THE South West has 34 of England’s 85 Blue Flags fluttering from the beaches, which helps to explain why it’s our favourite domestic seaside holiday destination.
We pick out three of the jewels in its crown…STUDLAND BEACHPurbeck, DorsetWhy here?
The white Caribbean-like sands of Studland stretch four miles and conjure up a feeling of being cast adrift (particularly if you take the two-minute chain ferry from Sandbanks to the “Isle” of Purbeck).
There are areas for dog walking, a National Trust café and a stretch for naturists.Beyond the beach:
Flanking the beach are nature trails that loop through heathland.
The southern bookend is the white outcrop of Old Harry Rocks, which signals the start of the 95-mile Jurassic Coast (mainland Britain’s first Unesco natural world heritage site).Attractions:
Inland, the ruins of 12th-century Corfe Castle are worth a visit.
A boat trip from Swanage harbour to Brownsea Island is a must. Monkey World at Wool, The Tank Museum at Bovington, Lulworth Cove and Durlston Country Park (for dolphin spotting) are also close by.Nearest town:
Swanage is a pleasant and restrained Blue Flag bucket-and-spade resort.
Take one of the charming ancient speedboats on a sedate spin across the harbour, or enjoy a shopping trip to the deli.Eats:
Lunch in the garden of the Bankes Arms Hotel (01929 450225) with its fabulous views over the bay. Don’t miss the Shell Bay Bar, 200 yards from the chain ferry.
Adjacent is the Shell Bay Seafood Restaurant and Bistro (01929 450363), with its waterfront terrace.Accommodation:
The Manor House overlooking Studland Bay (01929 450288/themanorhousehotel.com
) offers three-night weekend breaks from £237pp (two sharing), half board. Family rooms also available.
Further information: 01929 552740/ purbeck.gov.ukBANTHAM BEACHSouth Hams, DevonWhy here?
Awarded a Blue Flag this May, Bantham is a golden bank of sand backed by marram grass-covered dunes nestling between the Avon estuary and sea.
There are rockpools for younger children and excellent surfing for older ones.Beyond the beach:
The stretch of coast path from Bantham to Salcombe (where you can take the ferry to East Portlemouth if you want to continue further) is simply sensational.Attractions:
Salcombe has the Overbecks Museum and Garden (01548 842893/ nationaltrust.org.uk)
plus a Maritime Museum that is a captain’s treasure chest of shipwrecks and rescues.
Other family days out could include Pennywell Farm, Buckfastleigh (01364 642023/ pennywellfarm.co.uk
) and Paignton Zoo (01803 697500/ paigntonzoo.org.uk
Kingsbridge is the nearest town but is less interesting than Salcombe.
From May to September the two are connected by a ferry that provides the best way to arrive in one of the UK’s prettiest waterside towns.Eats:
The atmospheric Tradesman’s Arms at Stokenham (01548 580313/ thetradesmansarms.com
) is one of my favourite gastro-pubs, with real ales and outstanding food.
The Sloop Inn at Bantham (01548 560489/ sloopatbantham.co.uk
) is a cosy pub serving good local food.Accommodation:
If money is no object, check in to Burgh Island (01548 810514/ burghisland.com
), an art deco heaven on its own island that you reach by converted tractor.
Suites cost from £320 per night (two sharing), including an excellent dinner (a formal black-tie affair) and breakfast.
For something easier on the pocket, try the 14th-century Sloop Inn (as before), where doubles cost from £41pp per night (two sharing).
Further information: 01548 853195/ visitsouthdevon.co.ukPORTHCURNO BEACHCornwallWhy here?
This National Trust-owned beach has been formed over centuries from ground seashells and the sea here is an astonishing colour varying from jade green to Mediterranean blue.Beyond the beach:
There’s very little at Porthcurno, but Treen, a short bedazzling walk away on the coastal path, is more interesting.Attractions:
The open-air, Grecian-styled Minack Theatre (01736 810181/ minack.com
) towers over the beach.
Nearby is the Porthcurno Museum of Submarine Telegraphy (01736 810966/ porthcurno.org.uk
Cornwall’s secret wartime communications centre.
Land’s End Experience (three miles away) has plenty of attractions.Nearest town:
The historic market town of Penzance, around nine miles away, has art galleries, an attractive prom, museums and ferries to the Isles of Scilly.Eats:
Porthcurno Beach Café is friendly and airy. For something more substantial, try the Logan Rock Inn at nearby Troon (01736 810495/ pubinnguide.com
). It’s also worth making a trip to the Old Coastguard Hotel (01736 731222/ oldcoastguardhotel.co.uk
), set in sub-tropical gardens.Accommodation:
The Porthcurno Hotel (01736 810119/ porthcurnohotel.co.uk
) offers doubles from £85 per night (two sharing), including breakfast.
For something gorgeous, Georgian and rustic, Ennys (01736 740262/ ennys.co.uk
) is a great-value five-star guest house, with optional self catering, located east of Penzance in St Hilary.
Doubles from £85 per night (two sharing), including breakfast.Further information: 01872 322900/ visitcornwall.co.ukINFORMATION: Parkmore Holiday Cottages
Luxury 4 star self catering accommodation located in the heart of Speyside, Scotland. Save up to 50% by booking a holiday or short break nowwww.parkmorecottages.comShugon Stafford Cotton Drawstring Tote ...
£1. Classic cotton drawstring backpack. Cotton bag with cotton cord. Reinforced corners with gunmetal eyelets. 140gms 100% cotton. Dims ...Core Medical Ltd CoreIce Instant Ice ...
£1. Product Description Instant therapeutic ice pack, no refrigeration required. Ideal for when you're on the move, playing or ...Rms School Pack Scotland Large
£1. School pack includes; Tin pencil case Pen, pencil ruler and rubber