What an amazingly hot summer we’ve had this year, and a fab opportunity to enjoy our best family beaches in the UK. And there’s still the promise of a glorious autumn to make the most of our spectacular coastline. In fact, these beaches are so lovely they are perfect to visit any time of the year. I actually really love going in the depths of winter, when you’re likely to have to whole place to yourself. I’ve chosen these beaches as the best family beaches in the UK because they tick both adults and kids boxes – family-friendly, with good access, possible refreshments or activities and shallow waters or weak currents, but also just so beautiful with gorgeous surroundings and, hopefully, fairly peaceful too.
We tried glamping for the first time in Dorset at Featherdown glamping, and were very pleased we did. As its name suggests, it offers glamorous camping. If you like the idea of camping and getting closer to nature, but can’t face a whole week with kids, glamping is a great midway choice.
Watersports were made for the Jurassic coastline. Our trip to Dorset was the perfect opportunity to continue with part of my ‘4 adventures in 4 months with a 4 year old‘. I abandoned the idea of wild swimming as my son can’t swim yet, so probably not the best idea. However there was still plenty of choice to do some adventuring offland. We chose sailing for June and kayaking for July. Snorkelling is another option, and Kimmeridge Bay is actually a brilliant place where you can do it even if you can’t swim, as the water levels are so low.
Sailing around Portland Harbour
I couldn’t find any small boats to have a go on with my son. Most operators seem to only offer sailing courses, or trips if you are already qualified. I found a few places near home which occasionally take out families for a hour or so to show them the ropes, but nothing was happening when I wanted to do it. Luckily we did find Moonfleet Adventure Sailing.
Think of an old pirate ship – big white sails, flag, ship dog, and you’ve got the Moonfleet ship! It’s very rough and ready, and a real man’s ship. We were given a brief tour, and there are no luxuries on board. Expect to shape up and chip in on here. Luckily, our son was keen and was super excited to help pull up the mighty sails and lower them down again, and even sail around some of the harbour.
We went out for the shortest time, which is two hours. It was plenty. We all went, so that included my two year old son, though I probably wouldn’t bring him again, as I spent most of the trip clinging onto him and making sure he didn’t trip over odds and sods on the deck.
Highlights of the boat according to my son was the dog and the biscuits. I’m not sure we would go again to be honest. Maybe one to save for when kids are a bit older.
Kayaking at Studland Bay
Kayaking at Studland Bay, on the other hand, was a downright win. It was so successful, my two year old had a paddy because he wanted to have a go as well, which he did. Again, I looked for places that offered kayaking or canoeing for young kids, but the only operator I could find was Foradventure, on selected dates. They do look very cool, so another time maybe.
However, it’s so easy to hire kayaks at Studland Bay for 30-60 minutes and just paddle around the shallows of the bay – which are just perfect for first timers. Very calm and pretty. My husband took the kids out and I watched from afar as I’d had a recent eye operation, but its safe to say we will definitely be going out on kayaks or canoes again somewhere near us.
My children can’t swim, so life jackets are a must (and for those who can swim too), so we’ll make sure we choose very calm and shallow waters. And we’ll carry on with our swimming lessons!
Other watersports to try along the Jurassic coastline
Jurassic Coast Activities offers kitesurfing, windsurfing, kayaking, coasteering and paddleboarding. Land and Wave offer coasteering, paddleboarding, family survival skills and sea kayaking. You can learn to sail with Shell Bay sailing. Shallow snorkelling is available at Kimmeridge Bay. And of course, if you can swim, the world (or sea) is your oyster.
Dorset with kids is a must-do holiday. Dorset has always appealed to me as a fantastic UK holiday destination, particularly now with kids (it’s not called the Jurassic Coast for nothing). Plus who needs to fly abroad in summer with this gorgeous weather in England?! Here’s my itinerary for families who want to enjoy the best of coastal Dorset with kids.
I’m a massive fan of London. London without kids is fun. London with kids is even better. Anything you fancy doing, London will have it, and a lot of the best activities for kids in London are free too. Because there is such a lot to do, I’ve split this blog post up into themes – so whether you have a dinosaur fan, book worm or outdoor explorer you’ll find the best of London for the family.
Mother of two Fiona Orrell from Lancashire is almost halfway through a year-long adventure walking one section of the Coast-to-Coast trail every month with her husband. After a tough year, walking has been like therapy for her.
What a weekend. I feel like I’ve just come back from a week abroad. We took a spontaneous trip over to the Isle of Wight on Bank Holiday Saturday as the weather was so perfect. We found the perfect Isle of Wight campsite, went orienteering (aka ‘mountain climbing’ according to my son), splashed at the beach, ate ice cream, and went for a bike ride in the New Forest on the way home. I am now completely in love with the Isle of Wight. Why haven’t I been before?
Climbing with kids. What could go wrong?! As part of our adventure, we’re going climbing in May. We thought we’d first try finding an indoor climbing wall before tackling something outdoorsy. There are a few climbing walls around us that allow four year olds to climb including White Spider Climbing, the University of Surrey and High Sports. To find climbing walls near you try the BMC.
Cycling is a great way to explore further distances with kids, so travelling by a safe cycle route is good option if you want to cover a lot of ground. There’s also multiple options cycle wise – toddlers riding their own bikes, tandem bikes, child bike seats or the covered bike trailers. Also, if you have kids of different ages, its a cool way to carry on adventuring as everyone can join in. Other ways of getting around tend to only work when kids are really young and can be carried, or older and can carry themselves further, or are able to do more technical stuff themselves.
Pre-kids I ran a lot, and this is still my first love. But I’m becoming more excited by the possibilities of cycling adventures with kids because of the greater options available. Cycling in the UK is so rewarding as we have such a diverse landscape to explore. It’s cheap once you’ve got the gear, and the mode of travelling by wheel on gorgeous off-road cycle routes gives you the reward of feeling in close contact with nature, yet being able to go further than on foot. Plus you can carry more, so bike/camp possibilities are opened too without breaking your back.
If you want to sort out your own cycle route, the National Cycle Network is the first place to start, founded by the charity Sustrans, it links hundreds of miles of traffic-free and quiet cycling paths across the UK. And there are now tons of fab family-and-bike-friendly beds, campsites and yurts to sleep in along the way too.
Otherwise, here are our favourite family-friendly cycle routes in the UK. Disclaimer: Researching this post kinda made me want to pack up and go now. Some seriously beautiful places out there.
Isle of Wight is also known as ‘bicycle island’ because of its appeal and ease for cyclists. The red squirrel trail takes in 23 miles of smooth, mainly traffic free trail across the isle’s best – from wetlands to its beautiful coastline. A great one to break up with an overnight stay.
Play spot the troll as you cross the many bridges found along the way on the curiously-named Troll Trail. You’ll probably see more wildlife than trolls here however, including buzzards, woodpeckers, wagtails, dragonflies and butterflies. The Troll Trail between Merstone and Shide is a flat and safe traffic-free route perfect for young children just starting to ride.
The Phoenix Trail runs for seven miles between Princes Risborough and Thame. It’s flat and smooth, with seating every 500 yards, which make it one of the most family-friendly cycle routes in the country . A fantastic place to teach your child how to cycle and enjoy the Chiltern Hill views while you are doing it.
Follow the route of the river Stour along the water banks in the iconic landscape that inspired Constable to paint his oil masterpieces. A chocolate box rural idyll awaits. Think wisteria, rolling meadows, trickling streams and birdsong.
This 25 mile cycle route is also traffic free. It runs alongside the River Avon to Chippenham and onto Calne via a disused railway line. You will pass Lacock Abbey (which featured in Harry Potter), the Cherhill White Horse and Avebury stone circle.
30 miles of unbroken traffic-free cycle paths – the longest in the UK. While cycling you can enjoy views across the mouth of the Taw Estuary plus look out for the multitude of wildlife found in the area. There’s also an art trail devised by Sustrans with shelters along the way, in case of rain.
This cycle route runs for 8.5 miles from Chee Dale to Bakewell, through some of the Peak’s best limestone dales. It’s a former railway route, so tunnels, viaducts and cuttings add interest and variety.
This one is on our bucket list for a real adventurous feel. Combine your bike ride with a boat crossing across lake Windermere. Once off the boat, there’s plenty of off-road trails and quiet roads to explore en-route to neo-gothic Wray Castle.
A 10 mile long flat trail which follows an old railway line from Dolgellau to the gorgeous Barmouth rail bridge. The cycle route may be flat but the views are truly magical – with mountains, river and sea for the eyes to feast on. One side of the trail lies Rhinog hill and the Cadair Idris Massif on the other. Plus the Mawddach estuary is also home to two RSPB reserves at Coed Garth Gell and Arthog Bo to enjoy too.
For epic coastline, traditional Welsh villages and Anglesey’s stunning scenery, head to the North Wales coastal route for 105 miles of mostly traffic-free paths and trails.
A stunning 24 mile cycle route in an area designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – saltmarsh, farmland, wetlands and beaches.
The Speyside Way towards the Boat of Garten is a fabulous flat ride that passes through heather moor and birch woodland. You may be lucky enough to also spy a red squirrel here.
Finding UK adventures and having a go at different challenges when you have young children is not just achievable, it’s great fun and a good bonding experience too.