6 of the best coastal villages and small towns to visit in England

To help you make the most of the sun-soaked summer days, we've teamed up with our friends Salcombe Distilling Company to round up six of the best seaside locations to visit across England plus where to stay during your time there - from a peaceful wildlife-filled haven in West Sussex and a quaint hideaway along the North Norfolk Coast known for its fresh seafood to one of the prettiest villages in Northumberland.

 

1. Mousehole, Cornwall

On the majestic south coast of Cornwall, just down from the historic market town of Penzance, is the tiny fishing village of Mousehole. Find little lanes lined with artisan stores, galleries and eateries, such as the Rock Pool Cafe, and a charming harbour dotted with colourful fishing boats. Don't miss an amble along the South West Coast Path from Mousehole to Lamorna Beach - a secluded cove with turquoise blue waters.

Where to stay: The Old Coastguard, Mousehole, Cornwall

Shades of sea, sand and sky are the inspiration for the interiors at this handsome seaside inn in Mousehole. In the evening, make sure to visit the Crab Shack in the palm-tree-filled garden for a chilled pint of local Verdant Brew and a fresh seafood special overlooking the sea.⁣

 

2. Brancaster Staithe, Norfolk

The quaint fishing village of Brancaster Staithe, known for its big skies, fresh seafood and meditative marshland strolls, sits on the glorious North Norfolk Coast. Make a beeline for The Crab Hut beside the harbour for overstuffed crab, lobster and prawn baguettes before heading down to Brancaster Beach to sail, swim or paddle board. Ramblers should do the local National Trust wildlife walk, passing Barrow Common nature preserve and ​​Branodunum Roman Fort.

Where to stay: The White Horse, Brancaster Staithe, Norfolk

Just along from Brancaster Beach is The White Horse, a relaxed retreat with its own access to the coastal path. Catch the sunset from one of the garden room's private flower-filled terraces or down beside the marsh with a locally-caught lobster supper cooked over coals.

 

3. Salcombe, South Devon

Nestled in the mouth of the Kingsbridge Estuary, Salcombe is a breathtaking, coastal town. Populated with picture-perfect beaches, nautical shops and local cafes, Salcombe is a hidden haven in the South Hams. We recommend spending the evening sipping a 'Salcombe & Tonic' overlooking the water at Salcombe Distilling Co.'s Tasting Bar 'The Boathouse' on Island Street or treat yourself to make your very own bottle of gin at their award-winning Salcombe Gin School.

Where to stay: The Cary Arms, Babbacombe, South Devon

Perched atop the rocks by beautiful Babbacombe Bay is the Cary Arms: a soul-soothing hideaway with stunning sea views, a fully-equipped gym and spa, and a variety of Devon-caught seafood on the menu - the catch of the day comes from Brixham, just 12 miles south of the inn.

 

4. Low Newton-by-the-Sea, Northumberland

The twee coastal village of Low Newton-by-the-Sea is one of the prettiest places on the Northumberland coast. Find narrow cottage-lined lanes, a fine sandy beach and a pearl-white pub with its own on-site microbrewery, The Ship Inn - order Sandcastles at Dawn or Trade Wind, just two of 18 homemade brews to choose from. Head to nearby Embleton Bay and visit the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle, or hop on a boat to Holy Island, the home of intriguing Lindisfarne Castle.

Where to stay: The Joiners Arms, Newton-by-the-Sea, Northumberland

Surrounded by some of Northumberland's finest beaches, this quirky pub-with-rooms takes some beating as a base for exploring the county's dramatic coastline. Downstairs, find a bold, bohemian-style interior, whilst upstairs, freestanding copper tubs and delicately beautiful glass chandeliers create a calming milieu.

 

5. Walberswick, Suffolk

With a vast sandy beach, two destination-dining pubs and an impressive Grade I listed church, the sleepy village of Walberswick on the Suffolk Heritage Coast radiates low-key charm. Tuck into a traditional afternoon tea at The Tea Shed before trying your hand at crabbing by the harbour, or hop across the Blythe River to the unspoilt seaside town of Southwold - easily reached on foot using the Bailey Bridge or via a teeny row boat during the summer season.

Where to stay: The Anchor, Walberswick, Suffolk

A short stroll from Walberswick beach, the bright-blue-painted Anchor has been drawing in diners for over 18 years thanks to owners Mark and Sophie's passion for bold flavours. After an evening of fresh oysters and seafood linguine, retreat to a cosy eco-lodge in the flower-festooned garden or to one of the smart rooms upstairs.

 

6. Sidlesham, West Sussex

Home to pretty Pagham Harbour, a 1,500-acre nature reserve with over 200 species of birds, this quiet West Sussex village is the perfect place for those seeking a little seclusion. Stroll around the wildlife-filled marshes or pay a visit to Blessed, a small yoga studio hidden amongst the trees. A short drive away is West Wittering, a wide stretch of beach that's popular with windsurfers, plus the historic village of Itchenor where you can hop on a boat to Bosham Hoe for endless walks and cycling routes.

Where to stay: Crab & Lobster, Sidlesham, West Sussex

Only a cockle's throw from Pagham Harbour, there's plenty of the freshest seafood on the menu at the Crab & Lobster. For magnificent marsh views, book room four up in the eaves, or if you're seeking a little seclusion, dinky Crab Cottage is the perfect haven to relax and rejuvenate.

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Last updated: 02.08.22

Photo credit: Salcombe Distillery Company - Salcombe; Unsplash (Natalia Kochanska - Mousehole; Ben Wicks - Walberswick)