I love the coast. The sea breeze, the huge waves, the salty air. The hidden, secret, tucked away corners of Eden you find down tiny lanes that fall into a breathtaking sea are my idea of a perfect beach. So, Covehithe Beach in Suffolk is exactly my kind of beach.
Covehithe beach is a short way down the coast southwards from Lowestoft beach. Unlike Lowestoft, which sports a pier, numerous beach huts, an arcade, cafes and more, Covehithe is almost completely deserted.
How to find the beach
It took us a while to even figure out where to park the car because the route to the beach is barely signposted. Luckily, a passing dog walker gave us a heads up (park on the left hand fork as your back is to the church, avoiding yellow lines as the parking wardens are very strict with tickets). There are also a couple of spots near the old church ruin (also brilliant to look around!), but you can only stay a couple of hours.
The beach path is around 100 yards from the church and seems to lead to a farmer’s field. There’s an old noticeboard and a dog waste bin at the entrance and nearly nothing else to show you where it goes. It veers to the left around the field, then continues right. It’s just about flat and wide enough for a pushchair, although it is very uneven, but you will have to lift it down onto the sand at the end of the path.
It’s a bit of a trek…but worth it!
The walk took us about 15 minutes with a four and a two year old. Gradually, the path morphs from field track to a trail with trees on either side. Further on, we found sand dunes colonised with long grasses. You can hear the waves crashing as you make your way. There are little breaks in the foliage giving a glimpse of the ocean, which only built the excitement.
We got to the end of path and the dunes parted, falling away to a near empty beach. It was littered with driftwood, with tide lines of pebbles in the sand. A strong wind was blowing when we arrived and it was quite overcast, but breathtakingly beautiful. We saw a solitary dog walker and not a soul else for over an hour.
In the distance up the coast, you can see the stark white Lowestoft Lighthouse blinking away. It captivated Aeryn. We had stood at the foot of it just a few days before so to see it again from afar was really special. It gives the coastline such a strong sense of place and makes Covehithe feel both connected with the rest of the beaches in Suffolk and also completely remote.
Getting stuck in
We scrambled down to the sand (which the kids loved) and wasted no time choosing a spot to set up our blanket. Not knowing how far the tide might come up the beach, we decided to stick near the dunes. It was still nowhere near us by the time we left, luckily. It’s always worth checking tide times!
Aeryn and Zephyr were the only children on the beach for the entire time we were there. In total, there were perhaps 20 people in four hours, nearly all dog walkers or couples. One family with teens wandered past. Aeryn especially couldn’t believe the difference after our trip to Lowestoft, which was so busy and bustling.
A little bit of wilderness
Covehithe has a rugged, wild charm about it. The wind whips the waves so they can be really quite powerful, even in the shallows. We decided to just paddle instead of swim and still got totally soaked. Just standing in the water feeling the force of the waves, gazing back up towards the beach to see Zephyr and Aeryn chasing each other, was pure bliss.
There are collections of pebbles like murmurations across the beach, of all shapes and colours, which we all enjoyed collecting and comparing. Zephyr tried his absolute hardest to throw every stone he found back into the sea, which he thought was terrrific fun. I have a sea glass collection and found some beautiful pieces to add to it in amonst the rocks.
I suppose collecting sea glass is really beach litter picking, as it isn’t supposed to be there. I find sea glass an exquisite reminder of just how powerful the ocean is. It’s amazing how something jagged and broken and useless can become so tactile and beautiful. I hope to make a couple of the pieces into jewellery at some point.
We paddled, built sandcastles, ate our picnic, made rock towers and searched for Covehithe’s famed driftwood. An entire driftwood tree, roots and all, was just up the beach from us. I went and sat on it for a while and watched the waves crashing in front of me while the children built pebble towers.
My favourite beach in Suffolk
I wondered if all the people at Great Yarmouth or Lowestoft or Southwold had any idea what they were missing. An article by Daniel Start for the Telegraph lists the 20 best hidden beaches in the UK and Covehithe beach is the only one in Suffolk that makes it (at number 7). An acolade that is well deserved.
Sure, there’s no ice cream stand, or cafe, or quintessential beach huts, or pier. But there’s also no crowds. No litter. No competing for a teeny stretch of sand to spread a towel. The sand is beautiful for building castles. The sea is perfect for splashing around in, especially in August and September when it’s the warmest it will be all year. The driftwood is also stunning. All of the essential components of what makes a beach a beach are right there. We found our own fun with fewer distractions, so it was also a cheaper day out. It was our favourite excursion of our week away in Suffolk and I would have happily spent another week just at Covehithe.