Blackpool & Lytham St Annes
Nowhere else packs such a hedonistic, escapist punch, or has such a genteel escape route”
Fashionable Blackpool has been on the unsuitable finish of some chopping one-liners through the years. “I like a Blackpool breakfast, me. Twenty ciggies and a cup of tea,” wisecracked the late Paul O’Grady, who recurrently introduced Lily Savage right here within the late Nineteen Nineties. However it could nonetheless pack a hedonistic, escapist punch like nowhere else.
As I visited on a weekend afternoon in April, the darkish inside of Ma Kellys North was already nicely populated and rocking to the sounds of the 70s. Singer Nick Jones took drinkers by way of loud renditions of the Bay Metropolis Rollers, Tom Jones, Abba and the remainder, as pints have been fortunately sunk. A dangerously convivial ambiance was growing that might have stored me there all afternoon.
I made a decision it was smart to depart earlier than Mom Superior began her set (“She’s right here to cleanse our souls,” warned Jones) and headed to the North Pier. The coastline-hugging Starr Gate tram presents the right option to view the total gaudy glory of the Golden Mile. Then, within the facet streets simply off South Pier, I sought out a hidden culinary gem. Bentley’s has a popularity for serving one of the best fish and chips on the town. Completely battered cod, crisp chips and optimum mushy peas have been one of the best I’ve eaten in years.
By then, the night was cranking up. However as Wham’s Wake Me Up Earlier than You Go-Go blasted out from the Pleasure Seashore, and the amount was turned up in karaoke bars, I bowed to the fact of middle-aged stamina. Just some miles to the south, Lytham St Annes presents a gentler vacation expertise: huge seashores, broad grassy dunes and big skies are an invite to stroll, mirror and rejoice within the peace and quiet.
Staying on the Greatest Western Glendower resort on St Annes seafront (doubles from £105 room-only), I used to be two minutes’ stroll from the charming Grade I-listed Victorian pier, full with a lovingly maintained conventional amusement arcade. Alongside, within the Peace and Happiness Backyard, a bouquet of recent flowers lay on the ft of a statue of former St Annes resident Les Dawson.
Additional alongside the shore, an beautiful row of pastel-coloured seashore huts seemed out to sea, and a lone boy flew a inexperienced and purple kite. As I ventured over the dunes and throughout the mud-flats as darkness fell, it was potential to see the lights of Blackpool Tower twinkling on the horizon.
The next morning, after an “eggs Lancashire” breakfast (eggs benedict plus black pudding) on the Pavilion cafe in Ashton Gardens, I took a brief bus experience to Lytham Corridor. One of many most interesting Georgian buildings in England, surrounded by wooded parkland, this magnificent nation home is now managed by the Heritage Belief for the North-West. A stroll alongside East Seashore then took in some splendid seafront homes and Lytham’s well-known windmill, now open to the general public and housing a museum. Spoilt for lunchtime alternative in the primary sq., I selected Mediterranean fare on the Olive Tree Brasserie, earlier than heading to the Heritage Centre reverse, which levels exhibitions by native artists.
A go to to Lytham’s famend actual ale pub, the Faucets, appeared unavoidable. Sipping a superb pint of darkish delicate and totally relaxed, I virtually felt prepared for one more singing session at Ma Kellys.
Aberystwyth & the Dovey estuary
Promenade, ice-cream, paddling, a pier … this advantageous resort has all of it in spades (and buckets)”
The Voyager 1 area probe that left the photo voltaic system in 2012 carried with it a recording of a human heartbeat, together with numerous different cultural artefacts. It’s a disgrace Nasa didn’t pack a stick of Aberystwyth rock. No different artefact so completely captures the spirit of considered one of humankind’s finer achievements. The seaside vacation.
Aberystwyth is without doubt one of the final bastions of this fast-disappearing deal with. Promenade, ice-cream, paddling … it has it in spades (and buckets). Admittedly, to benefit from the expertise you want to enter into the spirit of the place. It’s not speculated to be stylish or refined. The pleasure consists of partaking in an old style ritual with out questioning too deeply concerning the level.
Disgruntled reviewers on Tripadvisor fail to know this. They experience the funicular railway and moan that it’s sluggish. What do they anticipate? That is 100-year-old engineering. The 2 vehicles, one up and one down, have been powered by a water stability system earlier than they have been electrified in 1921. Once you get to the highest, having travelled there at 4mph, you end up squinting into the brilliant sea on the Wales Coastal Path, which presents 870 miles of chic clifftop strolling.
One other important a part of the ritual is a go to to Aberystwyth’s Royal Pier. As with many issues within the city, it has seen higher days. In Victorian instances it had its personal orchestra. However the finish of the construction blew away in a storm.
The pier is the place for a drink, with chic views, in its newly refurbished bar. As for eating, Aberystwyth has develop into surprisingly stylish. On Pier Road, Ultracomida is a Spanish/Catalan delicatessen that serves glorious lunches. Additional up the road, subsequent to the city clock, is SY23 a Michelin-starred restaurant. It comes extremely beneficial and reserving is important.
There’s no scarcity of accommodations. The Glengower (doubles from £120 B&B) on the seafront is standard and nicely run. Barely extra upmarket is Nanteos Mansion (from £120 room-only), a restored stately house a couple of miles south-east of city.
However considered one of Aberystwyth’s different charms is its proximity to one of the crucial lovely spots in Wales, the Dovey estuary, 10 miles to the north. The sliding and glittering waters are lovely in any climate, and might be considered from the large sand dunes within the village of Ynyslas or, for a contact extra metropolitan panache, the small city of Aberdovey on the river’s northern financial institution.
About 12 miles inland alongside the Dovey estuary, holidaymakers might be lulled to sleep by the sound of the water wheel at Felin Crewi cottages (from £75 for 4) simply past Machynlleth. This Fifteenth-century former watermill has been restored and transformed into three self-catering properties (and one caravan). The setting is fantastic – a picture-postcard picture of genteel tranquillity. Want you have been right here.
Malcolm Pryce, creator of the Aberystwyth novels
Morecambe & Silverdale
A swirling bird-filled estuary, plus woods, orchards, butterflies and orchids a couple of miles north”
Morecambe Bay is magical. The place the remainder of Lancashire’s Gold Coast (my nickname, however there’s sand all the way in which from Liverpool to the Lake District) appears to be like out on the Irish Sea and a flat horizon, those that go for probably the most northerly stretches of shore get a backdrop of the Cumbrian fells and a swirling, bird-filled, ever-changing estuary that didn’t want Turner to look Turneresque.
That’s why a go to to the seaside city of Morecambe (often known as Bradford-on-Sea in its tourism heyday) hyperlinks nicely with a keep in Silverdale, 10 miles to the north. The realm has lengthy been standard with households preferring static caravan parks to B&Bs, however the village of Silverdale is quaint however unpretentious, has facilities and feels extra agri-rural than bucket-and-spade. The village lies inside the Arnside and Silverdale space of excellent pure magnificence (AONB), which is a collage of all of the kinds of panorama you see at this latitude, together with limestone pavements, historic woodlands, pretty orchards, mosses and meadows.
The flora right here is particular and poetic-sounding – girl’s-slipper orchid, purple ramping-fumitory and, discovered solely right here, the Lancaster whitebeam. Thirty-four species of butterfly have been recorded within the space and the under-threat hazel dormouse was reintroduced two years in the past. The AONB additionally has a meals producers’ circuit and areas for metallic detecting.
Silverdale is a spit away from the RSPB’s Leighton Moss reserve, the biggest reedbed in north-west England. Bitterns are the big-tick fowl to identify, however there are marsh harriers and a breeding avocet colony, in addition to otters and deer.
The Cumbrian Coastal Method begins right here – it’s 182 miles to its ending level south of Gretna – and the 66-mile Lancashire Coastal Method goes in the wrong way to Freckleton on the Fylde coast. It’s a 10-mile coastal stroll to downtown Morecambe by way of Bolton-le-Sands and Hest Financial institution (with loads of pubs en route) or an hour by bike, and it’s quarter-hour by rail to Lancaster, the place there are trains and common buses into Morecambe.
In contrast with Blackpool, Morecambe is genteel, and its entrance is extra about wind and waves than rides and rock. However a day on the market from Silverdale, by automobile or public transport, makes for a far richer, extra assorted vacation, including in arcade enjoyable, afternoon tea on the Midland resort and the possibility of a selfie with the seafront statue of Eric Morecambe, together with the birdlife that he liked to watch when he wasn’t making Britain giggle.
For an informative stroll round Morecambe, the Heritage Path takes within the Winter Gardens, Lakeland Panorama public art work, Baxter’s Potted Shrimps and diverse wastegrounds – considered one of which is able to ultimately be house to Eden Challenge Morecambe. On account of open in 2024, it’ll function giant shell-shaped pavilions overlooking Morecambe Bay. Botanical collections and artwork exhibits will deal with sustainability, the pure surroundings, photo voltaic and lunar rhythms, well being and wellbeing – with numerous immersive, interactive theatrical and training shows.
Again within the village, the Silverdale resort has household rooms sleeping 4 from £120 B&B.
Largs & Nice Cumbrae
After a fish supper in Largs, canny people take a ferry to this pedestrian paradise island”
The jagged define of the Arran mountains pokes out from behind Nice Cumbrae when considered from Largs’s Victorian promenade, the place we sit and eat an beautiful haddock supper from the multi-award profitable Fish Works, whereas being mildly harassed by seagulls.
Toddlers toddle together with ice-cream cones, staring up in awe on the five-metre metal statue of Magnus the Viking on the sting of the promenade, which stretches previous the blaring chart music of the funfair and curves across the shingle seashore.
The purple sandstone of St Columba’s parish church dominated the excessive road when it was inbuilt 1892 and nonetheless does. Most guests to the “Costa del Clyde” come from Glasgow, combining the nostalgia of the seaside resort with a stroll across the glens and chateau of Kelburn Property. These within the know then go to Nice Cumbrae – Scotland’s most accessible island.
Nice Cumbrae is reached by a 10-minute ferry experience from Largs. The island is a tiny, pedestrian paradise with far-reaching views over the Firth of Clyde. One 10-mile street circles the shoreline: it may be cycled in a few hours or walked in a pair extra. It’s finest to depart the automobile in Largs.
The island’s solely city, Millport, was established within the 1700s to deal with customs officers despatched to crack down on smuggling. It’s fronted by an previous stone harbour and a seashore dotted with waders – oystercatchers, redshanks, curlews. Horse riders gallop up and down the sand, and households pose with Crocodile Rock, a painted stone beast (and Cumbrae’s signature landmark).
The excessive road is lined with artisan companies, equivalent to Isle of Cumbrae Distillers, considered one of Scotland’s solely female-owned distilleries, which runs gin tastings. “It’s a tight-knit neighborhood,” says co-founder Juli Dempsey. “We need to assist lengthen the vacationer season past summer season.” A few doorways down at Mapes of Millport, Scott Ferris rents out bicycles. “The previous joke was that come the tip of October, you might roll up the pavements,” he laughs. “However loads of second properties offered not too long ago turned high-end rental lodging. That’s had a big effect on tourism.”
Jacks Alt Stays, began by two younger cousins, is main the cost. Its 4 bespoke cabins (from £129 an evening for 2) are stylishly fitted and as Instagrammable because it will get.
The west of Cumbrae has gorgeous views of Goatfell, which spikes out of the ocean to 874 metres on the Isle of Arran, and of its dramatic, serrated ridgeline. These views are interrupted solely by the low-lying Isle of Bute. To the north, are the snow-capped peaks above Loch Lomond.
“Come rain, hail, sleet or snow, it’s only a pretty place to be,” says Ferris.
We’ll have to take his word for it. As we gaze out to Arran, there’s nothing but Scottish sun.
Great Yarmouth & Gorleston-on-Sea
Dip into the tat and toffee apple atmosphere, then retire to its less-vast and less-crowded neighbour”
As with certain other seaside towns, Great Yarmouth has a history twisted by the word of Charles Dickens. He is often misquoted as having said that GY (as some locals call it) is “the finest place in the universe”. These were, in fact, the – potentially satirical – words of his character Peggotty in David Copperfield. Today, Yarmouth boasts a late-night party pub named after her. Yet, fiction or not, Dickens might have been on to something. As far as I can tell, it only takes one trip to the place to fall for it – hook, line and beach rubber ducks.
In recent years, the resort has risen from the post-package-holiday ashes by reinventing itself as a kind of “new Margate”. Despite becoming a hub for artists and circus training – and having had, fascinatingly, its very own Banksy (recently flogged at auction), Yarmouth has stuck true to its roots. After all, that particular neon seaside atmosphere is hard to wash out once it has soaked into the fabric of a place.
For those looking to only dip their toes into the tat and toffee apples, Gorleston-on-Sea remains the ideal, more reserved, base from which to explore. The little leafy suburb was put on the map in 2019, when it was heavily featured in the Danny Boyle and Richard Curtis Beatles film Yesterday.
Yarmouth’s expanse of beach pales in comparison with Gorleston’s quaint, three-mile counterpart, which is less vast, less gull inhabited – and less packed on a hot day. Moving with the times, Gorleston now boasts, as well as the standard fistful of traditional seaside cafes, a run of newer, flat-white-type joints and chic terraces for city folks suffering withdrawal symptoms. The Fig restaurant has converted its top floor, an old bucket-and-spade shop, into a rooftop bar with views across the cinematic sands.
There has been a boom in quality, family friendly eateries – from all-American burger joints to tapas – as well as scores of independent shops and businesses built from the ashes of the formerly mundane high street. The excellent 1930s Palace cinema, which was a bingo hall for many years, is showing films again, and by the water’s edge is the Pavilion, one of Europe’s last remaining 19th-century music halls, complete with oxidized green copper roof domes. For many years, the local rumour mill has been spinning yarns about the Tate soon making a move on Great Yarmouth, so now might be the time to get in early, before Damien Hirst starts dipping gulls in liquid gold. The Pier hotel, which featured in Yesterday, has doubles from £80, room only.
Bognor Regis & Littlehampton
The atmospheric pier is where a very young Noël Coward won the song and dance competition in 1904”
There should be crowds, but this Wednesday lunchtime Bognor Regis is deserted. If the skies were blue, however, the windswept 2.7-mile West Sussex promenade, stretching from Felpham to Aldwick, would be heaving; after all, Bognor is among the sunniest towns in the UK.
As with many traditional resorts, the town has a rich history. Its regal suffix was gained when George V convalesced here in 1929. Near the seafront’s Royal Norfolk hotel is a blue plaque dedicated to WE “Billy” Butlin (1899-1980). His amusement arcade opened here in 1932, before the famous Bognor holiday camp.
The ping and whirr of modern-day amusements are in evidence around Bognor’s Waterloo Square, which is also home to a bowling green, mini golf and sunken gardens. The adjoining pier dominates, with its bleeping arcades, sports bar and Sheiks nightclub. The structure is far shorter today than when it opened in 1865: a widened section was lopped off in 2008 for safety reasons. But its tip is nonetheless an atmospheric spot from which to gaze back at the beach where a very young Noël Coward won the weekly song and dance competition in 1904.
Further along the promenade, past the soon-to-be-regenerated Regis Centre, a train whisks holidaymakers east from Whittington’s kiosk to Butlin’s – perhaps fuelled by chips from Yanni’s fish and chip shop (tip: a “small” £3 portion is huge). Behind is Hotham Park, with its boating lake and tropical gardens. For a caffeine hit, the Coastal Coffee Co (1 Waterloo Square) has sea views, and smart cafe-restaurant Mustards does coffee and a cake for £6 (set lunch from £29.95). Micropub the Dog & Duck (65 High Street) does a selection of local ales.
Eighteen minutes away by train is low-key Littlehampton; like Bognor, it has been a beneficiary of the government’s levelling up funding. At the end of its freshly repaved high street is an engaging museum with 600 pieces of art, while down on the seafront, which is about to have a £7.2m revamp, is the UK’s longest bench, a unique, twisty 324-metre artwork. Here, too, is the Riba award-winning East Beach Cafe: starchitect Thomas Heatherwick’s first UK building when it opened in 2007. The 40-metre-long rock-like silhouette is awe-inspiring, and its bright interior, packed on our midweek visit, offers panoramic views.
We perch on benches in the briny air, devouring sublime salt and pepper squid, ox cheek bites and cured salmon. Handily, the chic East Beach Guest House (doubles from £99 B&B), is a few minutes’ walk away on South Terrace. After lunch, it’s a pleasant stroll along the River Arun, past seafood bistro 47 Mussel Row, award-winning Fred’s fish and chips, the Harbour Lights Cafe and the Boat House in the marina. At the pedestrian bridge over to West Beach, the Arun View’s waterside terrace makes a welcome spot for a pint overlooking boats piled high with fishing nets.
Scarborough & Scalby
The queen of Yorkshire’s coast has weathered its decline gracefully, and with innovation aplenty”
Scarborough is the measure of all traditional seaside resorts, not only because it was Britain’s first – the spa waters were discovered in the 1620s and drew aristocratic visitors – but because it has everything: amusement arcades, noisy boozers, shellfish stalls, a funfair, a cliff railway, and Victorian hotels that have seen better days.
On bank holidays there are mods, rockers and punks, although some are on mobility scooters rather than Lambrettas. On sunny days the harbour walls are packed with kids hand-lining for crabs, and the beach is always golden.
Chuck Berry and Elvis still rule the roost on the funfair, but beyond it is a town rich in history, culture and quiet escapes. A lovely footpath sneaks up from opposite the funfair to St Mary’s Church where Ann Brönte is buried (the only tombstone with flowers in an overspill graveyard largely devoted to Victorian children).
There are ruins there, too, of a medieval castle built by Henry II, further fortified by King John and knocked about by Oliver Cromwell’s men, who set up a cannon in St Mary’s churchyard. Further damage was inflicted by the German navy in December 1914 during a bombardment of the town along with Whitby and Hartlepool.
By the seafront are dozens of fish and chip shops, one of which stands out: it’s the former premises of the Tunny Club, a relic of the 1930s when big game fishing was all the rage and a motley array of big game hunters, aristocrats and matinee idols came to try their luck with bluefin tuna. Specimens caught include the British record of 851lb (although a 900lb fish caught off Wales last year may supersede this). The chip shop has some interesting photos. The tuna, inevitably, were soon fished out, but there are hopes for a revival.
A walk south around Marine Parade may offer a sight of the resident harbour porpoises. Crabbing equipment and bait is sold all along the front, along with buckets and spades, windbreaks and seaside rock. The town has its rough edges, but has weathered its decline well and there’s plenty of innovation. The MV Southern Star, tied up in the harbour, is both a cafe and part of an offshore seaweed and shellfish farm.
Escaping to some peace and quiet requires an hour’s walk, or a short drive. Scalby is a couple of miles north, a quiet village with a good pub-with-rooms, the Plough (from £152 room only). It’s inland, so not as touristy as, say, Robin Hood’s Bay, but 30 minutes along footpaths brings you to the coastal Cleveland Way. There is good fossil-hunting on the rocky scars, with dinosaur footprints on some boulders.
Swanage & the Isle of Purbeck
Traditional attractions and ‘natural surrealism’ on a stunning coast with Enid Blyton overtones”
Swanage, on Dorset’s Isle of Purbeck peninsula, is a perfect small-scale seaside town. On a visit this spring, I was struck by the number of traditional attractions: recently built beach huts, an amusements arcade, a funfair from which a plastic Tyrannosaurus rex roars, and pedalos with painted eyelashes. We bought fish and chips and sat by the harbour.
Swanage has an appealing edge. In the 1860s, George Burt, a building contractor who had made his money in London, began importing bits of the capital’s buildings to decorate the town. Close to the harbour is a clock tower that once stood on old London Bridge. Had Burt not moved it, it would today grace Lake Havasu City in Arizona, along with the rest of the structure.
Burt built himself a house that included marble chips from the Albert Memorial – then under construction – and elements of Billingsgate market and Millbank prison, mashing them into every imaginable architectural style. Most strikingly Burt gave the modest town hall a whole new facade – which had once been the frontage of Mercers’ Hall, off Cheapside in the City of London. Swanage’s quirks appealed to artists, especially to Paul Nash and Eileen Agar, who photographed Burt’s flourishes and were inspired by the town: Nash said it displayed a form of “natural surrealism”.
The Isle of Purbeck around Swanage boasts magnificent coastal walks towards Dancing Ledge, a natural shelf of flat rock jutting out into the sea, and to now-disused Winspit, one of the many quarries along this coast from which cathedrals were dug. We walked to the huge chalk stacks called Old Harry Rocks, an echo of the Isle of Wight’s Needles, which are visible in the distance.
If the landscape feels familiar it may be because Enid Blyton used the Purbeck countryside as her inspiration. On this visit, one friend, who loved the Famous Five series through childhood, was taken aback by the dramatic ruins of Corfe Castle, rendered even more Blyton-ish by the sight of the steam train that runs from Swanage to Wareham, huffing over the nearby bridge.
Edward I’s plan to establish a city on Poole Harbour’s southern shores was unsuccessful and Purbeck remains largely unpopulated. In her account of life in Tyneham, the now-ruined village requisitioned by the army during the second world war, local author Lilian Bond wrote of Purbeck’s “clean, cool air”; this, and the rugged coastline, make it a wonderful place to visit. In Studland, a few miles north of Swanage, we stayed at Littlecroft, a charming, book-filled B&B with just two rooms (from £125 B&B, which must usually be booked together). For a fancier night, there’s the Pig on the Beach (from £260 a night) on the north side of Studland, while the friendly Bankes Arms, which brews its own beer, has doubles from £85 B&B.
Jon Woolcott, author of Real Dorset
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