As the heat of summer in New York City fully descends upon us, we’re standing on the subway platforms dreaming of National Trust beaches. Following up on the theme from Friday’s post here is a wonderful countdown list of best beaches straight from the National Trust. This post includes the countdowns of best beaches for picnics, best beaches for rockpooling and best beaches for water sports.
Best beaches for picnics
Part of the famous Jurassic Coast, the beach at Branscombe is perfect for a family day out. There’s plenty to explore nearby, including Branscombe village with its thatched houses, working forge and watermill and picturesque countryside walks. The beach itself is shingle: the perfect picnic spot for anyone who wants to enjoy coastal views without getting sand in their sandwiches. You can even pick up an extra treat from the Old Bakery tearooms, and then work it off by exploring the coast path around Beer – once a notorious smuggling spot.
Birling Gap is part of the world famous Seven Sisters chalk cliffs, one of the longest stretches of undeveloped coastline on the south coast. One minute you can be walking on ancient downland, the next you could be rock pooling below towering cliffs of chalk. Enjoy spectacular, unspoilt views of the sea as you explore the craggy rocks after a seaside picnic. If you’re still feeling a bit peckish after your sandwiches then you can head to the relaxed clifftop café. The café offers delicious lunches, outdoor seating and uninterrupted sea views, and every scone you buy will help the Trust care for this spectacular landscape.
At low tide Brancaster Beach offers a huge expanse of sand and seemingly endless views out to sea. During the summer months the miles of golden sand make the beach an ideal spot for a barefoot walk or building sandcastles. With dog-friendly areas, the whole family can enjoy a scenic picnic by the sea.
Backed by dramatic sand dunes and pine woodlands, the beach at Formby is a great picnic spot for those who like to explore. Hunt along the nearby mudflats for prehistoric human footprints, or head into the woods to see if you can spot some of the red squirrels that live there. When you need a rest you can laze about on the dunes enjoying the contents of your picnic hamper, or treat yourself to some award-winning locally grown asparagus from the National Trust’s tenant farmer.
Mwnt is an idyllic spot on the West Wales coast, with sweeping views across Cardigan Bay from the summit of Foel y Mwnt – the conical hill that lies at one end of the beach. Surrounded by sweeping pastures and sheltered from coastal winds, the horseshoe-shaped bay is an idyllic place for a quiet picnic. Don’t forget to take along the binoculars to see if you can spot bottlenose dolphins, basking sharks and porpoises just out to sea.
This spectacular sandy beach forms a white arc between two headlands on the North Antrim Coast. Its secluded location means that even on a busy day there is plenty of room for quiet relaxation and a picnic. The beach is backed by ancient dunes that provide important habitats for birds, animals and plant life.
Best beaches for rockpooling
Wembury Bay has some of the best rockpools in the country, with masses of sea creatures and plantlife to discover. Located close to the beach, Wembury Marine Centre is the ideal place to learn about the area through interactive displays, and they even run Rockpool Rambles for children during the school holidays. The beach is also a great starting point for lovely walks around the Yealm Estuary or the blustery headland at Wembury Point. Finish your trip with a slice of home-made cake in the Old Mill Café, where every penny you spend goes towards caring for beaches like Wembury for summers to come.
Situated at one end of the beach at St Helen’s Duver, Node’s Point is one of the best places on the Island for rock pooling. The area is covered with limestone outcrops, whose crevices provide shelter for whelks, limpets, barnacles and periwinkles. Sea anemones live in the pools along with small fish such as blennies and gobies, plus the occasional seahorse.
As well as the famous landscape garden designed by Humphrey Repton, Sheringham can also offer you the chance to breathe in a bit of fresh coastal air. The seafront is only a few kilometres’ walk from the main visitor centre, and at low tide you’ll find plenty of tidal pools for the kids to explore. There’s a whole range of marine life to find, so they can spend their time digging for worms, netting shrimps and trying to catch crabs.
Saltburn, Yorkshire Coast
With its eight miles of golden sands, rock pools, huge cliffs and a promenade full of cafés, Saltburn is a great choice for spending a sunny day by the seaside. At low tide a series of rock pools are accessible, and intrepid adventurers will be able to find a wealth of wildlife including crabs, periwinkles, starfish and beautifully coloured sea anemones.
Don’t miss: Rock Pool Rummages
8 August, 1pm – 3pm & 18 August, 10am – 12pm.
Join the National Trust rangers at Saltburn to learn about the creatures that inhabit the nooks and crannies of our coastline. Discover amazing anemones, crazy crabs, funny fish and lots more.
Price: £4 (booking essential)
For more information, please call 01947 885900
Once one of North Wales’ busiest ports, these days Porthdinllaen is a peaceful little fishing village perched on a spit of land that stretches into the Irish Sea. The clear, sheltered waters and seagrass beds attract a wealth of wildlife that you can search for in the rockpools, including anemones, crabs, fish and jellyfish. Once you’ve tired yourself out with exploring you can retreat to the waterfront Tŷ Coch Inn for a refreshing drink or meal, and watch the comings and goings of the local fishermen.
Best beaches for water sports
The Lizard Peninsula, the most southerly part of the British mainland, is well known for its beautiful coves and cliffs where visitors can relax and enjoy the sea air, but it’s also the perfect spot for people who want a bit more adventure from their holiday. Poldhu Cove is particularly popular with surfers, and has a small surf school that operates every day in the summer. Former professional surfer Dan Joel offers family-friendly lessons from £25, with £1 of each booking coming back to the National Trust to look after beaches like Poldhu.
Other top spots for watersports in the South West.
Lying on the southern shore of the Isle of Wight, Compton Bay juts out into the English Channel and can collect a considerable swell. It’s an excellent location for surfers of all abilities, with areas suited to both shortboarders and longboarders. The bay is also a good place for wind surfing beginners, although Brook Bay to the east is better for intermediates.
If you’re new to surfing, the Isle of Wight Surf Club can offer lessons and advice on how to get started.
Kayak Adventure, July 23, August 6 & 20 , 10am – 3pm.
This summer, the Yorkshire Coast National Trust rangers will be running guided sea kayaking from Boggle Hole to Ravenscar in conjunction with East Barnby Outdoor Centre. Travel by paddle power with a sit-on-top kayak, and see the Yorkshire coastline from a different perspective. From seals to seabirds there will be plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife during the trip, plus a rockpooling session at lunchtime when you can get to know some maritime wildlife.
Alternative venue available if sea conditions are unfavourable.
Beginners welcome. Suitable for ages 14 +
Price: £40 (booking essential)
For more information please call 01723 870423