1. Sandwood Bay, Sutherland
My current favourite wild place is on the north-west coast of Scotland. Partly because it feels so far from London and emails; partly because it’s a beach that demands a four-mile hike-in to reach it; and partly because of the strange, beautiful light you get that far north.
Alastair Humphreys is an adventurer and author. His latest book, Grand Adventures, is published by William Collins, £16.99. www.alastairhumphreys.com
Image: Mark Appleton
2. Priest Cove, Cape Cornwall
My pencil follows the edge of an incoming wave, rolling into the cove and as it plays with the water’s surface a tracery of lines emerges – the sea’s surface; the light reflecting off it; the patterns formed by the foam’s backwash and swell; the agitation and effervescence; the stripes and streaks, squares and circles. There’s the constant motion of the water, the persistent wind, the clouds drifting in from the Atlantic. There’s also a pair of crows rooting among the rock pools; a crying gull sweeping past; and a family of excitable choughs squeaking like a kiddie’s toy. All this is woven into my tangle of lines, strokes and marks – some of which are spontaneous while others are careful and deliberate. They combine to make a picture that’s part observation, part representation of this place.
Kurt Jackson is an artist who lives in Cornwall
Phase 2 of the Jackson Foundation in St Just is opening on the 14th of September with a new exhibition ‘Kurt Jackson: Obsession, following the surfer’ in association with Surfers Against Sewage.
Image: Kurt Jackson
3. Loch Hourn, West Highlands
If you like your coast wild and rugged, you’ll love Loch Hourn. Cut deep into the Scottish mainland about half way up the west coast, this stunning Caledonian fjord is flanked by some of the gnarliest mountain country in Britain. From Kinloch Hourn at the head of the loch, hillwalkers set out for adventure along an undulating footpath on the glorious south shore. My wife, Susannah, and I stow a seven-man tent and let our canoe take the strain.
Tim Gent is the author of Canoe Camping, published by Pesda Press, £16.99. Accompanied by his wife Susannah, he has paddled, clambered, fished and camped from Arctic Scandinavia to the Mediterranean coast
Image: Tim Gent
4. Ynys Llanddwyn, Anglesey
This tidal island, on the southern tip of Anglesey,
is only accessible by foot along the beach. It’s a miniature, fairy-tale world, full of romance, with two lighthouses and a huddle of tiny white-washed cottages. The dramatic coastline was formed by undersea volcanic eruptions and shaped by the pounding waves. In the centre of the island stands the ruined chapel of Saint Dwynwen, a Welsh princess who became the patron saint of lovers.
Ruth Livingstone is a retired GP who is walking the coast of Britain in stages. Her trek started in Norfolk in 2010 and she recently reached Anglesey. Read her blog at coastalwalker.co.uk
5. Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve, Northumberland
I know of no more spiritual place to contemplate nature than this internationally important site for wildfowl and wading birds, where the only meaningful measures of time are tides and seasons. Visit in summer to see eider ducks and plunge-diving terns at the water’s edge. Sit in the dunes in autumn as the tide recedes and watch thousands of migratory brent and pink-footed geese settle onto their feeding grounds at sunset – a sight and sound that will send a shiver down your spine.
Phil Gates is a naturalist and co-presenter of BBC Radio 4’s A Guide to Coastal Wildlife, a series of five programmes available on BBC iPlayer (www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0745750)
6. Bass Rock. Firth of Forth
Nothing prepares you for the smell of Bass Rock. It’s the stench of fish and guano, and it’s created by the Northern gannets – our largest seabird. 150,000 of them nest here every year, making it the biggest gannet colony in the world. Stepping onto the rock you have to pick your way carefully through the densely packed nests sporting large eggs or fluffy grey chicks. It’s an unforgettable experience.
Miranda Krestovnikoff is a TV presenter, diver, naturalist and current president of the RSPB
7. Siccar Point, Berwickshire
This rugged promontory has a big claim to fame. It was here in 1788 that James Hutton found rocks that proved the Earth had to be millions of years old, far older than anyone else thought. Hutton’s ideas were revolutionary and form the basis of modern geology. Siccar Point may be off the beaten track but it’s widely regarded as the most important geological location in the world.
Hermione Cockburn is a geomorphologist with a passion for the British coastline. She has presented Coast, and is currently scientific director of Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh, the only UK science centre dedicated to telling the story of our planet
8. Whitby, North Yorkshire
Standing on the cliffs behind Whitby Abbey, usually in a bracing breeze, you have everything you could ever want… This part of the Yorkshire coast is stunning. Birds soar above the cliffs while white-crested waves pound the rocks below. Turn inland and a short walk through the churchyard – past the Goths who flock here in search of Dracula– will bring you into town. There you’ll find Whitby jet shops, an eclectic market, great pubs and the best fish and chips in the world. Who needs more?
Charlotte Smith presents Farming Today on BBC Radio 4 and Countryfile
Image: Peter Kresan
9. The Sounds Mirrors, Denge, Kent
These three huge concrete structures are ‘Sound Mirrors’, built in the 1930s for early warning of air attacks. They reflected the sound of enemy aircraft to the ear of an operator. Amazingly the idea worked, but radar soon made them obsolete. William Tucker, who invented them, was told to blow them up but, thankfully, he ignored the order. Just the sight of them stirs the soul; being next to them is magical. I fell in love with them on my first visit.
Steve Evanson is one of the co-creators of Coast. Passionate about walking, he lives in Birmingham with his partner Kathryn
10. Cogden Beach, Dorset
It’s not often on a gentle summer’s day that a beach has the power to shock. Thirty years ago I took the walk eastward below the now famous Broadchurch cliffs at West Bay. The cliffs are forbidding and magnificent, but it was what lay beyond that astounded me. Thousands of monstrous, grey/green sea kale plants stretched beyond sight along Chesil Beach, looking like the props from a 1950s sci-fi movie..
John Wright is a forager and author of Edible Seashore: River Cottage Handbook No 5
11. Orford Ness
Short-eared owls, yellow-horned poppy, otters and avocets – the shingle spit of Orford Ness has all the treasures you might expect to find on the East Anglian coast. But this “almost-island” possesses a spookier side. For most of the 20th century, the Ness was a secret military site for bizarre and dangerous experiments that ranged from producing artificial clouds to testing the triggers of atomic weapons. Today, it’s an ethereal landscape of ruined bunkers and unexploded bombs.
Patrick Barkham is author of Coastlines: The Story of Our Shore (Granta)
12. Cape Wrath, Sutherland
There are so many places I could mention from my swim around Britain, but Cape Wrath was just incredible. To get there, you have to take the tiniest ferry in Britain – a dinghy with a four-horsepower engine – then you’ve got an 11-mile trek to the lighthouse. Once you’re there, you’ve got killer views over the sea, from 300ft-high cliffs and a café that will open for you any time of the day. Swimming around Cape Wrath was the scariest thing I’ve done in British waters. I was 50ft from the rocks, in 20ft waves. The tide was so strong but, luckily, I made it round the Cape safely.
Sean Conway is the only man to swim the length of Britain, from Land’s End to John O’Groats. www.seanconway.com
13. Barafundle, Pembrokeshire
A swimmer’s paradise, Barafundle has clear water, a sandy beach and a sense of purity and wildness that’s hard to find. Access is strictly by foot, over the headlands from Broadhaven or from a sweet National Trust café at Stackpole Quay. With few currents, children can enjoy
the beach, while more advanced swimmers can strike out for rocks further offshore or the holes in the cliff (calm conditions allowing).
Kate Rew is a writer and wild swimmer, who founded the Outdoor Swimming Society in 2006 (www.outdoorswimmingsociety.com) and wildswim.com, a free worldwide crowd-sourced swim map
14. St John's Point Lighthouse, Killough, County Down
Projected 40m above the rocky tide pools, the lighthouse at St John’s Point is the tallest on the Irish shore. Its height and striking yellow and black stripes make it a spectacular place to visit.
Designed by George Halpin Senior, the civil engineer responsible for most of Ireland’s lighthouses, it’s now part of the Irish Lighthouse Trail that runs around the entire Irish coast.
The views from Killough are breathtaking. You can see Northern Ireland’s highest peak, the 850m-tall Slieve Donard, and the rest of the majestic Mourne mountains sweeping down to the sea.
I spent my childhood summers at my family’s cottage on nearby Tyrella beach. They were filled with hours of rock pooling for shrimps, anenomes and mussels, boat trips to catch crab, and picnics in the sun with the wind in our hair. With its crystal-clear waters, it’s ideal for surfing and swimming, and the long sandy beach is not only dog-friendly but great for horse-riding at low tide.
The seaside town of Newcastle is across Dundrum bay, where a trip to Maud’s ice cream parlour for a few scoops of ‘Poor Bear’, her signature flavour – vanilla with honeycomb nuggets, is a must. Then you can relax and rejuvenate with a seaweed bath at Soak on the seafront.
And with Murlough Bay Nature Reserve and Tollymore Forest Park nearby, too, it’s an area not to be missed!
Shauna Lowry is a journalist and television presenter who appears regularly on Countryfile. She was born in Northern Ireland
15. Dustanburgh Castle, Northumberland
This epic ruin adds spectacle to the already dramatic Northumberland coast. Enjoy a classic crab sandwich in the Jolly Sailor at Craster as you drink in views of the castle and waves crashing along the wide sweep of the North Sea.
16. Shanklin Chine, Isle of Wight
This striking natural gorge is a great way to arrive at the beach. Descend the fern-covered cliffs, carved out by a stream over the last 10,000 years and emerge onto the shore, ready for a bite to eat at The Fisherman’s Cottage.
17. Portloe, Cornwall
St Piran’s flag flies over the crab pots and fishing boats scattered on the slipway, lying in view of the Ship Inn with its cooling draughts of Tribute. Once you’ve finished supping, take the winding coast path through creeks and coves to the Roseland Peninsula.
18. Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway, North Devon
A marvel of Victorian engineering, this water-powered funicular railway links these two beautiful Devon villages. With stunning views across the rugged coastline, it’s a truly unforgettable seaside experience.
19. Bempton and Flamborough Head, Yorks
The towering chalk cliffs of Bempton are a sanctuary for breeding seabirds – best seen from a tour boat out of Brislington. Meanwhile, tranquil Flamborough Head offers lovely walks in a Viking-haunted landscape.
20. Sidmouth, Devon
Craggy red Triassic cliffs frame this picturesque seaside town, which is home to Jacob’s Ladder beach, named after the wooden staircase up to the clifftop. At the top of the steps lies the leafy Connaught Gardens with its delightful tearoom and panoramic view.
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