10 of the best beaches in Cumbria & the Lake District

Beaches, Coastal

Posted by Ruth on 6th August 2020

Cumbria beaches

Picture the Lake District and what do you think of: mountainous peaks, steep valleys and tranquil water? But aside from the picture-postcard scenery and charming towns and villages, the Lake District has another side which you might not have yet discovered – the beaches.

Both the national park and the wider area of Cumbria boast some simply stunning beaches where you can roam giant swathes of golden sands beneath the imposing presence of the hilltops, spot some of the country’s rarest wildlife and watch epic sunsets over the Irish Sea. Many of these beaches are dog-friendly too, so you can explore the coast with your four-legged best friend.

If you haven’t yet explored the beaches near the Lake District, we’ve rounded up our top 10 – from Cumbria beaches perfect for family days out to beaches in the Lakes where you can see the landscape from a new perspective. And once you’ve read our guide to the best beaches in Cumbria, why not take a look at our range of coastal cottages in Cumbria to find your perfect seaside retreat?

Cumbria coastal cottages


Haverigg Beach

Haverigg Beach

With beautiful views over the Lake District fells, this sand and shingle beach is at the mouth of the Duddon Estuary. It’s a huge space and well known for its cleanliness so it’s a brilliant place to visit for a family day out. Time your visit for low tide when you’ll have plenty of room to explore – you can even walk as far as Silecroft Beach. It’s also a great beach for ornithologists as the RSBP Hodbarrow reserve is close by where you can see a wide range of birdlife.

Dogs: Welcome all year round.

Lifeguard: No

Local information: Free parking, a lovely café and a children’s play area to keep little ones entertained.

Stay nearby: Carter Ground Barn, Broughton Mills | sleeps 8 + 4 dogs


Walney Island

Walney Island

Also known as the Isle of Walney, this large island is found just off the coast of the Furness peninsula and offers several beaches among a backdrop of nature reserves and grassland. Drive over the Jubilee Bridge from Barrow-in-Furness to find peace amongst nature. Both North and South Walney are home to wonderful nature reserves with dunes, salt marshes and mudflats, perfect for walking, while The Tip is a sandy beach, alongside Earnse which we’ll come to later!

Dogs: No restrictions, however a lot of the island is a nature reserve, so it’s advised you keep your dogs on leads to protect the wildlife.

Lifeguard: No

Local information: Plenty of parking; more extensive facilities in Walney and Vickerstown as you come over the bridge.

Stay nearby: The Woodsman Cabin, nr Ulverston | sleeps 6


Silecroft beach

Silecroft Beach

On the south-western tip of the glorious Lake District National Park, Silecroft is a large shingle beach overlooked by the imposing Black Combe Fell, looming 600 metres high. To add to the picturesque setting, you can also see the Isle of Man in the distance on clear days – it’s worth sticking around for the breathtaking sunsets too. The gently shelving shore is as popular with sea fishermen as it is with families and dog walkers, and you can also spot toads in the springtime in the Site of Special Scientific Interest alongside the beach.

Dogs: Welcome all year.

Lifeguard: No

Local information: There is parking and a café close to the beach, by the caravan park.  

Stay nearby: The Peat House, Nibthwaite | sleeps 4


Ravenglass Beach

Ravenglass Beach

Another beautiful Lake District beach, Ravenglass is on a coastal estuary and is a great place to visit if you want an action-packed day out. Explore the sand and shingle shore, visit the remains of the Roman fort Glannoventa or take a walk around the 13th-century Muncaster Castle. There are also plenty of lovely walks in this area, with Muncaster Fell close by, while children will adore a ride on the narrow-gauge railway which connects Ravenglass with Eskdale.

Dogs: Welcome all year round.

Lifeguard: No

Local information: Parking is found in the village, and there is also a pub and a café if you’re in need of refreshments.

Stay nearby: Scafell Lodge, Coniston Water | sleeps 2 + 2 dogs


Arnside Beach

Arnside Beach

Within the Arnside Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and overlooking the River Kent estuary, Arnside Beach is a spectacular setting. However, due to the fast-moving nature of the estuary tide, it’s advised not to swim here; instead, enjoy the picturesque location where the water of Morecambe Bay shimmers in the foreground, set against a backdrop of the Lake District hills and mountains. Pick a spot on the Victorian promenade in the evening for a front-row seat to the breathtaking sunsets.

Dogs: Welcome all year round.

Lifeguard: No

Local information: There are plenty of shops, cafes and pubs in Arnside, alongside a fish and chip shop. You can also find free parking along the promenade.

Stay nearby: Lakeland Kingfisher, Carnforth | sleeps 4 + 1 dog


St Bees Beach

St Bees Beach

One of the best beaches in Cumbria, St Bees is a mile of sand and pebble beach below the impressive promontory of St Bees Head, the most western point in Cumbria and a nature reserve where you can spot kittiwakes, razorbills and guillemots. The beach at this popular holiday resort slopes down to a stripe of golden sand close to the pristine shore, perfect for sandcastle building. As well as being popular with beach lovers, St Bees is also well-visited by walkers as Alfred Wainwright recommended they dip their feet in the Irish Sea at St Bees before setting off on his famous Coast to Coast Walk.

Dogs: Welcome all year round.

Lifeguard: No

Local information: Pay and display parking by the beach, a large children’s play area close to the beach, and pubs, cafes and a golf course nearby.

Stay nearby: Ullock Mains, Cockermouth | sleeps 14 + 2 dogs


Allonby Beach

Allonby Beach

Within the spectacular Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Allonby Beach stretches for 5 miles along the gorgeous coastline. As well as offering a great day out at the beach, Allonby is a haven for nature, where you might spot natterjack toads, wading birds and lots of vegetation. There are lots of activities to try here, from kite buggying at low tide to wandering the Cumbrian Coastal Way which passes through the village.

Dogs: Welcome all year round.

Lifeguard: No

Local information: Plenty of free parking and lots of delicious places to eat and drink, including a dog-friendly inn once patronised by Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins!

Stay nearby: Country View Retreat, Allonby | sleeps 2  + 2 dogs


Roanhead Beach

Roanhead Beach

Also known as Sandscale Haws, this picturesque beach is found on the edge of a National Trust-owned nature reserve and also boasts wonderful Lake District views so it’s a brilliant place to come to be surrounded by natural beauty. The large expanse of sand means it retains a wild atmosphere, and its location on the Duddon Estuary means the fast-moving waters are not suitable for swimming. Take a long walk soaking up the untouched landscape and see if you can spot the 15% of the total UK population of natterjack toads which call this beach home.

Dogs: Welcome on the beach but not in the dunes.

Lifeguard: No

Local information: There is parking here but little else, so come prepared and enjoy this unspoilt beach.

Stay nearby: Lower Orchard Cabin, nr Ulverston | sleeps 4


Seascale Beach

Seascale Beach

On the western edge of the Lake District, Seascale Beach was once a popular Victorian resort and is now a lovely place to come and soak up the fresh sea breeze, with views across the Irish Sea and over to Galloway on a clear day. As the tide drops, it reveals a large strip of golden sand which kids will love playing on, and the beach is also popular with water sports enthusiasts and sea fishermen. Seascale is also within 10 miles of Wast Water and Illgill Head, with Scafell Pike lying a little further on, so it’s a brilliant place to combine the scenery of both hill and coast.

Dogs: Welcome all year round.

Lifeguard: No

Local information: Free parking close to the beach, a children’s play area and some lovely picnic spots too. Plenty of places to eat and drink in the village.

Stay nearby: Brigg House, Coniston | sleeps 10 + 1 dog


Earnse Bay

We mentioned Earnse Bay earlier as it’s found on the western edge of Walney Island, however it certainly deserves its own section. This vast, sandy beach is the place to come for solitude, where you can soak up the views across to the Lake District heights and the Isle of Man on a clear day. It’s also popular with kite surfers and is the venue for championships – although, there’s plenty of room for everyone even on the busiest of summer days as this beach forms part of a continuous 8-mile stretch of coastline.

Dogs: Seasonal restrictions apply.

Lifeguard: No

Local information: Parking

Stay nearby: Summer Hill House – Apartment 4, Coniston | sleeps 4


Cumbria's best beaches on a map


Stay with us in Cumbria and the Lake District

Have we inspired you to add these beaches to your must-visit list on your next Lake District holiday? You might also want to take a look at our UK beach guide to further get you in the mood for a coastal break. Of course, you’ll want to be as close to the water as possible on a seaside holiday, so take a look at our collection of Cumbrian coastal cottages to find your perfect retreat.

Cumbria coastal cottages


Please be mindful that it is always necessary to plan your trip carefully. Whilst accurate at the time of writing, please be aware that the availability of amenities such as lifeguard cover, shops, cafes, toilets and car parks at UK beaches may vary from time to time, especially in the current circumstances. Make sure you check carefully before leaving home to avoid disappointment. For an up-to-date list of beaches that are lifeguarded, visit the RNLI lifeguard patrol website before making your journey.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.