Sherdon Water, Somerset

Park at Landacre Bridge and walk upstream (above) for about 15 minutes to where the River Barle meets Sherdon Water. It’s one of the wildest parts of Exmoor, with ponies, deer, kingfishers and a deep, shady bathing pool. If you’re with small children, the Danesbrook valley beneath Hawkridge is a great paddling stream (www.hiddensomerset.com)

Portstewart Strand, Northern Ireland

Spot the rare birds, insects, butterflies and orchids on the beach or lie in the herb-rich grassland behind the beach. The mouth of the River Bann creates the white dunes of Portstewart Strand, which stretches for two miles (028–7083 6396; www.nationaltrust.org.uk)

Devil’s Dyke, South Downs, West Sussex

Legend has it that the Devil dug the valley to drown the parishioners of the Weald. Scientists, on the other hand, believe it’s the largest ‘dry’ valley in Britain formed in the last Ice Age. Views north to the Weald and south to the English Channel (www.nationaltrust.org.uk)

Porthchapel Beach, west Cornwall

Park in the field next to the church and walk the half-mile down through the woods to the beach. South-west facing between Porthcurno and Porthgwarra, the beach has good surf at high tide (www.cornwall-beaches.co.uk)

Kingsgate Bay, Kent

Rockpools surround the sandy beach and there are little natural inlets around the cove for exploring. Costal walks scale the cliffs above, perfect for a picnic in the warm sun with a view (0870 264 6111; www.visitthanet.co.uk)

West Sands at St Andrews, Fife, Scotland

Three miles of golden sand stretch away from the pictur-esque town on the shores of the North Sea for a preview, revisit Chariots of Fire (www.saintandrews.co.uk)

Frenchman’s Creek, Helford Passage, Cornwall

Walk along the river or follow the flow upstream for beautiful shaded spots. Particularly lovely is a spit of land that stretches out into the river at Tremayne, near Helston (www.cornwalls.co.uk)

Haworth, West Yorkshire

Once the home of the Brontë sisters, Haworth brings Wuthering Heights to life on the wild Yorkshire moors (www.visitbradford.com)

The Woods at Wells-next-the-Sea, Holkham Beach, and the sand dunes of Burnham Overy Staithe, Norfolk

The dunes and beaches of north Norfolk are hard to beat, with their miles of clean sand stretching to the sea. Picnics in the nature reserve at Holkham are particularly lovely (01328 710227; www.holkham.co.uk)

Tireregan and Traight Ghael, Mull, Scotland

Walk around the Highland Renewal project and through a wildlife regenerating area, as well as a deserted ruined village at Tireregan. The jewel in the crown is Traigh Ghael beach (www.mullmagic.com)