Go one step beyond to find best beaches
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, according to the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu. You may not need to travel quite that far to reach the best beaches but sometimes it pays to put in a little effort. Many of my favourite coastal spots are only accessible at the foot of fairly steep staircases cut into a hillside or cliff-face.
Best beaches -where to go
Durdle Door in Dorset, Church Ope Cove on Portland, Rhossili Bay in South Wales and Kynance Cove are just some with pretty significant flights of steps leading down to very different best beaches.
Durdle Door, Dorset
With its iconic rock archway, Durdle Door (pictured above) has benefited from restoration work after its previous footpath was washed away in 2012. New stone steps offer a much easier way down to the beach, especially if you have young children and the obligatory push chairs, tents, picnic, snorkelling masks and inflatables; or even if you’re lugging lumps of firewood down for an overnight beach party.
Church Ope Cove, Portland
Church Ope Cove on Portland is a hidden gem but a bit more of a never-ending staircase. However, it’s ideal for explorers and those with an eye for something little more unusual. Like Durdle Door, it’s a pebbled beach and has bags of character. If a splash in crystal clear waters or picnic on the shore isn’t enough there’s plenty more at this secluded cove to the capture the attention.
Church Ope is reputed to have been the location for the first Viking attack in England in 789AD. The Normans later built Rufus Castle overlooking the beach; you’ll walk past it on the way down to the beach. Equally, Church Ope was famous as a smuggler’s beach and in latter times was using by fishermen who hauled their boats ashore using handwiches which can still be seen on the beach. An exploration around the ruins of St Andrew’s Church and its ‘pirate’s graveyard’ – complete with a stone skull and crossbones tombstone – or an ice-cream is recommended to break up the journey back up the steps.
Rhossili, Gower Peninsula
Rhossili Beach on the Gower Peninsula in South Wales is simply one of the most stunning sandy shorelines you will see. Majestically sweeping across the bay, it is a surfing hot spot as well as a popular location with families. But of all the beaches, it is probably the most difficult to access but we managed it with two toddlers and a grandmother; it’s just a case of taking your time, and keeping your patience…
Kynance Cove, Cornwall
Another beach well worth the hard graft is Kynance Cove. Tucked away on the Lizard peninsula in Cornwall this beauty regular features in the best beach features in the media. But check the tide times before you visit because all your hard work maybe for nothing if you get there and the tide’s in!
Jurassic Coast, East Devon and Dorset
The Jurassic Coast is packed full of spectacular beaches, cliffs and coastlines. Some are easier to reach than others. West Bay near Bridport is a great place to start with easy access and parking but footpaths and miles of Chesil Beach to explore. East Beach has a lifeguard service in peak summer weeks, but take care where you dip as there’s strong currents and undertow in places.
So, as ever always follow warning signs, guides and keep an eye on the tides to stop being cut off. The unstable nature of the Jurassic Coast makes it so special and spectacular, but also makes it vulnerable to landslides and rockfalls.
Lao-tzu probably didn’t have a day at the seaside in mind but he would surely agree with the sentiment of putting in the effort to gain the rewards. As someone who has also soaked up the sun – and the cocktails – on beaches with sunken bars and table service I can say I have been there and done that, but I can only say I have the t-shirt after visiting Durdle, Kynance Cove, Rhossili, Church Ope and Chesil.
What’s the most secluded or inaccessible beach you’ve been to let. Tell us or use #myoceanrocks
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