Five of the UK’s best beaches

From the remote golden sands of Wales to the dunes of Lindisfarne, Chris Carter reports on the UK’s best beaches.

Tropical sands in Scotland

Luskentyre beach (above), on Harris in the Outer Hebrides, is one of the island’s “show-stoppers”, says Hugh Morris in The Sunday Telegraph. The beach makes “a vast ‘V’ shape as the sea infringes the land, cutting channels and streams that ebb and flow with the tides. It is wide, sweeping, golden and empty”. It’s enough to make one feel like Tom Hanks’ character in the film Cast Away, stranded as he was on a tropical island. “Luskentyre’s waters shimmer between blue and silver as the shallows rise and fall, with only gentle waves breaking the silence. I wandered for hours and barely covered half the shore.” 

Stay at The Sheep Station, from £2,500 for a week, thesheepstation.co.uk.

A beach to surprise and amaze

Blackpool Sands beach

© Getty Images/iStockphoto

Don’t be fooled by the name, says Olivia Holborow for Condé Nast Traveller. Blackpool Sands is actually in South Devon. But the real surprise is the drive to get there, “through pine trees, almost reminiscent of the Amalfi Coast, [bringing] you out onto a splendid sweep of beach”. It is made up of “the smoothest little pebbles, which makes the water astonishingly clear”. When the temperature begins to soar, “the pontoon floating off the shore is the coolest place to be”. It’s also perfect for “diving off into the bay’s blue waters”. The Venus Café, at the back of the beach, is a cut above, serving sustainable local seafood. The Gara Rock hotel, near Salcombe, has “staggering” clifftop views. 

Around £574, gararock.com.

A Welsh beach for the brave

Traeth Llyfn beach

© Alamy

Traeth Llyfn Beach, in Pembrokeshire, is “majorly off the beaten track”, says Nisha Mal on Wales Online. To get here, you will have to “hike along a coastal path and then brave a slightly scary set of metal steps down a cliff face to see the sand”. But don’t let that put you off. “Once down on the beach, there is plenty of space for dogs to run free and games to be played.” Just be careful if you decide to go in the water. The waves are powerful and there is no lifeguard due to the remoteness of the area. 

A spiritual haven

Coves Haven beach

© Alamy

With the weather warming up, the question is how to avoid the crowds, says Daniel Start in The Daily Telegraph. Coves Haven, on Holy Island in Northumberland, provides the answer. The island, also known simply as Lindisfarne, was the birthplace of Christianity in England. “Many cross the tidal causeway to visit the monastery founded by St Aidan of Iona in the seventh century, but few know about the beach on the north side of the island.” In its time, Coves Haven served as a sanctuary for the monks. It was here that they came to “commune with the ocean and cleanse themselves in the waves”. Birds of prey make their homes in the sandstone caves overlooking the sandy bay.

Something for everyone

Downhill Strand beach

© Getty Images

“What’s wonderful about the British coast is that it is so varied,” says television presenter Kate Humble in The Times. For a relatively small country, there is a lot of coastline and, not only is it beautiful, but it is accessible too. So “whether your interest is wildlife or history, beauty, exercise, or just getting outside, there’s something for everyone on the coast”. Take Downhill Strand, in Coleraine, Northern Ireland, for example. The 18th-century Mussenden Temple stands like a sentinel over the sea at one end of the seven miles of sand and surf, says Jane Knight in the same paper. It is one of Northern Ireland’s most photographed monuments and makes for a “scenic lookout”. “Down on the beach – Dragonstone Sands in Game of Thrones – there are nature walks among the sand dunes, and surfers and horse riders at the start and end of the day.” 

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