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Holiday in Britain: Best for beaches

holkham beach_norfolk_12_06_12What’s not to love about good old Blighty with its stunning coastline, awe-inspring views and quirky British eccentricities?

Holkham, Norfolk

Winner of the 2011 Coast Best British Beach award, and the famous setting for Gwyneth Paltrow’s low-tide walk during the closing scenes of Shakespeare in Love, Holkham beach surpasses its ‘idyllic’ reputation. With creamy sands unravelling as far as the eye can see, Holkham is the picture-perfect location for romantic strolls and has ample space for youngsters yearning to build a sandcastle or two. At high tide, the semi-circular basin, lying just behind the shoreline, rapidly fills to form a spectacular shallow lagoon – splendid for tots to splash in.

And if that’s not enough to entice you to the maze of creeks, a shady Corsican, Scots and maritime pine wood lies at the back of the beach. Visitors can go back to basics by splitting their time playing hide and seek among the scattered pines or relaxing in one of the charmingly mismatched beach huts.

Don’t miss: Migrant birds landing exhausted in the seablite bushes in late October, pink-footed geese leaving their roost, the purple haze of sea lavender across the saltings and the orchids in the Wells Dell in summer – all part of the Holkham National Nature Reserve.

Whiterocks, Portrush, County Antrim

Stretching from Curran Strand to Dunluce Castle is a series of breathtaking limestone cliffs. Making up the White Rocks family are Shelagh’s Head, the Wishing Arch, Elephant Rock and the Lion’s Paw. Grassy knolls along the beach provide an ideal picnic spot from which to view the knobbly rocks that face out to sea, as well as surfers and body boarders keen to catch some waves.

A dramatic setting for a family day out, or just a place to relax and admire some naturally occurring artwork to admire while devouring an ice cream, this Blue Flag beach is a must-see for avid beach-goers looking for some sand with a difference.

Don’t miss: Viewing points along the main coast road showcase the incredible views of the headlands all the way to the Giant’s Causeway and back to Portrush and Donegal. Make sure you pull in and make the most of the scenery.

Lyme Regis, Dorset
Affectionately named the Pearl of Dorset, Lyme Regis is a sleepy fishing village right in the middle of the 95-mile Jurassic Coast. Renowned for its highly fossiliferous cliffs, parents can set their kids off on a hunter gatherer trail to find the relics of organisms from years gone by – a welcome alternative for older children who’ve outgrown sandcastle building. Earning a place in Jane Austen’s novel, Persuasion, its historic Cobb and harbour are iconic features and provide a popular destination for TV and film crews.

Sporting striped deckchairs along the promenade and the usual seaside paraphernalia of ice cream vendors and Dorset’s famed clotted cream fudge, exploring the nooks and crannies of this small seaside suburb can’t fail to raise a smile – unless you’re too busy sampling the delicious cream teas, that is.

Don’t miss: July’s Lifeboat Week promises a host of water themed antics from bath tub races, sand castle competitions, beachside treasure hunts and children’s crab fishing contests.

This article was first published in at home with Lorraine Kelly in April 2012. [Read the digital edition here]

Photograph: Shutterstock

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