10 of the Best Beaches in Britain
With 7,723 miles of coastline from Cornwall to John o' Groats, this vast and diverse coastline is cluttered with stunning wild-life, marine life and nature and amongst this extensive shoreline lie many concealed and secluded hidden beaches.
From the north east coast of Scotland to Yorkshire, Norfolk, the south coast, Wales and Devon there are hundreds of sandy beaches, of which many are well-known, well-visited and popular, but amongst them lie certain lesser known hidden and unspoiled gems, more remote from the main cities and only accessible by car.
10 secret beaches in the UK
- Pedn Vounder Beach, Cornwall
- Lulworth Cove, Dorset
- Scratby sands, Norfolk
- Gara Rock, Devon
- Sandsend, North Yorkshire
- Marloes Sands, Wales
- Newburgh Seal Beach, Aberdeenshire
- Happisburgh, Norfolk
- Silver Sands Beach, Fifeshire
- Harlech Beach, Wales
2021, the year of the staycation boom?
2021 has been an odd year so far, with national lockdowns, a colossal vaccine plan underway and a light at the end of the Covid-tunnel. Perhaps from Easter time, the hard restrictions will slowly begin to ease, and undoubtedly everyone in the country is asking themselves, "when will I be able to have a holiday again", and "where will I be able to go?".
Where are the best remote beaches in the UK?
Many beaches in the country and well-known and will most certainly be packed this summer since its widely expected that foreign travel will still be heavily restricted. But for some, the main-stream mass-populated areas aren't so appealing which is why at EnjoyTravel.com we've identified some of the most charming secluded and secret beaches in the country for you to read about and explore.
Lulworth Cove (left) and Gara Rock beach in Devon (right)
Pack the car, set the satnav, stick the beer cooler in the boot and let the good times roll!
1. Cornwall - Pedn Vounder Beach
For our number 1 favourite secret beach, it’s Pedn Vounder. So secret that at certain times its hidden beneath the shallow and clear azure waters.
Beyond Penzance and only 4 miles from Landsend, Cornwall’s secret beach is the found in almost the most south westerly point of England. Pedn Vounder Beach is set among the breathtaking cliffs of Treryn Dinas with crystal clear water. On a beautiful warm day in summer you could be fooled into thinking you were in the Mediterranean with the sun, clean blue waters and white thin sand. For those wanting a relaxing break in the UK without the need to leave the country, this is your utopia.
To access it, you will need to tackle the long steep walk-way from the cliff top down to the ground.
You truly need a car to access this beautiful, secluded beach tucked away in deepest Cornwall. There are numerous campsites nearby, and the nearest town Penzance is 8.5 miles away where there are plenty of guesthouses, pubs and shops.
Getting there: Pedn Vounder - Pedn Vounder Beach is in the extreme south west of Cornwall and the nearest town is Penzance. You can take a train into Penzance and easily rent a car from there to get around. If driving, head for the South West (Devon / Cornwall). At Exeter pick up the A30, which by-passes Penzance and finally pick up the B3283 to Treen.
2. Dorset – Lulworth Cove
With its extraordinary geology and spectacular scenery, this is a truly unique and well-hidden beauty spot. The beach and aquamarine coloured sea are almost entirely encapsulated by the surrounding cliffs, with only a small entry point out to the sea. A short walk to the east is Fossil Forest, a natural ancient and submerged Jurassic forest with fantastic views and captivating fossils.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Jurassic Coast stretches from East Devon, 96 miles to Dorset and provides glorious views along its magnificent coastal walk-ways.
West Lulworth village is just a mile away, and an easy and pleasant walk with a handful of guesthouses, B&Bs and pubs. The cove and surroundings are facilitators of plenty of outdoor activities with the Visitors Centre in Lulworth itself, coasteering, mountain biking and other outdoor pursuits. Water-sports are a given with scuba, swimming, sailing and canoeing amongst some of the most popular.
Getting there: Lulworth Cove – Weymouth is the nearest major town, if coming by train you can connect directly from London Waterloo. From Weymouth, hiring a car is easy and a great way to get around the area, with Enterprise offering a mini/economy type car from around £25 a day. Driving to Lulworth Cove; the A31 takes you almost all the way in from the M3/M27 London/Southampton direction, and the A35 from Devon direction.
3. Norfolk - Scratby sands
For a peaceful beach which is not too far away from traditional seaside fairgrounds you can visit Scratby Sands. It is the quiet neighbour of Great Yarmouth where the tourists have been going for years and with this comes the perception that you have found a hidden gem. Low sandy cliffs surround the sand and shingle, and the sea is ideal for swimming and fishing and is often used in the winter for surfing where there can be some impressive waves.
The beautiful beach which is dog friendly stretches from Caister-on-Sea to the south all the way to Winterton Dunes national nature reserve where you can find grey and common seals lazing on the sands or swimming up and down the coastline. Next door is California which was named because during the gold rush in America a haul of 16th century coins were found on the beach, so it maybe an idea to take a metal detector and dig for some hidden treasures.
Getting there: Scratby Sands – From Norwich take the A47 and turning off at Acle instead of continuing to Great Yarmouth taking roughly 35 minutes. If you want to travel the coastal more scenic road travel to Winterton and work back down towards Caister-on-Sea. If coming into the UK by plane, Norwich has its own airport where you can easily pick up a rental car from.
4. Gara Rock – Devon
For hidden beaches in Devon, Gara Rock is located in South Devon half way between Paignton and Plymouth beneath the South Devon Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The picturesque small town of Salcombe is 2.8 miles away on foot, but to get there by road is a 15 mile, 40 minute drive since it is connected by foot bridge not accessible to cars.
Surrounded by coves, rugged cliffs, clear turquoise sea water and frothy waves, this hidden gem is kept secret by the locals, hidden away in true south Devon where the people pride themselves as friendly and easy-going. The Gara Rock hotel sits at the cliff top overlooking the bay and provides limited car parking. There are plenty of places to stay, eat and drink in Salcombe as well as numerous local pubs and shops. Tucked away nearby are other delightful spots too such as Sunny Cove Beach, Mill bay, and East Portland Beach.
The luscious clear water and white sands make it popular for scuba diving, sandcastle building, beach games and sunbathing whilst appealing to families and providing a romantic get-away for couples too.
Getting there: Gara Rock – depending on where you are coming from, by car you will enter Devon via the M5 motorway, by-pass Exeter and pick up the A38 towards Plymouth. Come off the A38 for the B3196 at and follow the twisty country lanes all the way in. If coming into the UK by plane, Exeter has its own airport where you can easily pick up a rental car from within the airport where you can choose from Avis, Europcar, Enterprise, Alamo and Firefly to get the best bargain. Prices starting at around £10 a day and if coming by train, head for Exeter St Davids where you can also easily find a rental car in the city.
Whitby Sandsend (left) and Sunset over Whitby (right)
5. Whitby Sandsend, North Yorkshire
Whilst Sandsend at Whitby may not be the most secret of North Yorkshire’s beaches, it is away from the crowds of Whitby whilst being close enough to good amenities. Surrounded by rugged hillside, coastal walkways, and quaint seaside cottages, Whitby is a charming fishing town, famous for Dracula’s cliff top castle overlooking the North Sea and estuary.
Head 3 miles north along the coast, and you come to Whitby Sandsend. The 3 mile long beach runs all the way from the town centre to the far end of Sandsend, ending up at a small estuary popular for paddling, building sand castles and searching for crabs. The Sandsend café is right on the edge of the beach and serves fresh food and fresh coffee, particularly well-known locally for its fresh crab sandwiches. There is a small but quality selection of accommodation within walking distance or a very short drive such as Sandsend Bay Cottages, the luxurious Raithwaite Estate, Dunsley Hall Country House Hotel and a small selection of independent cottages.
Getting there: Whitby Sandsend – there is a train station in Whitby town centre, which connect to York. From Whitby you can take the 3 mile walk, take a bus. If you want to rent a car, you’re better off taking the train into the larger nearby town of Scarborough where you can find Enterprise just outside the town centre. If driving, coming from York direction, take the A64 and turn off for Pickering on the A170. Once through Pickering, enjoy the breath-taking scenery of the North Yorkshire Moors all the way into Whitby.
6. Marloes Sands - Wales
Marloes Sands is a 1 mile long remote and sandy beach near the village of Marloes in Pembrokeshire, Wales. From the beach you can enjoy breath-taking views of Skokholm Island and Gateholm Island. This beach is a truly kept secret of Wales, and a long drive from the main cities of Wales and England, however well worth it for an honest, relaxing and peaceful break with your partner and/or family with plenty of outdoor activities and water-sports, surfing is particularly popular.
Miles of wondrous redish coloured cliffs, golden sands, and rockpools chaperone a wealth of sealife and wildlife. Seals are regular visitors, and the nearby islands are favoured by colonies of puffins and other sea birds.The nearest town of Milford Haven is 10 miles away and has all the amenities you need including B&Bs, guesthouses, shops, pubs and places to eat out, though if you like to stay away from the masses, the nearby village of Marloes is just 1.5 miles away and might be more up your street with a small handful of guesthouses and restaurants.
The only way to get to this secluded beach really is by car, and there is a National Trust car park just 10 minutes walk from the beach.
Getting there: Marloes Sands – This is a particularly remote location and a 5 hour drive from central London via the M4, bypassing Bristol and Cardiff, then pick up the A40. Cardiff is about 2 and a half hours drive.
7. Harlech Beach - Wales
Located on the north Wales coast, this 4 mile long stretch of golden sandy beach is one of Wales’ best hidden secret beaches due to its remote location and lack of nearby population. Over-looked by the Snowdonia National Park, the beach provides charming views of Snowdonia, its mountains and wondrous topography.
Spectacular wildlife, sea life, and water sports characterise the areas popularity with the locals, and the enchanting 13th century Harlech Castle is just 1 KM from the beach.
Towards the south end of the beach is the small town of Harlech, and 10 miles to the north, across the other side of the harbour is the larger town of Portmadog with a train station which connects with Birmingham New Street in 4.5 hours.
Getting to Harlech Beach: Realistically you need to travel by car to get to Harlech Beach. Coming from the north of England, you will probably pass through Chester and Wrexham then follow signs for Portmadog before finally picking up the A496 into Harlech. There is a small train station in Harlech, but from all major cities in England and Wales there are a number of changes needed and likely a lot of waiting around in between stops.
8. Newburgh Seal Beach, Scotland
This Scottish secret beach is 13 miles north of Aberdeen on the east coast of Scotland, and famous locally for its seal population who inhabit the beach in their hundreds. Tucked behind Foveran Nature Reserve, at the mouth of the Ythan River, the wide and sandy stretch of beach is a must for nature lovers, and sea-life enthusiasts. The beach has been described as one of the best places in the United Kingdom for marine wildlife with a 400-strong seal colony.
From the beach there are miles of coastal walk-ways. The city of Aberdeen is a 20 minute drive, the nearby village of Newburgh has the basic amenities from shops to local pubs.
Getting there: Newburgh Beach – Travelling from Edinburgh direction, take the A90 following signs to Aberdeen then continue passed Aberdeen eventually reaching Newburgh. Coming by train, Aberdeen is directly connected to Edinburgh and there are numerous rental car options in Aberdeen city centre.
Pedn Vounder Beach (left) and Newburgh Seal beach (right)
9. Norfolk – Happisburgh
For a beautiful beach with lots of amazing history Happisburgh is ideal, firstly its name is different to first thought and the locals love hearing visitors phonetically pronouncing it while asking for directions. The secret to blend in with the locals is it pronounce it “Hayz-Bruh” which is much easier with strong Norfolk accent. Tucked away between Sea-Palling and Walcott the beach at Happisburgh is just shy of 20 miles from Norwich and takes you through popular towns famous for their boat hire for holiday makers exploring the beautiful Norfolk Broads.
The impressive beach itself stretches for miles and has a stunning backdrop of cliffs which are reported to be eroding at a rate of 50 metres per decade. Hidden walks take you can to St Mary’s church but also the delightful and picturesque lighthouse which is currently the oldest working lighthouse in Britain. Archaeological digs have shown that Happisburgh beach was inhabited by humans an astonishing 800,000 years ago and was the home to many different animals where now their fossils are often found.
The sandy beach is easy accessed and due to its proximity to the more popular holiday destinations along the coast is usually very quiet and peaceful compared to the others allowing more space and relaxation listening to the sea with little disruption. A perfect location for travellers who want to explore like one of the locals and find the beauty and secrets in the Norfolk coastline.
Getting there: Happisburgh – From Norwich take the shortest route on the A1151 through Wroxham and Stalham taking in the scenery on the country roads towards the coast will take 35 minutes. If coming into the UK by plane, Norwich has its own airport where you can easily pick up a rental car from.
10. Scotland - Silver Sands Beach, Aberdour
As the name would suggest “silversands” beach is exactly that but that is far from the full story as it is backed by beautiful woodland and boasts views of the Islands of Inchmickery and Inchcolm. A beach that is straight out of the storybooks which invokes the feelings of peacefulness and tranquillity. Situated on the Fife coast and with wonderous walks to view the local Abbey it is well worth the visit to enjoy a relaxing paddle or walk.
A mixture of beach and countryside makes “silversands” unique and with parts of Abadour village looking like a throwback in time. Abadour is on the north shore of the Firth of Forth and is 18 miles from Edinburgh and close to other adventure such as Hawkscraig where rock climbing is popular.
There is many things to do at this amazing beach from walks, swimming, fishing, windsurfing and canoeing with designated zones for water sports. If you are lucky you may also see jellyfish which have been reportedly seen in the clear water.
Getting there: Siver Sands Beach - Abadour – The beach is just off the A921 road from Inverkeithing to Burntisland. Arriving in Edinburgh Airport you can rent a car and drive across the historic Forth bridge taking you along the coastal road, arriving in half an hour.