Escaping the heat this summer by going back to Blighty? Here are some UK beaches you must visit
Time Out Dubai staff
Fistral Beach, Newquay, Cornwall
The home of surfing in Britain; in fact, the British Surfing Association is based here and offers surfing lessons from its National Surfing Centre (www.nationalsurfingcentre.com), while various surfing competitions and tours are held throughout the year. The flat beach is backed by steep sand dunes, and can get pretty crowded with some visitors staying overnight in the stylish apartments right on the sand. For more information, visit www.fistralbeach.co.uk. Getting there Follow the A392 from the A30 or A39. Fistral Beach is signposted from Newquay’s town centre.
Sandbanks Beach, Poole, Dorset
The miles of fine sandy beach and clear waters here are said to have won more Blue Flag awards than any other beach in Britain. And the bay is so shallow that you can safely walk into the sea for nearly 656 feet, making it a good spot for children. It’s also popular with windsurfers and other watersports enthusiasts. Check out www.sandbankspoole.com for more details. Getting there The main roads leading to Poole are the A35, A350 and A338.
Holy Island, Northumberland
Holy Island is only accessible by the causeway at low tide, when a road is revealed from beneath the water, making it possible to drive or walk across from the mainland. If you walk across the dunes that run alongside the main access road, you’ll discover a beautiful expanse of pristine sand, to be enjoyed in peace. Getting there Clearly signposted from the A1.
West Wittering, West Sussex
Just an hour from London lies this mellow, gently shelving beach, sheltered by the Isle of Wight and the grassy swell of the South Downs. As well as drawing strollers in search of a hot chocolate at the café, it’s beloved of kitesurfers and windsurfers, not least because its wind and swell suit just about all levels and there are surffriendly conditions at almost every stage of the tide. On the beach is X-Train (01243 512552, 01243 513077, www.x-train.co.uk), the tuition arm of the West Wittering Windsurfing Club. Getting there From London or the M25, follow the A3 and then M3 and A27 and finally the A286.
The unspoilt expanse of Wells beach, with its woodland backdrop separating the coast from the farmland behind, is perfect for anyone interested in wildlife. The beach is owned by the Holkham Estate and is in the middle of the Holkham National Nature Reserve. There are also some great scenic walks in the area, including the Norfolk Coast Path, a 47-mile hike from Hunstanton to Cromer, which passes along the beach. Getting there The village of Wells-next-the-Sea is located just off the A149.
Hell’s Mouth, near Abersoch
Recognised as the most reliable surf spot in North Wales – facing the south-west and catching a serious swell – Hell’s Mouth, or Porth Neigwl in Welsh, is mainly sand with a few rocks, and backs on to cliffs and dunes. Strong swimmers love the currents, and even non-surfers come along on late summer evenings for the parties. Getting there The A55 and A487 lead to the Llyn peninsula. Take the B4441 to Criccieth and then follow the A497, which becomes the A499, to Abersoch; from here head for Llanengan, following signs for Hell’s Mouth.
Sandwood Bay, Sutherland
Scotland’s Sandwood Bay can lay claim to possessing some of the finest scenery in Europe, with magnificent sands and dune systems. The beach is a mile long, and a sea stack (Am Buachaille) and some ominously dramatic cliffs shouldn’t detract from the peaceful bays that are found along this stretch of protected coast. The Sandwood Estate, which supports 54 crofts and ten working crofters, contains eight islands, a saltwater lagoon and the freshwater Sandwood Loch. Getting there Drive as far in a north-westerly direction as you can in Scotland and you’re there. The A838 skirts the coast.
Sinclair’s Bay, Caithness
Once famous as the best spot in all Scotland for fresh, tasty lobsters and crabs, Sinclair’s Bay is still much loved for its Caribbean-white sands. On a fair-weather day – which, to be honest, isn’t that common on a coast that looks out fondly to Scandinavia for inspiration – it can be one of the prettiest beaches in the British Isles; when the storms roll in it is a scene from the closing stages of Macbeth. The village of John O’ Groats is just a few miles further up the coast. Getting there Take the A9, then the A99 if coming from Inverness; follow signs for Wick Golf Course.
Sanna Bay, Scottish Highlands
One of Britain’s most secluded beaches, but it’s worth the journey. The beach consists of an arc of soft, pristine white sand, which is as likely to be dotted with the footprints of the local wildlife as it is with those of humans. A short distance along the coast is the Point of Ardnamurchan, the most westerly point of the British mainland. Getting there Signposted from Kilchoan on the southern side of the Ardnamurchan peninsula, along mainly unclassified roads. Kilchoan is reached along the B8007 or by ferry from Tobermory on the island of Mull.
Kynance Cove’s white sand, turquoise water and multi-coloured islands are just four miles north of Cornwall’s Lizard, the most southerly point of the British isles. One feature is the serpentine rock formations – the colours and markings resemble the patterned green or red skin of a serpent in places. For more information, call 01326 561407 or visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk. Getting there The A30, A39 and A294 get you all the way down England’s western limb. From Helston, follow the A3083 to Lizard town.