How to get to sevenQuiet Beachesaround the UK

With everyone rushing to the coast for summer, there's a danger of popular beaches being even more packed than usual and the trains that get to them filling up fast too. Here are some suggestions for quieter seaside excursions where you can (possibly) get away from the crowds and enjoy a scenic journey on the way.

  • County: around the UK
  • Great for: beaches | bird watching | castles | family |
  • Refreshments: picnics, takeaways, local pubs and cafes
  • Please note: researched/updated in November 2023. If anything’s changed or you have more tips to share, do get in touch:
  1. 3. Kingsgate Bay, Kent

    Quieter than neighbouring Margate and Broadstairs, this sheltered beach between a craggy sea arch and a large castle is a big, beautiful expanse of white-cliff-backed sands and shallow sea. No cafes or arcades – just a great place for a paddle and picnic.

    • How do I get to Kingsgate beach without a car? From the end of Station Road in Margate, cross Canterbury Road and walk a few steps left along it to find the Nayland Rock bus stop. Bus 8A runs from here every half an hour. Get off at Yardhurst Gardens, walk a bit further and turn left along Botany Road. Sandy Botany Bay beach is at the end here. You can walk along it at low tide and through the chalk arch onto Kingsgate. At high tide, walk along the cliffs past ruined Neptune’s Tower and down the steps onto the beach.
    • At low tide, you can walk all the way (about 7 miles) from Ramsgate to Margate along the beaches and find some lovely deserted coves.
  1. 4. Dyffryn Ardudwy

    The Welsh coast has far more than its fair share of great beaches and plenty of them have room enough to spread out even on the sunniest of holidays. Part of Morfa Dyffryn is a nudist beach, but there’s plenty of room for cozzie-wearers too. It is a huge sandy beach with a backdrop of Snowdonian mountains.

    • How do I get to Dyffryn beach without a car? The train from Machynlleth railway station takes just over an hour, but it’s a spectacular journey. It’s about ¾ mile walk from Dyffryn Ardudwy station along a track.
    • Anything to see on the way? The Cambrian coast railway is one of the world’s great scenic journeys. See our car-free guide to Barmouth for more adventures in the area.
  1. 5. Seacliff Beach, East Lothian

    A gem of a beach with great views of ruined Tantallon Castle (also worth a look) on the cliffs above and the domed island of Bass Rock out to sea.

    • How do I get to Seacliff beach without a car? Hop on bus 120 from North Berwick or Dunbar Station railway stations and get off at Tantallon Castle.
    • Anything to see on the way? From Dunbar, the bus goes through pretty East Linton and passes close to the National Trust’s Preston Mill (although you can’t quite see it from the bus stop). Fans of the TV show Outlander might like to know this is the mill where Jamie emerges naked from the water in Season One!
    • The Beach Guide has a list of secret Scottish beaches, many of them in the Highlands.
  1. 6. Church Ope Cove, Portland

    With its white rocks and turquoise water, you could almost be on a rocky Mediterranean coast somewhere. It’s very unspoilt, but there are cafés near the bus stop, round the corner in Easton. There’s also a ruined church and castle nearby. If you’d rather have a sandy beach, try Castle Cove near Sandisfoot. It’s busy, but not as well-known as Weymouth’s main beach.

    • How do I get to Church Ope Cove beach without a car? Bus 1 leaves regularly from Weymouth’s bus stop K4 near the King’s Statue. Get off at Easton Square and keep walking along the same road. Fork left into Straits, follow it right, and turn left down the lane immediately after the museum. In summer, the open-topped bus 501 stops even closer near the revamped Pennsylvania Castle.
    • How do I get to Castle Cove by bus? Get off either bus much earlier, at Southlands Road (in Weymouth), walk a few steps back and turn right into Khartoum Road.
    • Anything to see on the way? The bus goes over the causeway that links Weymouth and Portland and then climbs up for some grand views back towards Weymouth, over the bay and Chesil Bank. You can find more adventures around Weymouth in our car-free guide.
  1. 7. Bradwell, Essex

    The long, shell-carpeted beaches of the Dengie Peninsula are fringed by saltmarshes and tidal mudflats. Look out for horned poppies and sea lavender, plovers, all kinds of geese and ducks and orange-billed oystercatchers. St Peter’s Chapel, one of England’s oldest churches, the remote seventh-century chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall is a highlight of this salty slice of Essex coastline. In 654 St Cedd, a Northumbrian monk and bishop, sailed from Lindisfarne and landed near a ruined Roman fort called Othona. He used stone from the fort to build the chapel, modelling it on ancient churches in Egypt and Syria.

    • How do I get to St Peter’s Chapel by bus? Catch bus D1 from outside the White Horse pub in Maldon and get off at the last stop. Simply keep walking in the direction the bus was going and you’ll soon find a remote track leading towards St Peters and the sea. Head left beyond the chapel to find the start of the beaches and a six-mile coastal walk, which eventually loops round to the hamlet of Bradwell Waterside, close to the bus stops again.