The smell of the salt in the air and the splash of the waves on your bare feet. Fish and chips on the pier, epic sandcastles built with bright plastic buckets, whole worlds swirling in the waters of a rockpool, arcade games, deckchairs, candyfloss, crab catching, fun fairs and wind breakers. Everyone has memories of the Great British seaside. They run through us like letters through a stick of rock (oops, there’s another one). And sometimes the best holidays are the ones where we revisit old favourites and indulge in a bit of nostalgia. So here are our top nostalgic summer activities.
Catching crabs at Whitby
Whitby is the blueprint for a picturesque coastal town. The ruined Gothic abbey stands sentinel at the top of the hill, overlooking the steep streets and sloping roofs that make their way to the waterfront. Whilst it’s got its fill of fish and chip shops and amusement arcades, Whitby’s our number one place for a crabbing trip. Whitby harbour is perfectly set up with all the equipment you might need, and the locals have a fair few tips to share for the best spots and tastiest bait. You might also venture out to Robin Hoods Bay – once a major smuggling haven and now a crabbing HQ where your wanderings might also be rewarded with a fossil or two.
Fun at the fairs in Brighton
Stay: YHA Brighton
The bright lights of Brighton Palace Pier are a siren call to any family on a fun day out in summer. Widely acknowledged as the finest pier ever built (even though they say so themselves), Brighton Palace Pier struts out into the sea with the self confidence of an attraction that’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser. From 2p arcade machines to stomach-churning roller coasters, their fairground game is strong. But for the true nostalgic experience, you’ll want to hit up the helter skelter, the teacups, the carousel and the dodgems – because how could you do anything else.
Fish and chips in Pembrokeshire
Stay: YHA Manorbier
Some things just go together perfectly. Wimbledon and strawberries, Brussel sprouts at Christmas, chocolate at Easter. But no other season has a signature dish quite like summer and its enduring association with fish and chips. We just love it. We go within 20 miles of the sea and it’s almost a patriotic obligation to indulge in a chippy tea. So, naturally, seaside towns the length and breadth of the country boast many wonderful places to eat your fill. We could write about any one of them, but we’ve chosen Fecci’s Fish and Chips in Tenby, Pembrokeshire. Something about the coupling of their greasy goodness and the pure, Welsh air heals your soul. They have gluten free and vegetarian options, and, much like our YHA Camping and Cabins options, they’re dog friendly so your four-legged friend can enjoy the feast too.
Sandcastles and wave jumping in Cardigan Bay
Stay: YHA Poppit Sands
When you’re a kid, there are fewer things more exhilarating that trying to outrun an oncoming wave before it splashes over you. The rush of the sea and the feeling of sand sticking to your skin while you concentrate on the epic sandcastle taking shape in front of you are universal. Poppit Sands beach in Cardigan Bay is a great location to relive those memories and to create them anew for the next generation. Its wide sandy beach is perfect for sandcastles, and the shelter of the bay means you’re protected from the prevailing south-westerly wind. There are a few shops full of brightly coloured beach paraphernalia and some excellent cafés ready to refuel little adventurers ahead of their next expedition. The beach is a short walk from YHA Poppit Sands so at the end of a full day of fun you’ve not got far to go before a warm shower and a glass of something ice cold and refreshing.
Rockpooling in Norfolk
Stay: YHA Sheringham
When you’re at the seaside, do you ever look up and realise the entire day has passed and you haven’t noticed? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. This is what, in scientific circles*, is known as ‘the rockpool effect’. You find yourself utterly mesmerised by the snapshot of life under the waves that the rest of the world becomes less significant than the tiny lifeforms swirling at your feet. The coast between Cromer and Sheringham in Norfolk is an excellent spot to explore these magical marine microcosms over the summer months. If you’re heading out this way, make sure you’re aware of the tides as the pools are best at low tide, and equip yourself with some sturdy footwear to handle the sharp rocks and slippery seaweed.
*if by science you mean a fanatical love of rockpools, and if by circles you mean one person who just really likes rockpools.