The 5 Best Beaches to Visit in Cumbria



Millions of visitors flock to the Lake District each year, but only those in the know venture down to the spectacular Cumbrian coast. With precious bird colonies, dramatic cliffs, well-preserved sand dunes and two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the shores that lie off west Cumbria make a worthwhile holiday destination in their own right – but with 120 miles of coastline on offer, how do you start finding the county's best beaches?

We've drawn up a list of the 5 best beaches to visit in Cumbria from north to south to help you skip the guess-work and get on with the all-important business of kicking back while on holiday. Looking for sandy, shingle or dog-friendly beaches? Keep reading to find out more.

Low tide around Allonby


Sitting in the north of Cumbria on the peaceful Solway coast and right on the edge of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Allonby is a small village with a storied smuggling past. With far-reaching views that extend all the way over to Scotland's Southern Uplands, this is a scenic place to spend a few hours on a sandy beach and given its length, you can be pretty sure of finding a peaceful spot for just that. 

After exploring Allonby's golden sands and its sand dunes, take advantage of watersports opportunities like windsurfing, or head into the village centre to spot old Georgian and Victorian buildings and the remains of former smokehouses. There is free parking here, with other facilities including shops, cafés and tourist information boards. 

Find camping accommodation around Allonby and the Solway Coast here, or expand your search to campsites across Cumbria.


The Georgian town of Whitehaven boomed in years past thanks to the local shipping and mining industry. Although both have now all but vanished, Whitehaven is still an attractive and historic town that's well worth a visit. It's also possible to get from here to the Isle of Man on special charter services; on very clear days you might see the island from the shore too.

Whitehaven's small beach is located next to the marina, sheltered from the elements by the town's sturdy harbour walls. This isn't really a place that's well-suited for swimming, but it's a good spot to exercise your dog, as four-legged friends are allowed on Whitehaven beach throughout the year. In town, there's plenty of parking, plus a number of cafés, pubs, shops and museums to explore. 

Find holiday accommodation with availability around Whitehaven.

Exploring the west Cumbria coast

St Bees

A few miles to the south of Whitehaven, the pretty seaside village of St Bees has an excellent outlook over the Irish Sea. With a spacious mile-long coarse sand beach and dramatic views over the sandstone cliffs of St Bees Head, England's only cliff-nesting seabird colony, St Bees attracts visitors for its rich wildlife and all-round stunning location. 

You can swim at St Bees, so make sure to pack towels and all your other beach-related accoutrements when heading here. Getting down to the shoreline involves negotiating a fairly steep ramp or picking your way around rocks, so people with restricted mobility might do better at flatter beaches on this list such as Allonby.

St Bees also marks the start and end point of Wainwright's Coast to Coast route, which stretches all the way to Robin Hood's Bay in North Yorkshire. 

Partial to a ramble? Check out these must-see Lake District peaks.

Haverigg beach

Backed by sand dunes and located at the point where the Irish Sea merges into the Duddon Estuary, Haverigg beach is a very scenic stretch of sand and shingle with far-reaching views over nearby Black Combe Fell.

Facilities here include free parking, a kids' play area and a café. We recommend timing your visit to coincide with low tide so you can walk out along the old sea wall towards the neighbouring town of Millom. 

This beach is particularly easy to reach from the Lake District and is just outside the national park. This area of the Cumbrian coast is a wildlife haven, and if you're inspired by the birdlife flying overhead you may wish to wander down towards RSPB Hodbarrow (about a mile down the road to the east) for a stint in one of their hides. Please note that dogs must be kept on leads when close to the nature reserve.

Coastal walks in Haverigg

West Shore beach

For our final pick, where leaving the mainland behind and taking you offshore to Walney Island out in the Irish Sea. You won't need to catch a boat or swim to get here, though (unless you really want to…), as Walney Island has been connected to the mainland via the Jubilee Bridge since 1908.

Located at the end of the Furness peninsula, the island's best stretch of sand (and there are lots of them…) is known as West Shore beach. After a spell swimming in the water or relaxing on the beach, continue for a walk and you'll soon see the remains of a 14th-century castle on nearby Piel Island. You could also go out in search of the pale pink Walney geranium, a plant found only on this 11-mile isle off the Cumbrian coast. 

Keen to look at other beaches in the North West? Our Ultimate North West England Camping Guide has several nifty articles on the region’s best beaches.

Want to keep crisscrossing the Cumbrian countryside? Check out our favourite scenic Cumbria walks to try on your next visit.