A day out to the beach? In January? You must be joking.
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.
If you’re planning a seaside day out, 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 winter day out to the coast. Here’s what they recommend.
Kids at the beach: 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!
Don’t care what the weatherman says
Charly from PODcast says:
My 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.
What to take to the beach. It’s essential to 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.
What to do at the beach? Seek out hidden treasure!
Penny Alexander 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!
Essential things for the beach: 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!
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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Read about our weekend at the British seaside in this feature about Seashell Cottage in Deal, Kent.
We went to Bournemouth at Christmas, and that was wonderful. You can read about things to do in Bournemouth at Christmas here.