British seaside towns

download-23The Great British beach holiday is back in vogue. Ruth-Ellen Davis rounds up the best coastal resorts for a summer staycation.

1) Margate, Kent

Eating fish ‘n’ chips on the promenade. Licking ice-lollies on the beach. Paddling in the surf with your trousers rolled up. Think of the quintessential British beach holiday and Margate might well come to mind.

One of the original Victorian seaside towns, like so many others it was abandoned by holidaymakers in the 1990s when low-cost airlines promised better things abroad. But today this down-at-heel resort is enjoying a renaissance thanks to an influx of artists, high-speed rail links with London and the reopening of Dreamland, the UK’s oldest pleasure park.

2) Brighton, Sussex

A lack of sand hasn’t stopped Brighton from establishing itself as the UK’s coolest beach town. With its anything-goes attitude, hip inhabitants (Nick Cave lives here) and pier filled with classic attractions, this kitsch seaside resort is a whole lot of fun.

Its winding Lanes are an Aladdin’s cave of retro trinkets, and there’s a good nod to the city’s green credentials – pick up everything from biodynamic wine to vegetarian shoes. This August marks the 25th anniversary of Brighton’s annual Pride parade: as the UK’s self-proclaimed gay capital, it’s sure to be one heck of a party.

3) Bournemouth, Dorset

Bournemouth is booming. This buoyant coastal town has the UK’s fastest-growing digital economy and is being touted as the next ‘silicon city’. Its unassuming football club has also made a surprise leap into the Premier League and its generous sandy shores are becoming a hotbed of action.

A new pier-to-shore zipline is the latest high-speed way to take in the coastal views. Participants are launched from a tower at the end of the pier, out over the Blue Flag beach and down to the throngs of bathers bellow.

 

4) Whitby, Yorkshire

At a glance, Whitby is your classic coastal resort, with its traditional donkey rides, dubious amusement arcades and ubiquitous fish ‘n’ chip shops. But beyond its twee aesthetic, lies a Gothic spirit thanks to Bram Stoker, who set his 19th-century novel, Dracula, here.

A century on the book still haunts Whitby’s medieval cobbled streets and eerie abbey ruins. It also provides inspiration for the twice-yearly Whitby Goth Weekend (next event on 30 October), when the town’s Gothic inclinations are celebrated: think head-to-toe cadaverous costumes and a soundtrack to match.