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Four places in the UK to escape the heatwave (and crowds) this weekend

Bored of Brighton? Done with Deal? Check out these non-touristy spots to cool off instead

Written by
Chiara Wilkinson

The heatwave has hit. Temperatures around the UK are soaring towards 30C for most of the week, and the Met Office has forecast that Sunday could be the hottest day ever recorded. Hot girl summer has officially begun. 

In times like this, Brits usually flock to beer gardens and parks to soak up the rays. But it’s also a great opportunity to escape the sweat of the city and enjoy the great outdoors. We don’t just mean Cornwall or Bournemouth – we mean under-the-radar beaches, hidden waterfalls and tranquil rivers.

To get you inspired, we’ve handpicked four destinations to check out, all less than an hour and a half away from major UK cities. Don’t forget to stay safe: load up on the suncream, keep pets and children in the shade, stay hydrated, and most of all, keep cool.

Lumb Hole Falls, Yorkshire

Lumb holes waterfall
Photograph: Philip Openshaw / Shutterstock

There’s something almost enchanting about this spot, just an hour’s drive away from Manchester and Leeds. Multiple waterfalls feed into a gorgeous fairy-style pool next to plenty of leafy shade and picnic grazing spots. To get there, you can head to Hebden Bridge and walk from the town, or park right outside for a fiver.

Sunny Bank Road, Hebden Bridge, HX7 8RG.

Kingsbarns Beach, Fife

Kingsbarns beach
Photograph: James Dewar / Shutterstock

Swap the crowded beaches of St Andrews for Kingsbarns, just a fifteen minute drive away. Close to the cities of Edinburgh and Dundee, this spot boasts wide stretches of sand, grassy dunes, and plenty of rock pools and wildlife. Grab a boujee toasted sandwich from the Cheesy Toast Shack, take a dip in the sea, and appreciate Scotland on the very rare occasion when the sun’s out. 

St Andrews, KY16 8QD.

Port Meadow, Oxford

Oxford river with a blue sky
Photograph: AC Manley / Shutterstock

This handsome length of the Thames next to Oxford has recently become the UK’s second designated river bathing site, following an intensive two-year glow up – meaning you can wild swim knowing that the water quality is being closely monitored. The best bit? It’s only an hour’s train journey away from London. 

Walton Well Road, Oxford, OX2 6ED.

Bamburgh Beach, Northumberland

Bamburgh beach in the sunset
Photograph: Dave Head / Shutterstock

Travel down the coast between Newcastle and Edinburgh and you’ll find a stunning sandy beach set in the dramatic backdrop of a 12th century castle. Pack a picnic (but don’t forget to take your rubbish home), hire surf boards for the day, or just laze around and take it all in. You’ll be back to a sweaty office soon, after all. 

Bamburgh Beach, Northumberland, NE69 7DF.

Planning another beach day away? Here are the 33 best beaches in the UK. 

Wild for wild swimming? Don’t miss these 11 fantastic wild swimming spots in the UK. 

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