Beautiful Bedruthan: the best beach in England

There’s little doubt that on their day, English beaches can rival some of the best in the world, but what usually lets them down is the weather. The spectacular summer of 2013 has provided a showcase for our beaches to strut their stuff, and there can be none better than Bedruthan Steps on the rugged Cornish coast.


Bedruthan Steps is located midway between Newquay and Padstow on the B3276 coastal road in North Cornwall. You can either park in the National Trust car park for £2.50 (free for National Trust members), or £2 in the campsite car park next door.

You’ll then have to descend 149 slippery and steep stone steps from the cliff-top car parks to sea level – it’s not these that are the Bedruthan Steps.

This is the only way up and down, and is probably not suitable for the elderly or unfit – we saw plenty of pensioners enjoying the views from their deckchairs in the car park.

Although dogs are allowed on the beach, make sure they’re able to get back up the stairs before you go down. I had to carry the in laws’ ten-stone West Highland Terrier back up, and have only just recovered from the trauma.


When the tide is out, there is over a mile of clean, golden sand scattered with stacks, stumps and caves reminiscent of GCSE geography days.

Stacks are vertical pillars of rock, eroded over time by the power of the Atlantic Ocean. The series of stacks gives the beach its name – legend has it that they were stepping stones for a giant called Bedruthan. Each stack has its own name, the most famous is the triangular Queen Bess, pictured below.


Because of the effort required to get there, the beach is never heaving. Visitors are advised not to enter the water, as there are dangerous riptides, but that didn’t stop the handful of surfers when we were there. There’s enough space to play football or cricket, and disposable barbecues seemed to be the accessory of choice.


The beach is popular with photographers and painters, while crabbing in the many rockpools left by the changing tides is always an option so bring a fishing net along. Bedruthan Steps is unsupervised with no facilities or shop, so take water and snacks with you.

We parked in the campsite car park so missed out, but there’s a café at the National Trust car park – I could have done with a cuppa and a cake after carrying big Benji back up the steps.

Now it’s over to you – have you been to Bedruthan Steps? Do you agree with me that it is the most beautiful beach in England? Or are there others more worthy of that accolade? Have your say in the comments box below…


Categories: CornwallTags: , ,


  1. Richard, Richard! I might just have to challenge that rash claim. 🙂 You’ve obviously never been on a Northumberland beach.
    Seriously though, it is nice to see the English beaches coming into their own. I enjoyed my little clamber down those steps with you, but I was glad you took care of the dog on the way back up.

    • Jo, I’ve heard the Northumberland beaches are nice, but does the sun ever come out up there?!

      I’d love to make it up to Berwick-upon-Tweed and Lindisfarne one day…

      • Funny you should say that, Rich. It’s chucking it down right now, but it has been beautiful for a day or two. That’ll be it for this year. You’d best wait till next 🙂
        Lindisfarne is worth the trip.

  2. I have not been to many beaches in England. Most of these have been in the north- Tynemouth, Blackpool. This one looks pretty special and your photos are spectacular. Looks a fab day out, but lifting the dog all the way up those steps must have been a nightmare. Is there any public transport here or can it only be reached by car?

  3. Great post Richard. I love any excuse to champion the English coast but my favourite has, and always will be, Woolacombe Bay, Devon.

  4. That’s one gorgeous beach Fez. I have to agree with Jo – the Northumberland beach (especially at Bamburgh) are stunning too 🙂

  5. Welsh beaches are quite special when it doesn’t rain! Cleethorpes beach near me gets a thumbs up because it has a no dogs policy from Easter to October.

  6. Gorgeous beach – we’re staying just the other side of Newquay for a mini honeymoon in October so will have to go and check it out if we get some sun!

  7. My mate has a dachshund that can climb up stairs, but gets stuck on his belly coming down!

  8. Well done Richard, I’m with you all the way. Totally the best beach in the UK. We spent every spare moment of last summer at Bedruthan, camping in the field above the cliff, drinking wine on the beach under a glorious sunset, cooking seafood on the campfire and waiting on the high tide to clear a little so we could swim through the channel between the rocks to the second beach and be first (and often the only ones) on it. Every time I did this I felt like I was in the movie “The Beach” discovering the lagoon for the first time and the view from the water is not unlike that famous beach in Thailand – Phang Nga Bay.

    The winter storms of 2014 have taken their toll, the beach has risen about 12 feet in our estimation (which means less steps!) and some massive rock fall has made passing through to the second beach more difficult but far from impossible. Took my first dip yesterday and happy to inform a day at the spa doesn’t hold a candle!

    Enjoyed your post, thanks for making the effort! (Leave the ten stone beast at home next time) 🙂

    • I’d love to camp there, but as the in-laws only live about ten minutes away in St Merryn, I always get the offer of a roof above my head. England, and Cornwall in particular, has some world class beaches and this one can hold its own against the best in the Med, Thailand and Australia. Thanks for visiting and for the comment.

  9. This is certainly a wonderful beach and reminds me quite a bit of some of the beaches near us (Perth Western Australia). The pictures with the rocks look similar to where we take our dog for a walk – he loves it down by the sea!

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