With a little forward planning, getting away from London’s high rise buildings and into the green, green grass of Britain’s countryside is really very easy and doesn’t have to be expensive. Leave the city behind this summer, don your flipflops and head for the beach!
Bournemouth is probably the busiest beach on the south coast. During the summer months, thousands of sun-seekers flock there to pop up their wind breakers and frolic in the chilly surf. Bournemouth boasts plenty of seaside attractions and seven whole miles of award winning beaches that are perfect for sand castle building.
On the waterfront you can lounge on a hired deckchair, get some shade under a rented parasol or just lay your towel out on the sand and get tanning! You could even give in to the British stereotype and hire yourself a painted beach hut.
There are plenty of seafront establishments to fulfil any beach goer’s need for ice cream or fish ‘n’ chips. And if the sky clouds over for a while there are plenty of amusements along the pier (get your 2p coins at the ready!) or cliff-side walks for those who have bought appropriate footwear.
A return train to Bournemouth will set you back around £30 but you could find a cheaper fare if you booked in advance. Alternatively, you can book in advance and jump on the mega bus for as little as £9 return.
West Wittering beach is well worth the traffic jams you’ll have to plough through on your journey to get there. The long stretch of sandy beach edged by bleached sand dunes is the perfect place to escape to on a hot summer’s day. The perfect spot for a sunbathe or secluded picnic, the unspoilt coastline offers unfettered views of the solent, passing sailings boats and the odd wind surfer.
Behind the sand dunes lie big grassy fields where you can shelter from the cold if the wind picks up. Or, on a warm day the grass is the perfect place to pop your picnic blanket or start a game of Frisbee.
A return ticket to Chichester will cost you about £10 if you book the week before and are around £25 if you buy on the day. To get to West Wittering beach you need to jump on the 52 or 53 bus from Chichester bus station to the Old House at Home pub and follow the footpath to the beach.
Isle of Wight
If you fancy venturing a little further afield, the Isle of Wight is the place to go. A trip on the ferry to the Isle of Wight really will feel a million miles away from London’s dusty pavements. Easily accessible from the capital, the little island boasts fifty-six miles of seashore and an impressive twenty-three beaches.
All the Isle of Wight’s beaches are different but equally worth a visit. If you only have time for a couple, Alum bay and Sandown Bay are definite must sees. Alum bay’s multicoloured sand has been a tourist attraction for decades and from the steep cliff face, you are only minutes away from The Needles. Although the cliff edge is not exactly the place to pop up your windbreaker, and flipflops are definitely not recommended footwear, if you make it to that end of the island it is definitely worth a look.
Sandown bay joins up with Shanklin in the southwest and Culver Cliff to the north. A long arc of golden sand, Sandown bay provides the perfect spot for all sorts of beach visitors. Along the shore there are quiet sections, seaside attractions and popular surfing areas. The bay is never crowded, ideal for safe bathing and houses a pier in its centre. Sandown pier and the surrounding town are teeming with enough shops, cafes, parks and amusements to entertain any daytripper during a cloudy spell.
With around 350 daily ferry crossings, getting to the Isle of Wight is relatively simple. You can get a train from London Waterloo to Southampton Central for £34 on the day. Ticket prices will go down if you book in advance though. The ferry port is a very short walk away, or an even shorter trip on the free bus. Ferries from Southampton will drop you at either East or West Cowes and take between 23 and 55 minutes. Ferry ticket prices cost around £15 return.
Published on www.thefirstpint.co.uk on July 14th 2011.