From slick cities to national parks, the United Kingdom has countless geographic gems.
And, with their narrow lanes, tiny harbours and cosy atmospheres, the coastline’s historic fishing villages are undoubtedly among them.
But with so many to choose from, which are the most stunning? And which offer the best views? Countryfile magazine has picked what it thinks is the ultimate top ten for your bucket list.
Clovelly, North Devon
Fishing for compliments: Picturesque fishing village of Clovelly on the North Devon Coast
Once owned by the Queen of England, Clovelly has long been in private ownership, which has helped preserve its original atmosphere.
Flanked by a 400ft cliff in North Devon, it has no vehicular traffic on its steeply cobbled street, just donkeys and sledges, so it’s perfect for moving into a slower gear.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, Countryfile suggests tasting the freshly caught bass and crab at the Red Lion Hotel bar.
Rural: Porthgain’s historic harbour and slate mines are in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
Nestled on Pembrokeshire’s stunning coast, Porthgain makes the list thanks to its dramatic scenery, which attracts thousands of visitors each year.
According to Countryfile, one must-see spot is the famous ‘Blue Lagoon’, a gorgeous aquamarine sea pool loved by wild swimmers and cliff jumpers.
But, if you’re feeling slightly less adventurous, the Sloop Inn pub is worth seeing for its local heritage memorabilia, while The Shed Bistro offers fresh, locally-sourced fish.
Age-old: Boasting a harbour that dates back to the 16th-century, Crail remains a stunning site
Once home to Europe’s largest market place, Crail is now a much more sedate place.
Charming cobbled streets tumble down to the miniature sea front, which is sheltered by cliffs and surrounded by historic fishing cottages.
Boasting a harbour that dates back to the 16th-century, it’s only 90 minutes from Edinburgh (by car) and 10 miles south of St Andrews. But, as Countryfile notes, the Isle of May’s puffin and guillemot colonies are just six miles away.
Beer, south Devon
Vista: A panorama looking down on the beach an coastal town of Beer in South Devon
Surrounded by white chalk cliffs, Beer’s shingle beach is lined with fishing boats still bringing in their daily catches and is famous for its mackerel.
According to the local tourist information, it has some of the most stunning coastal walks in the country – one of the best being from Seaton to Beer with dramatic views across the Jurassic Coastline.
Countryfile suggests hiking up to Beer Head, where you can enjoy a sunset dinner at the Beer Head Bistro. Or walk 45 minutes west along the coast path to Branscombe beach for a crab sandwich at its Sea Shanty Beach Café.
Brancaster Staithe, Norfolk
Historic site: A winter morning view of Brancaster Staithe in Norfolk
A National Trust favourite, Brancaster Staithe Harbour was once a busy port.
Trade declined in the 1800s, but a thriving fishing industry survives, and today the harbour bustles with people who simply sail for fun.
The experts at Countryfile suggest heading west along the coast path to reach Brancaster beach, with miles of golden sands, then see Titchwell Marsh nature reserves for outstanding birdwatching.
Eat your heart out: Northumberland’s Craster is famous for its food delicacy
Craster is famed as being the home of the kipper, a smoked fish exported to food lovers across the country.
But there’s more to this cheery village than its famous food delicacy, which is still locally prepared in oak smoked barrels for that distinctive flavour.
Countryfile insiders suggest ‘walking north along the grassy headland to the foreboding remains of Dunstanburgh Castle’, which offers a compelling insight into regional history.
Plockton Ross and Cromarty, Scotland
Now that’s a view! Often referred to as the ‘Jewel of the Highlands’, Plockton Ross and Cromarty offers breathtaking scenery
Plockton sits on a sheltered bay with stunning views overlooking Loch Carron, in the Highlands of Scotland.
Often referred to as the ‘Jewel of the Highlands’, it offers breathtaking scenery and landscapes, secluded bays, coral beaches, islands, panoramic views and the possibility of seeing marine life up-close.
According to Countryfile, visitors should ‘take a one-hour trip out on Sula Mhor, Calum Mackenzie’s boat, to see the seals, or simply wander around Loch Carron’s shore’.
Picturesque: Mousehole is a tiny fishing village with big pulling-power in West Cornwall
Mousehole (pronounced mow-zol) is a tiny fishing village in West Cornwall, three miles west of Penzance.
Its picturesque harbour is surrounded by narrow streets and yellow lichened houses, which huddle together in a bewitching manner.
Countryfile suggests rising early to visit the fish market, where visitors can purchase the freshest catch of the day and then head back to The Old Coastguard Hotel for a long fish lunch.
West Mersea, Essex
Shore thing: A row of colourful beach huts face the waves in West Mersea, Essex
There’s a distinct sense of adventure about a trip to Mersea Island. Approached by a causeway from the mainland, cut off at high spring tide, and just eight miles square, it’s a place you have to plan to get to.
But, according to experts, it’s worth the effort. Specifically, if you partake on the Lady Grace boat trips, where you can fish and appreciate the island from the sea.
The 20-minute adventure consists of a gentle relaxing trip around the Packing Shed Island where they used to pack the oysters back in the 1850s.
Popular: The sun beats down during a mid-summer day at Portloe harbour, Cornwall
Portloe is considered by many to be one of the prettiest villages in Cornwall. In fact, Sir John Betjeman once said that it’s ‘one of the least spoiled and most impressive of Cornish fishing villages’.
Countryfile suggests dining at The Lugger Inn, which is a first-class restaurant that sits unassumingly on the harbour front.
From its window, watch lobsters and crabs being landed from the working boats and follow their short journey up the jetty right to your plate.
- The new issue of Countryfile magazine, which features the full list, is available now.
Read more: The new issue of Countryfile magazine is out now