Inspire Me

Historic Beach Escapes

Leave your footprints in the sands of time this summer. Many of our historic places are located near beaches and beautiful coastlines, the perfect settings for when the sun is shining. Take a dip in royal waters at Osborne, feel the sand beneath your feet at medieval Tintagel, and sunbathe beside a Tudor fort on the beautiful Kent coast.

Here's a selection of our favourite seaside places to visit.

Osborne, Isle of Wight

"It is impossible to imagine a prettier spot" wrote Queen Victoria in her diary, describing her beloved coastal retreat of Osborne on the Isle of Wight. "We have quite a charming beach to ourselves."

Today you can share her enjoyment of Victoria and Albert's private beach where they spent many summers with their family. Take a dip where the royal children learned to swim, enjoy panoramic views of the Solent and taste delicious local ice-cream from the parlour. You can even step inside Queen Victoria's bathing machine, and sit in the queen's alcove to admire the view that she liked to sketch.

Visit Osborne

Tintagel Castle, Cornwall

The dramatic ruins of Tintagel Castle stand on a steep headland jutting out from the Cornish coast, and have long associations with Arthurian legend. But below the cliffs is Tintagel's best-kept secret, a peaceful beach where Atlantic waves roll across the sand. In the summer months it's a haven for families, where the kids will love building sandcastles, splashing in the waterfall from the stream above and exploring Merlin's Cave when the tide is out. See the beach and cave in our YouTube video, and don't miss the popular Beach Café which offers the best of fresh Cornish food and drink, from locally-caught fish and chips to traditional Cornish pasties.

Visit Tintagel Castle

Tynemouth Priory and Castle, Tyne and Wear

Tynemouth Priory is a perfect seaside day out. Explore 2000 years of history and make the most of the priory's spectacular position on a prominent headland overlooking the North Sea and the River Tyne. Discover the restored gun battery, built underground into the cliffs to defend the Tyne during both world wars. Take some time out in the tranquil 13th century chapel, and head down to the adjoining Short Sands beach (not managed by English Heritage) for dramatic views of the priory and castle from below.

Visit Tynemouth Priory

Walmer Castle and Gardens, Kent

Walmer Castle on Kent's white cliffs coast was originally built as one of a chain of coastal fortresses by Henry VIII. Lord Wardens of the Cinque Ports have spent time here, including the Duke of Wellington, William Pitt the Younger, Winston Churchill and the Queen Mother. The beautiful gardens are a popular attraction, flourishing in the salt air blowing in from the Channel. From the re-presented rooms of the Duke's home, head out onto the terrace to enjoy views of the pebble beach opposite. You can walk along the beach a short distance to Walmer's smaller sister, Deal Castle, or for a longer hike try our step-by-step walking guide from Dover to Deal, taking in all three forts.

Visit Walmer Castle

Scarborough Castle, North Yorkshire

Set high on a commanding headland between sweeping bays, Scarborough Castle is flanked by two long stretches of sand, making it the perfect place to combine a day at the beach with a historical site visit. Visit the castle to enjoy spectacular views of the North and South Bays (not managed by English Heritage) and beyond. Learn more with objects from the castle's 3000-year history, and enjoy refreshments in the Master Gunner's House. Then make your way to the beach to see the castle from a new perspective, high on the towering cliffs.

Visit Scarborough Castle

Pendennis and St Mawes Castle, Cornwall

Built close to Falmouth by Henry VIII, Pendennis and St Mawes sit on opposite defending sides of the Carrick Roads, the estuary at the mouth of the River Fal. Among the best-preserved Tudor artillery fortresses in England, they are a great opportunity to learn more about Tudor warfare in a beautiful seaside setting. A ferry service connects the two sides of the estuary, allowing both castles to be experienced on the same day. Falmouth itself is a picturesque harbour town boasting four beaches and rich maritime heritage, making Pendennis and St Mawes a day out packed with history.

Visit Pendennis Castle

Portland Castle, South Dorset

Another of Henry VIII's large portfolio of coastal artillery forts, Portland Castle stands on the island of Portland near Weymouth. The included audio tour tells the story of the castle's 450-year history, and you can enjoy spectacular views from the gun room and upper gun platform. Though described as an island, Portland is tied to the mainland by a narrow 'tombolo', an unusual landform caused by longshore drift. On this strip of land is Chesil Beach, a broad shingle beach around ten minutes walk from the castle. The beach's raised position allows views in all directions across Portland and the coast.

Visit Portland Castle

Whitby Abbey, North Yorkshire

Perched high on a cliff over the Esk Estuary, the haunting ruins of Whitby Abbey are said to have been inspiration for Bram Stoker's gothic tale of 'Dracula'. The Abbey's grounds offer wide views over the beautiful coastal town of Whitby, and the towering gable wall in silhouette against the bright summer sky is a spectacular sight. From the Abbey, 199 steps take you down past the Church of Saint Mary to the seafront where narrow cobbled streets open onto a small beach of golden sand. Cross the estuary and you'll find Whitby Beach, a longer stretch of sand and dramatic cliffs. Look behind you for clear views back across to the Abbey on the opposite headland.

Visit Whitby Abbey

Lindisfarne Priory, Northumberland

Built nearly 1400 years ago, Lindisfarne Priory's unique setting on Holy Island just off the wild Northumberland coast makes it a fascinating day out. Walk in the footsteps of the monks who established the priory here, enjoy beautiful views out to sea, and explore the story of this sacred place and the Lindisfarne Gospels with which it is associated. After visiting the priory, follow the path down to the coast and spend some time on the rough shingle beach. Here, a cross monument stands on the smaller St Cuthbert's Island some distance from the shore, and behind it stretches the National Nature Reserve bay. The island is only accessible via a tidal causeway, so check the tide times and plan your day out at Lindisfarne Priory in advance.

Visit Lindisfarne Priory
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