Just what you need for this summer’s unexpected heatwave – our guide to some of the best-kept-secret beaches in the East of England. All you need is your bucket and spade!
A Norfolk jewel: Holme-next-the-Sea
Neatly positioned where the picturesque Peddar’s Way joins the Norfolk Coast route, this pretty beach is where the famous Seahenge was discovered – a
pre-historic timber circle with an upturned tree root in the centre that dates back to 21st Century BC, and built for ritual purposes. Close by is the Holme Dunes National Nature Reserve that has birdwatching hides overlooking marsh and pools that are perfect for spotting beach wildlife.
Make a stay of it: Check out Titchwell Manor Hotel; a boutique hotel with great views of the North sea.
Peace on the beach: Horsey
Seriously tucked away down a winding track, the beach at Horsey has no facilities but is the ideal place to get away from it all. Perfect for a spot of seal-watching, the banks of the beach are covered in marram, a kind of wild grass. The word is derived from old East Anglian or Norse words for sea and grass. It’s just a short walk into the village if you want to find refreshment or a break from the sun.
Make a stay of it: Sandwiched between the Norfolk coast and Broads, the Ingham Swan is a traditional 14th Century coaching close to Sea Palling with superior rooms and award-winning food.
Suffolk’s wild and wonderful: Covehithe
If you like your beaches wild and just a little spiritual, you’ll love Covehithe. Situated just a few miles south of Lowestoft, Covehitheis another ancient and peaceful beach with lots of interesting driftwood sculptures reaching up from the sand. Don’t forget to take a peek into Covehithe’s tiny church which gives this amazing beach its spiritual edge.
Make a stay of it: There is lots of great accommodation in popular Southwold, The Crown Hotel has spacious rooms and great food and is conveniently situated in the High Street.
Something a little quirky: Thorpeness
More shingle than sand, Thorpeness beach in Suffolk is still a great place to spend a lazy day. Close to the interesting village of Thorpeness with its Peter Pan-inspired boating lake, mock Tudor buildings and awarding-winning golf course, take the time to visit the Dune House, a modern twist on a beach house based on the theme of Living Architecture.
Make a stay of it: The ideal summer location, The House in the Clouds is stunning self-catering-style accommodation converted from an old water tower with breath-taking views of the coastline.
Award-winning beach: Holkham Bay
This stunning beach became not-so-secret a location when it featured in the award-winning movie ‘Shakespeare in Love’ starring Gwyneth Paltrow. Wide, expansive and totally unspoilt, since the film, it has been voted the ‘Best Beach in Britain’ but, surprisingly hasn’t been overrun by tourists and is still a great place to get away from it all. There’s a shady pine forest to walk through before you hit the beach and Holkham Bay is part of the National Nature Reserve so there’s lots of information to pick up on during your visit.
Make a stay of it: Conveniently close to popular Holkham Hall and the park there, The Victoria Inn is a comfortable hotel and makes a great base for discovering the coastal walks.
Seafood heaven in Essex: Mersea
The tiny estuary island of Mersea is a place of pilgrimage for seafood fans and its beach area has plenty of old-world charm. The ancient Roman causeway links the windswept island with the Essex mainland. The sunsets you can see at most times of the year are stunning. Take a book and while away time on the sandy beach then make your way to the Company Shed and eat your body weight in oysters, roll mops and muscles. Delicious!
Make a stay of it: The 300 year old Monkey Beach Cottage with its rolling secluded back garden has amazing views of the estuary and is the perfect romantic stop-off.