Kiss goodbye to white bits this summer with our pick of the best nudist beaches in England, where you can relax and feel comfortable in your own skin. Note: this is England so a good windbreaker and strong constitution are a necessity!
Holkham Beach, Norfolk
In the east of England is the well-known official nudist beach of Holkham. Forming part of the Holkham Estate and privately owned by the Coke family, the nudist section of the beach is clearly marked and lies to the west of the bay. Surrounding the beach are pine forests, sand dunes and a nature reserve. There are no on-site facilities (toilets are 20 minutes away in the car park) and the North Sea wind can be chilly! The beach is also featured in the ‘Shakespeare in Love’ movie where Gwyneth Paltrow walks across the sands in the credits and it also features in a Coldplay music video. Holkham is 36 miles from the county capital city, Norwich, which is a UNESCO City of Literature.
Update July 2013: Holkham Beach has been closed to naturists following “unsavoury acts” taking place in the sand dunes. The Queen’s Estate is right beside the beach and an employee said “The things they’ve been getting up to in those dunes would make your hair stand on end.” A petition has been raised… watch this space.
Update 3 October 2013: The western section of Holkham Beach is once again open to naturists after the earlier ban was lifted. The Crown Estate banned naturism from 1 July, but thanks to lobbying from the British Naturism group, the beach is once more open to all those wishing to go au-naturel. The only downside is that it’s now autumn across England and the sharp North Sea winds that hit the Norfolk coast are only for the brave – windbreaks are a must!
Studland Beach, Dorset
The most famous nudist beach in the UK has to be Studland Beach, not least because of its long battle with the National Trust who owns the land. In fact Studland Bay is one of the most popular beaches within the UK and is packed come summertime. A small section of the north beach has been demarcated as naturist following the successful outcome with the National Trust. There are excellent facilities at Studland with toilets and a café but this is not the place to come for some peaceful solitude.
Leysdown, Isle of Sheppey, Kent
The nearest official naturist beach to London is Leysdown which is on the Isle of Sheppey. The East beach, aka Shellness, is made up of shingle, sand and shells – hence the name. Views out over the north coast include that of Whitstable and the shipping traffic in the Thames. The nearest facilities are back in Leysdown.
Slapton Sands, Devon
The attractive nudist beach at Slapton Sands lies south of Dartmouth in Devon. The beach is actually shingle and pebble, rather than sand and is dotted with red sandstone cliffs. The water is deep and can have strong undercurrents. This beach at Slapton features a Sherman tank memorial to the troops that practiced their D-Day landings here. Visitors can also head to the county town of Torquay which has just been voted one of the Top 10 UK Destinations!
Brighton, East Sussex
The county of East Sussex has 3 nudist beaches in total: Fairlight Glen at Hastings, Birling Gap near Eastbourne and Black Rock Beach in Brighton. The shingle beach is close to the Brighton Marina and at only a one hour train ride from London, is busy on the weekends. Officially declared a no-clothes beach in 1980, it is clean and slap-bang next to all the resort amenities, but has just lost its blue-flag status.
Blackgang Beach, Isle Of Wight
The south-facing soft pebble Blackgang beach on the Isle of Wight is not an ‘official’ naturist beach but has been used as such for many years. Head to the Rocken End section which has deep clean waters with stunning views out over the English Channel. There are no facilities on the beach and it’s only accessible via a steep path, which isn’t suitable for those with walking difficulties. The Isle of Wight is busy each September as it hosts the Bestival Music Festival.
Ross Back Sands, Northumberland
The most northerly nude beach is at Ross Back Sands near Bamburgh. There is a long sandy and very clean beach which is pretty much deserted all year round. Although being this far north, you’ll need a good windbreaker and/or a strong constitution: the North Sea winds are pretty unforgiving! As you’d expect there are no facilities, just fantastic views out over Holy island and the Farne Islands.
By Julie Bowman