16 of the best beaches within 2 hours of Bristol

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Situated on the banks of the Severn Estuary is the hip and groovy city of Bristol. However, despite its rich seafaring history there isn't really anything in the way of beaches within the city limits.

On the plus side, Bristol is not only the gateway to the West Country, with its plethora of fine beaches, but is just a stone's throw across the Severn to the South Wales Coast.

In this article we are looking at the best beaches within a 2 hour drive of Bristol. This includes a mix of beaches in Wales, a few along the Somerset coast and one in South Devon. Despite being closer on the map, the wonderful beaches of North Devon take a little over two hours to reach from Bristol.

  • 1. Southerndown Beach

    Southerndown © Capt' Gorgeous | BY-SA

    Southerndown, also known as Dunraven Bay, is a predominantly sandy beach, with rocky areas exposed at high tide. It is located along the Glamorgan Heritage Coast, and is enclosed by spectacular cliffs.

    The beach itself is popular for swimming, and watersports such as canoeing and surfing. It has some excellent rock pools which can be explored at low tide. The rocks here are rich in fossils, and it is one of the best beaches in the area for fossil hunters.

    The beach is surrounded by open countryside. A path runs along the cliff tops towards Ogmore to the North West, offering good…

  • 2. Ogmore Beach

    Ogmore © Linda Bailey | BY-SA

    Ogmore-by-Sea is a popular sand and shingle beach along the Glamorgan Heritage Coast, with the sandy part exposed at low tide. The mouth of the River Ogmore runs into the sea over the beach, to the north of the town.

    The beach at Ogmore has the reputation as being one of the cleanest beaches in the region, and is popular for a variety of activities, including swimming, surfing, fishing, and walking. The name 'Ogmore' is thought to come from the large caves located nearby (ogof is Welsh for cave).

    The beach looks out towards Tusker Rock, named after a Danish Viking who colonised…

  • 3. Rest Bay (Porthcawl)

    Rest Bay © Giovanni | BY-SA

    Rest Bay is a golden, sandy beach on the outskirts of the town of Porthcawl, backed by The Royal Porthcawl Golf Club and low cliffs.

    The beach faces south-west, which means that it is not sheltered from the Atlantic winds and the waves here can be quite large, making it a good beach for surfing, as well as wind/kite surfing. When the waves are not too big, fishing, bathing and canoeing are popular pastimes here.

    There is zoning for water sports and the beach is cleaned daily during the summer months.

    Rest Bay is home to a fair few rock pools beach in which a variety of…

  • 4. Whitmore Bay (Barry)

    Whitmore Bay (Barry) © M J Roscoe | BY-SA

    Barry Island is located at the very southern tip of Wales, ten miles along the coast from Cardiff. Sandwiched between two limestone headlands, the golden sands of Whitmore Bay are a popular location for sunbathers and swimmers alike. The famous Pleasure Park is just behind the beach, and there is plenty of entertainment, including amusement arcades, crazy golf, and horse and carriage rides. There are also beach huts for hire and wheelchairs for loan, a climbing wall, and various events to keep the whole family entertained.

    If you get hungry, there are plenty of options, and the environment…

  • 5. Middle Hope Beach

    Middle Hope © Dr Duncan Pepper | BY-SA

    Just north of Weston-Super-Mare is the peninsula of Sand Point - a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a world away from the donkey rides and pier. To the south is Sand Bay whilst on the northern side is the little sand and shingle cove of Middle Hope.

    The beach here is backed by farm land and faces into the Bristol Channel with views across to Wales. Murky water and the muddy low tide sand will probably be enough to put most off the idea of swimming. If not the strong tidal currents should do.

  • 6. Sugar Loaf Beach - Portishead

    Sugar Loaf Beach - Portishead © Lewis Clarke | BY-SA

    Without doubt Sugar Loaf Beach is the best along this stretch of the Bristol Channel. Situated in front of Portishead Sailing Club this sand and pebble beach is set in a small cove backed by low sandstone cliffs. With an abundance of greenery in the summer it feels like quite a cosy, almost secluded spot.

    Whilst swimming in the Severn Estuary is never advised owing to the strong currents there is an old tidal swimming pool at Sugar Loaf beach. Admittedly it has seen better days and it is fairly small, but it's still ideal for kids or just a cooling dip.

    The tidal range here is…

  • 7. Blue Anchor Bay

    Blue Anchor Bay © Chris Leather (somerset Guide) | BY-SA

    A long sandy beach sprinkled with alabaster rocks, which are great for finding fossils.

    The West Somerset railway stops here.

  • 8. Brean Beach

    Brean Beach © Alastc | BY-SA

    The 7-mile stretch of sand and dunes that make up Brean beach lies just over two miles down the coast from Weston-super-Mare. It boasts one of the longest stretches of sand in Europe and at low tide a vast expanse of mud flats are exposed. It is however dangerous to walk too far out at low tide and there are warning signs about staying away from the mud flats on the beach.

    The beach is popular with walkers, dog walkers and beach sport enthusiasts (both on and off the water).

    Access to the beach is easy as there is plenty of parking both next to and literally on the beach in…

  • 9. Berrow (South) Beach

    Berrow (South) © Chris Talbot | BY-SA

    Berrow South lies towards the southern end of Berrow Flats, a 6-mile stretch of sand and mudflats between Burnham-on-Sea and Brean Down. The beach here is flat and sandy, backed by dunes. Signage warns of dangerous sinking sands at low tide, so care needs to be taken and it is best to avoid going far onto the wet mudflats exposed at low tide. When the tide is out the wreck of MV Nornen, a Norwegian Barque which ran aground here in 1897 is visible. The beach is used by walkers, horse riders, fishermen and beach sport enthusiasts. From the beach it is possible to walk north towards Brean or south…

  • 10. Sand Bay

    Sand Bay © Interbeat | BY-SA

    A large and relatively wild beach with good views across the Bristol Channel to South Wales. Popular with dog walkers.

    Sparse amenities, apart from a few local food outlets and a car park.

    Between Weston Woods and the National Trust headland at Sand Point.

  • 11. Exmouth Beach

    Exmouth © David Smith | BY-SA

    Often described as the gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage Jurassic Coach, Exmouth's two miles of sand are ideal for water sports. This includes boat trips, kayaking, kite surfing, stand-up paddle-boarding, swimming, and windsurfing: it can get extremely busy in the summer. Backed by a wide promenade, it's also popular all year round with walkers, wildlife enthusiasts, and cyclists, and there are plenty of local restaurants and shops.

    Exmouth is perfect for families with classic seaside entertainment such as crazy golf, Dinosaur safari trails, and plenty of food choices. On the promenade,…

  • 12. Burnham-on-Sea Beach

    Burnham-on-Sea © Chris Leather (somerset Guide) | BY-SA

    Burnham-on-Sea is one of Somerset's classic seaside resorts due to the exceptional stretch of beach here. Complete with promenade lined with Victorian and Edwardian guest houses Burnham was originally envisaged as a rival to nearby Weston-super-Mare. A hundred years on, and whilst Burnham-on-Sea might have lost that competition it is all the better for it.

    These days the beach is lively enough in the summer and retains much of its traditional charms - right down to donkey rides on the beach.

    Burnham-on-Sea is also home to Britain's shortest pier. Built in 1911 and measuring just…

  • 13. Kilve Beach

    Kilve © Bob Jones | BY-SA

    The beach of Kilve lies about halfway between Minehead and Bridgwater in the heart of the Quantocks. The shoreline is mostly rocky with plenty of rockpools to explore towards low tide. One of the best features of Kilve beach is the large grassy area behind the beach which is ideal for picnics. Like neighbouring Lilstock there is mcuh of geological interest at Kilve. The cliffs here are formed from oil-rich shale and layers of yellow, brown blue lias in which fossils can be found. Kilve is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) so removing fossils from the cliffs and bedrock is prohibited.…

  • 14. Minehead Beach

    Minehead © Mike Charles | BY-SA

    Minehead beach, known as The Strand, is a wide expanse of sand, with some areas of shingle and a variety of rock pools. As the tide goes out this sandy stretch of beach becomes ideal for beach games and for building sandcastles.

    Along with a number of hotels and apartments that line the promenade the beachfront is overlooked by a large Butlin’s holiday camp, adding to the lively atmosphere of the resort. Minehead is one of Somerset's busiest holiday resorts and the beach can get quite busy in high season.

    The beach is dominated by North Hill and from here there are delightful…

  • 15. Clevedon Beach

    Clevedon Beach © Clive Perrin | BY-SA

    A long, pebble beach that runs south-west from Clevedon, an old Victorian seaside resort at the mouth of the River Severn. Amenities all along the seafront, promenade and pier, which is popular with fishermen.

    Dangerous mudflats at low tide.

  • 16. Ladye Bay

    Ladye Bay © Ian Knox | BY-SA

    The small cove at Layde Bay is one of the prettiest beaches along the Somerset coast. A small stretch of sand between the rocks and backing onto the densely vegetated cliffs. This is a pleasant beach to soak up the sun but swimming is not generally advised as with many of the beaches along the Bristol Channel coast. There can be strong currents as the tide moves and the sand towards the low water mark is decidedly muddy. That said Ladye Bay is home to the annual "Long Swim" which covers about a mile down to Clevedon Pier. Layde Bay is also a popular climbing spot with a variety of climbs.