How to survive a winter trip to the British seaside

British seaside

A trip to the beach? In January? You must be nuts.

This was the response from most people last week when I said I’d be escaping to the coast with my daughter for the day. For nine months of the year, the British seaside is a windswept, grizzly place. And for the remaining time – the ‘summer’, as we optimistically like to call it – you’re just as likely to spend the day sheltering from torrential downpours as you are soaking up rays in your bikini.

But the British coast can be beautiful whatever the weather. And the sea air is all the more invigorating when you’ve spent weeks bundled up inside, with the central heating on full blast.

British seaside

If you’re planning a day out to the coast, it’s good to be prepared. A trip to the British seaside isn’t something to be undertaken lightly. You need kit – and the right attitude. So how, exactly, can you make sure your day at the beach isn’t going to be a wash-out? I’ve asked five top UK family travel bloggers for their tips on how to survive a trip to the British seaside. Here’s what they recommend.

Embrace the season

Sarah from Family Travel Times says:

If you’re going to the beach at winter, you’re in for a treat. Hardly anything beats a walk along the sand at this time of year. You can marvel at the waves, have the beach almost to yourself, search for the most beautiful shells (we found some fabulous ones in Broadstairs in Kent recently) and even take a dip into the freezing water.

Our tips would be – do take a towel and spare socks (children will still want to paddle, even if it’s very cold!). Bring bags for all the shells you and your children will collect. And have fun. Revel in the freshness of it all. We love it!

Sarah’s recent visits to the seaside include Margate and Broadstairs.


“Bring bags for all the shells you will collect.”

Don’t care what the weatherman says

Charly from PODcast says:

Best tip would be to never let the weather thwart your plans! We drove to the Sussex coast in torrential rain recently, just on the off chance it might stop. We were lucky it did. Five year old POD shouted “woo hoo” from the top of sandbanks when we arrived. She had the best time and although it was freezing, we almost had the beach to ourselves and it was utterly stunning.

Stay warm

Gretta from Mums do Travel says:

If you’re going to a UK beach in the winter, dress up warm and take waterproof boots and coats, as well as changes of clothes in case anyone gets wet. Take along your buckets and spades and a ball to play with as well. Plan your trip around a beach cafe so that you can go and have a hot drink and warm up when you need to. My favourite UK beach is Birling Gap in Sussex, which is owned by the National Trust and is marvellous at any time of year.

Gretta writes about Birling Gap here.

British seaside

brrr! It’s chilly out there….

Seek out hidden treasure

Penny from A Residence says:

One of my favourite things to do is beachcomb. In fact for me it rates higher than paddling or making sandcastles, and you can do it whatever the weather. My two can always be persuaded to help find treasures, and when the weather is a bit wild, it is a great distraction from the disappointment of not being able to sit still for long. I found my first sea glass at Whitby and will never forget that day’s haul! It was a huge deal when my daughter found her first fossil, on a beach at Hornsea; the East Riding coast line is a good place to find them we discovered. When I am not beach combing, I also love looking at the #seaglass hashtag on Instagram!

 Take the right food

Nichola from Globalmouse Travels says:

Don’t take snacks which can attract sand! Bananas, cucumber…anything that can get grains of sand stuck to it will! Go for rice cakes, biscuits and raisins instead!
British seaside

Mummy! You brought the wrong food!

As for me, I second that last point. My trip to the seaside with my daughter was a roaring success, not least due to two huge chocolate muffins, which we ate down at the seafront. I’d say some good old-fashioned fish and chips would have gone down nicely, too.
Would you brave a winter trip to the British seaside? Any tips?
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  1. January 29, 2016 / 7:53 am

    Thank you for including my tips – and I love the photo of your daughter at the beach!

    • January 31, 2016 / 5:13 pm

      Thanks. She looks as though she’d howling but she’s actually copying Mummy and trying to get some vitamin D! Many thanks for your contribution.

  2. January 29, 2016 / 9:24 am

    Thanks so much for including us – great tips here. Wish I was by the sea right now….

    • January 31, 2016 / 5:13 pm

      Me too! Many thanks for your input.

  3. January 29, 2016 / 11:11 am

    I absolutely adore visiting the beach in winter. We’re off to Wales soon and it’s my favourite thing to do. After big storms you’re more likely to find ‘treasure’ watched up – driftwood, shells and other interesting things.

    I love having the beach to myself too.

    • January 31, 2016 / 5:15 pm

      Yes, there’s a very different feel in the wintertime. Have a great time in Wales – looking forward to hearing about it.

  4. January 29, 2016 / 11:28 am

    I haven’t been to the beach in years, however I do remember going in the winter months as a child. Such lovely memories, building sandcastles. Lovely post and some great tips. Thank you x

    • January 31, 2016 / 5:15 pm

      It’s a pleasure 🙂

  5. January 29, 2016 / 1:13 pm

    I am odd; I like going to the beach in the winter and am not a fan of it in the summer. I guess with growing up in Bournemouth it was always packed during summer and I am not great at lying down doing nothing. It’s so peaceful and serene during bright winter days and looking out to sea makes me remember just how small we really are.

    • January 31, 2016 / 5:15 pm

      Yes, it’s very humbling really, isn’t it.

  6. January 29, 2016 / 2:30 pm

    I LOVE the British seaside in winter. You’re so right – our summers are often so cold and wet, you may as well enjoy it when you can. There’s nothing better than huddling up on the pebbles and warming up with some fish and chips. And yes, my kids will go on no matter what the weather’s like!

    • January 31, 2016 / 5:16 pm

      Sounds like they’re real troopers! Mine are game too, especially when there’s fish & chips on offer.

  7. January 29, 2016 / 3:09 pm

    Thanks for including this, I really love this post. Just had lunch with my Dad who spent the week getting blown away in North Norfolk by the sea. Reading this I am really hankering for some sea this half term – land locked Nottingham is at least equidistant to many coasts.

    • January 31, 2016 / 5:18 pm

      It’s a pleasure, and many thanks for your contribution. I’ve been poring over the #seaglass hashtag since you told me about it!

  8. January 29, 2016 / 7:00 pm

    I like British beaches at any time of year. I would definitely bring gloves and hats as it can be colder than you think on the seafront. Also definitely finish at a cafe!

    • January 31, 2016 / 5:18 pm

      Yes, we did that when I took my daughter! Brr!

  9. January 30, 2016 / 12:02 am

    Such a wonderful post, thank you for including us. We took such a huge risk driving an hour to our nearest beach but it was so worth it – for POD’s happy face and the dramatic skies. There’s something to be said for hearing the sound of the waves and yes, the right food is very important!

    • January 31, 2016 / 5:22 pm

      You really lucked out on your trip! I think the seaside is great for kids any time of the year. Many thanks for contributing.

  10. January 30, 2016 / 7:02 am

    We love going to the seaside – any time of the year! Great post x

    • January 31, 2016 / 5:22 pm

      Thank you 🙂

  11. January 30, 2016 / 7:35 am

    I much prefer visiting the beach in winter as it is much quieter, especially where we live

    • January 31, 2016 / 5:22 pm

      Ah yes, you’re lucky to be so close!

  12. January 30, 2016 / 7:38 am

    I love visiting the seaside in the Winter when I get chance. It alters the feel of the beach and you get to see things you may miss in the Summer.

    • January 31, 2016 / 5:23 pm

      Absolutely. A winter beach is a world away from summertime sands.

  13. January 30, 2016 / 8:24 am

    I’m a lover of warm weather (no idea why I live in the UK) and there’s nothing better thE summer trip to the seaside. Having said that we’ve had some wonderful winter walks along the beach too and you always come back home feeling so alive. Just remember to wrap up well would be my top tip!

    • January 31, 2016 / 5:24 pm

      Yes indeed! I hate the cold, but while we’re stuck here and the temperature’s down, might as well go somewhere beautiful….

  14. January 30, 2016 / 9:22 am

    Some really great tips, especially on snacks!
    Oh i remember when i found my first piece of sea glass. Being a small country girl i honestly thought i had found treasure!!
    Off to search for the hashtag now. Great post! Wish i was nearer to the sea. We have a new dog so going to plan our first trip now!

    • January 31, 2016 / 5:26 pm

      Ah, a dog would have been the icing on the cake when we visited the beach. Have a great time!

  15. January 30, 2016 / 9:24 am

    Ooh the bracing British seaside in winter! We’ve done it many times! Great post.

    • January 31, 2016 / 5:26 pm

      You brave woman, you!

  16. January 30, 2016 / 10:52 am

    I grew up living by the seaside and the windy winter days when it was deserted were probably the best to be there. The sea is so calming even when it’s rough! I miss it!

    • January 31, 2016 / 5:27 pm

      Yes, there’s something about the sound that really lulls the mind, isn’t there.

  17. January 30, 2016 / 11:05 pm

    I actually prefer the seaside in winter. There are no crowds, no pressure to undress and more chances to explore.

    • January 31, 2016 / 5:27 pm

      Ha ha you certainly wouldn’t have caught ME undressing on our recent trip! Brr….

  18. January 31, 2016 / 7:00 pm

    We used seashells for our snowman’s buttons this week #winterattheseaside #sundaystars

    • January 31, 2016 / 8:22 pm

      That’s such a lovely idea!

  19. January 31, 2016 / 8:21 pm

    I love the seaside in winter, it’s a totally different experience, but just as enjoyable!

  20. February 1, 2016 / 11:51 am

    We love going to the beach regardless of the weather (as long as you go prepared and wear the right clothes). We are lucky to live very close to the sea but we don’t go there nearly as often as I’d like too. #MondayEscapes

    • February 3, 2016 / 10:38 am

      That’s always the way, though, isn’t it? We live in London but never do anywhere near as much stuff as we could here!

  21. February 1, 2016 / 12:26 pm

    We went yesterday, didn’t stay long as it was raining but we did enjoy the fresh air and the sense of freedom a long, deserted beach offers! We definitely recommend warming up with a huge hot chocolate in a beach cafe once the walk is over!xx

    • February 3, 2016 / 10:54 am

      I think even a quick trip to the coast can be good.

  22. February 1, 2016 / 4:16 pm

    The first photo of your daughter is priceless. At least you know you are building her to have a thick skin! Beach time this time of year can be hard, but there’s something so refreshing about it, and you feel like you’ve truly “gotten away”. At least I do ;).

    • February 3, 2016 / 10:55 am

      Yes, those gusts of wind do really sweep the cobwebs away!

  23. February 1, 2016 / 6:19 pm

    I definitely agree with the idea of basing your visit around a beach cafe. In fact most of my trips, regardless of whether they’re beach based or not, seem to revolve around cafés! I do enjoy a walk along the beach in wild weather even if I don’t get to visit too often.

    • February 3, 2016 / 11:00 am

      Yes – cafes are the best way to punctuate a day, aren’t they? 🙂

  24. February 1, 2016 / 7:34 pm

    I’m a relatively new convert to the British seaside in winter (have only been doing it for 13 years now…). My tips:
    –> Take a couple of plastic bags to hold wet clothes and sandy treasures
    –> Probably the most important piece of clothing is a warm hat. Especially good if it drizzles!
    –> Scope out a nearby pub. There’s nothing better than coming in from the chill to a drink and even some hot soup by a fire

    Great piece!

    • February 3, 2016 / 11:02 am

      Ha ha – the British coast takes a bit of getting used to! A beachside pub-stop is a great tip. The winter chill’s always a lot easier to bear if you know you’ll end up in front of a cosy fire!

  25. February 2, 2016 / 12:01 am

    My 4 year old brings home so many shells each time we go to the beach! I am finding them all over the house!

    • February 3, 2016 / 11:13 am

      Cute! You should keep them for posterity…

  26. Nicole
    February 2, 2016 / 9:06 am

    Winter is the best time to visit UK beaches! I love Broadstairs, great choice Nx

  27. February 2, 2016 / 12:05 pm

    I completely agree – as long as it’s not pouring with rain, I love the seaside outside of summer. You almost always get it to yourself, and there’s something about a bracing walk along a deserted beach with the waves crashing which I love. Hot chocolate and fish & chips are definitely the best way to warm up, although my daughter insists that seaside = ice cream, regardless of how cold it is! #mondayescapes

    • February 3, 2016 / 11:22 am

      Yes rain rather dampens a day out, doesn’t it? It always makes me think of that old coffee ad (at least, I thoink it was coffee), where the family stay in the car and watch the waves with a mug of hot drink…

  28. February 2, 2016 / 12:13 pm

    I was wondering, whether we should plan a trip to the seaside in Wales in time soon, but this post gave me hope that we don’t really have to wait till summer 🙂 #MondayEscapes

    • February 3, 2016 / 11:23 am

      Go for it!The good thing about Wales is that it rains so much there, that there’s quite a lot of indoor stuff to do too.

  29. February 2, 2016 / 12:16 pm

    I agree that a trip to the beach is brilliant at all times of the year – especially a brisk, sunny day in winter when it’s quiet. Pity I don’t live closer to one!
    Thanks for linking up to #SundayStars

    • February 3, 2016 / 11:24 am

      Yes, it’s not that easy when you’re land-locked!

  30. February 2, 2016 / 2:34 pm

    We live by the sea and I love it most of the time. Although I am not a fan when it rains. A flask of hot chocolate is a must for me

    • February 3, 2016 / 11:26 am

      Yes, hot choc’s a great seaside companion.

  31. February 4, 2016 / 7:03 am

    I LOVE the beach in winter as I am a failed sunbather and can’t be doing with all that heat! Give me a bracing winter walk followed by rather too many biscuits and lots of hot chocolate and I’m a happy beach-goer! My daft boys also love a winter walk and have been known to go in for a swim even on Boxing Day!! #MondayEscapes

    • February 4, 2016 / 7:49 pm

      Wow, your boys certainly are tough cookies! I love the idea of a winter swim, but I’d never be brave enough to try. I do love the sunshine and heat myself, but there’s something amazing about a winter beach too.

  32. February 5, 2016 / 9:29 am

    haha nice post and great tips from everyone! I never thought about the food part, it makes total sense! I’m a sea and beach lover, even if it’s cold, so no bad weather would put me down 😀

    Thank you for linking up with #MondayEscapes!

  33. February 5, 2016 / 9:53 am

    Love it , I haven’t been to the beach in aces I miss idxx

  34. January 23, 2019 / 9:06 pm

    Such a fun post! We love the seaside in winter: we’re returning to the Sussex coast for Feb half term as we enjoyed it so much last year.

    • Nell
      January 24, 2019 / 11:37 am

      That sounds like a great plan 🙂

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