How to get toBeachesby train

“Oh I do love to be beside the seaside”… As the days get longer and the sun feels warmer, we all want to head for the coast. But an overheated car is the least appealing way to get there. Here are ten beaches you don’t have to drive to. And once you get there - more options for exploring by bus, boat or on foot.

  • County: by train
  • Great for: beaches | good cafés and pubs | Picnics | scenic train |
  • Refreshments: ice cream vans, seaside pubs and cafes, picnic spots...
  • Please note: researched/updated June 2018. If anything’s changed or you have tips to share, do get in touch:
  1. 4. Sunshine Coast Line

    Clacton, Frinton, Walton-on-the-Naze… just the names of these maritime towns and villages conjure up forgotten seaside pleasures: sand castles and shell fish stalls, beach huts and bowling greens.

    • The railway from Colchester to Clacton, branded the Sunshine Coast Line, gets support from a keen community rail group. They’ve produced a guide to the line.
    • Clacton Pier, with its arcades and fairground rides, its circus and seaquarium, is exciting enough to brighten even the rainiest holiday.
    • The other branch of the Sunshine Coast Line heads for Frinton and Walton-on-the-Naze, where you can stroll along the sands or climb the 18th century viewing tower.
  1. 5. Cromer

    The railway line leading to Cromer also has an appealing identity: the Bittern line, running from Norwich to Cromer and Sheringham, through some lovely countryside. Cromer has sandy beaches, a traditional pier and plenty of seaside entertainment.

    • Norfolk County Council has produced a booklet of walks to help you enjoy the countryside around Bittern Line by train, including a 7-mile route from Roughton Road to Cromer if you’re feeling energetic. This leads you through Cromer’s Overstrand with a choice of routes: along the beach at low tide or over the cliffs when the tide high.
    • On the higher route, you’ll pass the Cliff top café, and on both routes, nearer the beach, you’ll find the Rocket House Café, serving excellent full English breakfasts.
    • More simply, it’s not far from Cromer station directly to the beach and pier. Turn right along the seafront to reach the Overstrand, passing a memorial to Henry Blogg (“the greatest lifeboatman of all time”). Cromer’s first lifeboat station opened in 1804 and the Lifeboat Museum is named after Blogg.
    • This is a curiously haunted stretch of coast: listen out for the sound of bells from a village lost to coastal erosion in the 15th century and look out for Black Shuck, a fearsome ghost-dog who haunts the Overstrand in stormy weather.
    • The wonderful Coasthopper bus route from Cromer all the way to King’s Lynn is currently run by a partnership between two local companies and provides one of Britain’s best scenic bus rides.
    • Hop off at Hunstanton to enjoy striped cliffs, rock pools, wading birds and old fashioned cafes.
  1. 6. Scarborough and Whitby

    The sandy beaches along the east coast of Yorkshire are the stuff of nostalgia: ice creams and donkey rides, boat trips and beach huts. Castle-topped Scarborough is a lovely place for a sunny stroll. Wrought-iron bridges link gardens, full of winding wooded pathways, and promenades overlooking the sparkling sea.

    • You can ride down to Scarborough beach on a tram from the top of the cliffs, less than ten minutes from the station. It costs just £1 and the views on the way are great.
    • There are fresh-off-the-boat crab sarnies available from kiosks near the beach and you can climb up to the castle for views of town, sea and countryside.
    • A scenic bus ride away in Whitby, there’s the ruined abbey that inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula, boat trips around the harbour and famously tasty fish and chips. Work up an appetite with a climb to the headland or a swim from the mile-long sands.
    • For more car-free adventures in the area, see our feature on Scarborough and Whitby.
  1. 7. Portobello, Edinburgh

    The relatively new Waverley-Tweedbank railway line from Tweedbank has been a bonus for commuters living in the bohemian “Porty beach” area of Edinburgh. And it’s good for visitors to the city too, looking to escape the festival crowds in August, for instance, in favour of a day at the beach.

    • Turn right out of Brunstane station (pronounced “Broonstun”) and walk for fifteen minutes. You’ll find the beach ahead of you.
    • Turn left along the seafront to find the popular Esplanade bar (known locally as “the Espy”).
    • Several buses also run from nearby Portobello High Street into central Edinburgh.
  1. 8. Blackpool

    Sticks of rock and kiss-me-quick hats, winter lights and summer fun – Blackpool pleasure beach is the ultimate seaside destination if you’re looking for the too-often-forgotten flavour of childhood holidays.

  1. 9. Barmouth and Aberdyfi

    The west coast of Wales has some brilliant beaches. The Cambrian Line, one of the UK’s top scenic routes, divides at Dyfi Junction with one line heading for Aberystwyth and the other running up the coast all the way to Pwllheli on the Llyn Peninsula. The seaside town of Barmouth, with its Victorian cottages and steep, winding alleys, its classic seafront and spectacular viaduct, makes a great base.

    • Nearby, there’s also the Mawddach estuary to explore and – further up the coast – there are castles, wildlife reserves, and fabulous visitor attractions like Portmeirion and the Ffestiniog Railway.
    • To the south, the pretty fishing village of Aberdyfi has three miles of sandy beach stretching north to Tywyn, home of the Talyllyn Railway, the world’s first preserved railway.

Look out for the Good Journey Mark – where car-free visitors are welcome and enjoy a discount

Visit car-free in 2019!