With the UK basking in a heatwave that almost feels like a *proper* summer, we’ve stashed the inflatable flamingo, frisbee and picnic basket in the back and are heading directly to the beach. Here, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite coastlines (and eateries near them) that aren’t too far off the main highways and byways so you can break the journey with a paddle and spot of rockpooling. Heaven.

Whale Tail

M6, Junction 34

A hop and a skip from the historic old town of Lancaster lies the elegant sweep of Morecambe Bay, abutting the Lake District. Fuel up with Whale Tail’s vegetarian feast before heading to the Victorian seaside town of Morecambe to enjoy the salty air, promenade and ice cream parlours.

Old Street Pantry

M5, Junction 20

Clevedon’s iron, Victorian pier is eminently Instagrammable, but in the town you’ll also find a small shingle and sand beach to explore (notice the wooden gig boats on the quayside, part of the revived rowing tradition) as well as a marine lake that’s popular with swimmers year round.

Elm Farm

A38, Avers

Porth Towan’s beautiful beach and turquoise waters lie only a short, clifftop stroll from Elm Farm. Better still, you can pitch your tent and spend the whole weekend.

Dylan Thomas’ Boathouse

A40, St Clears

Dylan Thomas’ Boathouse sits perched on the side of the Taf estuary. Enjoy the nourishing views here that fuelled much of Thomas’ writing, then follow the river down to Morfa Bychan (Pendine) Beach where you can enjoy an expanse of clean sandy and big skies.

Cobbles

M4, Junction 35/36

After picking up a picnic at Cobbles Kitchen’s award-winning deli, there is no better place to pitch the blanket than Ogmore’s beautiful beach, just 5 minutes down the road.

The Barn at Beal

A1, Holy Island

The barn and campsite occupy a spectacular site at Beal overlooking the castle, dunes and grassland towards Lindisfarne Island. Grab an icecream and go take a closer look at the lesser visited Cove’s Haven Beach round the headland. It’s sheltered from the wind and has plenty of rock pools to probe at low tide.

Emmett’s Stores

A12, Yoxford

Stop for lunch at Emmett’s fabulous smokehouse and cafe in the impossibly pretty village of Peasenhall before taking in the bold colours and fresh breeze at Aldeburgh’s beautiful and historic beach.

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