THE UK has some of the best beaches in Europe if you know where to look… and  most of them are far less packed.

As the schools break up for summer and everyone still tries keep their distance due to the coronavirus pandemic, Sun Online Travel has shared some of the best secret gems from Daniel Start, author of Hidden Beaches.

 Our guide reveals some of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the UK and exactly how to get there

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Our guide reveals some of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the UK and exactly how to get there

From Cornwall to Northumberland and North Wales to the Highlands, our guide reveals some of the most beautiful stretches of coastline and exactly how to get there.

The list includes top tips for where to spot dolphins, sunbathe beneath ancient ruins or explore uninhabited islands.

There are coves where smugglers used to offload French brandy, pure white sand worthy of a Barbados beach and turquoise lagoons perfect for an afternoon dip.

Read on to find out if one of the UK’s best secret beaches is near you…

Broad Sands, Combe Martin, North Devon

 Broad Sands in Combe Martin, North Devon, is a double-fronted cove, turquoise waters and sea caves you can swim to

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Broad Sands in Combe Martin, North Devon, is a double-fronted cove, turquoise waters and sea caves you can swim toCredit: wildswimming.com

Head here for: Cave, coves and an island look out.

Broad Sands is a double fronted cove with turquoise waters and sea caves you can swim to.

Scramble to the top of the island look-out and keep watch for pirates.

There are rarely visitors to this beach – the steep steps seem to keep all but the most intrepid away. Explore to the south, past Turks Cave, to reach Golden Cove too.

1½ miles west of Combe Martin (A399) turn right onto Barton Hill and park. Pass the Sandy Cove Hotel (EX34 9SR) on coast path and drop down after 500m. The the map orientation is 51.2121, -4.0589
If you’re looking for accommodation nearby, there are some quaint holiday cottages in the nearby village of Combe Martin from £340 for seven nights.

Lansallos Coves, Polperro, South Cornwall

 Lansallos coves in Polperro, South Cornwall used to be popular with smugglers

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Lansallos coves in Polperro, South Cornwall used to be popular with smugglersCredit: Alamy

Head here for: Smugglers’ tunnels, bluebells and cream teas.

The route to the beach is an enchanting walk, through woods and streams lined with bluebells and wild garlic in spring.

As you reach the cove you’ll find a deep passage hewn from rocks where smugglers hauled up brandy and French lace contraband.

The farm in the tiny village serves excellent organic cream teas.

Lansallos is signed 2 miles west of Polperro from The Crumplehorn Inn. Park by the church and take the path down through the woods. The map orientation is 50.3319, -4.5785

If you’re looking for accommodation nearby, there are some great holiday homes nearby from £641 for seven nights.

West Wittering East Head, West Sussex

 The long sandy stretch at East Head is the lesser-known beach in West Wittering, West Sussex

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The long sandy stretch at East Head is the lesser-known beach in West Wittering, West SussexCredit: wildswimming.com

Head here for: Cycle ways and family fun.

West Wittering near Chichester is one of the most beautiful beaches on the south coast, but the long stretch of sand at East Head is much lesser known.

It has perfect white sand, great expanses of dunes for playing hide and seek and at its tip you’ll find a natural harbour.

The beach is perfect for swimming and also has shallow lagoons with good crabbing for the young ones.

If driving, head S from Chichester bypass on A286 following signs to Birdham, then West Wittering beach (PO20 8AU). Park at far end of beach car park (½ mile) and walk R onto dunes N ½ mile, past crabbing pools and away from main beach, onto East Head. The map orientation is 50.7892, -0.9134

If you’re looking for accommodation nearby, there are some great holiday homes from £1,114 for seven nights, or Haven also has some holiday parks nearby, or booking.com has a range of hotels and B&B’s. 

Cuckmere Haven, East Sussex

 The famous Seven Sisters chalk cliffs halt abruptly at Cuckmere Vale, where you find Cuckmere Haven beach in East Sussex

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The famous Seven Sisters chalk cliffs halt abruptly at Cuckmere Vale, where you find Cuckmere Haven beach in East SussexCredit: wildswimming.com

Head here for: White cliffs and oxbows.

The famous Seven Sisters chalk cliffs halt abruptly at Cuckmere Vale, with several ways to reach the long stretch of beach where the sea meets the River Ouse.

It’s possible to take the right bank of the river’s new cut via the Golden Galley pub, but the classic route follows the left bank from Exceat past the oxbow lakes.

Park at Exceat, 2 miles E of Seaford (A259). Follow valley past meanders (on L Foxhole d) to E end of beach. Access W beach via Golden Galley pub (BN25 4AB) on other side of bridge. The map orientation is 50.7591, 0.1486

If you’re looking for accommodation nearby, Haven have some holiday parks along the coast  and booking.com also has a range of hotels and B&B’s. 

Gun Hill and Scolt Head Island, Burnham, Norfolk

 Scolt Head Island in Norfolk is an uninhabited nature reserve and England’s only desert island

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Scolt Head Island in Norfolk is an uninhabited nature reserve and England’s only desert islandCredit: wildswimming.com

Head here for: Desert islands and white sands

Scolt Head Island is an uninhabited nature reserve and England’s only desert island, and opposite are Gun Hill dunes…

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