We all need one – our favourite coastal spots where we can unwind and leave our troubles behind, whatever the weather. Chrissy Harris asked a selection of people lucky enough to live and work on our coast to share their top choices.
Rebekah Smith is the owner of Glendevon Guest House in Ramsgate, Kent. She is also a Ramsgate town promoter and visitor information centre manager.
“I live on the beautiful Isle of Thanet and one of my favourite ways to unwind is walking from Broadstairs’ Dumpton Gap to Ramsgate’s Royal Harbour with my dog. “If the tides are right (allow at least three hours from high tide) you can walk along the beach taking in the natural landscape, no promenade – just the sand, rockpools, amazing chalk-cliffs and the sound of the sea. “At the end of the walk, I reward myself with a delicious coffee in one of the lovely dog-friendly cafes, overlooking the yachts in the harbour. It’s all very cosmopolitan!”
Harry Young is chair of the Suffolk Coast Destination Management Organisation.
“The beach at Covehithe in Suffolk is a golden stretch of sand framed by imposing crumbling cliffs, with Benacre’s lagoon and conservation area sitting to the south. The beach is dotted with the North Sea’s offerings; sand-blasted trunks and roots of trees that once lined the cliff top. “This is one of the most remote beaches along the Suffolk coast, it can only be reached on foot along a single-track path.”
Gill Haigh is managing director of Cumbria Tourism.
“As a horse lover, I love Silecroft Beach. Ride along the beach with Cumbrian heavy horses – the perfect way to blow away the cobwebs! It’s special because of its stunning natural beauty, its peace and quiet, and the unique opportunity to gallop along the sands on horses such as Shire, Clydesdale and Suffolk Punch rare breeds of heavy horses.”
Ben Feeney is a seafront ranger in Dorset.
“Hengistbury Head, a dramatic headland to the south of Christchurch Harbour in Bournemouth, is the perfect tonic, even on a windswept day with its panoramic views across the New Forest, Isle of Wight and Purbecks. “It is an outstanding site for wildlife and archaeology with beautiful beaches and it’s just a short woodland walk to the iconic beach huts peppering Mudeford Spit.”
Jonathan Webley is general manager at The Grand Hotel in Eastbourne, East Sussex.
“A winter visit to The Grand Hotel wouldn’t be complete without an exhilarating walk along the South Downs Way, which starts in Eastbourne, along to the Birling Gap against the dramatic backdrop of the Seven Sisters cliffs. “An interesting fact is that despite the proximity, the sun rises in Eastbourne and sets at Birling Gap. It’s a great spot for photography, and worth noting this for timing your South Downs walk. “Once across the road from The Grand Hotel, the whole walk can be achieved without using a road. It also takes in the film site of Harry Potter’s Quidditch world championships, as well as iconic Beachy Head and the two lighthouses.”
Janna Dixon is a freelance photographer based in St Agnes, Cornwall.
“The place my feet take me to unwind and refocus myself is the cliffs above St Agnes. Wild and raw, they are the most beautiful place in the world to me and have seen me through good times and bad. “Towanroath Engine House, at the site of Wheal Coates on the north coast cliffs between the beaches of Chapel Porth and Trevaunance Cove, is my favourite of the coastal engine houses left behind by our mining past. “Stunning, it sits alone on the cliff edge whilst the relentless waves of the Atlantic crash and roll beneath it. It never fails to amaze and delight me and remind me of how lucky I am to live in Cornwall.”
Jo Addison is the owner of Kiddieholidays, an award-winning website about the best breaks and days out for babies and toddlers.
“Filey on the Yorkshire Coast is where we go to blow away the cobwebs on a winter’s day. It’s a Victorian seaside town which has a five-mile stretch of sandy beach and a bustling town centre. “We start by having a bracing walk along Filey Brigg, a long narrow peninsula jutting out into the North Sea. The cliffs are 20m high so you have far reaching views over Filey and down the coast to Scarborough. You may even see a seal in the sea below! “Then we walk along the beach via the little rock pools which are bursting with life – even in winter. We finish by exploring the independent shops of the little town and having fish and chips.”
Lorna Sherriff is national trail officer for the South West Coast Path Association.
“One of my favourite walks is the four-mile circular around Revelstoke Drive and Noss Mayo in Devon. With its stunning coastal scenery and far-reaching views over to Cornwall, the kids and I always love spotting the birds flitting around the gorse or the occasional seal bobbing in the sea. “After a couple of miles, you turn a corner and head towards Noss Mayo, walking through beautiful estuary edge woodlands with some of the gnarly oak and chestnut trees which allow enticing glimmers of the water and the yachts moored in the River Yealm. It’s a relatively easy route which the whole family enjoys to get that winter boost of fresh air and reconnect with the coast and nature.”
Craig McCoy is a National Trust area ranger for Morecambe Bay and Arnside and Silverdale.
“Along the Lancashire coastline at Silverdale, there’s a small cliff overlooking Morecambe Bay. Jack Scout provides far-reaching views for relatively little effort, and it’s a great place to watch the sun set and the colours reflect off the water. “As well as being quiet and peaceful, part of its charm is how it changes with the seasons. In summer, it’s dotted with wildflowers and covered in scrub and grasses – a haven for insects and birds like blackcaps and warblers. “In winter, it’s a top spot to watch the migratory flocks fly in, such as godwits and knots, and hear them calling to one another as they pull out molluscs and crustaceans from the wet sand with their long bills. “The sheer number of these birds creates a spectacle and you can lose track of time waiting for their next move; one minute they’re feeding down on the beach and the next the air is suddenly full of movement as they flock together, flashing their white undersides as they twist and turn in flight.”
Jack Cornish is head of paths for The Ramblers, Britain’s largest walking charity, with more than 100,000 members.
“My favourite seaside walk is along the Solway Coast at the very far north west of England. On the horizon you can see the looming peaks of the Lake District to the south and, across the water, the hills of Dumfries and Galloway. An underappreciated coastline of dunes, wide skies and solid houses braced against the sea.”
Maree Rudd is the founder of Wild Swim Scotland, based in Edinburgh.
“I love where I live, work and relax. Portobello Beach is only a few miles from the beautiful City of Edinburgh. The beach is long and sandy and perfect for enjoying the water. Wild swimming, paddleboarding, canoeing and sailing, to name a few. The ever changing light and conditions makes every day different but mornings such as this one are the best.”
Stuck for something to do with the family? Check out our choice of 10 things to do on the coast in February 2023.