Britain’s best winter beaches

The British coastline has a wild beauty in the colder months but still offers incredible wildlife, views and buckets of fresh air. Our guide looks at the best beaches to visit in the UK in the winter months.

The UK’s spectacular coastline consists of rocky outcrops, sandy beaches and hidden coves. According to the Ordnance Survey, the coastline of Britain is approximately 11,073 miles in length.

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From coastal walks to quaint fishing villages and traditional seaside piers, the UK coastline has something for everyone and is still regarding as a Great British Day Out. However, in the colder winter months when the crowds depart, the British coastline has a special allure and if you’re lucky you may find you have the entire beach to yourself.

Wrap up warm and head to the coast for a bracing winter walk with our guide to the best beaches to visit in the UK in winter.

1

Horsey, Norfolk

Sandy seal. Grey Seal on the beach on a windy day. The animal is caught in a sand storm. From the Horsey wild seal colony, Norfolk, UK.
Sandy seal. Grey Seal on the beach on a windy day. The animal is caught in a sand storm. From the Horsey wild seal colony, Norfolk, UK.

On the edge of the Broads National Park, Horsey is the perfect spot to visit. The seemingly endless beach is the perfect place to get your wellies on, wrap up warm and enjoy England’s beautiful coast as well as some of its wildlife. Humpback wales have previously been seen off the coast as well as communities of seal frequenting the beach. With the national park on one side and the coast on the other, Horsey is the perfect place to take in a bit of the UK’s more rural side.

Rockpool

2

Robin Hoods Bay, Yorkshire

The tide ebbs at Robin Hood’s Bay in the North York Moors National Park to reveal a series of wave-cut platforms
The tide ebbs at Robin Hood’s Bay in the North York Moors National Park to reveal a series of wave-cut platforms ©Alamy

Robin Hood’s Bay is a hidden bit of history, with its raw, brooding cliffs, red roofed cottages and unusual architecture. The beach itself is one of the UK’s best spots for fossil hunting. Perfect to visit in the winter, you can enjoy a walk along the cliffs or beach to take in the historical village and spectacular scenery and end in one of the many cosy pubs.

3

Jurassic Coast

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On a cold winter morning in Dorset, the coastal cliffs become veiled with mist ©Getty

Running from Orcombe Point near Exmouth to Old Harry Rocks near Swanage; the Jurassic coast is a wonder in the soft light of summer, but in the winter its striking, rugged beauty really shines through. With over 90 miles of coastal walks, stunning beaches and impressive cliffs, there is plenty of choice about where to go. Wrap up warm and enjoying the coast without the crowds of the summer. Durdle Door in particular is worth a visit; try and get there early on a misty morning and watch the sunrise through the door.

4

Dunbar, East Lothian

Winterfield Golf Club, Dunbar
Winter field Golf Club on the outskirts of Dunbar ©Getty

Another beautiful Scottish beach surrounded by both countryside and coast, Dunbar is an enchanting spot for a winter walk. Two popular walks around the area encompass both the rural and historic side to the town – the first explores the red sandstone cliffs and golf courses and the second the historic high street and and harbours. Or why not go a bit further and walk part of the John Muir Way from from Dunbar to North Berwick further up the coast.

Guide to the most common seashells in the British Isles and where to find them.

Take a closer look next time you’re walking along the seashore and you may be surprised about what you find  – a pointy top shell, a colourful periwinkle or a spired whelk.

Each species in our ID guide has specific patterns and markings, and varies in shape and size, offering clues about the animals’ evolution and their day-to-day lives.

Sea snail shells on

5

Looe, Cornwall

A tranquil scene showing Looe beach and west/east Looe. This picturesque fishing village is located in southeast Cornwall and is a popular location to visitors and tourists to the area.
Take a stroll on beach then warm up in one of the town’s many pubs ©Getty

At the mouth of the river Looe, the town is an enchanting place to go this winter. With a section of the South West Costal Path cutting right through there’s some lovely walks around the area. With a choice of costal views, hidden caves, woodland valleys and open moorland, the area looks spectacular empty of people and dusted in frost.

6

Walberswick, Suffolk

Walberswick Beach, Suffolk, England, on a sunny day
Walberswick offers solitude and space in the winter months ©Getty

Listed as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, tucked away between the mouth of the river Blythe and the Suffolk coast, Walberwick is well worth a visit this winter. It has miles of marshland, heath and coast to enjoy as well as access to the Suffolk Coast Path that stretches 50 miles along the east coast. A bustling holiday destination in the summer, it’s relaxed and quiet during the winter, with the crumbling Pump Mill ruins and beautiful natural scenery, contrasted with a the historic trading village, there is lots to enjoy.

Beachcombing guide: things to find along the seashore and best beaches in the UK

Extraordinary and beautiful treasures can be found along the British coastline. Here is our expert guide to beachcombing, including things to look out for, how to beachcomb and best beaches for beachcombing in the UK.

Female beachcomber

7

Three Cliffs Bay, Gower

beach at sunset
Sunset at Three Cliffs Bay, Gower, Peninsula, Swansea, South Wales, UK/Credit: Getty Images

A hidden beauty throughout the year, during the winter this spot is really an isolated wonder. The sunken bay is eerily quiet during the winter, with the surrounding cliffs enclosing the beach. You can also enjoy a coastal walk up to the ruined castle to really take in the spectacular views and sounds of nothing but the nature around you.

8

Embleton Bay, Northumberland

Dunstanburgh Castle and Embleton Bay at Dawn, Northumberland UK
Dunstanburgh Castle stands tall over Emblazon Bay ©Getty

A beautiful long stretch of beach overlooked by the impressive ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle, Embleton Bay is a perfect winter beach. On a clear cold morning the ruins can be seen perfectly from the beach and beach itself backs onto dunes, famous for there flowers, grasses and birds.

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9

Heysham, Lancashire

The village of Heysham has some wonderful views to enjoy this winter. The town backs directly onto the cliffs and beaches creating some beautiful contrasting scenery. The famous graves in the ruins of St Patrick’s chapel are also worth a visit and look particularly spooky shrouded in a winter mist.

Heysham Sands are on the shoreline of Heysham. This area has been inhabited since the Stone Age. (Getty)
Heysham Sands are on the shoreline of Heysham. This area has been inhabited since the Stone Age. (Getty)
10

Killantringan, Portpatrick

A beautiful sunset on Killantringan Bay in SW Scotland
Sun sets over Killantringan Bay ©Getty

A coastal point just outside of Portpatrick, Killantringan is an impressive area of raw cliffs and rugged beaches. A lonely lighthouse position at its peak adds to the surrounding view. With the rolling Galloway hills to one side and coast to the other, it’s a hotspot for wildlife, including golden eagles and red deer. Half a mile south there is also the Dunskey Castle ruin, a 12th century tower house.

Britain’s best coastal caves, arches and stacks

Along the British coastline you will find a range of dramatic rock formations which range from hidden caves, arches and stacks. Our guide to the most spectacular coastal caves, arches and stacks along the British coast.

 

Traeth Mawr, Glamorgan Heritage Coast

11

St David’s Head, Pembrokeshire

This dramatic headland northwest of St David’s and Whitesands beach is spectacular for sea views and coastal walks. In winter, the sea churns up some beautiful surf and crashing waves that are mesmerizing to watch.

St Davids Head is a headland in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, in southwest Wales. This headland is considered the southern limit of the Irish Sea in Wales, it can only be reached on foot along the coastal path, the nearest road ending at Whitesands bay about a mile to the south-east. (Getty)
St Davids Head is a headland in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, in southwest Wales. This headland is considered the southern limit of the Irish Sea in Wales, it can only be reached on foot along the coastal path, the nearest road ending at Whitesands bay about a mile to the south-east. (Getty)
12

Runswick Bay, North Yorkshire

Runswick Bay, just north of Whitby is a treasure trove of all sorts of washed up knick-knacks. The surrounding cliffs are made of shale and clay, so every time it rains, layers of rock crumble, revealing thousands of ancient fossils.

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Runswick Bay, North Yorkshire (Getty)
Runswick Bay, North Yorkshire (Getty)
13

Saligo Bay, Isle of Islay

Saligo Bay can be found on Islay’s Atlantic west coast, west of Loch Gorm. Many say Saligo Bay is the island’s most beautiful bay, and offers stunning light conditions for photographers. Pack a flask of tea and a blanket and head down to this gorgeous bay to watch an unforgettable Atlantic sunset.

Saligo Bay, Islay, Argyll and Bute, Scotland (Getty)
Saligo Bay, Islay, Argyll and Bute, Scotland (Getty)