Beach adventures and coastal refreshers

'In the early evening, sitting in the long grass on the slope above Old Harry rocks, looking at all the boats returning to Poole Harbour, is my favourite place to watch the sun set. The long grass is full of movement as songbirds and seabirds flit up and down and around the cliffs and the coastline is just beautiful.'

Emma Wright, staff member at Studland Beach

From secluded coves to open, sandy bays, here are some of the best places to relive special moments and create hundreds of new ones this summer:

    Brownsea Island, Dorset

    Located in Poole Harbour, Brownsea Island offers breathtaking views across to the Purbeck Hills. Only accessible by a short ferry ride, the whole island is car free, so every inch can be explored safely, including the wonderful woodland, wetland and heath, rich in wildlife, history and adventure.

    Brilliant for those who love the outdoors, Brownsea offers a haven of wildlife for you to spot, including the rare red squirrel and a wide variety of birds. Visitors will love to discover the island’s fascinating history, from smuggling tales to it being the birthplace of the Scouts and Guides. There are also a number of activities happening throughout the summer for everyone to enjoy, including beach combing, sailing and orienteering, as well as lots of chances for the kids to complete several ‘50 things’ activities. From stone skimming and catching crabs to climbing trees and hunting for bugs there will be lots for families to keep the children entertained over the holidays. After a busy day, you can also grab a tasty bite to eat at the Villano café which is filled with lots of tasty treats for you to try.

    Carrick-a-Rede, Co. Antrim

    Take an exhilarating rope bridge challenge, over a 98 feet (30m) deep drop, to visit Carrick-a-Rede island, a site of Special Scientific Interest, and enjoy a truly clifftop experience. Originally built by salmon fisherman the bridge and surrounding area offer fantastic views. With over 250,000 visitors a year, Carrick-a-Rede is one of the most popular attractions on the North Coast and perfect for a great day out.

    Carrick-a-Rede and Larrybane is fantastic for bird watching and has unrivalled coastal scenery. From the island you can see wonderful views of Rathlin and the Scottish islands as well as lots of beautiful flowers and wildlife. When you have reached the island try to spot 10 different types of bird, help the kids complete some ‘50 things’ activities, enjoy a picnic or have an exciting walk along the coastal path on the mainland. After crossing the rope bridge, reward your courage with something from the delicious menu at the Carrick-a-Rede café.

    Compton Bay and Downs, Isle of Wight

    This breathtaking spot along the Isle of Wight coastline showcases some of the best beach side scenery around, surrounded by distinctive chalky white and golden cliffs. These wonderful coloured cliffs and the coastal views, also provide a fascinating geological history going back to the time of the dinosaurs, something that the little ones will love to discover.

    To really take in the views at Compton Bay, take a walk, cycle or horse ride along the Tennyson Trail, which meanders its way around the coastline. The surrounding Compton Downs are a honey pot for flowers and wildlife for you to discover. It’s one of the best places to see butterflies for miles around, whilst the beach near Hanover Point is a great place for children to spot dinosaur footprints in the sand. The family friendly beach also has a section open for dogs all year round making it a great trip out for a walk, whilst also offering a brilliant space for surfing and swimming.

    Dunwich Heath and Beach, Suffolk

    Tucked away on the Suffolk coast, the peaceful, colourful heath-land of the Dunwich Heath Nature reserve, with its shingle and sand beach, is rich with wildlife and ideal for birdwatchers, nature lovers, walkers, and families looking for a great day out.

    From July to September, Dunwich Heath is alive with colour; a patchwork of pink, purple heather and coconut-scented yellow gorse, making it an unmissable experience. The heath is also fantastic for spotting rare species including the Dartford warbler, nightjars, ant-lions and heath-loving adders on one of three heather trails. You can also spot seals and porpoises using the cliff-top telescopes provided. There are plenty of activities to get involved with as well, especially for families wanting to keep the kids entertained, including geocache trails, scavenger hunts and smuggler and nature trails.

    Godrevy, Cornwall

    A surfer’s paradise, Godrevy is a great spot for visitors and families, with fantastic views of the local area, from the sandy beach to the stunning cliffs, that are filled with wildlife and history.

    Godrevy is a fantastic place to enjoy miles of walks over the coastal grasslands and heathland, exploring places such as Hell's Mouth and the North Cliffs as you go. On your way, parents can also let the kids complete several ’50 things’ activities including barefoot walks, jumping in the waves and geocaching, before enjoying a delicious bite to eat at the café on your return. Godrevy Beach is also just one of many hot spots in Cornwall for surfing. If you pay a visit, not only can you watch the surfers in the sea, you can also join in at the ambassador surf schools, who can kit you out and show you all the tricks that you will need.

    Jurassic Coast, Dorset

    Looking to Higher Dunscombe and Hooken Cliffs in distance, Jurassic Coast, Devon

    Stretching from Exmouth in East Devon to Studland in Dorset, this coastline traces almost 185 million years of the earth's history. It is also England’s only natural World Heritage Site, and with 95 miles of unspoilt cliffs and beaches, it is a truly unforgettable and special place to visit.

    This summer, why not discover rocks from the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods - rich with exciting fossils for children to spot - offering everyone the chance to walk back in time. Several points along the coastline will also be offering a whole host of summer and family activities for you to enjoy, including lots of opportunities to complete some ‘50 things’ activities. Along this wonderful coastline there is also something for everyone. There are sandy beaches at Orcombe Point, breathtaking walks and views over Sidmouth from Salcombe Hill, and also traditional old villages like Branscombe, set deep in a valley, where there is a working forge, mill and an old bakery tea-room, filled with delicious treats for you to try.

    Rhossili Bay and South Gower Coast, Gower

    Situated on the South Wales coastline, the sweeping three mile sands of Rhossili beach, with its breathtaking clifftops, and wonderful bay, is a perfect place to spend summer days with all your friends and family.

    This beautiful site is perfect for all kinds of activities, from walks and swimming to surfing and kite-flying. At low tide, the beach has secrets of its own to reveal as the remains of the Helvetia, shipwrecked in 1887, can still be seen lying in the sand. Those who are more adventurous can either cross the rocky causeway to the tidal island of Worms Head, where grey seals can be seen lazing on the rocks below, or go in search of the Neolithic burial chambers, bronze age cairns and Iron Age forts that make their home along the coastline. Why not pop into the visitor centre and shop for some eye-spy family trails and discovery cards, as well as trying out some ‘50 things’ activities, including geocaching, exploring all that Gower has to offer.

    St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall

    'The best thing about St Michaels Mount is the uniqueness of the island’s location. It’s a tidal island which means even just getting here is an adventure. When you’re here, what makes it even more special is climbing up to the castle as well as enjoying cream teas on the village green'
    - Pete Hamilton, staff member at St. Michael’s Mount

    This iconic rocky island, crowned by a medieval church and castle, is home to the St Aubyn family, as well as a 30 strong community of islanders, and is perfect for a great summer day out.

    When you visit St Michael’s, why not climb the cobbled pathway to the fairytale castle and enjoy pre-arranged tours, stunning views over the subtropical terraced garden and breathtaking sights towards Mount’s Bay. If the weather is good, you can also enjoy a short boat trip around the island or at low tide venture across the ancient tide causeway from Marazion. Children will be fascinated by the history, legends and myths surrounding St Michaels, including the giant who was said to have roamed here, and several quizzes that will allow them to discover some of the secrets hidden within the castle walls.

    Studland Beach, Dorset

    Take the children for a fabulous day out on this golden sandy beach that stretches for four miles from South Haven Point to Old Harry Rocks, with shallow bathing water perfect for the little ones and lots of wildlife to go searching for. Be sure to bring buckets, spades, barbeques and picnics for a blissful day on the sands.

    Marking the start of the South West coastal path there are plenty of opportunities to go walking at Studland, whether you prefer a short sandy stroll or fancy making a day of it. In the summer, the beach comes alive with many taking to the seas in the boats and kayaks available to hire, making it easy to explore the gentle waters of this coastline. The Knoll beach café and shop, is great for families and sells local produce, including venison from the Studland estate and Red Devon beef, whilst the shop stocks everything for a day at the seaside. You can also visit the nearby ruins of Corfe Castle to discover over 700 years of history and relive childhood memories by seeing for real the inspiration behind Enid Blyton’s Kirren Castle in the Famous Five.