Beach Breaks to Book When the Crowds Disperse
September is often a beautiful month here at home
Flights from Newcastle to Newquay continue into autumn, and all along the coast are great beaches including, just eight miles to south, the popular surf beach of Perranporth. The town grew up around the tin mining industry but is well known for its vast sandy beach and often spectacular waves, and it’s also the birth place of Poldark. Author Winston Graham wrote his very first Poldark novel whilst living in the village. It’s a popular spot all year round but there’s still plenty of scope to find a quiet corner here once the kids are back at school.
There are so many beaches worth exploring, so pick up a car at Newquay and take your time dipping in and out from Watergate Bay just to the north, to Fistral Beach, the ‘home of British surfing’ with its natural amphitheatre bookended by headlands, the quieter dune-backed Crantock, the sweep of Holywell Bay, and Perranporth just to the south, which at low tide joins with neighbouring Penhale Sands to form one of the largest stretches of unbroken sand on Cornwall’s coast. At the busier town end of the beach are rock pools, caves and Chapel Rock with its small natural bathing pool, and further along is the Watering Hole, a great pub slap bang on the sand.
With arguably one of the most stunning views in Cornwall, The Atlantic Hotel sits in 10 acres of breathtaking headland in Newquay. Home to The Beatles whilst they filmed the now iconic The Magical Mystery Tour, the hotel combines historic charm and grand Art-Deco style with contemporary touches and is the perfect retreat, surrounded by sandy beaches and turquoise water with the South West Coastal Path on your doorstep. Freshly sourced produce is served in the Silk Bistro and Bar and if the sea proves too cold there’s an indoor heated pool and spa, and an outdoor pool made for sunset swimming.
Just along the cliff is the stunning Lewinnick Lodge (read our review here) and just inland to the south, family-owned, ivy-clad Rose In Vale Country House Hotel is a clever combination of traditional 17th century Cornish long house and ornate 18th century Georgian manor. Sitting in its own secluded woodland surrounded by gardens, there are just 22 bedroom here, and this dog-friendly find has its own swimming pool, plenty of peaceful grounds to explore and a welcoming bar and restaurant if you don’t want to venture further, although Truro, Cornwall’s only city, is just six miles away and well worth a visit.
Back in Perranporth, The Seiners Arms is a family run bed and breakfast with its own restaurant and bar right on the seafront. Seconds from the beach and with sea views, the rooms, as you would expect, all have beach-inspired interiors. The traditional Cornish bar has a sought-after outside terrace and produce comes from the best local suppliers around. Join them for one of their special weekend retreats where you can explore the benefits of cold water swimming, surfing and yoga alongside their legendary hospitality.
Want a little more independence? The Bologna is an award-winning boutique hotel which has two charming self-catering cottages. Sitting in its own wildflower meadow with views across to Perranporth’s huge sand dunes, the hotel has five suites and rooms as well as the newly renovated cottages. Book The Bakehouse with its large open lounge, private garden and hot tub sleeping six, or The Nook, a romantic one-bedroomed retreat with a glorious coastal back garden where the evening sun sets late. Can’t be bothered to cook? The Bologna’s popular restaurant has a modern menu inspired by the Mediterranean.
St Andrews North, East and West Sands, Fife
Famous for the opening scenes in the film Chariots of Fire, it’s hard not to hum the theme tune as you stroll purposefully along this stretch of sandy coast just north of the university town. There are actually three beaches here which stretch almost two miles, backed by dunes which run alongside the world famous golf course, and are just a 15-minute walk from St Andrew’s town centre. Lifeguards patrol the beach in peak season, and whilst it’s unlikely you’ll ever have the beach to yourself, once the holidays are over and before the students return there are plenty of quiet stretches of sand from the southern tip of Castle Sands all the way north to the Eden Estuary.
For avid golfers playing the Old Course is a must-do and tee times are easier to come by than you might think, but there’s plenty to keep non-golfers happy in this characterful seaside town (although we do suggest walking the historic course is worthwhile). The ruins of the 13th century St Andrews Castle stand on the headland to the north of the town. Explore the underground 16th-century siege mine and counter-mine, and the ‘bottle dungeon’, one of the most infamous castle prisons in medieval Britain, which was cut out of the solid rock. To the northern end of the beach you’ll find Eden Mill, Scotland’s first single-site brewery and distillery where a brand new visitor centre is currently under construction.
Russacks St Andrews, within putting distance of the 18th hole of the world’s most famous golf course, has undergone recent renovations and is now home to three top-drawer dining destinations including a rooftop restaurant and terrace overlooking the course and the beach beyond, and a pub in the basement. Rooms here vary in size but are all elegantly furnished with huge attention paid the the tiniest detail. If you are planning a round whilst you’re in town the hotel will help with storing, and even shipping, your clubs.
Rufflets Hotel is just outside the town, a five-minute drive from North and East Sand Beaches, sitting in its own award-winning gardens. This peaceful country house retreat’s Seasons Restaurant serves the finest Scottish produce and there’s a beautiful terrace should the sun decide to shine.
For those who prefer self-catering accommodation, No 1 St Andrews is a recently renovated apartment complex in the centre of town offering immaculate accommodation, all within easy walking distance of the beaches and the golf courses. And just a few minutes’ drive from St Andrew’s beaches, Tarskavaig is a luxury bed and breakfast; think spacious rooms, roll-top baths with far-reaching views, and lots of luxurious little touches, all topped off by an unbeatable breakfast.
Rhossili Bay, Glamorgan
It may require something of a road trip but once you are there the beaches of the Gower Peninsula could trick you into believing you are in another part of the world entirely. With a dramatic coastline and hundreds of hidden coves and beautiful bays, which, when the tide is in, disappear altogether, pick the right time and the pristine sands could be yours alone.
Often described as one of the best beaches in Wales, one of the best beaches in the UK and even in the top 10 beaches in the world, the stunningly wild Rhossili Bay is under the watchful care of the National Trust. The three miles of sandy shoreline on the westernmost part of the Gower Peninsula mean you’ll never be crowded, and when the tide is out you have the opportunity to explore the remains of the shipwrecked Helvetia, and clamber over the rocky causeway to the tidal island of Worms Head where your only company will be grey seals soaking up the sunshine. The clifftop paths that overlook the bay are the best place to take advantage of the famous sunsets on this part of the coast.
Just across the peninsula (just a mile as the crow flies and a 45-minute walk from Rhossili Bay) are Fall Bay and Mewled Beach, famous for their sea caves. Explore the Giant’s Cave but watch the tide as the beaches are only connected at low tide. If watersports are more your thing then head round to Oxwich Bay which is so sheltered it’s more of a millpond than Atlantic, and it’s where you’ll find the Oxwich Bay Hotel with its incredible sea views. This cosy seaside hotel has secret garden pods, dog-friendly cottage rooms and a café-bar by the beach serving great beer-battered cod and chips.
Parc Le Breos is a unique guest house with its own restaurant set in the grounds of a Norman deer park with amazing walks right on the doorstep; a 20-minute stroll will take you to the Three Cliffs Bay and its spectacular sand dunes and salt marsh speckled with rock pools. Tastefully furnished, you’ll find elegant bedrooms, pine floors, crackling log fires and good food here. Fans of self-catering should look at The Old Byre in Rhossili. This spacious, stone-built three bedroom holiday home has private garden with sea views. In the pretty village of Reynoldston, The King Arthur is a cosy inn with more than 150 years of history, 18 bedrooms, a stylish restaurant, two bars and a spacious beer garden overlooking the village green.
North Norfolk is renowned for its laid back living, sandy beaches and stunning coastline. peppered with chic holiday resorts, pretty market towns and even majestic stately homes. Holkham is probably the most popular seaside spot, whilst family-friendly Cromer is a traditional resort with a long promenade lined with beach huts, cafés and amusements. But head to Brancaster and it’s a different story. A quieter beach than many, the sand is soft and white, the water clear and the sky endless, and here you’ll find plenty of opportunities for fishing, birdwatching and walking too.
Part of the Brancaster Estate and owned by the National Trust, this iconic stretch of east coast is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Sandwiched between Old Hunstanton and Holkham beaches, the wide sweep of sand is perfect for dog walking (except on the small dog-free zone between May and September), and picnicking, and although it has strong tides, when the water recedes it leaves lagoons perfect for padding. Nearby, RSPB Titchwell Marsh Nature Reserve’s bird-filled reed beds are a bird watcher’s paradise, and head to Brancaster Staithe and you’ll find an endless network of creeks, bobbing boats and fabulous foodie spots.
Round the bay, Hunstanton is the only west-facing resort on the UK’s east coast and as a result is well known for its spectacular sunsets. Known locally as ‘Sunny Hunny’ it is one of the driest places in the country. It also has unique, fossil-rich red and white striped cliffs made up of alternating layers of chalk and carrstone. The traditional Victorian seaside resort does tend to be busier than its easterly neighbour and has everything you’d expect of a traditional resort including donkey rides and a fun fair, but you’ll find some peace (and great views) in the Esplanade Gardens right on the sea front.
Looking out onto the spectacular landscape, and surrounded by glorious countryside, Titchwell Manor is where you’ll find luxurious bedrooms, hot tub suites and characterful shepherd’s huts alongside relaxed fine dining and an award-winning breakfast. Between Hunstanton and Brancaster, Anna’s is a quirky boutique hotel with five individually-designed bedrooms ranging from cosy to cavernous and a hot tub in the garden, all just a stroll away from five award-winning pubs and restaurants. In Brancaster, Floriann is a contemporary, self-catering, dog-friendly bolthole sleeping six, and in neighbouring Burnham Scolt Cottage is a cute, renovated fisherman’s cottage sleeping four guests just two minutes’ walk from the harbour and village pub. While you are here, check out Burnham Market’s fantastic eateries and independent shops and treat yourself to dinner (or an overnight stay) at the historic Hoste Arms.