Jess enjoying a run on the beach
What is it about dogs and beaches? My little terrier Jess is at her waggiest when she sees a long stretch of sand. You’d think, from her uncontrollable excitement as soon as I let her off her lead, that she’d been locked in a darkened kennel for the last three weeks with no one for company but the spiders, and only the occasional mouse to play with.
In the six years she’s been with us, she’s run on a lot of beaches... She’s also chased a lot of pebbles and dug a lot of pointless holes in the sand. (Well, they seem pointless to me, but I guess Jess has her reasons; she always seems so very focussed when it comes to digging.) I don’t have a scientific way to judge which are her favourites but, based on holes dug, miles run and speeds reached, I’ve compiled a list of her favourites from all over the British Isles...
The sun sets over the coast at Lettergesh, Connemara
Lettergesh, County Galway
On a campervan holiday to the west coast of Ireland a few years ago, each time we headed off on an inland walk, we were thwarted by “NO DOGS” signs at every turn. So the empty beaches behind our campsite became a refuge, a place for Jess to run her little legs off. At Lettergesh, clear turquoise seas lap up against mile upon mile of long, silver beaches. The horizon is broken by strings of islands of all shapes and sizes: some with tremendous cliffs rising vertically from the waves, others as smooth as if flattened by a rolling-pin. And those sunsets!
Frisbees are ideal for beaches, but apparently not for terriers
Sandyhills, Dumfries & Galloway
The first beach Jess ever visited was Sandyhills, just south of Dalbeattie in Dumfries & Galloway, where she spent ages playing with a Frisbee-type toy. (We weren’t aware at the time that Frisbees and terriers don’t really go well together; it wasn’t long before this one resembled a doughnut. Jess now wears it as a necklace.) Sandyhills is only a small bay, but when the tide’s out, the long beaches and tiny inlets to the southwest briefly become accessible. Home to a smugglers’ cave and an impressive sea arch, they’re worth exploring – but keep a close eye on the tide; it moves fast here.
The long beach at Morfa Dyffryn – with views of the Llyn Peninsula
Morfa Dyffryn, Snowdonia
Snowdonia is generally associated with high, craggy peaks, but all along its western edge, where the hills tumble into the Irish Sea, are some fantastic beaches backed by immense dune systems. At Morfa Dyffryn, there’s a never-ending stretch of white sand. Not a soul in sight. It’s every dog’s dream, isn’t it? The only movement, other than the rolling waves, are the large flocks of waders at the water’s edge digging about for a tasty meal.
Shhhh...! A secret beach on Lindisfarne
Some of Jess’s favourite beaches are on the atmospheric Northumberland coast. Here, the North Sea crashes up against rocky headlands that are home to dramatically-perched castles. In between those headlands are vast stretches of sand that are always full of dogs chasing sticks, or balls, or simply the waves. Druridge Bay, Alnmouth Bay, Beadnell Bay and Bamburgh are among the most popular. If you want to get away from the crowds though, head for the hidden beaches on the north side of Lindisfarne.