Head for the coast
Yearning for the sea but don’t have the time or budget to go further afield than the UK? Fear not, says VisitEngland.com. The English coastline has plenty of hidden gems that will take your breath away with their beauty. Top coastal secrets include…
Mersea Island, Essex
Just 20 minutes from Colchester, Mersea Island’s pastel beach huts and golden sands make for a perfect seaside getaway. The Essex island’s microclimate means it’s an ideal spot for producing wine, and the family-owned Mersea Island Vineyard has a large selection of English wines to try – a great match for The Company Shed’s local seafood offerings. Those in the know flock here to gorge on fresh shellfish, including grilled oysters and seared scallops.
Berry Head, Devon
This striking limestone peninsula covering 100 acres combines the natural beauty of Torbay’s coastline in South Devon with fascinating maritime history. It’s an enchanting spot where rare plants and wild flowers smother cliff tops, and a plethora of sea birds hunt above the waters. You might even catch a glimpse of dolphins and porpoises below. Berry Head is also home to restored Napoleonic-era fortifications. While you’re here, why not check into the Berry Head Hotel on the edge of the country park and treat yourself to dinner on the hotel’s terrace? It looks out to a blissful stretch of coastline.
Isles of Scilly
With clear, warm waters and towering palms, the Scillies, just 30 miles form Cornwall, are a cluster of more than 100 subtropical islands. At low tide you can walk from Bryher to Tresco – the second-biggest island and home to Abbey Gardens. A botanical paradise with cacti from South American and palms from Hawaii, it’s Kew Gardens minus the glasshouses. Elsewhere on St Mary’s, the largest of the five inhabited islands, book a sea safari to spot Atlantic seals and flocks of sea birds. If you’re lucky, you might see basking sharks and dolphins too.
Take a stroll around Amble and soak up the splendour of this pretty harbour town – known as the ‘Padstow of the North’ – at the mouth of the River Croquet in Northumberland. Tuck into the catch of the day at The Old Storehouse and indulge in a gelato sundae from award-winning ice-cream parlour Spurreli, before savouring coastal views while sampling a local ale at The Boathouse.
Looe Island Nature Reserve, Cornwall
Also known as St George’s Island, this unspoilt haven just a mile off the south Cornish coast attracts wildlife enthusiasts to spot everything from rare butterflies to grey seals. The island is usually accessible only by boat, unless you’re lucky enough to visit during the couple of days each year when you can walk across the rocky sea floor due to a very low tide. With panoramic coastal views stretching from Prawle Point in Devon to the Lizard Peninsula, Looe Island is a great place for rambling, so pick up the waymarked trail or sign up for a guided tour. Need somewhere to stay? Drop off your bags at the Hannafore Point Hotel and admire the views across Looe Bay from your balcony.