April 18, 2024

‘The coast is big and the skies are too big’: readers choose their favorite UK coasts | Travel

Solitude and sky, Northumberland

For low-tide beauty, the coast between Alnmouth and Cresswell in Northumberland wins. With the tide out the beaches and skies are superb, especially on a sunny day. The coast is huge, so if you like solitude you will find it here. You have the advantage of wandering into the beautiful village of Warkworth and the small town of Amble. Access to public transport in this area is also quite good, considering its remoteness.
Barry Peaden

Wind and waves, Lancashire

Sunderland Point.
‘Quiet Georgian houses’ at Cape Sunderland. Photo: Tony Wright/Alamy

The 13-mile long Fylde coastal plain between the Rivers Lune and Wyre has subtle characteristics – wide horizons, sparkling sunsets, mud flats, marshes, racing tides, red lanes, gallows and bullet holes. The handful of secluded Georgian houses at Sunderland Point, exposed to wind and waves, are cut off twice a day because the causeway is submerged at high tide, so plan your visit carefully. Heading south, Glasson’s Dock grew through the cotton trade to become the main port in the north-west – a history that is difficult to reconcile with its languorous presence. You can cycle to Lancaster in half an hour on the old branch line, visit the smokehouse where “nothing has been added but smoke, salt and time”, and watch the boats on the Lancaster canal.
Martin Charlesworth


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The beautiful peninsula of Lŷn, Gwynedd

Llandbedrog Beach in the distance, with Snowdonia in the background.
Llandbedrog Beach in the distance, with Snowdonia in the background. Photo: Sophie Ware/Alamy

Llanbedrog beach on the Lŷn peninsula in north Wales is a beautiful beach owned and run by the National Trust. It’s picture-postcard perfect, with a row of colorful beach huts on the edge for rent. To find it you must follow the road down towards the sea from the village. On the right you will find some convenient public toilets, and then further on, just before you reach the beach, there is a popular cafe that serves breakfast and lunch. The beach is sandy, sheltered and shallow, and therefore suitable for families. It is also quieter than other nearby beaches. If you get good weather I couldn’t think of a better place to spend the day than this beach.
Julie Casey

Hold the fort, Arran

Coast near King's Cave, Arran.
Coast near King’s Cave, Arran. Photo: Lisa Morgan

It’s easy to get to the wild and beautiful, and Arran Island offers an accessible way to reconnect with the natural world. Walk the stunning stretch from the King’s Cave car park, near Machrie, to Blackfoot and watch the sea otter hunting crabs, seals basking on the rocks and otters diving in the clear blue waters. Then there is the spooky King’s Cave with its legends and ancient carvings, and dinosaur “pawprints” fossilized into the rock. But the exhibition is the prehistoric Close Close. Jump from boulder to boulder as you round the headland beneath towering vertical cliffs before crossing the sands to Black River Wood, with its honest-to-goodness box bakery full of flaky pastries.
Lisa Morgan

traditional family fun, Essex

Frinton-on-Sea. Photo: Chris Pancewicz/Alamy

A few miles walk north of Frinton-on-Sea is the perfect Essex family beach. On your left, you’ll pass double rows of candy-colored beach huts; to your right you have great flat stretches of ocher sand, broken only by the regular black lines of the dunes. Shallow and sloping, it is perfect for letting dogs and children run wild, collecting sea glass and shells. Crossing round The Nazi – meaning headland in Old English, but as a child I was convinced it referred to the nose-like shape – will take you to Walton-on-the-Naze. Around the day on the pier, with ice cream and some traditional penny arcades.

Dunes and Downs, West Sussex

West beach, Littlempton.
West Beach, Littlehampton. Photo: Simon Turner/Alamy

West Beach, Littlehampton is located in the Climbing Gap, the only undeveloped coast between Bognor Regis and Brighton. It is a riverside walk from Littlehampton station and is a protected nature reserve with dunes, fields and views of the South Dunes as a backdrop. All the benefits of a sunny south coast climate without the crowds. The further back you go, the quieter it gets. Undeveloped also means no shops, so bring your own provisions, but there are excellent West Beach Cafe at the entrance to the beach. Top it with fresh dressed crab and pint at the Arun View pub on the quayside before catching a train home.

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Great escape, Cumbria

Silloth. Photo: Chris Lewis/Alamy

For me, the coastal areas you love have the effect of pulling you away from yourself as you look out to sea. There is no better place to do that than from Silloth in Cumbria, with its vast and endless views. Locals will proudly tell you that Turner painted here, but my interest is more romantic. During the second world war my (southern) grandfather was stationed here and met my grandmother, marrying months later. Made up of wide, flat open spaces, it’s a town you can imagine teenagers wanting to escape from, but the attractive coastline will keep visitors coming back.

Sea life in Shetland

Orcas in Mousa Sound, Shetland.
Orcas in Mousa Sound, Shetland. Photo: Hugh Harrop/Alamy

Take the short ferry trip in season from Sandwick in Shetland to the island of Muse for a bracing walk around the island. The highlight is a well-preserved iron “turboblock”. In fact, the Mousa broch is a 2,000-year-old roundhouse that, for a brief period each summer, hosts nesting storm petrels. Other birds are easy to spot too – the island is an island RSPB Reserve. If you are lucky you can see the porpoises on the boat over there and seals on the beach.

Great England, Cornwall

Shipping to Zennor from St Ives.
Shipping to Zennor from St Ives. Photo: Alec Scaresbrook/Alamy

The coastal path from St Ives to Zennor is the best in England. It’s physically challenging and gloriously varied as you go around stilts, down to the coast and up to the cliffs, watching for seals and seabirds amongst wildflowers, reels and granite boulders. The IS Arms of Tinner a pub in Zennor is a satisfying stop for a pint of cider and the topless bus back to St Ives.

Winning tip: Eerie Anglesey

Llanddwyn Island.
Llanddwyn Island. Photo: Jane Bainbridge

Anglesey (or Ynys Môn) has a stunning coastline, and has the advantage of feeling very undiscovered, so you often get the walks to yourself. In the southwest corner lies Yew Forest. This is a classic pine forest that runs down through sand dunes to wide sandy beaches, full of birdlife – and if you’re lucky you’ll even see a red squirrel. Full of paths and tracks, it’s best when the tide is out – you can walk to Llanddwyn Island, with its ancient ruined church, standing crosses and old lighthouse. Take a picnic and soak up the atmosphere of this beautiful, terrifying spot.
Jane Bainbridge

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