In one short stretch of northern coastline sit several of Devon’s most famous beaches. Woolacombe and Saunton are massive strips of sand where you can always find a spot to set up camp, Croyde a slightly smaller, deeper bay. Between them, they offer a variety of surf conditions.
There are rental places and schools if you’re still perfecting your “wrestling a wardrobe door” routine, but also standout features like Saunton’s great right-handed longboard wave, which you can pick up on the point next to headland or sometimes find further down the beach.
Base yourself at: Pickwell
Two incredible creations of curved wood and chic design, the Loft and Hideaway treehouses at Pickwell Manor, offer you not only a short stroll to Woolacombe, but magnificent balcony bathing. Come back and sink into the hot tubs at the end of a hard day's surfing or sunbathing.
While this might seem like just a surf beach, with its flat rocks and tendency to disappear completely at high tide, there’s more to Trebarwith than fast barrels. The approach down the valley from the nearby village of Treknow is lovely and you can also make the two-mile hike to Tintagel and wander the ruins if you’re waiting for the tide to go down. There’s a gorgeous café to pass the time in as well.
Base yourself at: Kudhva
With a quarry to play in and innovative triangular stilt-pods to sleep in, Kudhva is an adventurous home for an adventurous weekend. It’s also a short walk from Trebarwith, so you can go from the beach to your campfire in 20 minutes.
This might not be a beach as you’d normally think of it, but the winding waterway that leads down past Mersea Island to the coast is as good as anywhere for getting that hit of salty fresh air and fun. If you’ve brought the kayak along, you can explore down the banks, but there’s a simple joy to be had in sitting and birdwatching on the thriving wetlands.
Base yourself at: Samphire
A clean, crisp cabin that’s watched the marshes from its spot on the sea wall for over 35 years. It’s completely isolated, with fabulous views of the estuary from the big outdoor sofa.
Scrambling down the steps to Porthcurno might not be the easiest way to arrive at a beach, but it’s totally worth it. The tiny cove is sliced into the far south of Cornwall and as well as being beautiful, it’s also a place of culture and history.
The nearby Telegraph museum tells how Porthcurno was once the cente for transatlantic communication and the open-air Minac theatre sits in the cliffs above. It’s also a nudist beach, but it’s entirely optional.
Base yourself at: Halzephron Cabin
A homely, cost cabin, around the coast a little from Porthcurno, but with lovely sea views from the sloping, cliffside garden.
At the opposite end of the spectrum from enormous beaches with cafes and surf shops, is the little crescent of Calgary beach. The shallow shelving makes the water a shining, pale blue when the sun’s on it, giving the place an almost tropical look.
The trip to the far north-west corner of Mull means that you probably won’t find many people around, but many artisans and craftspeople call the place home, so the ones you do meet will probably be interesting.
Base yourself at: Kittiwake
So nautically themed that part of its roof is an upturned boat, the simple cabin is the work of wood-carver owner Matthew. It’s just a couple of minutes from Calgary, with sea views through the trees from the kitchen.
For being so near a capital city, this is an incredible wilderness playground. There’s the beach, the nearby forest, the riding school that can take you on dramatic gallops through the surf, and boat trips to one of David Attenborough’s favourite wildlife spots – Bass Rock, famed for its gannet colony. All less than an hour from Edinburgh castle, if you really want to mix up your weekend.
Base yourself at: Lockhouses Farm
These are bright and brilliant family beach cabins, innovatively designed and kitted out with everything you need for a truly memorable summer. Hop over the dunes and into the water, explore the woods, meet the goats and drop into the boat-shaped honesty shop.
This is a place to explore different perspectives. You can climb the cliffs and find amazing views of the mile-long beach, or kayak along the coast and drop into the tiniest of coves. For something a bit less strenuous, take the shorter walk along the coastal path to the waterfall.
You can also get to this along the sand when the tide is out, but check your tide times carefully.
Base yourself at: Cedar and Birch Hut
A glowing, modern take on the huts of old, which it's fair to say no shepherd would recognise. The contemporary cabin, ten minutes down the road from Traeth Mawr, puts a cosy finish on days of rugged exploration.
Definitely one for the wanderers and rockpoolers, Alnmouth’s strong tides make swimming risky, but the massive expanse of sand is perfect for full-on beach cricket and letting even the most energetic dog tire itself out.
Coquet Island, a short boat trip away, is an RSPB nature reserve and the St Oswald’s Way, running just behind the dunes past red-roofed villages and Bamburgh castle ruins, is one of the country’s most picturesque coastal paths
Base yourself at: Alnmouth Huts
Three beautifully simple huts stand in a meadow just above the sweep Alnmouth beach and views of open ocean. You can walk straight down to peer into the pools, join the coastal path or wander into the scenic village.
Salcombe is a pretty, upmarket town clinging to the hills above a narrow bay. There are some lovely walks from town, with plenty of cafes and pubs to go start from or finish up at. If you have a kayak handy (and you will) there are little scraps of sand here and there where you can picnic in peace.
Base yourself at: Bowcombe Boathouse Devon
The boathouse, inland from Salcombe and hidden in the trees, is a stunning spot for sitting on the balcony and watching the boats go by. It also comes with its own jetty, where you can moor up the complimentary kayaks after paddling into town for lunch.
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