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Man O War cove | © Adrian Pingstone / Wikimedia
Man O War cove | © Adrian Pingstone / Wikimedia
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England's 12 Most Beautiful Beaches

Picture of Emma Lavelle
Updated: 10 August 2017
You don’t have to go abroad to find clear seas and white sand – the English coast is lined with hidden coves, dramatic bays and beautiful beaches just waiting to be discovered. Keep away from the bustling tourist resorts and instead seek out one of the below beaches for uninterrupted sunbathing, windy walks or even a swim if the weather permits.
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Bossiney Cove, Cornwall

Cornwall’s coast is lined with dramatic beaches, but to escape the crowds you need to be prepared to get off the beaten path. To access Bossiney Cove, beach-goers must follow a steep footpath down the cliff to discover a sheltered cove lined with soft golden sand. Most tourists opt for the more accessible beaches in the area, so chances are that you’ll only have to share the beach with a few locals.

Bossiney Cove

Bossiney Cove

Bossiney Cove | © Ian Woolwock / Shutterstock

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Holkham, Norfolk

Backed by sand dunes and accessed via a short walk through a pine forest, the vastness of Holkham beach makes it popular with dog walkers. Don’t be deterred if you aren’t a dog owner, the huge expanse of sand at low tide means that you’re certain to find your own private spot without having to fight for space. Nature lovers can choose to wander onto the neighbouring reserves to spot large colonies of seabirds and even a couple of seals if you’re lucky.

Holkham

Holkham

Holkham | © Margaret Clavell / Shutterstock

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Porthcurno, Cornwall

Although this Cornish beach definitely can’t be classed as remote, it’s one of the most stunning bays in the entire country. Popular with families thanks to easy access and clear blue waters, the beach is nestled between dramatic cliffs, making for excellent photo opportunities. At low tide, escape the crowds and walk around the bay to discover some of the more secluded beaches in the area including a tranquil bay below an ancient fort.

Porthcurno

Porthcurno

Porthcurno | © Tom Chambers / Wikimedia

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Pedn Vounder, Cornwall

If you’re after crystal clear water, white sand and unspoilt surroundings, you can’t do better than this secluded Cornish bay. Accessed by boat or a short stroll from aforementioned Porthcurno at low tide, Pedn Vounder is popular with nudists thanks to its natural privacy. Ensure that you check the time of the tides to avoid being cut off – the only other way out is a steep climb up the towering cliffs that surround the bay.

Pedn Vounder

Pen Vounder

Pen Vounder | © Jim Champion / Wikimedia

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Studland Bay, Dorset

Forget that you’re in England at this unspoilt bay on the south coast with its miles of white sand. Backed by grass-covered dunes, there are plenty of sheltered spots if the wind is blowing, but if you’re visiting in the height of summer, you’ll definitely be tempted to pick a spot by the shore and leap into the clear blue sea. Steer away from the popular Knoll Beach and wander north to find more rustic spots.

Studland Bay

Studland

Studland | © Helen Hotson / Shutterstock

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West Wittering, Sussex

Earning Blue Flag status for its beautiful clean shoreline, this popular beach may be close to London for day-trippers but never feels too busy thanks to its miles of sand. Nature lovers will relish in wandering through the wetlands behind the beach, ambling through the dunes to admire the view, keeping their eyes peeled for native wildlife. At low tide, shallow pools appear on the sands, perfect for paddling and cooling off on hot days. Chances are that you’ll fall in love and want to return, so why not put your name down on the incredibly long waiting list for one of the private colourful beach huts?

West Wittering

West Wittering

West Wittering | © Dave Stokes/ Flickr

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Newton-by-the-sea, Northumberland

If you prefer your beaches wild and rugged, Northumberland is the place for you. Newton-by-the-sea is a pretty little coastal town boasting an untouched sandy beach backed by wild grass-covered dunes. This far north you may struggle for warm sunny days, but don’t let that stop you leaping into the sea for a brisk dip. The views of Dunstanburgh Castle on the other side of the bay are particularly impressive.

Newton-by-the-sea

Newton-by-the-sea

Newton-by-the-sea |© Dave Head / Shutterstock

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Sandsend, Yorkshire

Whitby may be a great family day out, but there are much better spots to soak up the sun on the North Yorkshire coast. Opt for Sandsend if you’re seeking a quieter spot for a stroll along the beach or if you have children in tow. Kids will love playing in the little streams or hunting for fossils at low tide, while adults can sit back and enjoy a rest.

Sandsend

Sandsend

Sandsend | © BerndBrueggemann / Shutterstock

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Formby, Merseyside

Lancashire may be known more for its traditional seaside resorts, but if you’re looking for something a little more unspoilt, head down the coast to Formby. Here, you can take a stroll through the pine forest to spot red squirrels, before venturing over the dramatic sand dunes to explore the vast stretch of sand below. Although the beach is incredibly popular with families and dog walkers on hot summer’s days, it never feels too full thanks to its size.

Formby

Formby beach

Formby beach | © Berit / Wikimedia

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Kynance Cove, Cornwall

Sparkling turquoise water, white sands and dramatic rock formations await those who shun the nearby Lizard Point in favour of discovering a more remote Cornish beach. Not only is this beach perfect for sunbathing and swimming, but there are plenty of rocks to climb and caves to explore for the more adventurous.

Kynance Cove

Kynance Cove

Kynance Cove | © Andy Wright / Wikimedia

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Man O’War Beach, Dorset

This stunning half-moon bay on the Jurassic Coast is a welcome respite from the more crowded beaches in the area. Brave the steep footpath down the cliffs (not for those with a fear of heights at 800 metres) to discover one of the best swimming spots on the south coast. The mix of dramatic cliffs and clear waters offers something for everyone, from sun-worshippers to hikers.

Man O’War Beach

Man O War beach

Man O War beach | © Lies Thru a Lens / Wikimedia

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Broadsands, Devon

At low tide, this sheltered cove offers not one but two beaches on either side of its rocky outcrop, which can also be reached at high tide via a short swim. Accessed via steep steps in the cliffs, visitors are rewarded with turquoise water, a small stretch of golden sand and the possibility of being the only people there. One of the best spots on the British coast for pretending you’ve been shipwrecked on a desert island.

Broadsands

Broadsands

Broadsands | © Martin Fowler / Shutterstock