6 Secret Beaches in the UK
by Alice on 17 April 2012
From remote rocky coves to uninhabited islands, these six beaches in the UK are hidden gems. Leave the crowds and ice cream sellers behind - you'll find peace and quiet here.
Hayburn Wyke, Yorkshire
Sand: Pebbles and boulders
Halfway between Scarborough and Whitby on the Yorkshire coast, Hayburn Wkye is a hidden gem. Surrounded by protected woodland beneath an old railway station, it feels both remote and wild. The most unusual feature, however, is the twin waterfall which winds its way through the trees and cascades onto the rocky beach.
The beach can be accessed from the Cleveland Way footpath and is signed from the Hayburn Wyke Hotel – where there’s also parking – which lies on the Ravenscar to Cloughton road.
B&Bs in Whitby and Scarborough are all suitable for a trip to Hayburn Wyke, but thexquisite 5 star Holly Croft makes an elegant base for those eager to explore.
Achmelvich Beach, Scotland
@Praveen Mahesh on Flickr
Swimming: Chilly but good
Three miles north of Lochinver, Achmelvich is one of the wildest and most beautiful beaches in the UK. Reached by a treacherous single track road from Lochinver, it’s unspoilt in every sense of the word. And when you turn back to land, the imposing west face of Suilven makes for some amazing views.
The B869 coast road runs north west from Lochinver. Follow signs for Achmelvich and turn down the single lane track for about a mile and a half until you reach the beach.
The nearest big town is Inverness, where you’ll find plenty of restaurants, shops and places to stay. There are also a handful of bed and breakfasts in Inverness – try Craigdarroch House for traditional grandeur and quaint Scottish touches.
Fox Cove, Cornwall
Only accessible from the South West Coastal Path and during low tide, this hidden cove in North Cornwall lies down a steep cliff path. You won’t find much competition for sunbathing or swimming space here, as it’s a 5km walk from the car park near crowded Porthcothan.
Take the B3276 to Porthcothan and leave your car. You’ll see the busy beach on your left – for Fox Cove, cross the bridge and take the track to the left leading to the Coastal Path. You’ll head north along the cliffs to an RSPB reserve, where the precarious beach access route winds down over the rocks.
Most bed and breakfasts in Padstow are a short drive away from Fox Cove, although luxurious Treglos Hotel is actually within walking distance of both the beach and the coastal path if you want to leave your car at home.
Scolt Head Island, Norfolk
The North Norfolk coast, with its miles of peaceful sand and dunes stretching along the sea, could just be the best beach in the UK – and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re anywhere but Britain in this beautiful wild spot. Just west of Wells, the highlight of the area is the uninhabited Scolt Head Island, a nature reserve which is only accessible at low tide on foot or by seasonal ferry from Burnham Overy Staithe. You can swim out across the narrow channel at any time, though, to pristine beaches where only terns and wildfowl will be your competition for space.
If you plan to swim, Burnham Norton is the nearest village where you’ll be able to park your car before traversing the dunes. Map reference: TF854459.
Woody Bay, Devon
@Nicksarebi on Flickr
Sand: Rock pools
The aptly named Woody Bay is surrounded by forested hills which plummet steeply down the Exmoor cliffs to a beautiful sandy stretch. One of the best UK beaches for families, this secluded spot has both sand to relax on and rock pools that the kids will love to explore.
Take the west road out of Lynton to the Woody Bay Hotel where you can park the car. Walk downhill into the wooded valley until you see a gate on your left leading to a track through the trees. Follow the lane down to the sand.
For quiet days on the beach but livelier nights, bed and breakfasts in Taunton aren’t far away. For peace and seclusion, though, you can’t beat the period character or country charm of Catwell House in nearby Williton which has great access to the coast for UK beach holidays in Devon.
Porth Widlin, Wales
Swimming: Not recommended
The rough hewn cliffs of the Welsh coast make a dramatic setting for a coastal walk, and Porth Widlin beach is worth the difficult scramble at the end. Although the rocks and crashing waves make it unsafe for swimming, it’s the ideal spot to relax and congratulate yourself on having left the crowds far behind.
Access is a little tricky but best reached from the B4417 coast road. Head north towards Nefyn to map reference SH 189 320 – the footpath is marked on the map but there are no signs in the field. Walk towards the sea and when the beach comes into view you’ll see a grassy gully and a stream that you can follow down to the sand.
If you prefer a bit more comfort at night than wild camping in a field on your UK beach holidays, B&Bs in Llandudno offer a convenient base for exploring the area and enjoying everything the North Wales coast has to offer.
Cover image @gideonc, First image @Snapshots of the Past