland Moor nature reserve. The bay boasts chalky white sand and panoramic views of the nearby heathland, as well as the largest colony of breeding seahorses in Britain. As well as marine life, the reserve is home to all six species of British reptile but you’ll find more than just lizards basking in the sun – Studland Bay is famous for being one of the most popular naturist beaches in the UK. On your return journey, a brief detour to nearby Durdle Door is advised.
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