Sand by me: London’s best beaches

Posted at 5:30 pm, July 24, 2014 in Arts & Entertainment, Fun London, Outdoor London
roundhouse beach

1. CAMDEN BEACH
Sat Jul 26 until Aug 23
This giant sandpit is fast becoming a summertime tradition. More than 40,000 beach bums climbed the stairs to the Roundhouse’s oceanic terrace last year and even more are expected for this year’s roster of cocktails, live music, table tennis and pop-up food joints. It’s more geared towards the party crowd than families, but kids are welcome. The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Rd, NW1 8EH.

Gabriels Wharf, Thames Beach. Photo: Lee Nichols

[Photo: Lee Nichols]

2. GABRIEL’S WHARF
All year
Crystal clear waters; shimmering white sand; scantily clad servants bringing fresh fruit smoothies to your sun lounger… okay, it’s time to wake up because you’re not going to find any of that on the Costa del Thames. If you can’t afford to get away this year, you can pitch up at low tide next to the sand sculptors on this pleasant (though very overlooked) stretch of the river foreshore near the Oxo Tower. Just don’t be tempted to go for a dip: this coast definitely isn’t clear. Gabriel’s Wharf, SE1 9PP. 

bishops park beach

3. BISHOP’S PARK BEACH
All year
The sandy slope next to the lake in Fulham’s Bishop’s Park is based on a similar beach that existed on the site in Edwardian times (there you were thinking urban beaches were a modern trend). Restored in 2012, it’s now a popular daytime spot for families and any locals needing a sand fix before their next jaunt to St Tropez. And it’s open all year round! Life really is a beach in west London. Bishop’s Park, SW6 6EA.   

Southbank Centre beach

4. SOUTHBANK BEACH
Until Sep 14
Oh, I do like to be beside… one of the city’s busiest stretches of pavement. Back for the fifth year running, the corridor of sand that skirts along Queen’s Walk, opposite the Southbank Centre, isn’t the best spot for catching some Zs in the afternoon sun. But if you fancy a bit of buzzy barefoot beer drinking or want to rock up with the kids for sandcastle building (and not have to worry in the slightest about how noisy they’re being), this sliver of seaside charm is the perfect spot. Another bonus – no sweltering, packed two-hour train journey to endure to get there. Queen’s Walk, South Bank, SE1 8XX.

royal docks

5. ROYAL VICTORIA BEACH 
Until Aug 31
With the Emirates cable car soaring high above it, Newham’s sandy oasis is a picturesque spot to head to when the sun’s out: the dockside beach is a thoroughly pleasant place to sunbathe away an afternoon. There are deckchairs, local restaurants and a bar in an old Royal Navy refuelling barge. Now that’s what we call a sea change. Royal Victoria Embankment, E16 1BJ. 

6. THE WICK BEACH
Through the summer (end date TBA)
Other beaches not trendy enough for you? Set sail for Haircut-on-Sea (aka Hackney Wick), where The Wick community centre has created a back garden beach for its weekend parties. It’s not near water but hot tubs will be added soon. An appealing combination of jerk chicken and novelty moustaches awaits. The Old Baths, 80 Eastway, E9 5JH. 

The inaugural Doom Bar London Beach Rugby continues its exciting and action-packed debut in Covent Garden today.
© onEdition

Oh and check out Beach rugby!
Aug 1 and 2
Nothing imparts a feeling of utter relaxation like a bunch of burly blokes charging about and clutching each other’s bums. Beach rugby is a ‘thing’ now, and it’s coming to Canary Wharf next month. Tons of sand will be used to create a pitch in the shadow of the skyscrapers for the five-a-side tournament. Expect plenty of beer drinking and choruses of ‘Sand of Hope and Glory’. Wood Wharf, Canary Wharf, E14 9SB. 

Can’t hack the heat? Take a look at these nine ways to cool down during the heatwave.

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