Lonely Planet Writer

Where to find the most pristine swimming spots in England

It looks like you won’t have to travel far to find a great beach this summer. England’s Blue Flag beaches for 2019 have just been revealed and the number of clean coastlines are on the rise.

Blackpool Sands in Devon was awarded a Blue Flag this year. Image by Olaf Protze/LightRocket via Getty

While your friends are boasting about beach holidays in Bali or the Bahamas, you can get excited (weather permitting) about a trip to Blackpool Sands in Devon. It’s one of the 71 beaches across England that have been awarded Blue Flag status – an international quality mark awarded to beaches deemed clean and safe with excellent facilities. England also received 137 Seaside Awards this year, which recognise “quality beaches” that have the highest standard of management and water quality.

Dawlish Warren in South Devon, England was one of the many south-west beaches to win a Blue Flag. Image by James D. Morgan/Getty

Last year a total of 190 Blue Flag and Seaside awards were handed out to England’s beaches compared to 208 in 2019 so it looks like the coastlines are getting cleaner. Keep Britain Tidy – the charity that oversees the awards scheme – dubbed the increase the “Attenborough effect,” after a poll revealed that 54% of people had been inspired to clean up litter from beaches after watching David Attenborough documentaries like Blue Planet and Planet Earth.

West Wittering in West Sussex with its colourful chalets is another award-winning beach. Image by Getty

Some of the popular beaches awarded flags this year include Brighton Central, Hove Lawns, Margate Main Sands and Exmouth. The majority of awards were handed out to beaches in the south-west (32), followed by 15 in the south-east, while Yorkshire and Humber is the only region to receive one flag this year (Whitby).

Popular Brighton Central is one of the cleanest beaches in England. Image by Getty

Feeling inspired? You can see the full list of award-winning beaches here or travel further afield with Lonely Planet’s guide to the world’s most mind-blowing beaches.