The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - Travel



- Amanda Hyde

The parking spaces at this white cliff-backed stretch of shingle fill up fast in summer but that doesn’t matter: abandoning the car high above it all in the little village of St Margaret’s at Cliffe and then picking your way down a winding wooded path towards the water is part of the fun. This pinescente­d stroll, past sleepy lanes and hemmed in coastal mansions, evokes the French Riviera and the Costa Brava – transporti­ng walkers straight into holiday mode.

Though Noel Coward and Ian Fleming once called St Margaret’s Bay home, it’s no longer as fashionabl­e as its near-neighbour Deal, nor Margate and Broadstair­s further up the coast. A noticeable lack of DFLs (Down From Londons) equals no chi-chi coffee huts or beachside boutiques, just local families rockpoolin­g, paddling and searching for fossils among the shingle.


Brooks House (brookshous­e.traveleto. com), a comfy B&B around half a mile from the beach, is known for its delicious English breakfasts. Double rooms from £105.


The Coastguard, a 300-year-old pub just above the shingle, does great burgers and steaks (thecoastgu­


The beach may invoke distant climes, but the Pines Garden Tea Room, with its scones and homemade cakes, is a British institutio­n (

Time-warp Walberswic­k sits just across the River Blyth from the more obviously beach-resorty Southwold – the two have been connected by rowboat ferry since the 13th century. Connected but contrastin­g: Walberswic­k, once a thriving hub of fishing and ship-building, is now like

Southwold’s lower-key little sister. It doesn’t have the pier amusements or bustle. It does have a wilder-feeling, dune-backed beach, a surroundin­g nature reserve (where you might spot otters and avocets) and a harbour that’s ideal for crabbing.

There’s also a comely village green, a couple of pubs and tearooms, and a handful of shops. This includes the Black Dog Deli, where you’ll find local honey, cakes and pies, and walls scrawled with doodles by Charlie Mackesy, who lives nearby. Don’t miss St Andrew’s, Walberswic­k’s wee church, which was built in 1696 within the looming ruins of a grand 15th-century church, a reminder of the village’s former glory.


The Bell Inn (01502 723109; bellinnwal­ is a 600-year-old pub with six bright rooms. Double rooms from £107.


The award-winning Anchor serves up fresh, inventive dishes – a menu of seafood specials is served on Fridays and Saturdays (anchoratwa­

A RAINY DAY ACTIVITY Southwold has many indoor diversions, from Lighthouse Tours ( to the madcap slot machines of the Under the Pier Show (southwoldp­

Sarah Baxter



Holkham tends to hog all the “best Norfolk beach” limelight. But Brancaster, 10 miles west, is pretty fine too. Here, you’ll find an immensity of wide, dune-backed golden sand – the D-Day landings were practised here – while the surroundin­g coast and hinterland fizzles into a morass of creeks, sand banks and salt marshes that are brilliant for birds.

The beach itself is so big that it never feels overcrowde­d, and is perfect for shell-collecting, kite-flying, sandcastli­ng, horse-riding and dog-walking (permitted year-round). It’s not hugely touristy either. At the beach itself, there’s just a toilet and kiosk, plus a golf course founded in 1892, with a clubhouse that looks little-changed since. There are more facilities at Brancaster village and Brancaster Staithe. It’s worth noting that during a high tide the beach road can flood. Consider coming by Coasthoppe­r bus or on foot along the Norfolk Coast Path instead.


Marooned on the marshes, the White Horse (01485 210262; whitehorse­ has 15 coastal-vibe rooms and a classy restaurant. Double rooms from £150.


The Crab Hut at Brancaster Staithe sells fresh lobster, crab and more, caught by the owner’s boat; open daily MarchNovem­ber (


Holkham Hall is a full day out. Find shelter in the 18th-century manor, Victorian greenhouse­s and interactiv­e Holkham Stories Experience (


Lancashire’s seaside towns look out onto big skies and the Irish sea – both grey as often as blue – and massive Saharas of sandy beach. Silting and changing currents mean tides rarely venture in, which is great for power kites and moody photos, less so for bathing. Morecambe is a different kettle of cockles, with the water coming up to the prom twice a day and then drawing back to the sea. This brings other benefits besides a quick dip close to where you left the car.

The foreshore is a haven for birds and the sands left behind by the retreating tide are a whirl of shifting patterns, framed by the southern fells of the Lake District. No wonder Turner painted Morecambe Bay during his Cumbria trip. The statue of Eric Morecambe shows the country’s favourite comic in his Bring Me Sunshine dance-pose, with binoculars dangling. That’s Morecambe: fun, feathered things and nostalgica­lly harking back to past times.


Get a sea-view room at the Streamline Moderne Midland (inncollect­iongroup. com/the-midland-hotel), close to the stone jetty that divides the North and South beaches. Double rooms from £179.


Comfort food always works in northern climes; get yourself a bowl of fish, seafood, bacon and potato chowder, served with a crusty cob at Morecambe Bay Chowder Co (


When Eden Project Morecambe opens (it’s scheduled for 2026) there’ll be yearround indoor sunshine, but until then a tour of the Winter Gardens is a rewarding experience and all funds support its ongoing restoratio­n. Entry £10 (morecambew­intergarde­

Chris Moss

The former fishing village of Runswick Bay, North Yorkshire, is a haven for watersport­s

Too posh to pitch? Glamp in serious style at Fforest Coast, near Penbryn in Wales



It’s a remarkable – and blessed – fact that, despite its deserved popularity among locals, Runswick Bay has resisted the usual trappings of seaside hotspots: burger vans, fish and chip shacks, knick-knack shops. Admittedly, they’d be pressed to find room in this former fishing village whose red pantile-roofed cottages tumble gently down the cliffside; this, incidental­ly, is the “new” village, the old one swept away by a landslide in 1682.

Below the small slipway, an inviting curve of sand and shingle, cupped by rocky spurs that demand rock-pooling investigat­ion, stretches a mile and a half east to Kettleness cliffs. This is fossil-hunting territory; part of the north-east’s Jurassic coast. The sands are for ball-games, sandcastle-building and splashy forays into the water – paddle boards and kayaks, too (barefootka­yak. com). Most people stay near the village so it’s easy to find a quiet spot. In summer, an ice cream van often parks up near the slipway. What more could you want?


In a quiet village, a mile inland, familyrun Ellerby Country Inn (01947 840342; ellerbyhot­ offers smart, cottagey rooms and well-above-average pub food. Double rooms from £115.


Above the slipway and with outside seating, Tides café sells sandwiches, breakfast rolls, ice cream and traybakes, plus beach gear (01947 841472;


Take a steam train ride on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway from Whitby, seven miles south, across the moors ( £45 unlimited, or £12 for one stop (children free).

Helen Pickles



Just when you think Northumber­land is running out of coastline and can’t produce a better beach – after all, it has the sheltered delight of Low Newton, the beautiful curve of Beadnell, the wild pinky-gold sands of Bamburgh – you come across Cocklawbur­n and Cheswick, four miles south of the border town of Berwick-upon-Tweed.

You can reach the interconne­cted, peachy beaches by the coastal path from the town; otherwise, park up on the country lane, and then walk through the dunes – prepare to be staggered at the near-emptiness of Cocklawbur­n beach below you. A mix of sand and rock, it’s scattered with a few dogs, walkers and beachcombe­rs – look out for crinoids and the pinky-orange carnelian stones – until, rounding a rocky point as you head south, it opens into the runway-flat expanse of Cheswick Beach. On my first visit, I could have sworn it ran uninterrup­ted all the way south to Holy Island. That may have been an illusion, but the feeling of wild and gorgeous freedom was not.


In an enviable position on Berwick’s town walls, and overlookin­g the Tweed estuary, the Walls (01289 330233; thewallsbe­ is an elegant Georgian townhouse B&B with a relaxed atmosphere. Double rooms from £120.


Pick up provisions – filled bagels, buddha bowls, cake – from Berwick’s Mule on Rouge, and picnic in the dunes (­ouge).


Head to a castle: either Lindisfarn­e if the tides permit (£8.50; nationaltr­ust. or mighty Bamburgh (bamburghca­; £15.50).


You could comb through every pebble and grain of sand on Britain’s shores and not find a lovelier beach than this great scoop of blonde sand fizzing into a sea of brilliant turquoise.

There’s a reason Barafundle Bay on Pembrokesh­ire’s south coast always sneaks into the polls of Wales’s best beaches, but the good news is it hasn’t let fame go to its pretty head. Summer holidays and weekends aside, you’ll often get this ravishing beach to yourself, particular­ly if you’re an early riser. Why? Because you can only reach it on foot: up and over grassy cliffs and dunes on a half-hour walk from Stackpole Quay National Trust car park.

If you’re here in summer, visit nearby Bosherston, too, where a trail whips through broadleaf woods and past water lily-spattered ponds. The path emerges at Broad Haven South, another stunner of a dune-fringed beach, with views to Church Rock.


The ivy-draped Stackpole Inn (01646 672324; stackpolei­ has double rooms from £120.


Stackpole Inn doesn’t just have seasidey rooms; it’s a cracking country pub with an outstandin­g restaurant serving up the freshest seafood and foraged finds.


A 20-minute drive away, Carew Castle (pembrokesh­ presents a fascinatin­g romp back to the Middle Ages, with its romantic ruined Norman motte-and-bailey and restored tidal mill.


If you’ve never heard of Penbryn, it’s most likely because locals whisper quietly about this sublime, cliff-clasped bay on the Ceredigion coast. Living in the Cambrian Mountains, Penbryn is one of my nearest beaches and its wild beauty pulls me back time and again. The magic is all in the approach: pootling along narrow country lanes that dip gently to the sea, parking at the National Trust car park, then walking in quiet wonder through a fern-flecked, waterfall-wisped beech forest until rock eventually becomes sand. In spring the woods are dusted with bluebells.

And my, what a beach: rugged cliffs roll down to butterscot­ch sands and booming surf, where you might spot dolphins and seals early or late in the day. Go for a gaspingly cold swim, or ramble north along gorse-clad cliffs on the coast path to Traeth Bach, the castaway cove of childhood fantasies.


Glamp in rustic-cool style in a log cabin or geodesic dome at Fforest Coast (01239 623633; coldatnigh­, where beach days give way to nights around the fire pit under the starriest of skies. Three nights self-catering in a dome from £520; sleeps four.


In a dinky converted cart house, the Plwmp Tart (01239 758100) does fabulous coffee, cakes and ice cream. Organic homegrown ingredient­s go into lunches like pea and wild garlic soup and sweet potato falafel.


Pop five minutes down the road to In the Welsh Wind (inthewelsh­ distillery, which has won awards for its gins infused with local botanicals. They run tours, tastings and workshops.

Kerry Walker




This is the beach I dream of visiting most – in the wee village of Elie, just over an hour from Edinburgh. The capital broods across the Forth in the distance, but feels a world away. Here, you get two beaches for the price of one as Elie Harbour Beach is joined at low tide by the similarly golden sands of Earlsferry Beach, forging a glorious mile-long expanse.

A sprinkle of orange-tiled, whitewashe­d old fishing cottages provide a dramatic natural amphitheat­re for the cricket. Yes, cricket: the Ship Inn Cricket Club is surely the world’s only team to play all their home games on a beach. It is sheltered, too, which is handy for paddling families and beginner kayakers. More thrilling windsurfin­g, waterskiin­g and newbie sport e-foil await beyond the harbour wall, but you won’t want to stray too far from this Keep Scotland Beautiful award winner.


Book a room with a beach view at the legendary Ship Inn (01333 330246; The Admiral Room on the top floor is the pick with a roll-top bath. Double rooms from £140.


You won’t want to wander away from the Ship Inn to eat. Executive chef Mat Majer celebrates local produce with the likes of venison and haggis Scotch egg, and crab linguine. There are even beach barbecues in summer months.


Dunfermlin­e was awarded city status last year, making it Scotland’s newest. The historic palace, abbey and mini-Edinburgh old town are only a 40-minute drive away (dunfermlin­

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On the ball: the Ship Inn Cricket Club plays its home games on Elie Harbour Beach in Fife
Walk this way: Barafundle Bay in Pembrokesh­ire can only be reached on foot On the ball: the Ship Inn Cricket Club plays its home games on Elie Harbour Beach in Fife
 ?? ?? Gimme Morar: Scotland’s Sands Beach was the setting for the 1983 movie Local Hero
Mind your manors: visit Holkham Hall in Norfolk for a historic day out
Gimme Morar: Scotland’s Sands Beach was the setting for the 1983 movie Local Hero Mind your manors: visit Holkham Hall in Norfolk for a historic day out

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