Sunny sandy beach
(Getty Images / iStockphoto)
We are currently in the midst of an unexpected heat wave across the UK, with temperatures expected to hit 30C this weekend in London. Phew.
The hot weather has come from the Azores, according to the Met Office, which is about the only thing allowed to come from Portuguese territory since it was shunted off the UK’s amber list on June 3.
So, it is the British beaches. Fortunately, our beautiful island is full of decent beaches – more Blue Flag beaches than Cyprus, even.
There is nowhere like a British beach; in all their rock stick glory, wind in hair, sand sandwich. Our small island is full of great options, and given that international travel is currently … unlikely, The independent travel desk has put together our selection of our favorite UK beaches.
Sunny Sands, Folkestone, Kent
Folkestone – perhaps best known for its proximity to the Chunnel – may seem like an odd inclusion in the “best beach” stakes. But this is the place I can’t wait to return to, for several reasons. First of all, it’s extremely convenient when traveling from London – a quick 52 minute ride on the high speed train service from South East to St Pancras. Second, it has a smashing harbor arm, filled with food and drink stalls (including a champagne bar operating from a lighthouse). And third, it’s one of the few places along the Kent coast that has a real sandy rather than pebble beach: Sunny Sands. There’s also a pebble beach if that’s more your thing, stretching somehow and brought to life with a variety of vibrant public artwork, added every three years during the Folkestone Triennial. – Hélène Coffey
Oddicombe, Torquay, Devon
Whenever I am asked to choose my favorite beach, my answer is quick and certain: Oddicombe in South Devon. Much of my answer stems from pure nostalgia – this is the beach we used to go to most summers when I was a kid on vacation to visit my dad’s family in Torquay. With a soft pebble beach, striking red cliffs (which perpetually fall into the sea), cute kiosks to buy snacks, inflatables, buckets and shovels, and even a cliff railway, it’s the epitome of everything I want from a great British beach. -HC
Whitby Beach, Whitby, Yorkshire
There are many reasons to visit Whitby besides its long stretches of beautiful sandy and pebble beach. The perfect fish and chips for one; the glorious “lemon top” (vanilla ice cream topped with a lemon sorbet swirl) for another. It even hosts one of the biggest Gothic festivals in the world, the biannual Whitby Goth Weekend, thanks in part to Bram Stoker, for whom Whitby Gothic Abbey served as the inspiration for ‘Dracula’. Anyway, back to this beach – this blue flag beauty is great for rock pooling, paddling and swimming and has a spectacular cliff as a backdrop, as well as a row of beach huts. in bright colors for more charm. – HC
South Bank, Waterloo, London
Calling out this strip of sand and pebbles, clearly visible only at low tide, a beach maybe pushes it a bit – but this is one of my favorites, as I hosted my wedding reception at the Oxo Tower. of South Bank overlooking it. There are awe-inspiring views of the Financial District and St Paul’s skyscrapers, and it’s oddly disorienting to watch people walking along the riverside path above. South Bank Beach changes with the seasons: in winter, the Thames is grimly beautiful in its glorious splendor; while in summer, seeing the sun bounce off the surrounding buildings while sunbathing in a bikini is a special kind of thrill. Plus, you’re sandwiched between the Southbank Center (for art and culture) and Borough Market (for food): no rock sticks and cheap attractions here. -Cathy Adams
Frinton-on-Sea Beach, Essex
If you grew up in Essex like me, then Frinton was the beach where to go. Unlike nearby Clacton or Walton-on-the-Naze, Frinton has the beautiful sand and the calm, family vibe – so much so that he won a Blue Flag award. The beach itself is a real eye-catcher: it slopes down to the sea from a high coastal promenade perfect for getting out of the fish and chips lunch, and there is a row of colorful beach huts that I loved to look at when I was there. was a child. But maybe the best thing about this place, as my parents will tell you, is the free parking by the beach. – CALIFORNIA
Ballycastle, County Antrim
The Bay Cafe – which overlooks Ballycastle’s wide beach and has floor-to-ceiling windows – is serving the Big Fry special (sausage, bacon, egg, beans, tomatoes, hash browns, soda bread, toast, tea) before long. It’s a beach with a view: The hills of County Antrim sink into the sea – and beyond the tumultuous cliffs, through the haze stands the Mull of Kintyre, that bulky punctuation at the far end. of the Argyll peninsula in Scotland. – Simon calder
Aberdeen, North East Scotland
Few UK cities include a beach in their directory. Brighton and Swansea have stretches of shoreline, but their appeal is limited by, respectively, the pebbles of Sussex and the monotonous urban backdrop of South Wales. In contrast, the granite town of Aberdeen has a terrific beach: a wide arch of sand that is perfect for a swim before breakfast on a bright morning. After a splash or a surf, enjoy the architecture just inland at Old Aberdeen. – SC
Rhossili Bay, Gower Peninsula, South Wales
The sandy beach at the end of the Gower Peninsula is far from the easiest beach to reach in Britain, even if you are starting from, say, Cardiff. But wherever you start, it’s worth the trip – with a wild, western feel that makes it especially appealing at the end of a hot summer afternoon, when the muscular headlands cradle the sand and seem to collect the heat. “Wake up to one of the best views in the world” is the claim of the family-run Worm’s Head. – SC
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