In the UK, no matter where you live, you will never be more than 70 miles away from your nearest coastal waters. So, with Summer on its way and, hopefully, fewer lockdown restrictions, why not take advantage of a day trip to one of over 150 Blue Flag beaches across the UK and Ireland?
Blue Flag Award beaches are widely considered the gold standard for beaches. Water quality, safety and services, Environmental Education, and Information and, Environmental Management are the four categories that must meet certain criteria to be considered for an award.
Here is a brief overview of just some of the fabulous beaches you can enjoy!
Less than two hours by road from central London, St Mildred’s Bay (pictured above) is on the easternmost tip of the Isle of Thanet in Kent.
From its small and sandy Blue Flag beach, you can enjoy bathing, swimming, windsurfing, or sailing before taking some refreshments at the café or restaurants on the promenade backing the sea.
Once you’ve caught your breath, you might even fancy a shortish walk to the bright lights of Margate.
Britain’s largest county has a beautiful Blue Flag beach at Saltburn-by-the-Sea.
Here you can step back in time to enjoy the original charms of a Victorian seaside resort, its Italianate gardens, and the country’s oldest water-balanced cliff railway between the town and the award-winning beach some 120 feet below.
15 of Yorkshire’s beaches have also won the only slightly less prestigious Seaside Awards.
Magilligan Strand stretches for seven miles along the northern Irish coast just to the east of Lough Foyle and west of Port Rush and Coleraine.
The backdrop to the long expanse of beach is the largest dune system in the UK and you can explore it along boardwalk trails.
Although you’ll appreciate the feeling of being away from it all as you explore the local nature reserve of which it is part, the Blue Flag beach also has lifeguard services, a café, and a nearby caravan park.
No, not the famous seaside resort in the northwest of England, renowned for its Blackpool Tower, promenade’s illuminations, and a welter of kiss-me-quick hats. This Blackpool is in the genteel county of Devon – just along the coast from Dartmouth.
It’s a crescent-shaped jewel on the coast of the rural idyll that is the rolling countryside of the South Hams, backed by stands of pine trees, with the coarse golden sand of the beach running down to the sea.
Take a train ride back to the glory days of the 1950s on North Norfolk Railway’s “Poppy Line” and you arrive at the quaint seaside town of Sheringham.
What’s more, the beach at Sheringham is one of six in Norfolk to win a coveted Blue Flag award for the environmental and educational information it offers, the overall environmental management of the beach, the provision of safety and services, and water quality.
Picture postcard views across the wide sweep of Carmarthen Bay will greet you as you arrive at Tenby North Beach – situated between the ancient walled town’s Harbour Beach and North Cliffs.
A long, wide stretch of clean golden sand earns the beach its Blue Flag award, while a short walk into the town brings you within range of its many shops, pubs, restaurants, and cafes.
Some of the best of British beaches and the county of Cornwall go hand in hand, of course, so it’s no surprise to single out at least one of these for its Blue Flag award.
Widemouth Bay Beach draws the crowds in the summertime as families mix with surfers to take to the cooling clean waters of the sea. There are several surfing schools since the gently sloping beach is a favourite with beginners and lifeguards are on duty throughout the summer and at weekends in some shoulder months.
The southeast of England has 15 Blue Flag beaches – and the privately-owned beach at West Wittering, in West Sussex, near the city of Chichester is one of them.
The sandy beach is extremely popular with visiting families in the summer months, maintained with careful environmental management and water quality that meets international bathing standards.
Although the town of Harwich, in Essex, is host to one of the biggest ports in the UK, nearby Dovercourt Bay manages to maintain a clean, sandy beach with five-star water quality and environmental standards that earn it one of the county’s six Blue Flag awards.
Those taking to the sea can enjoy sailing, windsurfing, jet-skiing, and swimming or bathing.
The UK has some stunning beaches. Not only do they look good – as countless picture postcards attest – but they also help to maintain the highest environmental and conservation standards, with seawater quality that achieves international recognition.
Those qualities find ultimate expression in the Blue Flag award – jealously held by more than 150 beaches around the UK and Ireland. Visit one soon to discover what makes them so special.