10 of the best beach and coast activities around the UK – The Guardian

Rock climbing, Dorset

The Jurassic Coast looks thrillingly different when viewed from a rock face on the Isle of Portland. Connected to the mainland via Chesil Beach, this limestone peninsula is laced with climbing routes, from beginner-friendly to challenging. The old railway cuttings on the east coast feature climbs for all levels, while Blacknor cliff on the west has easier routes for those new to the activity. Participants learn key skills, including how to belay safely, from Rob Kennard, who has decades of teaching experience and good knowledge of the local geology. Half-day taster session from 22pp (for a group of seven or eight; 27pp for four; 75 for one), portland-climbing.co.uk

Wild-food chef Chris Bax and plant expert Rose Bax uncover the edible treasures of Robin Hoods Bay on the fringes of the North York Moors. At low tide, the couple take visitors out to explore rock pools and discover varieties of sea vegetables and shellfish then teach them how to prepare these goodies before everyone sits down to an alfresco lunch made using local and foraged ingredients: expect dulse seaweed quiche, hogweed salad and sea buckthorn cheesecake. The calories can be walked off with a stroll around the bays leafy pathways, where there are more edible plants. Maximum 14 people, lunch provided, 10am-4pm, 95pp, tastethewild.co.uk

A coasteering adventure near the Giants Causeway sees visitors leap, scramble and swim along this stunning coast. Wearing helmets, wetsuits and buoyancy aids, participants explore the limestone caves, basalt columns and turquoise water. Glimpse castles at the edge of cliffs (Dunluce, Dunseverick, Kenbane are all in the area) and face their fears with a cliff jump (optional). As well as testing your limits, it offers a close-up look at this geologically diverse coastline. Three hours, equipment provided, 40pp, causewaycoasteering.com

On Scotlands west coast, Oban is home to superb diving opportunities, thanks to the nearby Gulf Stream and unpolluted waters of the Firth of Lorne. There are options to suit all levels, from scenic dives around shallow wrecks, to drift-dives with tidal flows and deep drop offs. An experienced Padi instructor guides beginners in the shallow waters of Gallanach Bay. Under the water, walls are covered in anemones and conger eels dart past. Otters and seals can also be seen. Try-a-dive, two hours, 89pp, puffin.org.uk

Consistent, intermediate-friendly waves break along the wide, sandy beach at Polzeath while beginners can practise getting to their feet on their board in the white water. The best way to learn quickly is in a small group. George Stoy specialises in private coaching and his school has been designated a centre of excellence by Surfing England. As well as adults, children as young as four can take lessons. Two-hour lesson for one person from 100, georgessurfschool.com

A kayak is one of the best ways to explore south Devons remote coves and caves, spotting seals along the way. Setting off from the harbour at Dartmouth, paddlers glide past the castles that guard the estuary entrance and past cliffs and into the open sea. From here theres a choice: north towards Brixham or south towards Torcross, either way stopping to explore caverns, fish for mackerel, and swim. Half-day guided trips 49 adults, 35 children, seakayakdevon.co.uk

Just off the coast of Selsey, eight miles south of Chichester, lie two designated marine conservation zones with an abundance of sea life. A new marine life walk, led by an SSI marine ecology instructor, gives an insight into what lies beneath the surface. The 90-minute stroll around Selsey Bill, the lifeboat station and east and west beaches, includes wading in the shallows and learning where to discover the marine life on our shores. 5.30pm-7pm, next available dates 19 and 21 August, 15pp (book in advance as numbers are limited), mulberrydivers.co.uk

The wide, sandy bays of Gorleston-on-Sea are great for exploring at a leisurely pace on a paddleboard. Visitors can rent a board and set off on their own, or book a lesson to learn the paddling techniques. The school also runs Ripperz Club, a sea-education club for children every Saturday during the summer. This hour covers sea safety and safe swimming, and gives children the chance to try activities, such as paddleboarding, bodyboarding and surfing. Half-day paddleboard hire 25, full day 35. Two-hour lessons 25pp. Ripperz Club Saturdays 9am-10am or 10am-11am, 5 a child, boardinskool.com

The fascinating history of these chalk cliffs can be traced on a guided coastal walk from Cuckmere Haven to Eastbourne, an area once popular with smugglers. The walk crosses the undulating Seven Sisters, with a guide telling stories that date back to the Domesday Book. The route takes in Birling Gap with its coastguard cottages, and the lighthouses of Belle Tout and Beachy Head. Walkers can see how the diverse natural habitat changes from forest to seashore. The walk includes a locally sourced picnic with wine tasting, taken overlooking the Sussex coast and South Downs national park. Eight miles, starting at 10am, 75pp including food and wine, patadventures.com

On a guided fishing trip in north Pembrokeshire, Padrig Rees takes visitors out to catch their own mackerel supper. Focusing on the Ramsey Sound and Whitesands Bay area, its ideal for angling novices and with a focus on sustainability fish are only caught if they are in season and an appropriate size. Theres a lesson on how to prepare the fish for cooking, too. More experienced anglers can join a three-hour deep-sea fishing trip to the outlying Bishops and Clerks islands, with the chance of catching pollock. Mackerel fishing 1 hours, 20pp, maximum 12 people. Deep-sea fishing, three hours, 30pp, maximum 10, fishing-pembrokeshire.co.uk

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10 of the best beach and coast activities around the UK - The Guardian

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