Step lively to make a splash without the kids

I returned a few days ago from the Isle of Wight where, many years ago, I spent memorable childhood holidays. The wonderful beaches were pretty much deserted. But soon – weather permitting – they’ll be teeming with happy families.
So anyone planning to enjoy our beautiful coast before the schools break up and the crowds descend should not delay. Hotels are filling up fast but there are still some cracking properties with availability over the next few weeks.
In South Devon, for example, Tides Reach has a great location on an unspoilt, tree-fringed sandy bay at the mouth of the Salcombe estuary. You can go sailing or book a paddleboard or sea-kayak from right outside and catch the little ferry from the beach to the town. The hotel currently has last-minute deals, typically saving £30 or £40 off the nightly room rate.
Another place popular with sailors is the quayside village of Bosham, near Chichester in West Sussex. Here The Millstream Hotel is booked months ahead for the Goodwood Festival of Speed motor-racing (July 11-14) and Glorious Goodwood horse-racing (July 30-August 3) events. But it does have rooms available on other dates when guests can explore the South Downs and nearby beaches such as Bracklesham Bay, the Witterings and Hayling Island.
Not far away, Rye in East Sussex is one of the ancient cinque ports and an appealing little town of cobbled streets and medieval buildings. It’s a seaside town – though the sea retreated many years ago and the best beach is two miles away at Camber Sands. Rye Lodge Hotel has an enviable location on East Cliff overlooking the estuary and Romney Marshes.
At the opposite end of the country, Knockinaam Lodge enjoys a wild and remote setting at the water’s edge near Portpatrick on the southwest tip of Scotland. It has its own private sandy beach and on a clear day you can see Ireland across the sea. Book two nights this summer and the hotel will provide a free picnic – and throw in a bottle of champagne if you book a third night.  
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