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Need a seaside fix? Eight great beach daytrips in under 3 hours

Feel the sand between your toes within a couple of hours - hurray for Muddy's best beach daytrips!

Summer, summer, summertime! After last weeks soaking I’m glad that the sun has got his hat back on.  With more warm weather on the horizon I’ll be heading somewhere sandy to build castles and scoff fish’n’chips. I love a seaside day trip and although living in Cambridgeshire we don’t have our own beaches, a one-day jaunt to the nether reaches of Norfok, Sufook and Essex is still doable if you get an early start. All of the suggestions below are 2-3 hours in the car, depending of course which part of our ‘hood you’re from. So grab the wind-break and soggy sandwiches and let’s go!

Old Hunstanton Beach, Norfolk

Old Hunstanton Beach

A great pick if you’re based in the north of the county Old Hunstanton is located just outside the resort town of Hunstanton and it has an altogether different feel. The beach is an expanse of fine golden sand and backed by dunes so even on a busy day you’ll be able to find space for your wind break.  There is loads of parking nearby and it’s dog friendly.  Like many of the North Norfolk beaches the tide goes out a very long way so it’s worth checking the tide times if nothing else to prepare yourself for a long walk (or not) for a dip. It does get windy and is a popular spot for kite surfers and kite fliers.


Holkham Beach, Norfolk

Holkham Beach


A beach for walkers Holkham is perfect for a hot summer’s day or a bracing winters walk.  The vast stretch of golden sand, lined by pine forests has won Holkham Best British Beach a number of times. The board lined path leads from the car park to the beach through the pine forst and, it’s a slight hike, so bear this in mind when you’re working out how much clobber to take with you.  Checking the tides here is definitely worth while as if the tide is up – great, but if you’re wanting to swim and the tide is out – it’s a heck of a long walk.  There’s parking available and it’s not unusal to see a few horse boxes also as horses and dogs are allowed on the beach.  There isn’t a beach cafe at Holkham but the fabulous The Victoria Inn is child friendly and offers great gastro food, there’s a small pub garden if you prefer to keep your sandy shoes on.



Brancaster Beach


This is our family favourite (garnering a rare thumbs up from my beach-obsessed mini mudders), with its four miles of pristine white sands  – if you can be bothered to hike that far.  There’s a car park and small cafe closely.  We tend to pack a picnic but grab coffees and beach toot from the shop. It’s popoular and gets rammed in the summer, my two love to make camp at the busy end of the beach as they enjoy racing down the dunes but, when we can, we persuade them to head downstream a little and you’ll be less likely to have someone sitting on your lap.  Another dog friendly number and if you time it right and the tide’s up then you can enjoy a good swim.


Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk

Wells Next To the Sea


A couple of miles up the coast you’ll discover the seaside town of Wells-next-the-Sea which has much more of a busy vibe as it features a harbour with small fishing boats and is a great spot for fishing for crabs. If you can’t be bothered with food then the Beach Cafe (part of the Holkham Estate) right by the beach, will keep you fed and watered.  It’s had a facelift this year and now has a wood-burning stove (perfect for the colder months, traditional board games, and if you can’t live without it- free WiFi.


Sheringham, Norfolk

Sheringham Beach

The old-fashioned seaside town of Sheringham is beginning to show signs of a revival in the popularity stakes and a few of my bezzies make annual pilgrimages there each year.  It’s another tide watcher as when the water is high the beach is stony but as the tide retreats it reveals great rock pools and expanses of sand. In the town there are tacky arcades to wow the kids (and must admit I myself have a long-term obsessions with 2p slot machines) and a stream train ride that will take you to Melbourne and on to Holt.

Southwold, Suffolk

Southwold Beach

This pretty town has it all in my book: chic shops, cafes that know how to serve coffee, art galleries to mooch in, a large expanse of sand for kids to play on, pretty beach huts, a great walk to Walberswick with a couple of pubs for lunch and some crabbing on the way. That pretty much sums it up!  Southwold is a rural idyll for those with la-di-da London tastes – sound like anyone else you know (*cough*)?

Aldeburgh Beach, Suffolk

Aldburgh Beach


This picturesque fishing village is about an hour and a half from Cambridge.  Aldeburgh has a pebble beach so it’s not best suited to littl’uns.  If you’re lucky enough to have dumped them with grandparents, or don’t have that hassle, then this is a great place for some grown up time.  There’s a strong art scene with many galleries to explore, boutique and interior shops to damage the credit card and fish, quite literally everywhere.  There are shacks selling freshly caugh fish on the beach and The Brudenell Hotel serves fresh fish and shellfish with a stuning sea view (make sure you ask for one when you make a reservation). Alternatively opt for  the best cultural experience to be had in town – fish and chips devoured out of the newspaper!


Frinton-on-sea, Essex

Frinton on Sea


Don’t dismiss this place as too far for a day trip as I can get there in around two and a half hours if I hammer it. This place won’t get a thumbs up from the mini mudders: there’s no pier, no amusement arcade, no pitch and putt, no dogs allowed in the summer months and very few beach cafes selling toot they can waste their money on.  This gentile seaside town only allowed it’s first pub in 2000 and men were allowed to wear shorts at the golf club in 2008 – get the picture. Why then is it in this list, I hear you ask?  Frinton offers a huge expanse of soft sand, and without all the extra attractions, doesn’t get as busy in the summer months so if you’re after a traditional beach with heaps of space, where you bring your own picnic and all the gear then this offers a refreshingly unspoilt option.

Have we missed off your daytrip beach of choice? Let us know in the comment box below.

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Cambridgeshire