Whilst Hitchin is a wonderful place the one thing we don’t have is a coastline nearby!
I love going to the beach and if you’re prepared to drive for a couple of hours there are lots of beaches available to you. Here are a selection to get you started…
Beaches in Norfolk
Sometimes Norfolk can feel a bit like Hitchin-on-Sea… We all seem to love Norfolk beaches and with good reason. There is something for everyone from quiet, unspoilt beaches to the bright lights of Yarmouth and a whole load between.
Wells-next-the-Sea2 hours 12 minutes
Wells-next-the-Sea is a popular choice for beach day trips for Hitchin residents. The Wells Harbour Railway operate a train that runs from the harbour/town most of the way to the beach. There is also a playground at the harbour end. Check out French’s for the quintessential fish and chips too!
Brancaster2 hours 18 minutes
Brancaster has four miles of sandy beaches to explore along this relatively unspoilt stretch of coastline. As well as sandcastle building, it’s known for kite surfing and wind surfing. There’s also a shipwreck visible at low tide. It’s very important to check the Brancaster tide times though as it’s easy to get stranded! A short drive away is The White Horse pub for award winning food.
Holkham2 hours 19 minutes
Holkham is a family favourite of ours – especially when we take our Labrador, Heston. It is a beautiful unspoilt beach that goes on for miles at low tide surrounded by marshes and a pine wood. Even on a busy Summer’s day you’re guaranteed some space and tranquillity at Holkham. At The Victoria inn is well worth a visit too!
Great Yarmouth2 hours 8 minutes
Great Yarmouth is your typical lively British seaside resort with everything from piers, donkey rides and arcades to a model railway and the exciting rides of Pleasure Beach! There’s also a road train alongside the main beach to help you explore if you’re not sure where to start… A quiet beach retreat this is not, but you won’t get bored!
Gorleston-on-Sea2 hours 12 minutes
Offering a quieter alternative to Great Yarmouth, Gorleston is a traditional seaside resort and although in Yarmouth’s shadow is a glorious beach in it’s own right. There are two miles of sand plus a boating lake and small parade of shops and restaurants. We ate a lovely lunch at Porterhouse Restaurant (check out their roof terrace!)
Sea Palling2 hours 17 minutes
More golden Norfolk sand ois on offer at Sea Palling as well as the chance to catch a glimpse of the local seals. This beach is good for swimming and there are pubs, cafes, shops, an arcade and a stall selling locally-caught fish.
Horsey2 hours 10 minutes
Horsey is a wild, unspoilt sandy beach surrounded by a large system of sand dunes. It’s main attraction though are the seals that can be seen swimming in the sea throughout the year. If you fancy a Winter trip, from November to January Grey Seals take to the beach to give birth.
Hunstanton2 hours 9 minutes
Shingle and boulders (Main beach) & Sandy (Old Hunstanton)
Hunstanton is the only resort town in East Anglia which faces west giving it shelter from the prevailing wind earning it the tag “Sunny Hunny”. In town the beach is boulders and shingle but to the north in Old Hunstanton it’s sandy when the tide is out. There are all the usual seaside trappings and also Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary.
Beaches in Suffolk
Suffolk beaches are less well known that those of neighbouring Norfolk. Consisting largely of sand and shingle, Suffolk’s beaches still have a lot to offer for day tripping Hitchinites!
Walberswick2 hours 20 minutes
Sand & shingle
Walberswick is a quiet village to the south of Southwold and it’s beach is famous for it’s crabbing! It’s great fun to catch (and return) crabs and local shops sell buckets, baits and lines. Although sand and shingle it’s backed by sandy dunes, and the sea is nice and shallow, perfect for young families. Dogs are welcome all year round.
Southwold2 hours 25 minutes
Sand & shingle
Southwold is famous for it’s iconic coloured beach huts and is a beautiful town to explore. As well as the beach there’s a refurbished pier with amusements (including Tim Hunkin’s eccentric inventions which are well worth a visit!) Make sure you don’t leave without a trip to the famous Adnam’s Brewery – especially for the shopping!
Aldeburgh2 hours 10 minutes
The shingle beach in Aldeburgh is dotted with fishing boats and unusual structures and sculptures. Explore the various cafes and restaurants in Aldeburgh, as well as a boating pond, and get your fix of fish and chips at Aldeburgh Fish and Chips Shop. The Aldeburgh Carnival takes place this year from 19th – 21st August.
Kessingland2 hours 20 minutes
Kessingland is a quiet, unspoilt beach that is actually growing thanks to the planting of grasses on the beach. It’s a perfect place for a dog walk and to explore the nature around. Down the road is Africa Alive! which is home to 100 acres of parkland that is home to giraffes, rhinos, flamingos, lions, meerkats. A fantastic day out!
Beaches in Essex
Essex may still struggle to shake off a certain reputation but I grew up in Essex so have a certain soft spot for my home county. There are plenty of beaches to choose from ranging from the more reserved Frinton on Sea to the action-packed Southend, many of which I visited many of these as a child myself!
Frinton-on-Sea1 hour 57 minutes
Frinton has tried hard to remain uncommercialised and retains an atmosphere of the 1920/30’s. The sandy beach is quiet and secluded and there is a large grassy area, the Greensward, which is an ideal spot for a picnic.
Walton on the Naze2 hours 5 minutes
Walton on the Naze has a gently sloping sandy beach that is perfect for families. It has all the classic seaside amusements including a large arcade and dodgems as well as a number of beachside cafés.
Clacton-on-Sea1 hour 51 minutes
Clacton offers all you would expect from a classic British seaside holiday! As well as the sandy beach there’s Clacton Pier, The Pavilion Fun Park, bars, restaurants and town centre shopping. The annual Clacton Carnival takes place from 12th – 20th August with a variety of family events on.
Southend-on-Sea1 hour 24 minutes
Pebble & shingle
The main beach is busy – especially in the holidays – and offers boat trips, amusements, shops, plus a huge choice of cafes. Southend is home to the world’s longest pier and the action-packed Adventure Island as well as Sea-Life Adventure. There is also a children’s fun fountain at City Beach. Next to Adventure Island is the Three Shells Beach Lagoon which not only has water all year round but also has soft sand and new brand climbing frame.
Brightlingsea1 hour 49 minutes
Brightlingsea is a calm and pleasant Blue Flag sandy beach. There are two large outdoor swimming pools facing the sea (one very shallow, designed for children), a boating lake, children’s park and skateboard park.
Beaches in Kent
Kent may not be the natural destination for Hitchinites but if you can face tackling the M25, Kent has a lot to offer. From long stretches of sandy beach to cliff pools and children’s amusements, there is plenty to do for all the family.
Margate2 hours 9 minutes
Margate has all the traditional holiday-town charms you would expect with sandy beaches, fish and chip shops and beach-side amusements. Dreamland Margate has everything from Dodgems and Coasters, Merry-go-rounds and Helter Skelters too. Margate has also undergone a lot of investment recently and now has a cool café culture and independent shopping on offer.
Ramsgate2 hours 10 minutes
The beach is perfect for families, with rides for children and clean, safe bathing water. It has all you’d expect from a British seaside resort with donkey rides, deckchairs and sun loungers and amusements nearby.
Botany Bay2 hours 15 minutes
A sandy and rocky bay with rock pools to explore and safe bathing. A relatively quiet and secluded beach with spectacular chalk cliffs and stacks. Great for fossil hunting and rock pools.
Herne Bay1 hour 52 minutes
Sand & shingle
Herne Bay offers a pier, gardens, bandstand, fish and chip restaurants, ice cream stalls and children’s entertainment plus a play area right on the beach front.