Top 5 beaches to visit in Scotland
Co-author of the new Wild Guide Scotland, Richard Gaston, shares his top 5 Scottish beaches.
Fancy staying local this summer? Want to go on holiday or day trip but leave the hassle and stress of driving at home? Then pack your bags, leave your car at home and make the most of what Britain has to offer.
Travelling around Britain without a car may seem like more hassle than it’s worth but with the right time and planning it can reap many benefits. Avoid all the hassle that driving brings - merely turn up to the train or coach station, hop on, and let them do all the hard work. By taking public transport instead of a car, you will be reducing your carbon footprint and helping the environment whilst also making use of the transport services that we are lucky enough to have in this country.
St Ives is no doubt a trek but the journey is definitely worth it! The best thing about St Ives is that there is plenty to keep you busy all week and all of it is within walking distance – no need for a car at all. There is a fantastic rail service from most major cities to St Erth station. From there, the St Ives Branch train takes you along the breath-taking coastline to the town itself in just under 15 minutes. Once you have settled in there is no need to leave town as there is a whole holiday's worth of things to do that and plenty to be explored. St Ives is full of little cafes, bars and restaurants just itching to be discovered and is renowned for being a food lovers paradise. If you enjoy the atmosphere of eating out then there a food fantasia with more than a weeks’ worth of food to be tried and tasted.
Lets talk beaches! Everyone loves a beach and St Ives really does have something to suit everyone. Whether you are looking to follow the crowds or find your own little secluded section of beach, the choice of 7 beaches, all within walking distance makes both of these options possible. There are endless walks around St Ives which wander along beaches, up cliff tops and around the surrounding countryside.
Home to 'JB adventures', this BSUPA approved school offers lessons and guided activities in paddle boarding, coasteering, quad biking and segway sessions. Additionally, if you are looking to learn how to surf you should check out St Ives surf school and water sports centre, offering experienced instructing to all ages and abilities on the beautiful Porthmeor Beach. The perfect location with inviting waters and pristine white beaches. All-in-all there is a fantastic range of water-sports and adventure activities to be had, all set witin beautiful location.
Cambridge is one of those places you can never get enough of. Being easily accessible from London on the train or the North (journey times from 46 mins), this city really is one of the best places to visit without a car. Cambridge is an all-rounder town, with something to excite every visitor. If you are a history enthusiast then the city is brimming with monuments, museums and heritage and the Universities provide interesting places to visit and are brimming with history. If you fancy a break from cultural heritage then the high street and independent shopping are fantastic. With a range of up-market shops as well as your usual high street stores, you'll find it hard to keep your money in your purse! If you love to hop on a bike, then Cambridge is the place for you as it is known as the cycle centre of England. There are simply bikes wherever you look. Take your own on the train or hire one when you arrive from City Cycle Hire or Rutland Cycling as an easy option to get around the city, or cycle through one of Cambridges' many beautiful parks.
A trip punting down the river is a 'must do' before you leave as it's the best was to gain access to spectacular views of the Universities beautiful buildings and architecture. However, be careful not to believe everything your punt guide tells you, they are famous for their wild, unruly stories!
There are 5 fantastic colour coded walks around the city, guided and written out by the Cambridge City Government and this provides a great way to see the sights of Cambridge whilst soaking up the fresh air and exercising at the same time. The blue, green, red, purple and yellow routes all vary in length and difficulty and some start right from the train station – just hop off the train and off you go! The purple route is entirely wheelchair friendly, meaning you can still access the sights of Cambridge without the worry of having to tackle stairs or awkward terrain. Beautiful walks around the city include visits to the Fitzwilliam museum (free entry), majestic views of the River Cam, a stop off at the Universitys' Botanic Garden and a wander through Jesus Green.
Cambridge really is an all round fantastic city with lots to please the eye. You will soon find yourself wandering around the city in a daze of awe.
It is common knowledge that driving through London is an absolute nightmare! So what better reason than to make London your destination of choice for a car free trip! The capital is the perfect place to take a day trip to if you don’t have/are not using a car due to the incredible infrastructure provided for pedestrians and cyclists. London may seem like the unlikeliest of places for the outdoor adventurer but it is in fact full of amazing walks and bike-rides which will easily tickle your fancy. Wherever you are in the country, getting to the capital is relatively easy with main lines running from most cities and towns in the UK.
Despite not being the first places which pop to mind, cities are sometimes the best places to walk due to their highly maintained footpaths and the hop-on-hop-off bus and train lines (the underground in London's case!) Plus, it gives you a change from the typical countryside endeavour. I bet you didn’t know that London has 8 royal parks, covering 5,000 acres of historic open parkland which is just waiting to be explored. That's right, there are magical green spaces right in the centre of the capital, in the last place you would expect to look.
So, if you are wanting to get the best of both worlds and combine some high street shopping with an adventurous walk, then London is your answer. A fantastic destination for your summer, car free adventure!
There are hundreds of walks which pass through parks such as Hyde Park, St James’ Park and Green Park which can also be used as bike routes if desired. Taking walks around London is the perfect way to get off the beaten track and experience parts of London that are away from the typical tourist destinations. Wherever you are in the country, getting to the capital on a main line is relatively easy and then the ease of the tube allows you to travel to and explore all corners pf London. There is a whole host of circular walks that start and end at London's tube stations, passing by places of interest and historic sites. Have a wander past two of London’s top universities, LSE and UCL or uncover some of London's best kept secrets with some unexpected beauties in it's royal parks. If you don't want to take your own bike on the train then hire one of the Santander, self-service bikes as a way of getting around the city.
Check out the Pathfinder, City Walks London Guide Book which has 15 fantastic walks around London.
If you want to head a little bit further afield and get that holiday feeling but don't have the finances to jet off anywhere spectacular abroad then Guernsey is the place for you! Getting to Guernsey couldn’t be easier. With flights from Southampton being as little as 45 mins long and starting from £39 one way, it really is as simple as that. If you don’t wish to fly then you can take the ferry from Poole or Portsmouth to Guernsey in just under three hours. Guernsey is a fantastic base for a whole host of walks and adventures to have on both on the mainland and surrounding channel islands. From Guernsey you can access the islands of Herm, Sark, Alderney and Lihou by boat or plane in under an hour.
At low tide, we recommend walking across to the island of Lihou on the exposed cobbled causeway to take a look at the spectacular array of birds which live on the island (there are over 150 species which call Lihou their home). You can make this into a day-trip by taking a picnic and being treated to a spectacular display as the birds fly over your head. Other activities include rock-pooling in the surrounding coves or swimming in the venus pool (not for the fainthearted) which is a natural rock pool deep enough to vertically jump into. Take note to not get caught out by the tide, as the venus pool is only exposed for two hours a day.
Guernsey is the perfect location for those who would rather spend time getting around via the sea rather than the road. You should kayak around Guernsey's coves with 'Outdoor Guernsey ltd', who are located on the North West side of the island, offering kayak hire for £30 for half day or £12 for an hour. Cobo and Petit Bot are their main working areas but they also delivery if they are pre-booked. Check out their coasteering experiences where you can sea traverse, rock scramble, jump and swim in the islands gullies and caves (2 hour routes are £37.50 per adult and £27.50 for under 15’s).
The breath-taking coasts are the main draw to the island with 27 coves to visit and explore, all with beautiful stretches of white clean sand. If you are a nature lover then you are in for a treat as you can take a look at Baliwick’s famous much loved puffins whilst you are out on your adventures.