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Britain’s unspoilt beaches

Joy Persaud / 19 July 2018

We don’t all want bouncy castles, tacky tourist shops and gaudy piers. Here is Joy Persaud’s guide to getting away from the hustle and bustle.

Anderby Creek
Anderby Creek

1) Coppet Hall, Pembrokeshire

Coppet Hall is a sheltered sandy beach that lies on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. It has gentle tides and rock pools on its eastern side for those who like to hunt for crabs and other sealife. An old tramway runs along the top with tunnels to both the east and west to the villages of Wisemans Bridge and Saundersfoot.

There’s a large car park next to the beach and, for those who don’t want to lug a picnic, try Coast restaurant with views across Carmarthen Bay. There is also a kiosk selling ice creams and hot drinks. Toilets nearby.

2) Anderby Creek, Lincolnshire

This beach runs from Chapel St Leonards and Skegness in the south, and Sandilands and Mablethorpe in the north. Its length means it is perfect for those who enjoy taking long walks on unspoilt sand and this stretch is renowned for being a tranquil place, far from the more boisterous tourist resorts.

There is a car park with access to the beach via a path across the dunes. There are toilets, as well as a beach café. In the village there is a pub with a beer garden and a shop, and you’ll also find a number of caravan parks if you want to stay. Dogs are banned from part of the beach from 1 May to 30 September.

3) Heddon’s Mouth Beach, Exmoor, North Devon

Lying below rugged cliffs, this small northwest-facing beach of rocks and large pebbles is roughly midway between Combe Martin and Lynmouth. Located at the end of the Heddon Valley, also known as Heddon Mouth Cleave, the beach is accessed via an attractive, mile-long wooded path on the east bank of the River Heddon from Hunter’s Inn – a characterful old coaching inn, complete with resident peacocks. The inn was recently bought by the National Trust and is a great place to enjoy refreshments after your walk. No swimming at the beach and no facilities, but there is a NT shop, car park and toilets in Heddon Valley, not far from the inn.

If you’re unsteady on your feet, you can hire an all-terrain mobility tramper from the Countryside Mobility Scheme to get to Heddon’s Mouth: call 01598 763556 for information or visit the Countryside Mobility Scheme website. For those who are fond of history, there’s a restored lime kiln overlooking the beach, harking back to the days when limestone – brought by barge from Wales – was burnt to create quicklime for spreading on the local fields to ‘sweeten’ the acid soil so crops would grow more easily.

4) Chesil Beach, Dorset

The 18-mile-long shingle beach is part of the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It curves sharply at its eastern end, near the village of Chiswell, and forms Chesil Cove against the cliffs of the Isle of Portland, acting as a protective barrier from floods. The beach is ideal for those who enjoy walking – but do wear suitable shoes.

The view of Lyme Bay from the Cove House Inn in Portland – where you can dine indoors or outdoors – is spectacular. Booking recommended in summer. See exhibits and enjoy the café at the visitor centre at the southern end of the Fleet Lagoon, between Weymouth and Portland. It’s also the departure point for the Fleet Explorer, a Perspex-bottomed boat that takes passengers around the lower reaches of the lagoon.

5) Perranporth, Cornwall

Cornwall is renowned for its coastline and Perranporth is one of its best-known beaches. The water quality is rated ‘excellent’ by the Marine Conservation Society and it’s a great place for surfing or to have a dip. If you don’t want to get your feet wet, head to the beach bar or walk along the soft sand to find a quiet spot to watch the waves. The grassy sand dunes are home to myriad butterflies and lizards.

There are shops, toilets and places to eat, plus daily lifeguards during peak season and at weekends during less busy months.

Beach wheelchairs by Cornwall Mobility can be hired from Perranporth Gardens: call 07881 521730.

6) Dornoch Beach, Sutherland

If you are a fan of beautiful sunrises and sunsets, head to the tranquillity of the northeast coast of Scotland and its sandy beaches. Start at Dornoch with miles of fine golden sand that merge into Embo beach and on to the mouth of the Loch Fleet National Nature Reserve – home to seals, otters and wading birds. Further north along the coast there are two more beaches at Golspie and Brora to add to your itinerary. All four have won Beach Awards from Keep Scotland Beautiful.

Dornoch beach has toilets, parking and a golf course nearby, plus a range of hotels within walking distance. It is dog friendly, so you can take your pooch if you wish.

7) Woolacombe Beach, Devon

This white sandy beach in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is three miles long and backed by rolling dunes. It is so highly rated that it features in TripAdvisor’s annual World’s Best Beaches.

While there is space for families to enjoy beach games and build sandcastles, this sandy expanse is large enough that you can find a quiet corner to relax.

It’s a good spot for spectacular sunsets and postcard-worthy vistas, whatever the weather. Lundy Island is visible from the shore.

The water is clean and there are plenty of shops, hotels and B&Bs.

8) Oxwich Bay, Gower Peninsula, Swansea

A sweeping sandy beach that is easy to get to and wheelchair accessible – a gem from which to watch the sun go down.

Oxwich Bay offers sea, surf, dunes, salt marsh, shops and has a car park just 100 metres away. Dogs are allowed on the beach all year round, but must be kept on a lead when there are children in the vicinity. Note that there is no lifeguard on duty.

If you are feeling adventurous, consider going to secluded Nicholaston Burrows, the beach to the east of Oxwich Bay. It’s around a 15-20 minute walk from the car park, but takes much longer on the way back due to the steep sand dunes.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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