It sometimes astounds non-British people when we tell them that we have some of the best beaches in the world – because aren’t beaches about sunshine and shallow turquoise sea, and more sunshine?
Well, no, they’re not. And here are our 5 favourites to prove it. (And sorry, not one of them has anything to do with diets plans or healthy meals or good nutrition. But ALL of them will make you feel a rush of energy and a glow deep within – which is worth its weight in wholesome food!)
Pentle Bay, Tresco, Isles of Scilly
Technically this is still Britain, although the mainland is 30 miles – and light years – away. It’s so make-believe that you could be in a scene from Game of Thrones: white white beaches, turquoise seas (the colour of which belies the shock you get from its obviously British temperature), gentle sand dunes and rarely another soul around. Heavenly.
Wells / Holkham, Norfolk
This fabulous 11-mile-stretch of beach shot to fame in the Oscar-winning film, Shakespeare in Love (remember Gwynneth in the final scenes? That fabulous coastal wilderness she wafted along? That’s Holkham.) Despite its popularity, it’s easy to lose yourself – intentionally – in it’s shallow dunes or in any of its weaving nooks and crannies, even on the busiest summer’s day. But the beach really becomes special out of season when the vast grey sky and the wind-swept bleakness remind you that you truly are a speck in the Universe.
Sandwood Bay, Sutherland, Scotland
Nestled up on the north-west coast of Scotland, is what some consider to be the finest beach in Britain – if not the world! Part of its huge appeal is its solitude – there are no roads to Sandwood bay, just a four-mile path from the nearest hamlet, Blairmore. So with privacy more or less guaranteed, you can sit back on its wide, untouched sand and watch the rolling waves pound in from the wild Atlantic. And if you bring your fishing rod you can even go trout fishing in the fresh-water lake just behind the dunes. Glorious!
Marloes Sands, Dyfed, Wales
Surrounded by imposing sandstone cliffs, this slice of paradise is set within a national park – ensuring it remains as untouched and wild as possible. Children and adults alike love it not only for the vast expanse of golden sand, but also for the strange rock formations and stacks littering the beach and the cook caves dotting the surrounding cliffs.
Barafundle Bay, Dyfed, Wales
Just around the corner from Marloes Sands is another Welsh champion – Barafundle Bay has been voted Britain’s Best Beach on numerous occasions. Despite this, it’s unlikely to be thronged even in the height of summer – a consequence, perhaps, of the half-mile walk from the nearest car park, through breezy pastures and sparse woods. The sea is generally calm and crystal clear, while the broad arc of beach glitters with pristine, golden sand.