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Five of the best harbour towns and villages

Written by The Cottage Holidays Team on

Five of the Best Harbour Towns and Villages

Now we know its not quite summer yet or indeed, feels anything like spring but it’s bound to be round the corner and we think these five seaside destinations are a must see whatever the weather. After a little bit of a struggle we have managed to decide on five our favourite ‘go to’ watery destinations, be they a quiet fishing village or a bustling seaside town, they’ve all got the chorus of seagulls and fresh sea air in common. 

Deal, Kent

With a town motto of ‘Befriend the Stranger’ Deal certainly sets itself up as being a friendly and welcoming place and, it doesn’t disappoint. This shingly seaside spot has a touch of the vintage about it and something to suit everyone. Deal has a fantastic range of independent shops amongst it’s maze like lanes, three weekly markets and two castles, Deal and Walmer Castles are happily a stones throw from the town centre. Having decloaked its connections with smuggling, Deal now shines in Victorian splendour, with an elegant pier and broad promenade it’s an attractive destination for the cosmopolitan mix of writers, musicians and business people who call it home. Deal has been brought right into the twentieth century with unassuming flair, it is a bustling but relaxed destination to take advantage of  fresh seaside air and have yourself an ice cream. Perfect for immersing yourself in a little bit of British seaside history.

Fowey, Cornwall

We’re not sure how Fowey does it. This picturesque harbour town built up from a large and very active China Clay mining industry, once counted itself amongst the largest exporting ports in the UK. Although their export tonnage has shrunk, this industry certainly remains  a huge part of Fowey’s activity. Today however, tourism has much taken over. Nestled between Looe and Mevagissey, Fowey proudly proclaims to be an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty; with cobbled streets and charming cottages dotting the surrounding hillside which lead down to the banks of the river, its easy to see why. This bustling port is a hive of activity from morning to dusk throughout the summer and, attracts everyone from leisure sailors, cruise ship visitors and those who just enjoy messing about on boats.  

The river is the pulsating heart of this picturesque little town which has attracted artists, writers and creative types throughout the years. Notable past residents and visitors include Kenneth Greene the proclaimed author of the Childrens classic Wind in the Willows and famous writer, Daphne Du Maurier. It’s an ideal spot to take a day, maybe two - or even a whole week and really soak up the cornish way of life. Our top tip is to nip into Sams and, treat yourself to some culinary delights! 

Staithes, Yorkshire

Huddled, cuddled and higgledy-piggledy are certainly terms which come to mind when summing up the charm of Staithes. Cottages, tea rooms, restaurants and pubs all snuggle together under towering cliffs in this much adored coastal village in the North York Moors National Park. The unique light and geology has attracted artists, geographers and naturalists throughout the years and importantly the Staithes Group or Staithes School was formed of a colony of artists working and living in Staithes in the 19th Century; inspired by french impressionists such as Cezanne, Monet and Renoir, the artists worked plein-air.  Today this pretty little village fronted by choppy seas is a delightful spot to spend a long weekend exploring rugged cliffs, neighbouring hamlets such as Cowbar Nab or discovering the historical remains of once profitable Alum mines at Skinningrove. Situated as it is, Staithes has a rich maritime history firstly as a shellfishing village in the 16th Century before developing into the largest fishing port north of the Wash. It’s fishing connections are still present but much reduced and the small beach is now more familiar to rock poolers and fossil hunters, than fleets of boats with the days haul. This really is a magical little spot and well worth the drive North. 

Walberswick, Suffolk

Nestled amidst 1,000 acres of heaths and marshland making up an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Walberswick is a bustling seaside village on the south banks of the River Blyth. This pretty harbour village enjoyed a prosperous trade in fish, cheese, corn, bacon and timber from as early as the 13th Century, right up until World War I, later in history its geographic location played a key role; perched out on the eastern point of Suffolk, Walberswick was a key defence post during Word War II, its various defences have been well documented and concrete pillar boxes can still be found across the landscape. Today, this coastal spot is a haven for summer visitors and bird watchers alike. Only a short distance from the hustle and scuttle of Southwold, it has always attracted an artistic crowd, most notably Charles Rennie Mackintosh who revelled in its open skies and vast marshlands. For expansive landscapes, brisk walks, wild dunes, commendable pubs, triumphant churches and broad beaches Walberswick and its surrounding area, is the perfect holiday destination to quite forget everyday life. 

Tenby, Wales 

Tenby can probably claim to be the most iconic seaside town in Wales  - This perfect place mixes vast beaches, winding cobbled lanes and the grandeur of victorian elegance in perfect harmony; its a stunning place with many of its Norman fortified walls still intact. 

We think Tenby has a sprinkling of something for everyone, flanked by three stunning beaches; North Beach, South Beach and Castle Beach all pointing in different directions -  you can forget about the shade and bask in sunshine whatever the time of day, there is  bound to be somewhere to shelter from the wind too. Just off South Beach, lays Caldy Island a conservation area since 1997 it is home to a 12th  Century practising monastery, it has a fantastic museum and boat trips chug out to the island when the tide is in, when the waters are low, a pontoon from Castle Beach can be used. It’s certainly worth a visit. In the town centre, away from the esplanades, Tenby is a maze of narrow streets, clustered cottages, bars, shops and eateries. During the summer months these streets are pedestrianised and are the ideal spot to indulge in some al fresco dining and window shopping within the shelter of the town walls. This beautiful Pembrokeshire town is filled with creative minds, stunning scenery and community spirit, which quite honestly - is addictive! 

Tags: Seaside

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