I’ve been surprised by how much I’ve been craving a beach trip all lockdown. After spending so long either in the house or running through the same familiar areas, I’m really missing the wildness of the waves, the beauty of sun setting behind the sea, the joy of discovering a new cove to explore.
There’s always a tension in producing any guide to places that claim to be remote and deserted; any successful guide has the potential to end up spoiling the very thing it’s praising these places for. Hopefully there are so many beaches listed here, and covering such a wide area, that even those people seeking quiet beaches should end up spread out.
With restrictions hopefully lifting in the next few weeks, this book has arrived at the perfect time. Hare’s guide claims to include ‘every beach and cove around the Welsh coastline’ –– about 500 in total, which is definitely enough to keep me busy for a few months! I’ve spent a brilliant couple of evenings looking through this book and picking out locations to go to as soon as we’re allowed. There’s plenty of information about the big picturesque beaches, but I think the first few post-lockdown trips for me are going to be to quieter areas: maybe some forgotten coves or beaches that are less accessible. Hare’s guide has been perfect for planning these trips.
The real achievement of this book is somehow managing to photograph every single beach in Wales under a blue sky! It was certainly worth the effort –– the photos are stunning, and I found all the clear seas and blue skies so calming and inspiring when flicking through the book.
It’s a balance in any guide trying to work out how much information to include on each location versus how many locations to include… books can (unfortunately!) only be so long, after all. Hare has opted to cram in a massive amount of beaches which is brilliant in terms of the scope of the guide, but doesn’t allow for masses of information on each one. Even the most spectacular or intriguing beaches only get a brief paragraph. I’m not sure this is necessarily a bad thing though; half the fun of visiting somewhere new is in exploring it for yourself and some of that enjoyment is definitely lost if you know everything about it before going.
Each beach is identified by a grid reference and GPS. There’s helpful info about which way the beach faces –– perfect for catching those long summer sunsets, or for finding some shelter on a windy day. Icons tell you if there’s nearby parking, lifeguards, toilets and any dog restrictions. A map showing the beaches at the start of each section would be really helpful, but I suspect the scale of this guide makes it impossible. Instead, each beach has a small map showing the general location of the beach. It’s still quite vague but at least gives you some idea of the area.
The only thing I felt was missing that would have been really valuable would have been a list of beaches with easy access. There is a ‘beaches at a glance’ page for beaches that are dog-friendly, lifeguarded, good for surfing etc, and it’s a shame this doesn’t include easy access beaches. I’ve struggled a few times trying to plan beach trips that required a straightforward way onto the beach, so it feels like this would have been a worthwhile addition.
(I was provided with a free copy by Vertebrate Publishing in exchange for an honest review.)
Predominantly climbing/outdoors literature, mountaineering history and nature writing.