Whether it’s your dream or your back-up plan, there are plenty of stunning British beaches to pick from
1. WEST WITTERINGS & EAST HEAD
This long, pale sandy beach in West Sussex in at the entrance to Chichester Harbour and looks across the sail-filled Solent. Backed by sand dunes and brightly painted beach huts, its popular with families as well as windsurfers and kite surfers. National Trust-managed East Head next door is a constantly shifting spit of white sand filled in with a maze of tufted dunes crossed by board-walks. The beach and the salt marshes behind it are a great place to spot wildlife like common seals, skylarks and sand lizards while the dunes erupt with wildflowers in the summer.
This windswept Northumberland beach is dominated by the imposing Bamburgh Castle, which has watched over the biscuity sands since the 6th century. The dune-backed beach is popular with kite fliers and walkers who come across the rugged Northumberland Coast Path as well as families with buckets and spades. Opposite the beach are the Inner Farne Islands, home of hermits and monks since the 7th century. There’s also a rock painted with a white stag and a small lighthouse – the most northerly of its kind in mainland England.
This part of North Devon is home to many stunning beaches but the golden arc of Putsborough is perfectly placed between the wild and rocky Baggy Point peninsula and the hotels, shops and cafes of pretty seaside town Woolacombe. Backed by a patchwork quilt of rolling green fields, the beach has plenty of rock pools to root in and you can either get out on the waves or watch the surfers roll in on foam-flecked waves.
4. BROAD HAVEN SOUTH
Wales’ Pembrokeshire coast has many dramatic beaches but Broad Haven South balances drama with relaxed vibes. This wide, sandy bay backed by soft dunes and protected by towering, craggy cliffs can be reached at the south end, following the windy path down from the cliffs or at the south, by following a flat path through the lily decorated Bosherston Lakes, a National Nature Reserve home to otters, wildfowl and dragonflies. The vast beach is famous for its view of church-shaped rock and there are caves and rockpools to explore.
Access from the car park above the beach at its southern end is not suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs due to the number of steep steps down the cliff.
5. LUSKENTYRE SANDS
Found on the west coast of South Harris in the Outer Hebrides, Luskentyre is a spectacular panoramic beach of dazzling white sand, stretching for miles and melting into turquoise water that turns deep blue further out and rivals the Caribbean. However, there are no hotels here, just a few tiny farmsteads with grazing sheep on bright green grass, some wee white cottages and a couple of graveyards. Framing the beach, in the distance, are the bruised curves of the island’s mountains, often hugged by clouds.