Whether strolls along sandy beaches, bustling piers or exploring hidden coves are your idea of the perfect day by the seaside – there’s something for everyone in SoGlos’s handpicked selection of 10 beaches in and around Gloucestershire.
With all beaches within a reasonably short drive from Gloucestershire, it won’t be long before you’re slathering on the sun cream, sitting back in a deck chair, enjoying the sounds of waves crashing and breathing in the fresh sea air.
Cotswold Country Park and Beach
You don’t even have to leave landlocked Gloucestershire for a seaside experience! Located in Cirencester, the Cotswold Country Park and Beach has everything you could want for a family day out on a sunny day. With everything from water sports and mini golf to a beautiful man-made beach, with camping and caravanning facilities nearby.
Admission to Cotswold Country Park and Beach can be pre-booked online and is essential to guarantee entry on the hottest days of the year! To avoid disappointment, you can also reserve your boats and pedaloes in advance, alongside activities such as kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding.
If you’re desperate for your seaside fix, Severn Beach near Bristol is popular with dog walkers, cyclists and birdwatchers – and just a short drive along the M5. Though once a lively seaside resort, complete with funfair and open-air pool, what was considered ‘the Blackpool of the West’ in its heyday is more of a commuter town today.
Not the most Instagrammable beach (however, the sunsets attract their fair share of attention), it is a convenient day trip from Gloucestershire, with the chance to stroll along the pathway beside the estuary for incredible views of the Severn Bridge. You can also access the Severn Way trail, leading under the bridge, where you can hear cars crossing overhead.
A popular day trip for Gloucestershire families for generations, located just over an hour outside of the county, Weston-Super-Mare beach has everything a traditional seaside resort should have, including a pier, amusements, a promenade, donkey rides and one of the longest naturally occurring beaches in the UK.
With views across Weston Bay towards Wales and south towards Exmoor, and the town and its chippies just a short walk away, this sandy beach is great for a family day out – with events like Weston Beach Race and Weston-Super-Mare Air Festival to look forward to, as well as water sports and kite surfing at the Uphill Sands end.
Often referred to as Weston-Super-Mare’s hidden gem, the relatively wild Sand Bay is just over an hour’s drive from Gloucestershire. Made up of sand, as well as shingle, beachcombing is a popular pastime here. Horse riders are welcome too (along the tide line at least) and dogs can also tag along.
Home to both the Sand Bay Tea Rooms and the Sand Bay Fish & Chip Shop, you won’t go hungry! And with plenty of caravan parks nearby, you can also seize the chance to explore the other beaches along this stretch of coast. Escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and make the most of any sunbathing opportunities.
Uphill Slipway near Weston-Super-Mare is another beautiful sandy beach located just a little over an hour outside of Gloucestershire. Lying across the River Axe from Brean Beach, Uphill Slipway is surrounded by lush greenery and has the added benefit of being away from the crowds of tourists that congregate in Weston.
Dogs are welcome at the beach (as well as at Uphill Wharf Café Bar) and you can climb the hill by Uphill Slipway Beach to get to the local nature reserve and experience the incredible scenery and views. There are also a range of touring pitches nearby — including some set around a pretty saltwater lake.
Just down the coast from Weston-Super-Mare and less than an hour and a half away from Gloucestershire, Brean beach has one of the longest stretches of sand in Europe — offering endless sandcastle-building opportunities. It also serves as an ideal canvas for sand artist Simon Beck, who can often be found creating geometrical patterns with his compass and rake.
There is also the popular Brean Leisure Park, with fairground rides for all ages, an award-winning water park with ‘disco slide’, an 18-hole par 69 golf course and an array of family-friendly restaurants. Plus, plenty of parking and accommodation in luxury lodges, safari tents and camping pods.
While Barry Island is the biggest town in south Wales, many will know the seaside resort with its golden beaches, fish and chip shops and amusements galore from Gavin and Stacey. In fact, you can still have a coffee at Marco’s Café (where Stacey used to work) and visit Nessa’s Slots – just like the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge when the arcade reopened after lockdown.
A little over an hour and a half outside of Gloucestershire in Wales, Barry Island attracts plenty of day trippers and holidaymakers from the county. We love that you can hire a colourful beach hut to use as your base for the day too, providing private changing facilities and somewhere to store your things.
Ladye Bay, Clevedon
Just under an hour outside Gloucestershire is the peaceful and secluded cove of Ladye Bay in Clevedon – a small stretch of sand and rock along the Somerset coast, backed by downs and popular with locals, as well as with climbers. Others come here to enjoy some sea fishing, while dogs can have a run around, too.
While Ladye Bay is an ideal spot for sunbathing and making sandcastles, swimming is not advised as the current is strong. For an opportunity to experience open water swimming, the annual Clevedon Long Swim, which is almost in its 100th year, starts from Ladye Bay after high tide and finishes at Clevedon beach.
Under an hour from Gloucestershire, Clevedon Beach near Bristol is a pebble and sand shore with the world’s largest sea water infinity pool on the seafront. Open to all, year-round, Clevedon Marine Lake also hosts a popular annual New Year’s Day dip. There are beautiful walks nearby too, offering the chance to spot wild birds and follow in the footsteps of poets.
After strolling along the promenade, you can check out Pier of the Year 2021 for a modest fee. England’s only Grade I listed pier is home to both a café in the Victorian Pagoda and The Glass Box restaurant, where you can enjoy fish and chips as anglers try to catch their own cod and plaice from the pier.
Also in Wales and just under 90 minutes outside of Gloucestershire, Penarth is a pretty pebbly beach to the south of Cardiff, where dogs are welcome from October to April. It’s also a popular spot for fossil hunting, with brothers Rob and Nick Hanigan uncovering a 201-million-year-old dinosaur in 2014, the Dracoraptor hanigani.
Penarth also has a picturesque pier with an Art Deco Pavilion hosting exhibitions, screenings and other events including live music, set in front of an esplanade which features a whole host of shops, restaurants and amusements. You can also take boat trips from Penarth to Cardiff, as well as Flat Holm Island in the Bristol Channel.