Get yourself a dose of Vitamin Sea this summer – Britain’s glorious beaches, secret swimming coves and miles and miles of wild coast path all make for the perfect seaside staycation. Joules ambassador, Sian Lewis, also known as The Girl Outdoors, rounds up six achievable coastal adventures for ocean lovers that will make you feel like you’ve really escaped to the wild.
There’s nothing better for feeling close to nature than a sea swim: immersing yourself in the rolling ocean frees your mind and washes away the stresses of the outside world. Once you start seeking out Britain’s best swimming beaches, coves and tidal pools you’ll be amazed at the beautiful wild spaces you’ll find along the coast. Safety first, though – check your swim spot carefully for any hidden rocks and avoid areas with fast-flowing currents. Search out an easy exit point before entering the water and avoid swimming alone. Wear aquatic sandals with a good grip when you’re swimming off rocks, and pop on a wetsuit in colder weather.
Food always tastes better when it’s cooked outdoors, and especially with a view of the ocean as your backdrop. Open fires are not usually legal on British beaches, so if you want to cook up a beach barbeque, your best bet is to bring a small portable barbeque or a fire pit along with you. Make sure you’ve got a supply of wood and kindling with you if you’re cooking on a fire pit. Grilled fish takes especially good by the sea, and you can forage for seaweed for a salad or even for mussels picked from the rocks and add a bit of salt water to season your beach feast. If you do have permission for an open fire, make sure to light it between the low and high tide line. Dig a shallow pit in the sand to light it in and when you leave, douse the ashes with seawater and take any large bits of debris with you.
Fancy blowing the cobwebs away with an oceanside hike? Britain is ringed with an astonishing 11,000 miles of wild coastline, and many of its rocky cliffs, sandy beaches and secret coves can be explored with a walk on established trails. The all-England Coastal Path is still a work in progress but there are huge sections that you can now walk uninterrupted, car-free and following the curves of the sea. Dip into the South West Coast Path, which stretches for 630 miles from Dorset to Somerset, sample some of the 186 miles of the breathtakingly wild Pembrokeshire Coast Path or if you really want a far-flung adventure, take on the short but remote and rugged Cape Wrath Lighthouse to Kearvaig Bay four mile hike in the Scottish Highlands.
Many coastal corners of Britain have crystal-clear water, perfect for experimenting with underwater photography. Buy a disposable waterproof camera or charge up an action camera and dive beneath the surface to see what you can shoot. Try creating optical illusions of people walking on water by shooting a swimmer mid-dive or capture landscape-style shots of an underwater seabed. If you’re out wild swimming, you can experiment with holding your camera half in, half out of the water for surreal shots of the worlds above and below the surface. Or wrap your camera in a waterproof camera case such as an Aquapac and stand in the shallows to photograph surfers or to nab abstract images of breaking waves.
Campervans are a wonderful way to explore the coast, roaming wherever your mood takes you with your bed ready come evening. A campervan lets you combine all the best bits of glamping (duvets, fairy lights, kitchen sink, wine) with the ability to move your new home around, beach-hopping, staying in coastal campsites and parking up overlooking a beautiful new sea view every day. Plenty of companies around the UK offer campervan rental for the week or the weekend.
SUP-ing (or stand-up paddle boarding) might seem like one of the newest active sports on the block but it’s actually been around since it first originated in Hawaii in the early 1900s. Paddle boarding involves standing up on a large board and using a paddle to propel yourself forwards, and it’s a wonderful way to explore hidden corners of the coast. You can SUP on calm waters on an estuary or a tidal pool, or if you’re feeling confident, try riding waves on the sea. It’s worth booking a lesson to get the knack of SUP-ing and to brush up on skills and safety – then you can paddle off into the sunset and go exploring otherwise-inaccessible coves and caves.