Need a seaside fix? 7 great beach daytrips in under 3 hours
Feel the sand between your toes within a couple of hours - hurray for Muddy's best beach daytrips!
Summer, summer, summertime! Well, actually it’s hammering it down with rain as I write – typical! – but let’s assume the sun will re-emerge at some point soon. And when it does, I’ll be heading somewhere sandy to build castles and scoff fish’n’chips. I love a seaside day trip and although living in Warwickshire you basically couldn’t get further away from the coast, a one-day jaunt is still doable if you get an early start. All of the suggestions below are 2-3 hours in the car, depending of course which part of our ‘hood you’re from. So grab the wind-break and soggy sandwiches and let’s go!
Fun fact to whip out if you get stuck in traffic: Coldplay’s famous one-take video for Yellow, where Chris Martin walks/sings along a beach was filmed at Studland. There are four miles of divine sandy beaches here – I like Middle Beach which is an easy stroll from boutique hotel/restaurant The Pig, aka the perfect spot for a chi-chi G&T at the end of a hard day’s sunbathing. Alternatively there’s plenty of watersports on offer at Knoll Beach, plus a 1km stretch for naturists, should you fancy letting it all hang out.
West Wittering, West Sussex
With its wide, gently shelving golden sands, Blue Flag rating and ample parking, West Wittering is perfect for a family day out – even Kevin the Teenager couldn’t find fault with this one. Bring a picnic or BBQ, and loll on the grassy area behind the beach to take in views across to Chichester harbour.
Mudeford Quay, Dorset
This is our family favourite (garnering a rare thumbs up from my beach-obsessed Kiwi husband), with its pristine white sands, enclosed by rocks and backed by candy-coloured beach huts. There’s a fantastic cafe called The Beach House across the sandspit (you can get a little ferry there) and a Noddy train to keep little ones amused.
Brighton, East Sussex
You probably don’t need me to tell you about Brighton but don’t dismiss it as too far for a day trip – I can make it in two hours if I hammer it round the M25. It’s a pebbly beach of course but I don’t mind that when there’s so much else to do. All the cool kids live in Hove now, so head west for a slightly quieter beach and amazing pizza at Fatto A Manoon Church Street.
Barton-on-Sea, New Forest, Hampshire
I get so distracted by the gorgeous greenery and cute ponies in the New Forest, I forget it does beaches too. It can be windy in Barton – it’s a prime para-gliding spot – so don’t forget to pack your kite. Above the safe, sandy beach, you can stroll along the clifftops and stop off at The Beachcomber Cafe, with its grassy garden and brilliant, massive fry-ups.
An obvious choice but you can’t beat Bournemouth. Miles of golden sands, a massive Harry Ramsden’s with views out across the water, tacky arcades to wow the kids (and must admit I myself have a long-term obsessions with 2p slot machines) and a little train that runs around the tropical gardens and up to Boscombe beach. Boom!
If it’s mountains, sea and adventure you’re craving head over to the North Wales coast. The seaside towns of Barmouth, Aberdyfi, Harlech, Porthmadog and Criccieth are all incredibly scenic with stunning Blue Flag award-winning beaches, historic castles and the Italianate village, Portmeirion, Snowdon Moutain Railway & Plas Brondanw, gardens designed by Sir Clough William-Ellis nearby. Barmouth is southern Snowdonia’s most popular resort. With direct trains from Birmingham taking just three and a half hours, it’s been a favourite with visitors from the Midlands since Victorian times. Snowdonia is also fast becoming the adrenaline seekers capital of the UK – with Go Below offering 3 underground adventures: zip-lining through caverns, scaling a waterfall or boating across a lake; Zip World Fforest with the longest zip line in Europe & Bounce Below, the only subterranean playground of its kind in a former slate mine and Surf Snowdonia – the world’s first inland surf lagoon. With direct trains from Birmingham taking just three and a half hours, it’s been a favourite with visitors from the Midlands since Victorian times.