12 of the UK's best beaches, from Cornwall to the Outer Hebrides

The heat is well and truly on. As summer gets underway, you don’t need a plane ticket to hit the beach. The Independent’s team has picked some of their favourite beaches around the UK.

Luskentyre, Isle of Harris

To be alone and at one with the elements, aim for the beach at Luskentyre on the Isle of Harris. The outer shore of the Outer Hebrides is the raw edge of Britain, where the soundtrack rumbles with the weary roar of an ocean at the end of a 3,000-mile journey. You’ll find turquoise water of implausible clarity and ice-white sand, sculpted into unworldly shapes by the west wind. Simon Calder, travel correspondent

Bossiney Cove, Cornwall

Part of the beauty of Bossiney is the trek to get down there. Tucked away between better-known Boscastle and Tintagel, you park in a little layby at the top and follow a footpath across sheep-filled fields down to the beach (it’s steep and far from wheelchair-accessible). It’s small, but usually quiet, with soft golden sand bordered by an elephant-shaped rock on the cliff face on one side, and a huge cave on the other. Emma Henderson, assistant app features editor


Bamburgh beach is flanked by a castle (Michael Hanselmann/Wikimedia Commons)

Bamburgh, Northumberland

For pure windswept beauty, the beach at Bamburgh is hard to beat. It’s a great surf spot all year round, with a long, wide beach and towering sand dunes. With the imposing Bamburgh Castle never far from view, it’s a unique spot on the Northumberland coast. Dave MacLean, lifestyle editor

Borth, Dyfed

I first went to Borth in 2014 when storms had uncovered the remains of a prehistoric forest under the mid-Wales sands. Archaeological excitement aside, this is a gorgeous beach, with shingle giving way to sand as the tides retreat. With two miles of beach, there’s plenty of personal space, and the beach ends with the extraordinary sand dunes at Ynyslas nature reserve. Julia Buckley, acting head of travel

Aberdeen, north-east Scotland

Few British cities include a beach in their repertoire. Brighton and Swansea boast strips of shoreline, but are limited in their appeal by, respectively, shingle in Sussex and the backdrop in South Wales. In contrast, the Granite City of Aberdeen has a formidable beach that is perfect for a pre-breakfast dip on a bright morning. After a dip, enjoy the architecture nearby in Old Aberdeen, and Aberdeen’s exceptional cafe and restaurants. Simon Calder


With surf and family-friendly sands, Polzeath has something for everyone (Getty)

Polzeath, Cornwall

It’s David Cameron’s beach of choice, but don’t let that put you off. Polzeath has something for everyone, and in spades: great surf, vast stretches of sand (so you can have your own space), beautiful cliff walks and a seriously good café-restaurant right on the sand. And the views of the Camel Estuary, and the coastline towards Newquay (so gorgeous it’s where Poldark is filmed) are pretty peerless. Julia Buckley

Bracklesham Bay, West Sussex

Despite being only a few miles east of the sunbathing masses on West Wittering beach, Bracklesham Bay manages to remain a peaceful retreat, even at the heigh of summer. Perhaps that’s down to the shingle rather than sand underfoot, but with a good camping chair in tow, who’s complaining? There are views of the Isle of Wight, with the sun setting behind the Spinnaker Tower to the west. And for any budding paleontologists, the area is ripe for a spot of fossil-hunting. Jochan Embley, IndyBest writer

Lindisfarne, Northumberland

The tidal island of Lindisfarne feels so isolated that it’s a good pick if you want to get away from it all. The beach isn’t quite as nice as some of the others in the area, but if you’re lucky with the tide times you can head out there before 10am, be cut off by the sea for most of the day, then head back to the mainland in mid-afternoon. Do check first! Dave MacLean


Oddicombe beach in Devon is a classic British beach (Derek Harper (CC))

Oddicombe, Devon

Having spent all my childhood summers on these two neighbouring beaches in Torquay on the south coast of Devon, no one will ever be able to convince me they aren’t everything the British seaside should be. Oddicombe, surrounded by dramatic red cliffs that are fast being eroded by the sea, boasts a good-sized stretch of sand, a quaint shop selling the same colourful buckets and spades it was probably stocking 50 years ago, and, best of all, an actual cliff railway. This jolly little funicular makes short work of an otherwise rather languid stroll down a winding road, costing £2.50 for a return. As if this wasn’t quaint enough, visitors can also enjoy the simple pleasures of the Babbacombe model village just down the road, a genuinely brilliant experience, and Bygones, a recreation of a life-sized Victorian shopping street (because, well, why not?). It’s all so Famous Five… Helen Coffey, deputy head of travel

​Seahouses, Northumberland

As a large fishing village, Seahouses is a great beach for seafood lovers. During the week you’ll find the extensive beach relatively empty, but at weekends there’s the buzzing streets with pub and restaurant options. If it gets too hot there’s the option of breezy boat trips to the nearby Farne Islands. Dave MacLean


Holkham’s a favourite with royalty – and their cavalry (Getty)

Holkham Bay, Norfolk

This is a really beautiful beach – a wide stretch of sand backed by dunes and pine forest that’s completely unspoiled, as it’s in the middle of a nature reserve. It also comes with royal approval – the Queen used to take her children there, and Anmer Hall is nearby. It’s a bit of a trek to get there, and you need to take everything with you as there are no shops or stalls, but it’s very much worth it. Jon di Paolo, deputy news editor

Bude outdoor seapool, Cornwall

Built into the side of the cliff at Summerleaze beach in the 1930s, Bude’s outdoor seapool is one of the oldest and largest in the country. It was nearly lost – the council deemed it unsafe after storm damage in 2010 – but well-wishers funded repairs. And thank goodness they did, as the 91m long and 45m wide provides a safe and sea-like experience for children and other swimmers to play and train in safety in natural sea water that washes in and out at every tide. Emma Henderson

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