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...Short breaks and getaways in the UK

Top ten beaches near London

Tuesday, 30th April 2013

We don't want to jinx anything, but it looks like the sun might finally be here to stay. And where better to enjoy the spring sunshine than by the sea?

In the first of our round-ups of the UK's best beaches, we've picked the ten best stretches of sandiness less than two hours' drive from the centre of London. They might not be the warmest of places at this time of year, but who needs sweaty temperatures and posers in skimpy swimwear when you can enjoy fresh sea air, a bracing dip and fish n chips all on your own doorstep?


Camber Sands, East Sussex

Camber Sands offers exactly what it says on the tin. A vast expanse of sandy beach, romantic grass-topped dunes and a sky that goes on forever. At low tide, you might face a bit of a trek to the water, but you can't beat this beach for a real sense of escape. Just a few miles inland is the super-pretty town of Rye - the perfect spot for a spontaneous night or two away.


West Wittering, West Sussex


Lovely West Wittering has long been the seaside destination for Londoners in the know, with its sandy dunes and beautiful views over Chichester harbour and the South Downs beyond. The award-winning beach is great for swimming, but it's the windsurfers that are particular fans - at high tide the water can get pleasingly exciting. Picknickers will love the grassy fringe behind the beach - great for keeping the sand out of your sandwiches.


Bournemouth, Dorset

Just on the two hour boundary, the historic seaside resort of Bournemouth has a seven mile-long sandy beach that stretches far beyond the trappings of the busy town. Brilliant for young families, with lots of facilities and a great Kidzone safety scheme, the beach is also big enough to be able to find a quiet place to relax if you're after some peace and quiet. For a real escape head a few miles east to Hengistbury Head, a sandy headland that stretches out to sea and around to pretty Mudeford.

Birling Gap, West Sussex

A few miles west of Eastbourne, this secluded shingle beach feels hidden away from the rest of the world. The lowest part of the mighty South Downs, Birling Gap beach is surrounded by high chalk cliffs. The beach is known as an unofficial nudist beach, but clothed beach-lovers will enjoy it just as much. Walk along the end part of the South Downs Way from Birling Gap to Eastbourne, over the infamous Beachy Head, for prolonged lungfuls of sea air and fantastic views out to sea.

West Bay, Kent

The small seaside town of Westgate-on-Sea, a few miles along the coast from Margate, is home to West Bay beach, a sandy and rocky stretch that's great for sandcastles and crabbing. The endless rockpools are brilliant for exploring (honestly!) and there are some lovely coastal walks on the nearby cliffs if you want to stretch your legs. End your day at the Westbay Cafe, which opens late so that you can enjoy sunsets over the sea.

Dungeness Beach, Kent

The vast, but slightly eery shingle beach at Dungeness is famous for its views of Dungeness Power Station. But that's not to say that this windswept stretch isn't a great spot for romantic strolls and peaceful picnics. Anglers will also have a whale of a time, with lots of great opportunities to try your hand at catching bass, sole, flounder or plaice. Head for Dungeness steam rail station, under the old lighthouse, for a puffing trip into the past.

Climping, West Sussex

This quiet stretch of shingle is reached via a pretty country lane through the pretty country village of Climping. Stretching between the towns of Littlehampton and Bognor Regis, you'll find none of the signs of resort life here, just miles of blue sea, lovely beach separated by groynes and backed by fields and forest. Just a few miles from the gorgeous town of Arundel and the rolling South Downs, Climping is the perfect weekend destination. There's even an award-winning boutique hotel and spa just two minutes' walk from the beach.

Frinton, Essex

Frinton is the epitome of a Victorian seaside resort, with its green lawns, handsome terraced seafront houses, promenade and beach huts. Pleasingly uncommercialised and very clean and tidy, it's a perfect place for families and beach bunnies alike (although the North Sea isn't known for its balmy bathing conditions!). The beach is a mix of sand and pebbles, and large enough to find a spot to yourself, even in the summer.

Frensham Great Pond, Surrey

Ok, ok, so it's not exactly beside the seaside, but if you're desperate for a beach break and don't want to spend hours in the car, this huge 13th century man-made lake close to Farnham in Surrey (about an hour outside London) has its own wide, sandy beaches and is great for swimming. Lots of parking, a great little cafe and warm, placid waters makes for a perfect beachy bolthole.

Brighton, East Sussex

The ultimate seaside destination if you're after lots more than lounging around by the sea. Buzzy Brighton (or London-super-Mare as it became known to Victorian holidaymakers) has something for everyone, whether it's amazing shopping, a fantastic nightlife, great live music, fab galleries and museums, food from every corner of the globe, or simply a spot of people watching. Oh, and the long pebbly beach isn't bad either.


An insider guide to Shropshire

24 Jun 2013

An insider guide to ShropshireShropshire is a beautiful place to spend a relaxing and romantic getaway. We asked two Ludlow locals for their favourite places to while away a weekend.  Read more

Offer - The Great House, Suffolk

08 Apr 2013

Offer - The Great House, SuffolkEnjoy a Sunday night in Suffolk at the lovely Great House restaurant-with-rooms for just £99.  Read more

Easter fun

26 Mar 2013

Easter funRather than spring cleaning or battling the queues at the DIY shop this Easter, why not give yourself a break and enjoy a day out with family and friends?  Read more

First festival line-ups

19 Mar 2013

First festival line-upsOk, so there's still snow outside, but we have been reliably assured that summer is on its way. And summer means festivals - one of the best ways to spend a weekend in the UK. Here's our pick of the first festivals to grace this year's calendar. Get your tickets pronto!  Read more

Love is in the air

12 Feb 2013

Love is in the airWith Valentine's Day just around the corner, love is definitely in the air this month. If you've still not decided where to go for a romantic break then why not take inspiration from the author Jane Austen who famously wrote that there is "no finer county in England than Derbyshire".   Read more

Valentines at The Roost

06 Feb 2013

Valentines at The RoostThe Roost b&b is celebrating Valentines Day in style, with a bottle of Champagne on ice for lucky Valentines guests.  Read more

Spring is on its way...

01 Feb 2013

Spring is on its way...Now it's the start of February and the last of the mince pies and mulled wine have finally been polished off, it's time to start thinking about where to visit this spring.   Read more

Burns Night Envy

06 Jan 2013

Burns Night EnvyBurns Night is on its way and we're determined to celebrate this year. First off, the best places to stay for an easy Scottish weekend away.  Read more

Offer - 3 nights for the price of 2 at The Roost

28 Dec 2012

Offer - 3 nights for the price of 2 at The RoostThis January, enjoy three nights for the price of two at this beautiful London b&b...  Read more

Down to Margate

14 Dec 2012

Down to MargateIt's not often that a British seaside resort is mentioned in the same breath as beautiful Dubrovnik or exotic Puerto Rico. But against all the odds, good old Margate has just been named one of the top 10 must-see destinations in the world.  Read more

Offer - Great value Sundays at the Bath Arms

03 Dec 2012

Offer - Great value Sundays at the Bath ArmsWith this great offer you can extend your weekend at the lovely Bath Arms in Wiltshire for just £99!  Read more

Offer - Discount on luxury in the Lakes

20 Nov 2012

Offer - Discount on luxury in the Lakes Treat yourself in the New Year with a massive 50% discount on your accommodation bill at the lovely Swan Hotel & Spa in the Lake District.  Read more

Top places for a wintry weekend

12 Nov 2012

Top places for a wintry weekendLeaving the comfort of your own sofa might not seem the best idea as the temperatures drop and the nights draw in. But striking out on a long wintry weekend away will redden your cheeks, gladden your heart and blow away a few cobwebs.  Read more

Bond does Bognor

26 Oct 2012

Bond does BognorIf newspaper stories are to be believed, some scenes for the latest Bond installment Skyfall were shot on the West Sussex coast, a far cry from the secret agent's usual exotic haunts.  Read more

Secrets of the Kent Weald

23 Sep 2012

Secrets of the Kent WealdFresh from our trip to Kent last week, we've come back with loads of new ideas for places to see, places to stay and places to eat in the Garden of England.   Read more

The beautiful Surrey Hills

02 Aug 2012

The beautiful Surrey HillsThe lovely Surrey Hills are possibly one of the UK's best-kept secrets. Certainly, most Londoners seem unaware that there's this swathe of rolling countryside full of little villages and country pubs right under their noses.  Read more

What's on

The Maldon Mud Race

Maldon, Essex, 5 May 2013

The Maldon Mud RaceFor something a little different over the May Bank Holiday, head to Essex for the annual Maldon Mud Race. This charity-led race features 250 brave competitors scrambling round a 400 metre course through the stinking mud of the Blackwater Estuary.  Read more

The BBC Proms

London, 12 Jul 2013 – 7 Sep 2013

The BBC PromsThe Proms needs no real introduction, but for the uninitiated it comprises an eight-week summer season of classical music.  Read more

Notting Hill Carnival

London, 25 Aug 2013 – 26 Aug 2013

Notting Hill CarnivalJoining the biggest street festival in Europe is an experience unlike any other.   Read more