The UK’s top 10 beaches

Here are the National Trust’s top 10 spots for a great family day out at the beach


Not many things beat a day by the seaside. And when it comes to dreaming up things to do while you’re at the beach, children often have the best ideas. Whether it’s discovering crazy creatures in a rock pool, skimming a stone or jumping over waves, there are plenty of activities to get stuck into on the coast this summer.

So grab your bucket and spade and head to one of the National Trust’s top 10 spots for a great family day out at the beach.

Kynance-Cove, Cornwall. Image credit: National Trust/John Millar

Lizard Point and Kynance Cove, Cornwall

The dramatic and historic stretch of Cornish coast at Lizard Point, the most southerly part of the British mainland, is a great place to admire some spectacular views. Kynance Cove is a hidden gem, boasting incredible scenery, white sand and clear turquoise waters. At low tide you can descend the steps down to the sand and picnic on the shore. Facilities on the beach include a fantastic café which serves food between Easter and November. The Lizard’s other top beaches include: Poldhu Cove, Gunwalloe Cove and Mullion Cove.

Studland beach huts.

Studland Beach, Dorset

At Studland, you’ll find a scenic four mile stretch of golden sand, with views of Old Harry Rocks and the Isle of Wight, boats and National Trust beach huts available to hire, water sports and a beach that’s perfect for picnics and for building sandcastles. The heathland that lies behind it also has a treasure trove of wildlife for kids to explore.

Woolacombe, North Devon. Image credit: National Trust/John Millar

Woolacombe beach, Devon

Rolling hills provide a wonderful backdrop to this beautiful beach and in the summer holidays you’ll find National Trust beach rangers on hand to show little ones how to go on rock pool safaris and build the best sandcastles for miles around. Baggy Point and Morte Point – also known as the ‘stegosaurus back’ – are both perfect for rock scrambling. If it’s a walk that you prefer, the South West coastal path will take you on a journey around the enticing coves and distinctive slate cliffs that the area is so well known for.

Dunwich Heath. Image credit: National Trust/Justin Minns

Dunwich Heath and Beach, Suffolk

Tucked away on the Suffolk coast, the peaceful, colourful heath-land of the Dunwich Heath Nature Reserve, with its shingle and sand beach, is rich with wildlife and ideal for birdwatchers, nature lovers, walkers, and families. Head to the shingle beach for a walk along the shoreline or head out on a scavenger hunt or kite-flying expedition. Late summer sees a patchwork of purple and yellow heather come into full bloom.

Sandy flats at Blakeney Point. Image credit: National Trust/Joe Cornish.

Brancaster and Blakeney, North Norfolk Coast

Famous for its mussels, the fishing village of Brancaster Staithe lies on the shores of the stunning north Norfolk coast. The Staithe offers a great place to start exploring the coast, and you can launch a boat and sail in the sheltered waters of Scolt Head Island. If you continue a little further along the coast you can find great places for building sandcastles and designated areas for power kiting sports. There’s so many things to see and explore at Blakeney; crabbing is a must for all ages or you can take time out and relax with a view at Blakeney Point. The area is home to a colony of common and grey seals that can be seen most of the year from any of the seal boat trips that leave from Morston Quay.

Coastguard cottages at Birling Gap. Image credit: National Trust/John Millar

Birling Gap, East Sussex

Birling Gap is part of the world famous Seven Sisters chalk cliffs, one of the longest stretches of undeveloped coastline on the south coast. One minute you can be walking on ancient downland, the next you could be rock pooling below towering cliffs of chalk. With a south-west-facing beach, Birling Gap is also one of the best spots to surf in the South East.

Isle of Wight. Image credit: National Trust/Joe Cornish.

Isle of Wight, Hampshire

Compton Bay is a spectacular spot along the Isle of Wight coastline showcasing some of the best beach side scenery around. It has a firm sandy beach and the tide doesn’t go out too far so it’s great for swimming, plus there are excellent views towards the Needles and Dorset beyond.

Cliff scenery around Stackpole Head. Image credit: National Trust/Joe Cornish.

Stackpole, Pembrokeshire

Stackpole has two fabulous beaches, Barafundle and Broadhaven South. Barafundle is regularly voted among the top beaches in the world and is a great place to go rock pooling, paddling and sandcastle-building. This golden horseshoe backed by gorse-flecked dunes and woodland is accessible only via steep steps in the limestone cliffs on either side and is a great place for a swim. Freshwater West, six miles west of the estate, is a great surf beach and Stackpole Quay is the perfect place to launch your kayak or to try some coasteering along the rocky coastline.

People walking above Rhossili Bay. Image credit: National Trust/John Millar

Rhossili and South Gower Coast, Swansea

With some of the most splendid views on the Welsh coast, you won’t want to miss this magnificent three mile long beach, that served as inspiration for the great Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas. If you stand at Rhossili Down, you can see not only the peninsula, but the coast of west Wales and of north Devon visible on the horizon.

Murlough. Image credit: National Trust/Patrick Lynch

Murlough National Nature Reserve, County Down

The view from Murlough Beach is one of an impressive shingle beach set against the backdrop of the Mourne Mountains. Out to sea, stretching from the Mournes to St. John’s Point lighthouse is Dundrum Bay; even the Isle of Man can be seen on a clear day. Murlough National Nature Reserve, with its network of paths and boardwalks through the dunes, woodland and heath from where you will see lots of butterflies and wild flowers, is a must. If you look across the beach to Ballykinler at low tide you are almost guaranteed a view of common and grey seals during the summer months.