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Winter beaches

Winter beaches

We say beach, you think summer. Correct? That’s usually the way it goes. Bank holidays spent picnicking on sand dunes, weekends building sandcastles, family half-term holidays resurrecting windbreaks and smiling at the shrieks of those running away from breaking waves as they spill all over the sand – these are all moments that, when pictured, typically have the sun as their backdrop. But warm weather need not be a prerequisite for passing time with the sea and the sand. In fact, winter is one of our favourite times in the year to be beside the seaside. It’s infinitely quieter, seasonal dog bans are often lifted, it’s perfect for flying a kite, for storm-watching, and for photography with nobody getting in the way.

When a setting is so closely bound to a certain meaning, it carries a lot of pressure. If we believe that a beach is best on a hot summer’s day, the window of opportunity is tiny – smaller than a porthole. Think bigger, and that window is flung wide open.

A beach bathed in winter’s sun sees a different kind of light to that of any other time of year. It’s searing and piercing, and you can never be sure of how the water might behave. A blindingly blue winter sky doesn’t necessarily equate to calm waters. The waves can crash as sharply as the light, moving in short, quick bursts. The sound of them breaking is louder, because the surroundings are quieter at this time of year. The sun falling on the sand can even be more dazzling than in August’s warming rays. It seems to glitter in a way that it simply can’t in summer. Contrast this with the ferocious conditions winter can also bring. The beach transforms once more. The sea feels threatening, deeper and darker than before. The wind throws sea foam, salt spray and sand. The tides might become more dramatic in response to days on end of heavy rain fall. It’s a stark, raw beauty. Visit a beach on winter days such as these and you’re likely to feel a touch melancholic too, but in an intriguing sort of way. It’s a thought-provoking setting. It’s Daphne du Maurier-esque.

The beach in winter heightens the senses and lets you experience every happening more acutely. It’s a different experience altogether. The landscape changes, sand dunes are steeper – it feels wilder and untamed. The beach in winter is about adventure. (And not to mention, fish and chips taste better when they’re eaten in the biting cold.)

Beach hunting

Some of our favourite British beaches to visit this winter.

Rhossili beach, South Wales

In 2017, this tiny spot on the Gower Peninsula made it into Suitcase Magazine’s top ten beaches of the world. It’s also set within the UK’s first ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’. Need we say more?

Bamburgh Castle beach, Northumberland

We love it for its almost-white sands, rolling dunes and the castle that stands in the background and has done since the sixth century. In winter, it’s almost completely deserted. Walk along the sand in a northerly direction and you’ll reach Stag Rock where you can explore rock pools and a small lighthouse. Bamburgh beach is also a great spot for surfers.

Coombesgate beach, north Devon

A small, shingle and sand beach, tucked away from tourists. It points west so has sublime sunsets, and the surf is known for being good. It’s only accessible between low and mid-tide, making it feel even more special.

Brancaster beach, Norfolk

Miles and miles of picture-perfect sands are only one of the things that make this Norfolk beach so special. When the tide is out, the remnants of an old shipwreck (the SS Vina) can be seen – it was once used by the RAF for target practice before the Normandy landing. It’s also known for being dog-friendly.