I firmly believe that there’s not all that much point leaving Britain in the summer months – the current equatorial climate is doing nothing to dampen my convictions. Britain is at its best in the summer and one of the joys of living in this tiny (but mighty) island is that you’re never too far from the sea. Here are some of the best coastal escapes for the coming weeks…
Salcombe is heaven on earth – it’s just as you imagine a seaside town to be, complete with beautiful clifftop views, stretched out beaches with sandcastles children crying competitively, and parents cheerfully ignoring them. I always stay at the Salcombe Harbour Hotel (rooms from £285), which looks out over the glinting estuary, where guests are brilliantly looked after and you can fall asleep to the sound of the sea lapping against the shores after a hard day of reading and sunbathing. Bliss.
Margate has attracted a lot of attention lately, largely because Margate Dreamland is about to reopen and is currently advertised across London Underground. But also because it’s becoming a hive of creativity and bohemianism, as people make their escape from London. Turner was transfixed by Margate and the light there – the small town inspired many of his masterpieces – and the Turner Contemporary Gallery (pictured above) continues the town’s artistic tradition. The Ambrette serves the best Indian food this side of Rajasthan.
Every time I think of Deal, I remember the agony of swimming in the bitingly cold sea in middle of winter (OK, March) while the grown-ups stood at the shore and gleefully watched us suffer. The passage of time may have coloured my recollections somewhat, for today, Deal looks more like a charming toytown than a torturous seascape. But, make no mistake, Deal is not twee. The high street is made up of small independent shops, the restaurants have similarly shirked corporate ownership. I’d go for an Airbnb when staying in Deal – there are charming Georgian townhouses on the seafront that beat hotels any day.
The Llyn Peninsula is the wild west of coastal getaways: jagged clifftops with hidden beaches (Porth Meudwy, Porthor) nestling at the foot. The beaches are connected by a 91-mile long footpath, so if the weather for which our country is famed decides to join you in north-west Wales, you can always opt for a good old-fashioned stomp around the peninsula. This will, of course, leave little time for sandcastle competitions, but the fishing village of Porthdinllaen or birdwatcher’s Eden Porth Meudwy prove that variety is the spice of life, and what offers more diversity for your summer break than the British coast?
It’s a bit of a cheat to include Eriska as it’s an island in itself, off the west coast of Scotland at the entrance to Loch Creran, but it is absolutely stunning and well worth a recommendation. It’s very solitary (ie. perfectly private) and a bit less bucket and spade than the other entries here, but the raw beauty of the the landscape is simply breathtaking. Probably best for adults seeking to get away from the stickiness of the city in the summer months.