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Last Updated: Friday, 4 June, 2004, 13:04 GMT 14:04 UK
UK's best beaches - South-west England
Click on the blue flags to find about the UK's best beaches.

Midlands Eastern England Northern Ireland North-East England Scotland South East England Wales Croyde Bay Woolacombe Polzeath Porthmeor Porthminster Sennen Cove Gyllyngvase Bigbury on Sea Blackpool sands Torbay Dawlish Swanage Bournemouth Poole Ilfracombe Westward Ho! Marazion

BEACH: Bigbury on Sea, Devon
HOW TO GET THERE: From the A379 between Modbury and Aveton Gifford, turn on to the B3392 to Bigbury. Pass through Bigbury and follow road to Bigbury on Sea. There is a large car park on the left, just past Sedgewell Slipway.

On one side lies the small estuary of the south Devon River Avon while seaward lies Burgh Island, accessible across a sand spit at low tide and via tractor at high tide. The sand and shingle beach has facilities including: slipway; dog restricted area; moored bathing rafts; sand pits; pay car park.

BEACH: Blackpool Sands, Devon
HOW TO GET THERE: Signposted from Dartmouth on the A379 between Stoke Fleming and Strete. A side road leads to the car parks. Western National Bus No. 93 to and from Dartmouth and Kinsgbridge.

Picturesque cove at northern end of Start Bay with crescent of sand, two thirds of a mile long, flanked by steep, wooded cliffs. Facilities include: windsurfing; canoeing; sailing; cafe/ restaurant; slipway; deckchair hire; lost child centre; promenade; bathing rafts; dog restricted area; pay parking.

BEACH: Bournemouth, Alum Chine, Dorset
HOW TO GET THERE: The nearest major town is Bournemouth. Principal road access routes are the A338 from Ringwood and the A35 from Poole. Railway communications are very good. Once in Bournemouth, the seafront land train service links all of Bournemouth's beaches.

At the opening to one of Bournemouth's famous Chines, with Argyle Tropical Gardens nearby. Gently sloping sandy beach, with no sudden shelving or rip currents, and facilities including: windsurfing; canoeing; café; beach huts, toilets, deckchair hire; pedallo hire; promenade; dog restricted area; entertainers; lost child centre; pay parking.

BEACH: Bournemouth, Durley Chine, Dorset
HOW TO GET THERE: The nearest major town is Bournemouth. Principal road access routes are the A338 from Ringwood and the A35 from Poole. Rail links with many major towns are very good. Once in Bournemouth, the seafront land train service links all of Bournemouth's beach.

At the opening to one of Bournemouth's famous Chines, the sandy beach, with no sudden shelving or rip currents, has kids and no smoking zones plus facilities including: windsurfing, canoeing, cafe/ restaurant, beach huts, deckchair hire, pedallo hire; dog restricted area; entertainers; lost child centre; promenade, pay parking.

BEACH: Bournemouth, Southbourne, Dorset
HOW TO GET THERE: The nearest major town is Bournemouth. Principal road access routes are the A338 from Ringwood and the A35 from Poole. Railway communications are very good. Once in Bournemouth, the seafront land train service links all of Bournemouth's beaches.

A firm favourite with local families, this beach is sandy with some shingle and has no sudden shelves or rip currents. It is accessed by means of cliff paths, or the land train from nearby Boscombe or Fisherman's Walk. Parts of the beach have been zoned as 'Kidzone Areas', and 'Can Zone' recycling areas.

BEACH: Croyde Bay, Devon
HOW TO GET THERE: From the A361, Barnstaple to Ilfracombe, take the B3231 at Braunton, signposted Croyde: 5 miles. A regular bus service operates. Service 308 serves from the local train station.

Between the headlands of Baggy point to the north and Saunton Down to the south, Croyde Bay is part of the larger Barnstaple or Bideford Bay into which the rivers Taw and Torridge flow. Apart from a rocky foreshore to the north and south, the beach is otherwise sandy with steep dunes for more than half a mile. Facilities include: windsurfing; surfing; canoeing, cafe/ restaurant, deckchair hire, surfboard hire, lost child centre, dog restricted area, pay car parking, camp site, wildlife reserve; amusement arcade

BEACH: Dawlish Warren, Devon
HOW TO GET THERE: Off the M4, M5 to Exeter, A303, A38, A380 exit for Teignmouth, A381 towards Dawlish. From Dawlish follow signs for Exeter. Dawlish Warren is signposted on the main road. Good bus and rail links from all major towns and cities.

Sand and shingle beach, backed by dunes, with facilities including: cafe; slipway; deckchair hire; promenade; dog restricted area; dog exercise area; entertainers; crazy golf; pay parking; campsite; wildlife reserve; lost child centre.

BEACH: Gyllyngvase, Cornwall
HOW TO GET THERE: Follow the A39 from east (Truro) or west (Helston). Follow brown and white visitor signs to 'Beaches'. National Express and local buses services stop at beach. Ten minute walk from branch line station.

Deep, long sandy stretch of coastline on the bay side of the town next to Queen Mary Gardens, one of Britain's Green Flag Award winning parks. Beach facilities include: canoeing; sailing; jet skiing; cafe/ restaurant; deck chair hire; promenade; dog restricted area; entertainers; pay parking; park and ride (across road); street parking; harbour; wildlife reserve; leisure centre; lost child centre.

BEACH: Ilfracombe, Tunnels Beaches, Devon
HOW TO GET THERE: Follow signs for Ilfracombe and then the brown tourist signs within the town for Seafront and Tunnels Beaches. There are several car parks on Wilder Road which leads to the sea front.

Four tunnels provide access to a beautiful secluded area of coastline and coves. A large tidal swimming pool is still in use and is hugely popular with children who can enjoy their inflatables and snorkelling in safety. Lovely coastal and sea views of Lundy Island and South Wales. Beach facilities include lost child centre, deck chair hire and bowls.

BEACH: Marazion, Cornwall
HOW TO GET THERE: From A30 to Penzance take the exit marked Marazion at first roundabout. Follow road to Marazion where car parks are signposted.

The beach is hard sand with a gentle sloping prospect making it ideal for families. Views to St Michaels Mount and the bay beyond are spectacular. Good for water-sports including surfing, windsurfing, canoeing and sailing. Facilities include an amusement area for children; dog exercise area; pay parking.

BEACH: Polzeath, Cornwall
HOW TO GET THERE: The nearest town is Wadebridge. Follow the B3314 towards Polzeath from Wadebridge. The route is signed.

In the Camel Estuary in Hayle Bay, the sand and shingle beach has facilities including: windsurfing; surfing; canoeing; cafe/ restaurant; deckchair hire; surfboard hire; slipway; lost child centre; dog restricted area; entertainers; crazy golf; pay parking; camp site.

BEACH: Poole, Branksome Chine, Dorset
HOW TO GET THERE: Located four miles (8km) from the centre of Poole. Accessible from the town centre by various, well-signposted routes. Bus service from Poole and Bournemouth during the summer season.

Poole's beaches cover three miles (4.8km) of sandy shores, and Branksome Chine has facilities including: windsurfing; surfing; canoeing; sailing; jet skiing; paddleboats; cafe/ restaurant; beach huts; deckchair hire; pedallo hire; lost child centre; promenade; dog restricted area; dog exercise area; entertainers; crazy golf; pay and street parking; harbour; campsite; wildlife reserve.

BEACH: Poole, Sandbanks, Dorset
HOW TO GET THERE: Located four miles (6.4km) from Poole centre, accessible by various well signposted routes from the town centre. Regular bus service is provided throughout the year. Cycle racks in car parks.

See Poole, Branksome Chine.

BEACH: Poole, Shore Road, Dorset
HOW TO GET THERE: Located three miles (4.8km) from the centre of Poole. Accessible by various well signposted routes from the town centre. There is a bus service every 30 minutes during the summer period. Good car parking facilities with easy access to the beach.

See Poole, Branksome Chine.

BEACH: Porthmeor, Cornwall
HOW TO GET THERE: West of the 'island' in St Ives, opposite the Tate Gallery - clearly signposted in town.

Enclosed by headlands at either end, open to the North Atlantic swell making it ideal for surfing. The town of St Ives provides backdrop, with Tate Gallery holding pride of place above the beach. Sandy beach has facilities including: windsurfing; surfing; canoeing; cafe/ restaurant; dog restricted area; surfboard hire; slipway; crazy golf; pay parking; park and ride; harbour; lost child centre; campsite.

BEACH: Porthminster, Cornwall
HOW TO GET THERE: At entrance to St Ives on B3074. Close to railway and bus station. Easily accessible from the town centre, beach stretches down towards St Ives and at low tide provides walk to town harbour.

Generally safe bathing at all states of the tide with palm trees and sub-tropical shrubs as backdrop. High quality sand, used by local sand sculptors, who regularly visit this beautiful sheltered beach. Facilities include: windsurfing; surfing; canoeing; cafe/ restaurant; slipway; surfboard hire; dog restricted area; crazy golf; pay parking; park and ride; harbour; campsite; lost child centre.

BEACH: Sennen Cove, Cornwall
HOW TO GET THERE: Take the A30 from Penzance distributor road, signposted Land's End. At Sennen turn right to Sennen Cove. Beach is on the right.

Set on edge of Sennen Cove hamlet, west facing white sandy beach with grassy hills and sand dunes behind enjoys good surf and spectacular sunsets. Towering Cape Cornwall and Brisons Rocks present natural breakwater which offers safe bathing areas. Facilities include: windsurfing; surfing; canoeing; cafe/ restaurant; slipway; surfboard hire; pier; dog restricted area; pay parking; harbour; campsite; lost child centre.

BEACH: Swanage Central, Swanage, Dorset
HOW TO GET THERE: Access by road from London via the M3, M27, A31, A35 and A351. Rail links from Waterloo to Wareham, connects with local bus service. National Express coach service.

A gently shelving, sandy beach without tidal extremes and about half a mile (800m) long, flanked by a promenade backed with colourful gardens. Facilities include: windsurfing; surfing; canoeing; sailing; paddle boating; cafe/ restaurant; beach huts; slipway; deck chair hire; pedallo hire; promenade; pier; dog restricted area; bowling; crazy golf; pay parking (across road); amusement arcade; leisure centre; lost child centre.

BEACH: Torbay, Breakwater Shoalstone, Devon
HOW TO GET THERE: On the main road to Berryhead. There is a local bus service nearby.

Small, shingle beach with rockpools to one end, next to picturesque Brixham Harbour. Facilities include: canoeing; cafe/ restaurant; beach huts; slipway; deck chair hire; promenade; pier; dog restricted area; pay parking harbour; lost child centre.

BEACH: Torbay, Corbyn Head, Devon
HOW TO GET THERE: Below Torre Abbey on the main A3022 between Paignton and Torquay.

Nestles in a sheltered cove protected by the rocky outcrop of Corbyn Head. Easily accessible on foot from Torquay or by train from Paignton. Well situated for all the facilities of the English Riviera town of Torquay.

BEACH: Torbay, Meadfoot, Devon
HOW TO GET THERE: The nearest town is Torquay. There is main road access and a local bus services.

Small, quiet stretch of shingle shoreline on outskirts of Torquay. Park area and cliff path nearby, plus split-level promenade backing onto a hillside covered in shrubs and trees. Other facilities include: canoeing; paddle boating; cafe/ restaurant; beach huts; slipway; pedallo hire; dog restricted area; dog exercise area; pay parking.

BEACH: Torbay, Oddicombe, Devon
HOW TO GET THERE: Steep footpath to beach or cliff lift available at reasonable cost. The nearest town is Torquay. There is main road access and local bus services.

Small stretch of sand and shingle beach at the foot of the high cliffs of South Devon. Facilities include: sailing; cafe/ restaurant; beach huts; slipway; deck chair hire; pedallo hire; promenade; dog restricted area; dog exercise area; pay parking; lost child centre.

BEACH: Westward Ho! Devon
HOW TO GET THERE: From the A39 at Bideford take the A386, then the B3236. Bus service no 1 from Barnstaple and Bideford goes to Westward Ho! seafront.

Over two miles of golden sand backed by a unique pebble ridge linking to Northam Burrows Country Park. The beach is adjacent to the south west coast path and is well located for visits to many other nearby attractions including the picturesque fishing village of Clovelly. Beach facilities include lost child centre and dog exercise area. Good for surfing and windsurfing.

BEACH: Woolacombe, Devon
HOW TO GET THERE: Ilfracombe is the nearest town with a scheduled bus service throughout the day. Barnstaple is served by rail and the National Express Coach Service. A regular bus service connects Barnstaple, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe.

Broad, sandy beach, backed by rugged Baggy and Morte Points. Relatively safe bathing beach with good surfing conditions, and facilities including: windsurfing; surfing; canoeing; cafe/ restaurant; beach huts; deck chair hire; surfboard hire; dog restricted area; dog exercise area; crazy golf; pay parking; street parking; campsite; wildlife reserve; amusement arcade; lost child centre.

SOURCE: Encams (Environmental Campaigns)


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