Britain's winter beaches

Our British beaches are stunning and dramatic places to visit in winter. Here's a rundown of what Abigail Whyte considers to be the best winter beaches for:

16th December 2010
image

Sea shanty pub: Bigbury-on-Sea, Devon
The Pilchard Inn is a 14th-century smugglers pub nestled at the bottom of Burgh Island, which is often referred to as ‘part-time island’, because as the tide recedes it leaves a causeway of golden sand. The island was the smuggling domain of Tom Crocker who gave his name to a cave on the coast of the island, and spent most of the time when he wasn't at sea in the Pilchard Inn. At high tide, the inn can be reached by sea-tractor, which runs every half hour. Treat yourself to a pint of ale and a plate of oysters.

Dramatic seascape: St David’s Head, Pembrokeshire
This dramatic headland northwest of St David’s and Whitesands beach is spectacular for sea views and coastal walks. In winter, the sea churns up some beautiful surf and crashing waves that are mesmerizing to watch. When the sea’s a bit calmer, why not catch a boat over to Ramsey Island just a mile off-shore and see gannets, razor bills, guillemots nesting on the island’s 120-metre high cliffs?

 

Beach combing: Runswick Bay, North Yorkshire
Runswick Bay, just north of Whitby is a treasure trove of all sorts of washed up knick-knacks. The surrounding cliffs are made of shale and clay, so every time it rains, layers of rock crumble, revealing thousands of ancient fossils. This beach was named as the best beachcombing the country by Coast presenter Miranda Krestovnikoff. Stay at Cockpit Cottage, just a stone’s throw away from the beach.

 

Horse riding: St Bride's Bay, Pembrokeshire
What better way to experience a beach in winter than to ride along the surf and feel the salty spray on your face? Pembrokeshire is renowned for its stunning and diverse scenery – its awe-inspiring cliffs and sandy beaches make the perfect backdrop for an enxhilarating horseback ride. Nolston Stables is a family-run business in the tiny village of Nolton in the beautiful bay of St Brides. They offer a variety of routes for all abilities and also offer weekend or midweek packages with self-catering accommodation.

 

Winter sunset: Saligo Bay, Isle of Islay
Saligo Bay can be found on Islay’s Atlantic west coast, west of Loch Gorm. Many say Saligo Bay is the island’s most beautiful bay, and offers stunning light conditions for photographers. Pack a flask of tea and a blanket and head down to this gorgeous bay to watch an unforgettable Atlantic sunset.

 

Winter Wildlife: Druridge Bay, Northumberland,
The lakes, wetlands, meadows, woodlands and sand dunes of Druridge Bay hosts a fascinating range of wildlife. Cresswell Pond, located behind the bay boasts over a dozen species of duck, including pochards, goldeneyes, shovelers and teal which come over from Russia and northern Europe for warmer climes. You can also spot pink footed geese at Druridge Ponds until March/April. Hauxley hide at the top end of the bay is heated and provides a good view of winter birds.
Hagg Farm House is ideally located close to the bay and the pretty village of Cresswell.

 

A bracing dip: Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire
Celebrate the New Year with a fancy dress dip in the sea at Saundersfoot with hundreds of other crazy people. Last year participants dressed as Welsh dragons, fairies and characters from Little Britain as they made a dash for the freezing water and raised thousands of pounds for charity. What will you dress up as?

 

Winter beach bar: The Watering Hole, Perranporth
This quirky bar is situated at the foot of the dunes on this north coast beach. It’s a buzzing venue famed for its live music and winter Sunday carvery. Visitors love the fact that there’s no road to the bar, so everyone has to get out of their cars and brave the weather along the beach, then warm up under the patio heaters with a hot chocolate.
 


View Best winter beaches in a larger map

Get your first 5 issues for just £5 when you subscribe to BBC Countryfile magazine!

Subscribe to BBC Countryfile Magazine today and you can enjoy generous savings from the shop price plus, free UK delivery and discounts off special editions and back issues.

Countryfile Magazine - Current Issue