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Martin Dorey's Top 5 secret beaches
Martin Dorey recently started a new project, Take the Slow Road, which will see him drive around the UK to find the best routes for camper vans and motorhomes. His adventures will feature in The Caravan Club Magazine from January 2017. Here he tells us about 5 of his favourite out of the way UK beaches.
As a surfer and beach lover I am always on the lookout for great beaches, whether it’s for riding waves or rock pooling or just for exploring. I’ve been to a fair few in my time so good ones have to have something special. But finding a really good one, that’s tucked away, almost out of sight, is a great thing. It’s enough sometimes to take your breath away, and all you want to do is jump in the sea or run through the dunes.
1. Hosta, Uist, The Outer Hebrides
The Outer Hebrides has so many incredible beaches that it’s hard to pick out just the one. They have white sand and a blue sea that seems to belong more in the Caribbean than the very northwest corner of the UK. This one is no exception. I found it on a recent trip to Scotland for my new book. It took me a while to locate it but once I did I was glad I’d made the effort. It’s a golden sweep of sand, backed by high dunes with places to park up and put the kettle on. I saw dolphins in the bay and puffins when I surfed here – and not another soul for 2 days. It was magical. There is a small campsite at Balranald nearby.
2. Northcott Mouth, Bude, Cornwall
While this beach isn’t a secret, it’s enough off the beaten track to feel quiet and away from it all, even during a Cornish summer. At high tide it’s a little dip in the cliffs with a pebble-backed ridge and rock pools, but at low tide it opens up to reveal the enormous expanse of sands that stretches away to Bude in the south and Sandymouth to the North. While it faces west and therefore catches a lot of Atlantic Swell, in the season it’s lifeguarded so relatively safe for families looking for reassurance. Behind the beach, in a little mobile home, Margaret runs a seasonal tea room by the stream where it is almost obligatory to try the cream tea. Occasionally on summer evenings you might find a pop up fish restaurant here too. Keep your eyes peeled. It’s a local legend.
Bude has lots of great campsites, and some motorhome only seasonal pitches at Widemouth Bay.
3. Porth Ceriad, Abersoch, North Wales
Of all the beaches on the Lleyn Peninsula in North Wales, this is one that stands out. It is absolutely beautiful, with golden sands and tall cliffs. As it’s almost at the end of the Llyn it catches a lot of swell and has lovely clean water – and it’s rarely as busy as nearby Hell’s Mouth or Abersoch. You may be lucky and see dolphins swimming off the beach as they are often sighted here. There is a camp site at the western end of the beach (and the access road) with fabulous views overlooking the bay so it’s a great place to stop if you can get a pitch. Abersoch itself is a thriving village with lots of shops and restaurants. A great destination with a few gems yet to discover.
4. Kimmeridge Bay, Isle of Purbeck, Dorset
KImmeridge isn’t that easy to get to, which is why it remains as unspoiled as always. If the firing ranges at Lulworth Camp are operational it can be even more difficult. But it’s always worth the effort. While there might not be much to do in the traditional seaside sense (no café or pier), there is a small marine centre. However, it’s the countryside you go for at Kimmeridge. In the bay there are a series of clay ledges pushing out like fingers into the bay. These provide amazing rock pooling and often reveal fossils. In fact, Kimmeridge is just about the numero uno spot for fossil hunting in the Purbecks. Once you spot your first bellemite you start to see them on every rock! Kids will love it.
5. Robin Hood’s Bay, North Yorkshire
On the North Yorkshire coast there are a series of fishing villages where the cottages seem to cling to the sides of steep valleys as they tumble towards the sea. Robin Hood’s Bay is one of the prettiest. It’s a no go for cars and campers (you’d never get out again afterwards anyway) so you’ll have to put on your boots and walk down to the beach. Once there, by the slipway, and at the door of Wainright’s Bar, you’ll see the sands curve away from you towards the south. Go in the morning on a sunny day and it’ll be lit up in a gorgeous golden glow. As you walk, keep your eyes peeled for fossils in the clay cliffs – it’s another cracking fossil hunting destination.
If you want to discover exciting new places to explore on your 2017 holidays make sure you book your tickets to The Caravan & Motorhome Show, 19-22 January 2017 at Manchester's EventCity. Tickets are only £8.00 each and kids under 16 go free!