Beautiful beaches in the North of England

From unspoilt sandy beaches and dunes full of wildflowers to dramatic cliffs covered in nesting birds and rocky shores, we look after miles of coast in the North of England. Here are our suggestions for the best beaches for a day at the seaside:

Embleton bay with Dunstanbugh Castle in the distance

Embleton and Newton Links, Northumberland  

You'll soon discover why the beach at Embleton Bay recently won BBC Countryfile Magazine’s Beach of the Year award. With the fishing hamlet of Low Newton at one end and the towering ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle at the other, this sandy beach is the ideal place for paddling (or swimming for the brave), taking in Northumberland's historic past and discovering sea birds and wildflowers.

St Patrick's Chapel Heysham Head, Cumbria

Heysham, Lancashire  

Heysham village overlooks Morecambe Bay and has sheltered, sandy beaches and plenty of history. It's long been a go-to destination, from being a place of pilgrimage in the early medieval period to the holiday hot-spot of the 1950s. Look out for St Patrick's Chapel, possibly dating back to the 8th century, and the unusual rock cut graves on the headland.

A boy rock pooling with a starfish in a net Yorkshire Coast

Saltburn, North Yorkshire  

With eight miles of golden sand, huge cliffs and a promenade full of cafes, Saltburn is a great choice for spending a sunny day by the seaside. At low tide a series of rock pools are revealed, perfect for hunting for hidden sealife, including crabs, periwinkles, starfish and beautifully coloured sea anemones.

Children enjoying rockpooling

Sandcale Haws, Cumbria  

This sandy beach with views across the Duddon Estuary offers loads of opportunities for seaside play, from building sandcastles and shell collecting to a family game of cricket on the beach. Afterwards, take a walk into the dunes and look for wildlife - the vast dunes are home to rare plants and animals, including orchids, dragonflies, curlews and great crested newts, so Sandscale Haws is a National Nature Reserve as well as a great place to visit.

Reflections of clouds in water on the beach at Boggle Hole looking towards Robin Hood's Bay

Robin Hood's Bay, Yorkshire  

Robin Hood’s Bay on the Yorkshire Coast recently made it onto the list of the top 25 beaches in the world, compiled by Passport Magazine, and is great for rock pooling, fossil hunting and walking. At low tide you can walk all the way along the beach to neighbouring villages such as Ravenscar. The bay sits between National Trust visitor centres at Robin Hood’s Bay village and Ravenscar so you can discover more about the area's history, geology and wildlife while you're there too.

Family time on the beach building sandcastles

Druridge Bay, Northumberland  

Druridge Bay is a seven mile beach running from Amble in the north, with its bustling harbour and shops, to Cresswell in the south. As well as the long sandy beach, there are pools and sand dunes teeming with wildlife to be explored. The beach is popular with horse riders, walkers and surfers and is also the perfect spot for picnics, paddling and playing on a summer's day.

A view across the Marram and Sea-lyme sand dunes at Formby

Formby, Liverpool 

Backed by dramatic sand dunes and surrounded by pine woodlands, which are home to red squirrels, the beach at Formby is a great spot for relaxing and exploring. The sandy beach is also ideal for kite flying, paddling in the sea, a barefoot walk or simply taking in the sea views - you can see the hills of North Wales on a clear day. At low tide, look out for the 5,000 year old footprints that sometimes reappear on the shore.