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There's nothing worse than stepping out of car, looking forward to relaxing on sandy shores only for your worst suspicions to be confirmed: the rest of the country has beaten you there and there's nary a square foot of sand to park your cool box on. At least no one can accuse us of not making the most of our two days of summer, right?
But if the annual race to the beach has become a bit too much for you, there is <hallelujah> an alternative. Secluded beaches, the kind you find when you set off exploring some rugged coastline, are much preferable to squeezing in among the masses this summer, especially if you're not shy of a bit of walking to find your perfect spot. And if you like a quieter beach, without the trek to get there, never fear...we've sniffed out some of those too.
Perpitch Beach (pictured) on St Martin's island - one of the Isles of Scilly - is so secluded you have to catch a boat to get there. As well as several other stretches of golden sand, there are shops and hotels, and a daily boat going back and forth to other islands from Easter to October.
Did you know that Norfolk boasts an island just off its coast? <us neither> If you're heading to the Burnham area and are intersted in going the extra mile for some excellent wildlife, Scolt Head Island National Nature Reserve might be the one for you. Accessible by foot or ferry from Burnham Overy Staithe, there are saltmarshes and sand dunes to explore, as well as a large variety of birds.
One of Suffolk's best kept secrets, Covehithe Beach is perhaps the wildest and most secluded beach in the area. There might not be any facilities for visitors, and the area might be suffering from high levels of erosion, but this is a spot not to be missed. Be on the look-out for the remains of St Andrew's Church as well as a dead-end lane leading to a cliff edge!
Soar Mill Cove in Devon (pictured) is off the beaten track, but easily accessible (on foot) from a car park situated just up the road. The cove boasts a small but pretty beach, without the hoardes encountered elsewhere during the summer months, and if you're feeling more adventurous you can always opt for a hike along the coastal trails surrounding it as well.
Northumberland boasts several stretches of sandy beaches, but one particularly picturesque (and unpopulated) one is Embleton Bay. Accessible via a short walk along a coastal path, the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle are visible from the beach and the village of Embleton is only a mile away.
Accessible via a short walk along picturesque coastal paths, Burnham Overy Staithe beach is one of the prettiest and least populated around the Norfolk coast. It's a bit of a walk, but as long as you're willing to shoulder a couple of backpacks with the essential supplies of sarnies, this is a great spot for a secluded family day out.
This breath-taking spot on the island of Iona in the Inner Hebrides off the west coast of mainland Scotland is backed by the machair. With white sand and stunning views, the beach is special as Canada lies just at the other side of the water. Head south to Columba's Bay for translucent, teardrop-shaped green pebbles, known as "St Columba's Tears", and a beautiful coastal walk.
In the lovely town of Nairn in the Scottish Highlands, the promenade leads down through the sand dunes to a lovely windswept beach (pictured). Perfect for someone who prefers somewhere larger and quieter. You may even spot a dolphin or two if you keep your eyes peeled.
Tyrella Beach in County Down, Northern Ireland, is a dune conservation area with two kilometres of sandy sunbathing space - which means it's the perfect place to get away from the crowds. Ideal for family visits, the award-winning beach has nearby parking, coastal walks and disabled access.
Rarely packed, but with facilities nearby and easily accessible, Stone Bay beach in Kent is the one to head to in order to steer clear of the crowds that flock to some of Kent's numerous beaches. Quieter than its neighbouring Viking Bay, Stone Bay is backed by chalk cliffs and a promenade and is even famous, having been mentioned in John Buchan's The 39 Steps.
This no frills beach in Skinningrove, North Yorkshire, is a quiet haven for those who love fossil-hunting and wildlife-watching. According to locals it's one of the cleanest beaches around, unspoilt by tourists, and very dog-friendly.
For more on your local area and great places to visit in the UK, visit your Gransnet Local site - and don't forget to add a listing for your favourite holiday spot. Heading on holiday with your grandchildren this year? Check out our family holiday tips and recommendations.
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