“From childhood holidays in Bispham (the select end of Blackpool, according to my mother) and Filey, to my favourite haunts of later years, the British coastline has become a place of annual pilgrimage for me, and not just in the hot summer months.
I have a bolt-hole on the Isle of Wight that I use in all weathers; and in winter, when the waves crash on the island’s southern shores, there is even more magic about the place.
Favourite mainland locations? There are so many. I can wax lyrical about the white sands of Morar on the west coast of Scotland and, on the opposite side of the country, the beaches at Seahouses and Beadnell in Northumberland.
My native Yorkshire boasts its own spectacles at Robin Hood’s Bay and at Whitby, where the atmospheric abbey ruins dominate the skyline with their overtones of Count Dracula. But they are not scary at all – just imposing in a haggard sort of way.
But if there is one area of British coastline that I return to more than any other it’s that of the West Country. When I set off from the Solent in my boat, I sail past the wonders of the Dorset coast – the secluded confines of Lulworth Cove, the arching rock of Durdle Door and the long pebble strand of Chesil Beach. Then I can put in at my favourite safe haven – Salcombe in Devon, where an anchorage in the estuary will give me more than enough to look at.
I enjoy walking the coastline, too, whether past the village of Hallsands in Devon that slipped into the sea around a hundred years ago, or the South West Coast Path from Sennen, near Land’s End, to Porthcurno and the open-air theatre at Minack.
As we are wont to say with regularity on a fine summer’s day: “When the sun shines, there’s nowhere to beat this country.” Just so.”