With much uncertainty surrounding foreign travel this summer, many of us will be thinking about a staycation, and though we don't always have the weather, on a sunny day some of the beaches in the UK are enough to rival those found anywhere else on Earth. Here's our pick of the best beaches that make the British coastline stunning.
Broadsands Cove, Exmoor, England
Broadsands is one of the best beaches in Exmoor, Devon, including two secluded shingle bays (so no getting sand everywhere) and a deep cove with mysterious caves and clear turquoise water for swimming. Older children will love climbing to the island lookout point. Facilities: Limited, so take everything you need with you. The nearby Sandy Cove Hotel, reached via a steep set of steps, has a lovely restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner to residents and non-residents – and they welcome kids, too.
Formby Beach, Merseyside, England
This National Trust site has something for everyone: miles of golden sand, sweeping dunes, and dense pine woodland with its own play trail for families. Keep an eye out for 5,000-year-old prehistoric footprints hidden in the sand, revealed only when the tide goes out. Facilities: Large car park with clear paths to the beach, dunes and woodland. There are toilets and baby-changing facilities, as well as three picnic areas and a number of drink and ice cream vans in high season.
Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire, Wales
Stunning views, immaculate sands, and clear waters mean that on a good day you'll feel as if you're somewhere in the Mediterranean. Access via a long cliff path from Stackpole Quay can be a little tricky, and you won't be able to get a buggy down the steep cliffside steps, but it's more than worth the effort once you arrive and pitch up for the day. Winner of the Seaside Award (Rural) 2015. Facilities: None at the bay, but Stackpole Quay has a café and toilets and there is a pub in the nearby Stackpole village. Take supplies with you!
Porth Iago, Llyen Peninsula, Wales
Down an unsuspecting farm track and set among luscious green cliffs is this sandy, west-facing cove, backed by flowery sand dunes that are perfect for rolling down. We have it on good authority that if you stay until sunset, you might even spot the odd dolphin jumping through the waves. Facilities: None, so be prepared to take everything that you need, as well as some money to pay the farmer for parking.
Holkham Beach, Norfolk, England
This National Nature Reserve was recently named Britain's Best Beach by a group of leading travel journalists; but if you usually head south to get your seaside fix, you may never have heard of it. Holkham has a fine sandy beach and soft dunes, backing onto thick pine woodland. We love the oh-so-quaint beach huts. Facilities: Parking at the beach is fairly cheap, and the surrounding Holkham estate features a beach café as well as the slightly more upmarket Victoria Inn.
Calgary Bay, Scotland
Calgary Bay is just one of the numerous beautiful and secluded beaches on the Isle of Mull in Scotland. Known as a great spot for wild swimming, the crystal clear waters meet with a white shell sand beach to create a clean, safe spot for families. It's also home to a variety of birdlife – if you're into that sort of thing – and little ones will be fascinated by the abandoned stone forts and villages. Facilities: The area features parking, public toilets and a Wild Camping site, and there is a café and gallery just a ten minute woodland walk away.
Kynance Cove, Cornwall, England
Located on Cornwall's famous Lizard Peninsula, this beautiful beach is sheltered by the surrounding serpentine rock which creates a dramatic and secluded cove. Enjoy a dip in the aquamarine waters, then explore the hidden caves when the tide goes out. Take the two-mile coastal walk to Lizard Point for a truly memorable experience. Facilities: There's a great nearby beach café serving pasties, crab sandwiches, cream teas and ice cream and all sorts of things for the beach.
So, now we just need to pray for a heatwave! *Begins sun dance*
and don't forget your beach blanket....