Britain and Ireland has some of the most spectacular coastal scenery anywhere in Europe. Here, we select our favourites.
Croyde Bay, Braunton, Devon
This gorgeous sandy beach is backed by dunes and a cosy North Devon village. There are surf schools, space for sunbathers and great walks along the beautifully named Baggy Point headland.
Fistral Bay, Newquay, Cornwall
Fistral is one of Cornwall’s classic surf spots, and when the waves are high the water gets busy. But on a beach this big there’s still plenty space to stretch out and watch. Craggy cliffs surround the expanse of sand, making it a truly spectacular spot.
Moggs Eye Beach, Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire
Also known as Huttoft Beach, this is a vast stretch of sand, quiet and unspoilt, surrounded by countryside. Nine miles north of good old Skegness, you’ll need to bring your own sandwiches as there’s not much here beyond the car park and toilets. But it’s a great space to walk, or plonk yourself down in the soft sand to contemplate the sea.
Sheringham, North Norfolk
The locals describe Sheringham as ‘twixt pine and sea’. At high tide, there’s not much beach to mention – at low tide an expanse of sand appears beyond the pebbles, leaving lots of wildlife to find in rock pools. The town has a boutique feel with a variety of local shops, restaurants and pubs, nestled in rolling countryside.
On the south side of the Llŷn Peninsula, Abersoch main beach is sheltered and sandy. There’s a wealth of sailing activity around the bay, but a motor boat exclusion zone and gentle currents make it an ideal swimming spot. Wildlife hunters can take boat trips from here to St Tudwal and Bardsey Islands.
Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire
This beautiful bay is National Trust-owned and accessible on foot, just a half hour walk over cliff tops from Stackpole Quay tea room. It’s just out-of-the-way enough to stop the yellow sand and stunning blue water, more Greek island than Welsh coast, ever getting too busy.
Three Cliffs Bay, Gower Peninsula, Glamorgan
From up on the cliffs, this stunning beach is one of the most photographed views in Wales. The paths aren’t easy, but there’s great hiking along this bit of coast – Pennard Castle and Mitchen Hole sea caves are amongst the sites. But parts of the beach do get cut off, so keep an eye on the tide!
Ballygally, County Antrim
There’s a sandy beach in the middle of a stony bay, with the postcard town of Ballygally stretched around it. The Antrim coast is dotted with beautiful spots and fascinating geology, so if you’re exploring it all this is the ideal spot to relax and enjoy an ice cream – now possible since the village got lottery funding to reopen their only shop.
Magilligan Strand, Benone
Seven miles of sandy beach wind round this spectacular section of Northern Ireland’s coast. It has one of the largest dune systems in the UK making it a Site of Special Scientific Interest. There are platforms on which you can walk into the protected dunes, swimming, sailing, outdoor paddling pools – it’s seven miles long, it’s got everything you could possibly want to do on a beach.