Fancy a seaside trip this weekend? We reveal the best hidden UK beaches you'll have all to yourself

THE UK has some of the best beaches in Europe if you know where to look… and  most of them are far less packed.

As the schools break up for summer and everyone still tries keep their distance due to the coronavirus pandemic, Sun Online Travel has shared some of the best secret gems from Daniel Start, author of Hidden Beaches.

From Cornwall to Northumberland and North Wales to the Highlands, our guide reveals some of the most beautiful stretches of coastline and exactly how to get there.

The list includes top tips for where to spot dolphins, sunbathe beneath ancient ruins or explore uninhabited islands.

There are coves where smugglers used to offload French brandy, pure white sand worthy of a Barbados beach and turquoise lagoons perfect for an afternoon dip.

Read on to find out if one of the UK's best secret beaches is near you…

Broad Sands, Combe Martin, North Devon

Head here for: Cave, coves and an island look out.

Broad Sands is a double fronted cove with turquoise waters and sea caves you can swim to.

Scramble to the top of the island look-out and keep watch for pirates.

There are rarely visitors to this beach – the steep steps seem to keep all but the most intrepid away. Explore to the south, past Turks Cave, to reach Golden Cove too.

1½ miles west of Combe Martin (A399) turn right onto Barton Hill and park. Pass the Sandy Cove Hotel (EX34 9SR) on coast path and drop down after 500m. The the map orientation is 51.2121, -4.0589
If you're looking for accommodation nearby, there are some quaint holiday cottages in the nearby village of Combe Martin from £340 for seven nights.

Lansallos Coves, Polperro, South Cornwall

Head here for: Smugglers’ tunnels, bluebells and cream teas.

The route to the beach is an enchanting walk, through woods and streams lined with bluebells and wild garlic in spring.

As you reach the cove you’ll find a deep passage hewn from rocks where smugglers hauled up brandy and French lace contraband.

The farm in the tiny village serves excellent organic cream teas.

Lansallos is signed 2 miles west of Polperro from The Crumplehorn Inn. Park by the church and take the path down through the woods. The map orientation is 50.3319, -4.5785

If you're looking for accommodation nearby, there are some great holiday homes nearby from £641 for seven nights.

West Wittering East Head, West Sussex

Head here for: Cycle ways and family fun.

West Wittering near Chichester is one of the most beautiful beaches on the south coast, but the long stretch of sand at East Head is much lesser known.

It has perfect white sand, great expanses of dunes for playing hide and seek and at its tip you’ll find a natural harbour.

The beach is perfect for swimming and also has shallow lagoons with good crabbing for the young ones.

If driving, head S from Chichester bypass on A286 following signs to Birdham, then West Wittering beach (PO20 8AU). Park at far end of beach car park (½ mile) and walk R onto dunes N ½ mile, past crabbing pools and away from main beach, onto East Head. The map orientation is 50.7892, -0.9134

If you're looking for accommodation nearby, there are some great holiday homes from £1,114 for seven nights, or Haven also has some holiday parks nearby, or booking.com has a range of hotels and B&B's. 

Cuckmere Haven, East Sussex

Head here for: White cliffs and oxbows.

The famous Seven Sisters chalk cliffs halt abruptly at Cuckmere Vale, with several ways to reach the long stretch of beach where the sea meets the River Ouse.

It’s possible to take the right bank of the river’s new cut via the Golden Galley pub, but the classic route follows the left bank from Exceat past the oxbow lakes.

Park at Exceat, 2 miles E of Seaford (A259). Follow valley past meanders (on L Foxhole d) to E end of beach. Access W beach via Golden Galley pub (BN25 4AB) on other side of bridge. The map orientation is 50.7591, 0.1486

If you're looking for accommodation nearby, Haven have some holiday parks along the coast  and booking.com also has a range of hotels and B&B's. 

Gun Hill and Scolt Head Island, Burnham, Norfolk

Head here for: Desert islands and white sands

Scolt Head Island is an uninhabited nature reserve and England’s only desert island, and opposite are Gun Hill dunes with marram grass and pure white sand.

The island is reached by ferry at high tide but you can return on foot via mud creeks and swimming holes along on the Cockle Path. Or just follow the main path up to Gun Hill dunes.

Park in Burnham Overy Staithe harbour (PE31 8JE). To the right of the creek a path runs up to the dunes, about a 20 minute walk. Between April and September the foot ferry runs to the island at high tide. Or head seaward along Overy Creek for about 20 minutes to reach Gun Hill dunes. The map orientation is 52.9771, 0.7502

If you're looking for accommodation nearby, there are holiday homes along the coast available through Snap Trip, or Booking.com has a range of hotels and B&B's. 

Porth Iago, Llyen Peninsula, North Wales

Head here for: Dolphins watching with the sunset

A thick wedge of pure white sand occupies a deep cleft in the cliffs.

There are flower-filled dunes and a hill fort, perfect for spotting pods of dolphins jumping through the waves at sunset.

It’s a bumpy drive down the old farm track but the farmer will let you park on the rough field adjacent.

Signed 1½ mile before Rhoshirwaun, on the Aberdaron road (B4413). Take the second right after 2½ miles, then first left (LL53 8LP).  The map orientation is 52.8516, -4.7217

If you're looking for accommodation nearby, there are holiday homes along the coast available through Snap Trip, or Booking.com has a range of hotels and B&B's.

Traeth Llyfn, Abereiddi, Pembrokeshire, West Wales

Head here for: Sweeping sands and blue lagoons

A great sweep of empty sand on the wild and dramatic Pembrokeshire National Park coastline.

It’s just 15 minutes from the Blue Lagoon; a turquoise flooded quarry with great jumping and swimming.

Continue on up the coast, past several more secret coves, to reach the old ruins above Porthgain and then relax on the harbour at the quirky Sloop Inn.

Signed Abereiddi, 9 miles from Fishguard or 6 miles from St Davids. Parking at beach. The map orientation is 51.9435, -5.1992

If you're looking for accommodation nearby, there are holiday homes along the coast available through Snap Trip, or Booking.com has a range of hotels and B&B's.

Hayburn Wyke, Cloughton, Yorkshire

Head here for: Secret waterfalls and old railways.

Hayburn Wyke is a wide bay hidden beneath a wooded valley and a double waterfall.

Bracken and mistletoe cover the slopes above and when the sea is calm this is a magical place to swim.

The old railway station above the Hayburn Wyke Hotel was a minor stop on the Scarborough to Whitby railway line, but is now a stunning cycle route.

Head to the Hayburn Wyke Inn – the beach path is just before car park on the right. Follow this across fields down to NT woodland (200m), and path down to sea (200m). Journey takes 20 mins and the map orientation is 54.3589, -0.4454. Or, for a sandy option, head to Stoupe Beck  Sands – a two mile walk from the nearby Ravel Hall Hotel. 

If you're looking for accommodation nearby, there are holiday homes along the coast available through Snap Trip, or Booking.com has a range of hotels and B&B's.

Embelton Bay, Northumberland

Head here for: Grand castles in the sand.

The sands of Embleton Bay stretch beneath Dunstanburgh Castle ruins –  it is probably Northumberland’s most spectacular beach, but you will find few people here.

The 14th-century castle sits on an outcrop above the beach.

A mile on, grass and meadow lead to little Craster harbour with where you can tuck into Robson’s smoked fish and Jolly Fisherman’s crab sandwiches.

In Embleton take B1399 S and turn L on last road opposite church (dir Craster) then L after 300m to Dunstan Steads and park at end near beach (NE66 3DT). The map orientation is 55.4972, -1.6102. Continue S a mile beyond Castle to reach Craster. 

If you're looking for accommodation nearby, there are holiday homes along the coast available through Snap Trip, or Booking.com has a range of hotels and B&B's. 

Fidden, Isle of Mull, Highlands

Head here for: Beach camping and treasure islands.

A wild campsite on grassy meadows leads to a series of shell white coves and sunset views over the Iona archipelago.

These are some of the clearest waters in Britain, and they have an ethereal turquoise hue.

At low tide you can wade across to Erraid, Robert Louise Stevenson’s ‘Treasure Island’, with more secret beaches, and paths also lead to the lost village of Tireragan.

Turn left in Fionnphort by the Keel Row pub and find the farm after two miles with roadside parking (PA66 6BN, 01681 700427). The map orientation is 56.3085, -6.3672

If you're looking for accommodation nearby, there are holiday homes along the coast available through Sykes Cottages, or Booking.com has a range of hotels and B&B's.

Hidden Beaches: Explore the Secret Coast of Britain by Daniel Start describes over 400 lesser known secret coves. (Wild Thing Publishing, £16.99) and can be bought at wildthingspublishing.com

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