Five UK coastal areas worth visiting

Tom Cramp


Despite being subject to the occasional bit of patchy weather, British holidaymakers flock to the coast every year for a variety of domestic getaways. The English Riviera is undeniably picturesque, while the untamed Scottish Islands are teeming with marine life. The coast remains a place of exceptional beauty throughout summer and winter, making it a real contender for a post-lockdown staycation.

350 miles of shoreline in Kent

Londoners can find sandy beaches and charming seaside towns just 30 minutes away in Kent. 350 miles of shoreline gives anyone living in the south-east a plethora of options when it comes to quintessential English coastline tourism. Whitstable has become a trendy destination in recent years with eco-friendly coffee shops, feverishly popular oyster bars and attractive pebble beaches.

The town of Ramsgate a little further east has several beaches in close proximity such as Main Sands, Joss Bay and Stone Bay. It also boasts one of the largest marinas on the south coast, making it an important strategical outpost. Many of the civilian boats used in 1940 during the Dunkirk evacuation came from Ramsgate, and 2.5 miles of tunnels were excavated to serve as air-raid shelters during the Battle of Britain. The tunnels have since become a popular tourist attraction that is due to re-open in December 2020.

The White Cliffs of Dover in Kent feature some of the most stunning coastal scenery in the entire country. Several walks line the top of the cliffs for some excellent views and fresh sea air all year long.

Surfing and sailing in Cornwall

This spit of land at the south-western tip of the UK is well-known for being a water sports haven and the UK’s version of a beach utopia. Rugged, dramatic shoreline with high swells can be found on the exposed northern coast, but the water is slightly warmer, making for excellent surfing and sailing conditions. Fistral Beach in Newquay, Perranporth Beach in Perranporth and Porthmeor Beach near St Ives are just a few surfing spots that remain popular throughout the year.

On the south coast, whitewashed fishing villages encircle serene beaches to give things a much more relaxed vibe; average temperatures of 19°C in July and August make South Cornwall the closest thing to a sandy paradise the UK has. Falmouth is a great university town with lots of dining and accommodation options, while the Eden Project, the world’s largest indoor rainforest, also sits on the south coast.

Unfortunately, Cornwall is not the easiest place to get to. Trains run from London Paddington to Falmouth but will take roughly the same time as driving – about 5 hours.

Connecting with nature in Devon

Much like neighbouring Cornwall, your staycation experience in Devon will depend on whether you choose the north or south coast. The UK’s first UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in North Devon is a hub of diverse natural environments, cultural heritage sites and fascinating green economic schemes. There’s a lot to do here - one highlight is the Tarka Trail; a 180-mile route traversing immaculate countryside and striking sea cliffs, tailor-made for cyclists and hikers. Towns with transport links and comfortable accommodation along the north coast include Woolacombe, Ilfracombe and Barnstaple.

Devon’s south coast has much to offer as well. Quiet beaches and secret coves are spread across the English Riviera and along the Jurassic Coast. Small villages like Beer (yes, that’s its real name), Bantham and Bigbury have great beaches within walking distance, while bigger towns like Dartmouth and Torquay have train stations and a wider range of upscale accommodation.

Wales’ wealth of variety

The Wales Coast Path is the world’s first uninterrupted route along the entirety of a country’s coastline. It exhibits everything loveable about the British coast; beaches, cliffs, woodlands, castles and an abundance of wildlife. The Isle of Anglesey in North Wales is a family favourite; Puffin Island and Treardurr Bay beach are popular with kids, while a multitude of hikes and cycling paths make for great day-trip activities. Anglesey Golf Club also hosts several annual open competitions for keen golfers.

Wales’ exposed location makes it susceptible to the elements, so weather is not always reliable even in summer. However, such is the variety of environments along the coast, there is always something to do throughout the year.

Talking flora and fauna in Scotland

Scotland’s rich coastline covers 7,330 miles and features some of the wildest environments in the UK. The North Sea’s icy waters crashing against the land have formed many small islands, each offering its own biodiversity – approximately 90,000 animal, plant and microbe species inhabit Scotland.

North Berwick near Edinburgh is a base for expeditions and boat trips to see Scotland’s variety of seabirds while driving through the fields and woodlands of Aberdeenshire, Perthshire and the Cairngorms is a great way to spot buzzards, ospreys and falcons.

Humpback whales and dolphins can be seen from tours that launch at Gairloch in the north. Seals are also a fairly common sight on parts of the coast like Newburgh Beach and Dunvegan Castle on the popular Isle of Skye, home to several luxury cottages. Even basking sharks visit Scotland at certain times of the year, with ethical tours leaving from Tobermory on Mull and the Isle of Coll in the west.

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