We never tire of the thrill of discovering a gorgeous UK beach. Particularly under-the-radar ones, or those of breathtaking natural beauty, like Cornwall’s Porthcurno (above). To be able to reach such places without flying halfway across the world seems unbelievably lucky – and never more appreciated than right now, when we’re trying to travel in a more eco-conscious way. Here are some of our other favourites.
Llansteffan Bay, Wales. Camarthenshire has some of the longest sandy beaches in Europe, including this idyllic beach overlooked by a 12thC Norman castle. Take time to visit the picturesque village of the same name when you visit, and walk a mile or 2 of the rugged coastline; panoramas across the sand-flats of the Tywi estuary are spectacular. This luxury yurt with a hot tub is a romantic base for the area.
Holkham Beach, Norfolk. Unspoilt Holkam is a vast sweep of golden dunes, backed by pine forests and salt marshes. The whole area is a nature reserve, with bird-watching hides (come in winter to see rare pink-footed geese), and it’s also popular with naturists, so feel free to dress au naturel! The owner of bijou Castle Acre Cottage can recommend a lovely walk along the sand dunes as far as the bright beach huts on Wells Beach, which winds back through the forest. Best followed by lunch at The Victoria pub (book ahead).
Barricane Bay, Devon. If you’re yet to discover the North Devon coastline, you’re in for a treat. Putsborough Sands has crystal-clear waters and brilliant rockpooling; Woolacombe is multi award-winning, and Saunton Sands stretches for miles, pristine, golden and backed by a wave of brightly coloured beach huts. But tiny Barricane Bay is our secret tip – masses of cowries and other exotic shells get washed up here from Caribbean shores; I spent hours of my childhood beachcombing the tiny cove. Base yourselves at Braunton Bolthole; a fabulous retro bungalow that’s perfect for a fun family holiday (sleeps 4).
Camastianavig Bay, Scotland. This tiny black-rock cove on the Isle of Skye. Overlooking the Sound of Rasaay, its beauty is rugged and elemental; wild seals and otters play in the water, bottlenose dolphins visit in summer and there’s a colony of sea eagles at the bottom of a cliff. We love this Scandi-minimalist cottage, the perfect counterbalance to the brooding landscape, just 150 yards away.
Porthmeor and Porthminster, Cornwall. St Ives is home to a pair of really gorgeous golden beaches, with soft sand and safe swimming. The former is backed by the Tate Gallery, and a great place to learn to surf ; the latter is lapped by turquoise sea, with views up to Godrevy Lighthouse. Both beaches are easily walkable from the romantic St Ives Seaview Studio and Garden Studio, as are all of this creative town’s restaurants and galleries.