Top rated seaside escapes for this summer

With summer approaching, those looking for an escape to the seaside may well be looking for ideas beyond those most well-known and heavily travelled. A recent survey by Which? rated the best seaside destinations for a holiday this year, with plenty of inspiration to choose from and Bamburgh in Northumberland topping the lot for the third year running.

The small Northumberland village, known for its beautiful sandy shoreline and imposing castle ruins, was rated highest amongst more than 3,000 surveyed for its beach, drink, accommodation, scenery and value. Dartmouth in Devon came second, while Portstewart in County Derry, Northern Ireland was third.

Wales’ highest ranked seaside destination was the impressive Portmeirion west of Snowdonia, while St Andrews in Fife was the most approved of Scottish seaside town.

Rory Boland, editor of magazine Which? Travel, said: ‘Few countries can be home to such a diversity of brilliant seaside breaks. Whether you want world-class beaches and utter wilderness, or the bright lights and bucket and spade atmosphere of a resort, the UK has a seaside break made for you. What our survey shows is that it’s rarely the most famous destinations that visitors enjoy most.’

He added, ‘Try somewhere new this year and our survey shows you should find fewer crowds and better value.’

Sea Air is Good for Health – The Proof

A recent study has explored the links between the seaside, health and happiness. Researchers concluded that being by the sea can boost well being – highlighting some truth in the lyrics of the famous song “Oh we do like to be beside the seaside”.

In the 2 year study by the British Psychological Society, 2750 people were asked about their experiences of different environments including the seaside, the countryside and urban parks. Researchers noted that people found seaside environments to be the most pleasurable. Participants told researchers that being by the seaside made them feel ‘relaxed’, ‘refreshed’ and ‘invigorated’.

Recently, much has been said about the impact of happiness, relaxation and stress-avoidance on health. It is thought that the positive effects on wellbeing caused by going on regular seaside holidays can boost the immune system, prevent disease and possibly even help us to live longer.

The study doesn’t pinpoint exactly why being by the seaside makes us happier than any other place, but the researchers are now looking into possible explanations. It could be that we have an innate pleasure response to the sound of the sea or the way that light shines on water. Alternatively, the seaside may encourage us to recall happy memories from childhood holidays.

Some holidays are more relaxing than others and avoiding stress on holiday is bound to have positive effects on health. Many people travelling within Britain opt for coach holidays so they can avoid the pressure of driving long distances and the stress of finding a parking space in an unfamiliar town. Travelling by coach also allows people to interact more with others during the journey, which can be very pleasurable for some.

There are many ways that we can improve our general health wellbeing. And now it appears that we have an excuse to add a seaside holiday on to our diet and fitness plan!

Heading to the beach?

The Environment Agency is encouraging beach-goers to check the water quality of their favourite swimming spots before taking the plunge as the school summer holidays start.

There is now more information than ever before to help the public decide where, and when, to swim.

The Environment Agency has published detailed profiles on the cleanliness of some 500 bathing water sites across England and Wales.

Detailed information about each beach can be seen online and include maps, photos and links to the latest water quality results. These profiles were created to help the public make more informed choices about the best locations to visit and enjoy.

* Bathing water profiles

Record number of beaches meet highest standards

Last year, a record number of beaches and inland bathing waters in England and Wales reached the highest European standards in water quality. Over eight in ten beaches met the EU “guideline” standard across England and Wales – compared to just three in ten in 1990.

However, there is more work to do to drive further improvements in water quality. The Environment Agency is working hard with others to identify and tackle sources of pollution at all bathing sites.

Christine Tuckett, Environment Agency Head of Bathing Water, said:

“These profiles provide the most comprehensive information yet on the cleanliness of bathing waters, helping the public to make more informed choices about the best locations to bathe.

“A record number of beaches reached the highest European standards last year but we are not complacent. The Environment Agency is working hard to tackle all sources of pollution, alongside beach users, local authorities, farmers and water companies.”

In addition to the extensive information available in the profiles, the Environment Agency is supporting water companies, local authorities and Surfers Against Sewage in trialling a “real-time” warning service to alert when Combined Sewer Overflows discharge at certain locations.

Andy Cummins, Campaigns Director for Surfers Against Sewage, commented:

“The bathing water profiles are a significant step forward in the provision of public information about important coastal environments. Beach lovers, including many SAS members, can learn about the environmental impacts on their coast.

“The launch of SAS’s Sewage Alert Service finally makes available to the public the real time facts about sewage pollution at over 50 well used beaches nationwide. Providing this vital information will help all beach goers both avoid the potential health risks of sewage contaminated waters and reassure them of water quality.”