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Beach day trips within two hours of Cambridge

Pack a picnic and bucket and spade and head to the beach for the day. These are the best seaside stunners within two hours or less of Cambridge.

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside! There’s just one problem with that – beautiful beaches are pretty hard to come by in our landlocked county. Good news is, our lovely neighbours – Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex have beaches by the bucket and spade load. Here are my top eight beaches that you can reach from Cambridgeshire in less than two hours. Windbreaker? Check. Bat and ball? Check. Over-excited pooch? Check.

Southwold, Suffolk – 1 hour 45 mins

Miles of candy-coloured beach huts that cost more to own that the average flat in the UK. Yep, that’s Southwold, or Poshwold as some people like to call it. It might be expensive, but for good reason. The beach is sandy and wide, so even on a hit summer’s day there’s room to swing a bat. The town is charming and full of cool indie shops and eateries (leave those soggy sarnies at home). And it’s home to Adnams Brewery so there’s a delicious whiff of beer about the place. All of this less than a two-hour drive from Cambs.

 

Lowestoft, Suffolk – 1 hour 50 mins

This huge wide expanse of sand is as soft as a tropical island’s beach. Seriously, take off your shoes, shut your eyes, pretend you’re warm and ignore the sound of sea gulls and you could almost be in the Maldives. The town has a long, buggy -friendly promenade to walk on if the sand starts to get hard work and there’s plenty of fish and chips and candy floss outlets along it. On a sunny day, you can’t beat Lowestoft for kiddy-friendly attractions, and we love the beach down at the Pakefield end for a spot of horse-riding against the wild backdrop of the dunes.

 

Old Hunstanton, Norfolk – 1 hour 30 mins

Image credit: Norfolk Coast Partnership

If you don’t like to be lined up like sardines on a beach when it’s sunny, this is an excellent option. Even on sun-soaked days there’s so much space on this huge swathe of sand that you’ll feel like you’ve got it to yourselves. It’s well known as being an excellent place to kite surf, there’s loads of parking and it’s really picturesque. Hunstanton Beach is just along the coast and has attractions galore, if the beautiful open vista of Old Hunstanton gets a bit same for the kids.

 

Holkham Beach, Norfolk – 1 hour 40 mins

Image credit: Norfolk Coast Partnership

Fancy a nice long walk? Good, because Holkham is the biggest beach we’ve ever some across and to reach the sea is no meat feat. You park along a tree-lined avenue with a little coffee cart (probably best to get your caffeine fix after the trip to the beach as there are no public toilets) and then follow a charming path through woodland and along raised walkways to emerge on the glorious sight you see above. There are sand dunes to play in and shelter you from any wind and miles of unspoilt beach to explore. And the real clincher is the fact that Holkham Estate is across the road and home to The Victoria, a delightful pub and hotel that’s famous for it’s crab sandwiches. I’ll let you into a secret – this is my absolute favourite beach. See you there!

 

Frinton-on-Sea, Essex – 1 hour 35 mins

Image credit: Tourism Tendring

Frinton is known as Essex’s Sunshine Coast’s exclusive resort, and a trip here puts you in mind of those fun vintage beach postcards from the 1920 and 30s. It’s all very genteel – lots of flowers planted along the tree-lined avenues and esplanade, colourful Victorian beach huts and a delightful sandy beach. Just warn the kids that amusement arcades are not to be expected in this upmarket town!

 

Brancaster, Norfolk – 1 hour 35 mins

Image credit: Norfolk Coast Partnership

Another of Norfolk’s massive wide stretches of golden sand, you can walk for miles along this beach. Kids will love looking out for the remains of an old shipwreck when the tide goes out and your four-legged friends will be happy too, as there’s always a part of the beach open to dogs. Be sure to check tide times before your visit though as the access route can get flooded leaving you stranded!

 

Aldeburgh, Suffolk – 1 hour 40 mins

The beach may be mostly shingle, but what Aldeburgh lacks in talcum powder soft sand, it makes up for in beautiful views, amazing boutique shops and arguably the best fish and chip shop in the county (the queue down the high street is evidence enough if you don’t believe me!). My favourite thing to do is walk down the beach path towards charming Thorpeness, with its famous house in the clouds and cute places to eat.

 

Wells-Next-The-Sea, Norfolk – 1 hour 40 mins

Image credit: © Holkham Estate.

Wells beach is beautiful and often cited as the best beach in Norfolk, and we couldn’t agree more. Families will love it here with its brightly-coloured beach huts, miles of soft sand, paddling potential, plenty of birds and dog-walking friendly attitude. There’s also a cafe, regular ice cream van and good car park that isn’t a hike with picnic basket in hand to get to the beach from. In short, you’ll not regret a visit to this beach.

 

Blakeney Beach, Norfolk – 1 hour 45 mins 

Image credit: Norfolk Coast Partnership

Less of a beach and more an extremely attractive area of outstanding natural beauty comprising marshland, sand hills and mud banks. It’s a really lovely place for a walk along to equally charming Cley-Next-The-Sea. This is the place to come if seals and birds are your cup of tea, or for an excellent dog walk. The village itself is all flint cottages, wish-I-lived-there pastel-coloured houses and cute gift shops full of seaside knick-knacks that will never look as good in your Cambridge pad as they do by the actual beach, but one can dream!

 

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Cambridgeshire