Need a seaside fix?
Feel the sand between your toes within a couple of hours – hurray for Muddy's ten best beach day trips!
I love a seaside day trip and although living in Wilts/Glos 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 around one to three 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!
If you love a proper Blighty beach, with donkey rides, tearooms and grand Victorian piers-cum-theme parks (the rebuilt Grand Pier has dodgems, a ghost train and a 300m-long go-kart circuit!), make a beeline for Weston. It’s one of the oldest resorts in the country and with its endless stretch of sand and surf is perfect for families. And you can forget the picnic – you’ve got to eat fish and chips here.
Rhossili Bay, Gower Peninsula, Wales
Make a day trip to one of the best beaches in the world (yes, in the world!) as voted by classy, high-end travel magazine Suitcase, no less. Rhossili Bay is a divine stretch of white sand with super surf-friendly waves, and from Muddy Glos manor near Stroud takes around three hours to get to (crossing the majestic Severn Bridge, always an awe-inspiring moment). Pack a picnic – or fuel up at the excellent The Bay Bistro, which does fab healthy, gastro fare and caters well for vegans and veggies – along with your body boards and rugby balls (the beach is great for a spot of touch rugby and being in Wales, you’ll soon get a team together).
Salcombe, south Devon
Aka Chelsea-on-Sea, Salcombe is as close to the French Riviera as a British seaside experience gets. And where Saint-Tropez birthed Brigitte Bardot-style glamour, Salcombe spawned the cool, preppy Jack Wills look, so roll out your best gear for this outing, that one-piece that’s gone baggy in the wash won’t cut it.
Instow Beach, near Bideford, north Devon
Less massively touristy than Woolacombe and Illfracombe, Instow has the softest white sands, dunes for the kids to run up and down, and a decent pub/restaurant called The Instow Arms which does a fantastic Sunday lunch – nothing fancy, but good solid fare, which hits the spot, especially if you can’t be bothered with a picnic.
Mudeford Quay, Dorset
This is a real stunner 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.
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.
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 Mano on 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!
Have we missed off your day trip beach of choice? Let us know in the comment box below.