SU CARROLL rounds up the very best activities and things to do and see close to the coastline this month.


The South West Coast Path, Britain’s longest National Trail, is celebrating its golden jubilee this year with a number of events, including an incredible relay walk along the entire 630-mile route, a photography exhibition, the launch of a new podcast series, and a commemorative Coast Path Passport to inspire a South West Coast Path journey.

The Trailblazer Walk starts in Minehead on May 12 and is due to finish in Plymouth’s Royal William Yard on June 15 where the charity has its HQ. It’s also home to Ocean Studios where the South West Coast Path Photographer of the Year Exhibition will open on the same day (until July 27). The images explore personal connections, nature, urban and industrial heritage, and climate change.

2023 is the Year of the Coast and, as well as the South West Coast Path, focus will be on the English Coast Path which, when complete, will be around 2,600 miles long and the longest coast path in the world.

Details of all events and initiatives at


The Grade I listed Royal William Yard is relatively new – dating from the mid-19th century when it served as a victualling yard for the Royal Navy. But the area where it is situated has 380 million years of geological history. Pick up a Geo Trail leaflet at the visitor office at the entrance and scan the QR codes as you go to discover more. Details at


Caravanserai is Brighton Fringe’s newest pop-up outdoor festival site – built out of repurposed caravans, with vintage fairground waltzers and where hoopla stalls and shoot-out galleries become bars. It’s the vision of artist Pete Bateman and was established at Camp Bestival in 2013.

With free admission, there will be street food stalls, a dedicated family area for children and lots of secret spots to be uncovered. Caravanserai will host two theatre venues – the big top, Luna Parc, with theatre, circus and cabaret and a late-night music and comedy programme and the bespoke 50-seater bandstand venue, Junk Poet’s, with intimate comedy, spoken word and theatre events. Caravanserai runs throughout the Fringe.


Caravanserai is part of the annual Brighton Fringe Festival which this year runs from May 5 to June 4 and is the UK’s biggest arts festival. There are events, performances and workshops from a vast array of acts. You’ll find big names to homegrown talent – 30 per cent of participants come from the Brighton and Hove area. Full details at


An exhibition of the life and art of Anne Redpath, one of Scotland’s finest mid-20th century artists, is the first dedicated UK show of her work for 15 years. The Granary Gallery, Berwick-upon-Tweed, will show her paintings alongside work by fellow artists of the Edinburgh School, now largely forgotten. They all trained at Edinburgh College of Art and their work is characterised by an abiding passion for colour.

Anne Redpath (1896-1965) spent her formative years in Edinburgh but mainly in the south of France where she painted alongside Scottish Colourists Samuel Peploe and Leslie Hunter. Returning to the Scottish Borders in 1934, a single mother of three children and penniless, she never wavered from pursuing a career as an artist, being elected as President of the Society of Scottish Women Artists in 1944.

The Anne Redpath exhibition is at The Granary Gallery, Berwick-upon-Tweed, May 20-October 8. Details at


There’s plenty of artistic inspiration here with fascinating towns and villages and a beautiful, often dramatic, coastline. Manchester-based LS Lowry, famous for his paintings with matchstick people, holidayed here many times from the mid-30s to the year before his death in 1976. He created many drawings and paintings during his visits. Berwick Preservation Trust has created a trail to see places where he was inspired. Download a map at


Cowes Fringe takes place in one of the most beautiful and welcoming places in the UK. A charming seaside town with a rich maritime history and stunning coastline, its independent shops, excellent restaurants, and lively bars make it a popular destination for visitors from all over the world. With its picturesque waterfront and bustling marina, Cowes is the perfect place to relax and soak up the fringe atmosphere.

This first-ever dynamic fringe event in this part of the Isle of Wight will deliver an explosion of art and culture through performances and workshops. Hosted in unique venues throughout the town, Cowes Fringe guarantees a memorable weekend extravaganza of entertainment for all ages. Their mission is to build on and enrich a thriving community spirit, encouraging local businesses and hospitality to become involved in a broad celebration of diverse talent.

Managed by a local team and supported by a West End team, the Cowes Fringe promises a broad range of local and mainland talent for the first time. Acts include Britain’s Got Talent winner 2022 Axel Blake appearing on the Saturday, with acclaimed actress Claire Sweeney closing the Fringe alongside guest Earl Carpenter. Acts also include performances by visionary artists, local jazz singers and puppeteers.

The festival runs 26-28 May, buy tickets at


Ahoy me hearties, as Captain Pugwash would say. May means Pirates Weekend on Plymouth’s historic Barbican with its cobbled streets and buildings dating back to Tudor times. It’s the perfect backdrop for two days of swashbuckling and heave-hoing with lots of family fun on offer. But don’t worry, Pirates Weekend is more Captain Jack Sparrow than the notorious Bluebeard.

If last year’s event is anything to go by, you’ll be in for a treat with the Maritime Corps of Drums, Rockpool safaris, pirate stiltwalking and the chance to meet a mermaid. Plus the answer to the age old question – why are they called pirates? Because they aaaarh!

Pirates Weekend is May 20-21. More info at


You can cross from the Barbican by swing bridge to the National Marine Aquarium on Sutton Harbour. It’s the UK’s largest aquarium and you will find everything from tiny sea horses and jellyfish to the enormous Atlantic Ocean tank with 2.5 million litres of water which is home to with sharks, rays and turtles. Visit


Torquay, at the heart of the English Riviera holds a weekend celebration of food and drink accompanied by music from the likes of Scouting For Girls, Razorlight and UB40. Chefs taking part include Paul Rankin, Lesley Waters, James Tanner and Ed Baines.

This is the first Riviera Food and Music Festival, part of a strategy with Torbay Town Council to invest in events which will enhance the English Riviera’s reputation as a premier resort. There will be a chefs’ stage with demonstrations and a daily market village full of local produce on the site at Torre Abbey Meadows with its uninterrupted views of Tor Bay. From May 26-29. Full details at


Torquay is very proud of its connection with Dame Agatha Christie, who was born there in 1890. The Queen of Crime was inspired by many places in Devon, including Burgh Island with its Art Deco hotel  and Torquay itself. In 1938 she bought Greenway overlooking the River Dart as a holiday home and enjoyed many happy times there. Now in the care of the National Trust – book your visit in advance at where you will also find details about staying on the estate.


It’s Shakespeare Jim, but not as we know it. Shake It Up is an improvised Shakespeare show which has been winning four-star reviews. Using his language, audience suggestions and the actors’ overactive imaginations, a new Shakespeare play is created on stage live, before your very eyes, with music and plenty of laughs.

First choose your genre: epic history, romantic comedy or gruesome tragedy, then add locations, the hero’s name, even their day job before throwing in some cod-Shakespearean language for good measure and All’s Well That Ends Well!

The action unfolds at Cornwall’s unique Minack Theatre at Porthcurno with the sea and the stars for company. From May 23-25, book online at


Book a tour of the Minack Theatre to coincide with your visit and see the amazing clifftop construction and sub-tropical gardens. Head for nearby PK Porthcurno museum to discover how a telegraph station built here in 1904 connected Britain with other parts of the Empire when the first telegraph cable was landed here. You can go underground into a Second World War bunker and the original cable hut. Details at


The Sea Horizon exhibition at the National Museum and Gallery in Cardiff features 40 photographs taken over 18 months by Garry Fabian Miller. Between 1976 and 1977 he photographed the same view from the rooftop of his home in Clevedon, near Bristol, looking out across the Severn Estuary towards the coastline of Wales. They each had the same square format with the line of the horizon dividing the sea and the sky. Changes in light and weather create pictures that seem identical but which are all unique. 

The Severn Estuary is the second largest tidal estuary in the world and the photographs take on new relevance in the context of the climate crisis and rising sea levels. The Sea Horizon is at the National Museum ( until September 10.


Cardiff Castle’s history spans over 2,000 years (Roman soldiers occupied it) and from the outside looks like a typical fortification. But in Victorian times it was transformed inside into a Gothic fairytale with eccentric and opulent interiors bursting with murals, stained glass, gilding and superb craftsmanship. You can now also visit the castle’s tunnels which were converted into shelters during Second World War air raids. For information go to


Faversham’s Alexander Centre in Kent uses the fully restored public rooms in the 19th century house to provide a gallery for artists to showcase their work. The Community Interest Company stages year-long exhibitions and this year’s Alexander Collection features prestigious works from five nationally and internationally known artists.

Photographer Simon Ashmore creates expressive, often abstract images having started his career as a documentary photographer working in East London. David Hayward studied at the Royal College of Art, Canterbury School of Art and Architecture and Cheltenham College of Art and Design and now working in his studio in Chilham near Canterbury.

Other local artists are Estelle Jourd, who is inspired by the sea and sky of the North Kent coast where she has lived most of her life, and Gabrielle Nesfield, a painter who has exhibited in and around Canterbury. Jeff Lowe, who creates large scale sculptures, has paintings on display. The exhibition ends on May 21. Details at


Pretty Faversham is a well-preserved medieval market town which has more than 300 listed buildings, a nod to its industrial heyday. It certainly was a “boom” town in the 19th century when it was at the heart of the country’s explosives industry, supplying the battles of Trafalgar and Waterloo. The nearby Oare Gunpowder Works Country Park was the source of explosive used by Guy Fawkes. Go to for inspiration.


Grimsby was once the world’s premier fishing port and the Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre takes you back to its 1950s heyday. Carefully crafted sets and original preserved trawler interiors capture the atmosphere and essence of a remarkable way of life in one of the most dangerous occupations in living memory.

From Grimsby, men would set out on a perilous journey in search of their catch. At the museum you can sign on as a crew member and travel in their footsteps – leaving home to trawl for fish, returning to the comfort of the Freeman’s Arms pub. The sights, sounds, smells and drama will leave you with a whole new respect for the men who, for centuries, have pitted their strength against the elements to bring home their catch.

A new reportage exhibition – Friends, Foes and Good Companions – looks at the brutal reality of the Cod Wars in the 1970s when Grimsby boats competed with Icelandic trawlers. The exhibition runs until August 20 (


A quaint way to see the beautiful coast here is as a passenger on one of the narrow gauge steam or diesel locomotives of the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway. You can journey along the Humberside Coast and back, a two-mile trip, which connects the Cleethorpes Promenade with the main station, Lakeside. Visit


The Fleek Gallery, close to the harbour in the North Devon town of Ilfracombe, has some impressive names (old and new) in its spring show. Established in 2017, the gallery has a reputation as one of the most exciting contemporary fine art galleries in the West Country with regular exhibitions of new work by emerging and established contemporary artists.

Ilfracombe is known for its progressive art scene. Damien Hirst, who donated his statue Verity to the town in 2012, features in the spring show alongside work by Illuminati Neon, Daniel Hooper, Raffaella Bertolini, Emma Gibbons and others.

The exhibition at Fleek Gallery ( runs until June 30.


Take one of the tunnels carved through rock by Welsh miners during the Victorian era to get access to the beautiful Blue Flag beach. Close to the town, it feels like you are many miles away as you dip into the tidal pool. Privately owned but worth the admission for the dramatic, rocky landscape.


GoldCoast Oceanfest, the music and surf festival with Croyde Bay in North Devon as its stunning backdrop, celebrates its 25th birthday this year in grand style. Headliners will be Joel Corry, Tom Grennan and Dreadzone. The brainchild of Shaun and Warren Latham, the very first GoldCoast Oceanfest in 1999 came with the familiar music festival ingredients but blended in ocean sports with a keen eye on looking after the beautiful beach environment. 

Since then Oceanfest has welcomed some of the biggest names in music and dance. From Razorlight to Roots Manuva, Kaiser Chiefs to Craig David, and Michael Kiwanuka and Bastille. It’s also been somewhere for emerging artists to cut their teeth including local singer Amy Newton and one Ed Sheeran.

The Croyde Bay reef break and the Atlantic beyond have proved perfect for surf competitions and watersports. The unashamedly independent festival is rooted in the community an holds as educational day every year when thousands of local school children can discover new sports and experiences, some for the very first time. 

GoldCoast Oceanfest is from June 16-18 (