Brighton and Bournemouth are too busy, and everyone’s heard of Barafundle Bay and Holkham Beach these days. Where are the UK’s most secret – and most beautiful – beaches to be found?

Pedn Vounder, West Cornwall, England

Pedn Vounder, West Cornwall, England

English beaches don’t come much more remote: Pedn Vounder can be accessed from neighbouring Porthcurno during low spring tides, but otherwise the tidal cove is reached only aboard chugging boats, or by 15-minute walks from Treen village ending in a clamber down the jagged cliffside. The reward? Sand, seclusion, dramatic Atlantic waves and Logan Rock, a vast boulder which guards the western headland and rocks if you shove it.

Nearest station: Penzance. Get the 1 bus to Treen, seven miles away

 

Fidden, Inner Hebrides, Scotland

Fidden, Inner Hebrides, Scotland

Fidden Farm is a wild campsite on the Isle of Mull’s far west; its grassy meadows fringing flour-white coves and suspiciously clear waters. It’s also one of western Scotland’s driest, sunniest spots. Do one of four things: admire the sunset views over mystical Iona, spot passing seal pods, walk to the lost village of Tirerafan and the still-whiter coves beyond, or wait for low tide and wade across to tiny Erraid, where adventurous David Balfour gets briefly marooned in Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel Kidnapped

Nearest station: Oban. Get a 45-minute ferry to Craignure, the 96 or 496 bus on to Fionnphort, and then walk or hitch a lift

 

Dunwich Heath, Suffolk, England

Dunwich Heath, Suffolk, England
via Visit Suffolk

Dunwich town mostly disappeared centuries ago, its churches and harbour walls gobbled up by the ever-encroaching North Sea. In its wake lies a tiny village and, up the shifting coast, this ethereal strip. The sand-and-shingle beach edges a National Trust site, all dunes, lagoons and heather, plus a tearoom and an RSPB reserve where nightingales sing in spring. Keep an eye out for the Dark Heart of Dunwich: a jilted maiden who is said to haunt the area’s seaboard, unable to die.

Darsham. Catch a taxi for three miles to the beach

 

Silver Sands of Morar, Highlands, Scotland

Silver Sands Of Morar, Highlands, Scotland
via Visit Scotland

Best known for seducing hot-shot exec Mac in Bill Forsyth’s beloved Local Hero, the Silver Sands of Morar series of beaches are mostly empty: Ferness was a fictional village, webbed-toe western Scottish locals are rare and crowds in general steer clear. All this despite the world-famous West Highland Line skirting this seaside, in league with hosts of campsites. Morar and Triagh’s beaches are the ones from Local Hero; for an even more barefoot experience, try Achaidh Mhoir. 

Nearest station: Morar or Arisaig

 

Broad Sands, Devon, England

Broad Sands, Devon
via wildswimming

Steep steps: a bleeding pain, especially when you’re climbing upwards, but also a real blessing in that they tend to dissuade noisy families and unfit visitors. That’s the case at double-fronted Broad Sands (not to be confused with South Devon’s Broadsands), whose caves, sand and ultramarine waters are rarely chokka. There’s another shore, the irresistibly-named Golden Cove, to visit southwards, but you’ll likely be happy where you are: a rock stack hides the cove from passing ships and waves, while wooded cliffs add Instagramability.

Nearest station: Barnstaple. Get the 300 or 301 bus to Combe Martin

 

Mewslade Bay, Glamorgan, Wales

Mewslade Bay, Glamorgan, Wales

Beachgoers on Wales’ gorgeous Gower Peninsula tend to head ubiquitously towards Rhossili Bay, seduced by its regular awards and stunning shipwreck. That’s fine by you: it means all the more space to deposit your bronzing body on low-tide Mewslade, further south. Reach it via an attractive, 1.5-mile valley walk from Rhossili, and break up the sunbathing by wandering around the headland to Fall Bay, where there’s another tidal isle to chance: Worm’s Head, where a young Dylan Thomas once got stuck.

Nearest station: Swansea. Get the 117 or 118 bus to Rhossili

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