15 Best Beaches in the UK National Parks

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Is there any better way to spend a warm afternoon than at the beach? Keep in mind that a day at the beach isn't a privilege reserved solely for those living on the coast. There are beaches inland, too -- alongside rivers, streams and lakes. And perhaps it won't surprise you that the UK's national parks are home to some of the very best beaches - of all kinds.

We've put together a list of our favourite beaches across the 15 National Parks. Some look out over sea, some across a lake, and some are riverside, but all are lovely and serve as a reminder of just how incredible Britain's breathing spaces can be.

Brecon Beacons National Park

Llangorse Lake
Tucked into a corner between the Central Beacons and Black Mountains, Llangorse Lake is a destination that rewards visitors year-round. In the warmer months it is a haven for watersport: you can launch your own craft from the boat hire centre or the sailing club, or hire a dinghy, windsurfer, canoe, kayak, stand-up paddleboard, pedalo or rowing boat. The surrounding area is breathtaking, with many wildlife habitats to spy on.

Broads National Park

River Bure
The Broads bills itself as Britain's Magical Waterland, so you know it's home to some great spots. The upper River Bure is a particular favourite with wild swimmers thanks to its relatively tranquil flow. A number of local outfitters even offer wild swimming excursions, allowing you to swim downstream, languish on a beach enjoying a barbecue, then be transported back to your starting point.

Cairngorms National Park

Loch Morlich
Loch Morlich is a freshwater loch surrounded by sandy beaches and home to a water sports centre and yacht club. An ideal site for enjoying a wide range of activities, water sports and loch-side forest walks. The loch's sandy blue flag beaches provide spectacular views of the snow-clad peaks of the northern Cairngorms.

Dartmoor National Park

A place where the East and West Dart tributaries meet.  Paddle in the water, climb over the rocks and generally chill out next to a babbling river. The nearby restaurant of Badgers Holt makes a good place for a Devon Cream Tea!

Exmoor National Park

Combe Martin beach
Combe Martin is a classic linear settlement, reputedly having the country's longest village street. Characteristic 'sunken lanes' cut into the valley sides away from the street to the medieval strip fields and sites of former silver mines.

Lake District National Park

Pack up a picnic and put on your shorts and head to Ullswater. You can park at Glenridding Pier, find your perfect spot along the lake shore and enjoy stunning views of the lake and mountains. Simply watch the world go by or enjoy a paddle in the lake or take a trip on an Ullswater Steamer.

Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park

Loch Lomond
On a hot day there really is nowhere else in Scotland you'd rather be than on the shores of Loch Lomond. Easily accessible beaches, such as Luss, fill with revellers and the atmosphere is abuzz with fun and sun. Remember to be respectful of other visitors and properly dispose of your litter.

New Forest National Park

Lepe Country Park
Lepe affords superb views of the Solent and Isle of Wight and is rich in natural habitats. Each year over 600,000 people visit Lepe to enjoy one of Hampshire's most popular country parks.

Northumberland National Park

Linhope Spout
A spectacular 18-metre waterfall that tumbles into a pool that serves as a popular spot for wild swimming amongst the heartier of souls. Take a picnic to sit within sight and sound of the waterfall, then head out on a walk through the surrounding area.

North York Moors National Park

Robin Hood's Bay
The old fishing and smuggling village of Robin Hood’s Bay has a reputation far wider than its size suggests, and if you spend some time here you’ll soon see why. Stupendous views from the top of the village, atmospheric alleys down by the quayside, and a sweeping bay and soaring cliffs beyond – there’s a sense of history and grandeur that impresses every visitor. The beach is fantastic for rock-pooling, beach-combing, exploring and playing but don’t forget to check the tide times! Borrow a free Tracker Pack from the National Trust’s Old Coastguard Station – it’s full of  activities to enjoy, including a rock pool recce and fossil hunt.

Peak District National Park

Three Shires Head
Icy, copper-coloured streams converge to form a set of plunge pools that are popular with daring wild swimmers. Those who don't see numb fingers and toes as fun can enjoy the scenery.

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

Amroth is a half mile long, flat, sandy beach. There's a huge expanse of sand at low tide for all sorts of beach games. Rockpools can be found at the western end. A Blue Flag beach, it can be a great place for a summer swim, evening fishing and windsurfing.

Snowdonia National Park

Traeth Benar, Harlech
A popular beach that is accessible by boardwalk and offers nearby parking.with toilet facilities. Traeth Benar is considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the area and stands within the Morfa Dyffryn Site of Specific Scientific Interest.

South Downs National Park

River Cuck to Cuckmere Haven
Where the South Downs meet the English Channel the meanders of the River Cuck create a breathtaking landscape. Follow the river as it snakes down the valley to open out at the shingle beach and take in the glorious view of the towering chalk cliffs of Seven Sisters. Rich in historical tales of smuggling and warfare and with the wreck of sunken ship visible at low tide Cuckmere Haven is a compelling place to explore. Look out for herons, geese, little grebes and oystercatchers.

Yorkshire Dales National Park

Aysgarth Falls
Sit "on the beach" at Aysgarth Falls and watch the River Ure tumble past. The three stepped waterfalls at Aysgarth have been a tourist attraction for over 200 years. Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy visited while they waited for their coach horses to be changed and Turner sketched them on a tour of the north.

Even more ideas

All of the above are only a handful of the incredible spaces for you to explore in the UK's National Parks. For more ideas of what to do on (or in, or near) the water in the National Parks, visit our Boating page.