Escaping the crowds on the beach when the sun’s shining may seem like an impossible task. Not so.
The UK is blessed with seaside spots that are trickier to reach, or simply less known, than their more popular neighbours.
From remote Cornish coves to secret sweeps of sand in Somerset and Scotland, here are 10 of the UK’s best hidden beaches.
Porth Joke, north Cornwall
Locals call this picturesque little cove Polly Joke. It’s tucked between the popular beaches of Holywell and Crantock, but is much less busy as you have a fairly hefty walk to get here (around 15 minutes from the nearest car park). Pack a picnic and bodyboards, and spend the day at this narrow sandy oasis, sheltered by two headlands. You’ll find it much less crowded than its neighbouring beaches on either side.
Covehurst Bay Beach, Sussex
If you want to dodge the crowds at Hastings, head a few miles up the coast and you’ll find this largely shingle beach – also known as Fairlight Glen Beach. Its isolated location has made it the preserve of naturists. But clothed beachgoers shouldn't be put off. You’ll have to climb down a steep path to reach the beach, but you’ll be rewarded by a tranquil, undeveloped stretch of coastline that feels a world away from the crowds nearby.
Barricane Beach, north Devon
With its golden sand and world-class surfing, Woolacombe is one of Devon’s best-known beaches. But if you continue along the Esplanade north, you’ll get to this much quieter spot. You have to make a short, steep climb to get to Barricane’s slender shell beach, which is sheltered by the rocks. But it’s worth it. Tuck into a seriously good Sri Lankan curry, served up by the little cafe, as you watch the sun set over the sea.
Hive beach, Dorset
Located close to the village of Burton Bradstock, this sand-and-shingle beach is a great option for families, with a lovely cafe, car park and clean water for paddling. Despite being set on Dorset's Jurassic Coast, it rarely gets overcrowded, even in peak summer, compared to its better-known neighbour Lyme Regis. You still get glorious views across Lyme Bay and along the golden sandstone cliffs towards Chesil Beach.
Sand Bay, Somerset
Sand Bay is all-too-often overshadowed by its more famous neighbour, Weston-super-Mare, which lies a couple of miles away. All the better for you. You’ll find this long expanse of sand and shingle a much quieter seaside option – you’ll probably share it with just a few local dog walkers and horse riders. Walk along the beach, which has views stretching across the Bristol Channel, then refuel at the dog-friendly tea rooms.
Eoropie beach, Isle of Lewis (Outer Hebrides)
If you’re looking for something really remote, an island in the Outer Hebrides should do the trick. Eoropie Beach lies on the wild northwest coast of the Isle of Lewis. You may have this broad sweep of sugar-soft sand to yourself, though some surfers may be bobbing in the sea – the crashing Atlantic breakers make this beach ideal for surfing. Hemmed in by tumbling dunes and cliffs, it’s also bucket-and-spade terrain and has a four-acre play park.
Porth Cynfor, Isle of Anglesey
You’ll have to walk for about 20 minutes, then make a bit of a scramble to reach this wild, petite pebble-and-shingle cove, also known as Hell's Mouth. Flanked by steep sea cliffs and a derelict porcelain works, it has two-tone water that’s dark blue at the back and turquoise at the font. There’s another equally rugged-and-remote beach, Porth Llanlleiana, just along the coastal path.
White Park Bay, Co Antrim
You’re more likely to be sharing this beautiful sweep of honey-coloured sand with wildlife than humans. The three-mile crescent beach is backed by a rich habitat for bird and animal life. Expect rare orchids and a few docile cows munching on grass in the dunes. You may also discover fossilised belemnites and ammonites hidden in the dunes that hint at earlier life. There are no toilets, but the beach is accessible from a National Trust car park.
Ross Back Sands, Northumberland
Even on a sunny summer’s day this beauty of a beach is sparsely populated. Why? Because you have to walk for over a mile to reach it (park at Ross Farm). There are no facilities – no toilets, lifeguard cover or shops – so pack everything you need for the day, and set off for its wide sweep of fine sand and grassy dunes, dotted with wildflowers. Build a sandcastle, paddle in near-turquoise water or simply lie back and take in the views – on a clear day, you can see Holy Island and Bamburgh Castle.]
Steephill Cove, Isle of Wight
You’ll find good old-fashioned seaside charm but on a much smaller scale at this sheltered cove, on the south coast of the Isle of Wight. Though you’re unlikely to have it all to yourself, there’s no road access and some people are put off by the steep path you need to take to reach it from the Ventnor Botanic Gardens. With its colourful beach huts and smattering of waterfront cottages, you’ll feel as though you’ve stumbled upon somewhere truly special.