Coming from the hills, the sight of the vast expanse of the sea, white waves crashing against the shore and the golden beaches have always awed and intrigued me. Somehow the constant movement of this huge volume of water makes you appreciate the might of nature and puts you into perspective. Standing there you realise how tiny we humans are in the bigger scheme of things. The bright blue water, ships, boats, the sight of horizon where the sky meets the sea and the changing colours as the day progresses – all these sights make me happy. Be it the golden beaches in Eastern India or the beautiful sandy beaches of the South, being alongside the sea brings a lot of joy to me and my family.
Great Britain is blessed with many of the wonderful sea beaches because of its never ending coastline – 31,368km of it including islands according to Ordnance Survey(OS) . So, when it comes to exploring this wonderful country, where better to start than from one of its scenic coasts?
1. Durdle Door
Probably Durdle Door is one of the most well-known and famous beaches of all the beaches in England. Its famous dinosaur shaped limestone arch formation is one of the most well-known images across the internet. It appears as if a giant diplodocus had come to take a dip in the sea water and got frozen in time!
Durdle door is on the Jurassic Coast near Lulworth in Dorset. It is one of the most photographed and iconic landscapes in beautiful Dorset county of South West England. The Jurassic coast is a long stretch on the English Channel where the cliffs contain many fossils. It was England’s first UNESCO World Heritage site. It is a beauty spot that will bring a lot of joy and smile to even the most hardened soul.
Take a walk across the Jurassic coast and explore the coastline to find numerous seashells of different shapes, sizes, and colour. Bring out your inner child with or without your kids by picking colourful and weird and wonderful pebbles. Lay your picnic blanket and enjoy your goodies by the waves crashing onto the shingles.
Check out the numerous natural caves at the base of the chalk cliffs but be warned not to enter those as cliff falls are common according to the local information. You can also enjoy a swim in the cool blue waters in some parts of the sea. And when you’ve walked and explored and swam enough, lay down under the warm sun breathing in the cool summer sea breeze!
The walk to the beach can be adventurous or arduous to some. Access to the beach from the cliff top is on foot via a steep path downhill about half a mile (approx. 30mins) and further 143 steps down onto the beach. We travelled by car and the journey itself is enjoyable passing through beautiful countryside with miles and miles of scenic beauty. Driving is a pleasure, although traffic can get heavy at times during summer with lot of visitors aiming at the same destination as yours! So, start your journey early. From London to Durdle door is about 130 miles and in normal traffic conditions, should take just over two and half hours by car.
Oh, just a trivia for my Bollywood fans, a very famous song from Houseful 3 was shot here!
2. Botany Bay
Botany Bay is bay in Broadstairs, Kent on the South East coast of England. It offers amazing views of white cliffs and chalk stacks. Plenty of sandy beach gets exposed when the tide is out, and you can have as much fun as you want on the soft golden sands. Explore the beach for fossils and the plenty of rockpools. You can light up a BBQ if you like - a note though barbecues are allowed only after 6pm, so make sure you read all information before you light the fire!
If you do not fancy BBQs, there is an attractive hotel located above the bay which has a restaurant, café and bar overlooking the bay and vast blue sea. Have a meal or drink sitting on the patio basking under the golden sun as you see the world pass by you. There are lot of opportunities for great photography wherever you look. If you love coastal walks, you will definitely like the short walk from Botany Bay to Kingsgate Bay where you will pass the Kingsgate Castle. The castle was built for Lord Holland in the 1760s as the stable block of his nearby country residence Holland House. The walk will take about 20-30minutes.
Car parking and toilet facilities are located above the bay next to the hotel.
Dungeness is one of the lesser known beaches on the South East coast of England in Kent. It is formed largely of shingle beach in the form of a ‘cuspate foreland’, a specific kind of beach that is a triangular shape due to longshore drift occurring at a specific angle. It is one of the largest expanses of shingle in the world and is also classified as the only desert in Britain by Met office. The land here is so flat that it feels as if the sea will move into the land at the very first opportunity. As many other visitors have said , Dungeness gives an ‘End of the world’ feeling which to be honest I took a bit of time to get adjusted to. You have to be there in person to understand what I mean!
Dungeness is not filled with beautiful greenery like the rest of Kent, but it certainly has its own unique charm. If you ignore (or are not phased by) the rather imposing
Dungeness Nuclear Power Station, then you will be able to enjoy the thriving wildlife, characterful cabin houses, fascinating lighthouse, and the plentiful abandoned fishing boats. It is recognized as a National Nature Reserve because of its plant, invertebrate and birdlife.
Even though this small fishing community attracts significantly less visitors than some of the other beaches on this list, it still packs lots of attractions for anyone who does manage to find it. You can hunt for seashells of various shapes, size, colour, and forms and collect shingles too. Swimming is not advised here. You can walk to the top of the Old Lighthouse, for a stunning view of Dungeness and the Romney Marsh. (It is quite windy up there, though!). There is also a nuclear power station and if you are interested, guided tours are available by prebooking.
If you are a more adventurous type, you can hire a bike (or bring your own) and ride across the almost completely flat Romney Marsh, and maybe even spot some birdlife along the way. If you aren’t the bike riding kind of person or family then there is the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway( RH&DR) that you can enjoy a ride on. The RH&DR began running to Dungeness in 1928 by Southern railway from New Romney to Dungeness. The RH&DR organises various experiences that you can prebook.
Once you’ve finished exploring and worked up an appetite, there are a few options for some delicious coastal food. The Britannia Inn serves up some of the best fish and chips around, and the Snack Shack is a great choice for eating with kids. The sunset is also to die for, with shades of red, orange, and pink streaking across the horizon.
And have you tried a dish made of Romney Salt Marsh lamb? If not do try, meat from these particular breed of lamb get its distinctive flavour from grazing the salt marshes of Romney
4. Margate Main Sands Beach
Margate is a popular seaside town in Thanet, Kent in South East of England. It has an old-world holiday-town charm with great seaside entertainment and many stylish, classic and chic eateries and shops. It has great sandy beaches, and the main beach is the Margate Sands and is an exciting place for a family day out. Because of its popularity, it tends to get crowded especially during holidays, bank holiday weekends. If you want a quieter more relaxed ambience avoid going on these days and especially if the temperature is high enough to call it an Indian Summers day!
Excitement is never far from the beach, right from building sandcastles to soaking in the sun or having a swim in the tidal pool, your little ones are sure to be busy for hours. Dreamland Amusement Park provides entertainment based on traditional English seaside fun fair with vintage rides and various acts.
You can have a family picnic or enjoy the famous fish ‘n’ chips in one of the seafood stalls or eat in style in one of the cafés. Lay down and soak the sun whilst the young ones are busy building their castles!
5. Felixstowe Beach
Felixstowe is a quaint seaside town in Suffolk – East of England. Its beach is family friendly with lot of seaside attractions, such as the promenade, amusement park and the seafront gardens. The beach itself is a mix of shingle and sand and a walk along the promenade is relaxing and breath-taking. There are lot of wonderful cafes and eateries along the promenade which is close to the bay. We enjoyed the biggest portion of Fish’N’ Chips at the Sands Bar & Grill
Along the promenade there is a row of colourful and cute looking beach huts. You can hire one of these beach huts for when you need a bit of break from the sun or for those colder days.
Felixstowe also boasts of having Britain’s newest pier. The pier has a family entertainment centre with lots of indoor fun and games including a mini retro-style ten pin bowling. So, if you are done with the sun, sand and spade or the heavens open up, you can still have great family fun inside the arcade.
London to Felixstowe will take a couple of hours by car in normal traffic conditions. There is plenty of parking space available near the beach.
So, there you have it, these were few of my family favourite beaches in this part of England. Hopefully, next summer we’ll be able to explore many other beautiful seaside towns and beaches!
And to wrap up, why not have some fun in the beach with this age-old tongue twister and see if you can master it
‘She sells, seashells on the seashore’
Until next time have a serene day.