The Best UK Beaches for Winter Walks

By Sally Phillips

9.1 million adults in England walk recreationally on a regular basis, making it a popular choice and one of the most accessible forms of exercise. Beaches add to the experience of going for a walk or a hike, offering breathtaking coastal views and the chance to see the landscape and wildlife at a colder time of year.

Rhossili Beach, South Wales
Rhossili Beach, South Wales.jpg

Rhossili beach is three miles long and is known for its powerful tides and shifting sands, causing many shipwrecks. When the tide is low, the remains of Helvetia can be seen, a historical landmark that is now almost completely covered by the heavy, wet sand. Shipwreck Cove is nearby, a sheltered suntrap that is accessible 3-4 hours a day due to the tide, and is perfect for those wanting to break their walk up with some rock climbing. The climbs here can be difficult, so be sure to have some experience and the correct equipment to avoid injury. Along with Mermaid Wall and Castaway Cove, the area has become iconic for hikers and climbers all year round, offering stunning beaches with coastal views.

Charmouth Beach, Dorset

Charmouth Beach, Dorset.jpgThe Jurassic Coast stretches around 96 miles from Exmouth in East Devon to Studland Bay in Dorset. There are many fossilised remains of various creatures that have lived there over the years, preserved in the rocks, hence the name Jurassic Coast. Charmouth Beach is one of the best for fossil finding, with its fossils being famous around the world. Start your walk at the Heritage Centre and make your way to the beach and cliffs. A local saying is, “the worse the weather, the better the fossil hunting!” because winter storms can make it easier to find rare partial and complete skeletons of marine reptiles.

Balnakeil Bay, Sutherland

Balnakeil Bay, Sutherland.jpgSutherland has a lot of remote beaches and Balnakeil Bay is one of the easier ones to reach. The beach is picturesque with turquoise-blue sea and white sand, surrounded by green cliffs that sometimes get a coating of snow. Not too far from the beach, there are ruins of a 17th-century church, graveyard included, and an abandoned mansion. About a mile away is the only nearby pub, named Sango Sands Oasis, where you can stop for some simple pub grub and ale. Balnakeil Bay offers beautiful scenery and some spooky history, making it a perfect winter walk.

Winter in the UK can deter people from getting outside and going for a walk, but the scenery changes with the weather and offers new views, different wildlife, and better fossil-hunting. Dotted around most walks are cafes, pubs and restaurants that are used to catering for tired hikers, offering energising food and hot drinks to keep you on the go and add to the day out.

Originally published 21/11/18

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