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By the seaside: the prettiest coastal villages on the south coast

As the weather warms up and the days lengthen, the dream for many is to own a home where a bedroom window can be flung open to listen to the sound of the waves or the squawking of seagulls in the mornings.


From Sussex to Cornwall the south coast of England offers a wide variety of spectacular natural features including islands and bays, headlands and peninsulas all of which are interspersed by beaches of golden sand and smooth shingle. Unsurprisingly, being able to enjoy these vistas from the comfort of a living room or bedroom will cost: in figures published last year, homes with sea views will typically cost 29% more than the average price of a property with no view in the same area.

Milford on Sea

Milford on Sea on the Hampshire coast is a “thriving” village, situated between the Georgian market towns of Lymington and Christchurch, recommends Chris Collinge of Winkworth Milford on Sea“The village benefits from boutique shops, high quality restaurants and an extremely active community centre. Festivals, including art, music and food are annually held on the village green.” The beaches, with clear crystal waters are excellent for swimming and water sports, and connections are strong: there are mainline railway stations at nearby New Milton and Brockenhurst providing a regular service to London Waterloo. Chris also recommends nearby Keyhaven which he describes as “an enchanting hamlet with a tidal harbour and two sailing clubs, making it a popular spot for yachtsmen, anglers and birdwatchers”. There are stunning walks along the coastal path to nearby Lymington and the area is steeped in history. The name is said to derive from ‘Cyhaefen’ – the Saxon term for point of disembarkation to and from the Isle of Wight, for animals bound for market. “It’s understood to have been a port from 1206,” adds Chris.


Heading west along the coast is Highcliffe-on-Sea a small town which lies within the borough of Christchurch in Dorset. With views of the Isle of Wight and The Needles to the east and yet within easy distance of the New Forest National Park, its benign climate helped establish the town as a popular health resort during the late Victorian and early Edwardian eras. Today, the shingle-and-sand beach is popular among locals for both bodyboarding and swimming.


There are five beaches in Poole including Sandbanks which has one more Blue Flags than any other in the UK. Famed for its millionaire mansions, and some of the highest property values in the country, it’s a popular yachting destination and known for the annual British Beach Polo Championships held every July. A little further away towards to Bournemouth lies another affluent suburb Canford Cliffs which boasts a vast sandy beach which is popular with families and has some charming beach huts dating back to the 1920s.


Bournemouth has seven miles of golden sandy beaches and plenty of independent shopping opportunities in the centre but away from the hubbub, two areas stand out. Westbourne, which was once home to Robert Louis Stevenson, is a stunning Victorian-era suburb a couple of miles to the west of Bournemouth that is renowned for its wealth of fashionable, independent and quirky shops as well as its Victorian arcade. The Alum Chine Beach which has fantastic views out over the Solent and across to the Purbecks is safe for swimming and hosts a variety of water sports including surfing, windsurfing canoeing and sailing.


Lying at the most easterly part of Bournemouth, between Boscome and Christchurch, Southbourne is another attractive coastal village. The centre focuses around Southbourne Grove which again has some good independent shops and restaurants including The Larder House but its main attraction is the lovely beach which is part sand and part shingle.


Heading further west into Devon, and the opportunities to own a cottage overlooking the coast or a river estuary open up around Dartmouth in the South Hams district. Director of Winkworth’s local office Richard Blake recommends the coastal villages of Strete and Stoke Fleming for their proximity to one of the area’s most attractive family-friendly beaches at Blackpool Sands. “It’s one of the most photographed beaches in the country and is a short distance from both Dartmouth and the famous Slapton Sands,” explains Richard. “The coastal road is often cited as one of the most beautiful drives in Britain and I certainly wouldn’t argue with that. The area is blessed with plenty of award-winning restaurants and bistros as well as beach cafes nearby. I would be surprised if there were many better places to live or to holiday in the United Kingdom!”


Lying on the south coast of Cornwall, between Plymouth and Falmouth, Fowey is often cited among the county’s prettiest coastal villages. Set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and made up by pretty medieval and Georgian buildings, it’s a popular destination for sailors and holidaymakers in the summer months.

Polperro is a largely unspoilt fishing villages which was once infamous as a smugglers haunt. Today, pretty cottages cling to steep hillsides overlooking a small harbour. Something of a magnet for artists, the village hosts and arts and music festival each June. Nearby Looe is also worth a look: it’s a picture-perfect fishing village made up of terraces of houses and quayside cottages.

Properties for sale

Dorset: A three-bedroom penthouse apartment in Highcliffe with coastal views and three underground parking spaces is on the market with Winkworth Highcliffe for £1.3m.


Dorset: This two-bedroom apartment in Southbourne is just moments from the beach and is within easy reach of the shops, bars and restaurants in trendy Southbourne Grove. It’s on the market with Winkworth Southbourne for £349,950.


Dorset: Located on the clifftop in Alume Chine, this first-floor apartment has two bedrooms and lies within easy distance of Westbourne village and award-winning sandy beaches. It’s on the market for £375,000 through Winkworth Westbourne.


Devon: Alkantara is a four-bedroom modern house on the edge of the village of Strete in Devon’s South Hams district. It enjoys splendid coastal views from the outdoor dining terrace and the wide sandy beach of Blackpool Sands lies within walking distance. £845,000 through Winkworth Dartmouth.


Cornwall: This Georgian town house has five bedrooms and a private rear courtyard garden with a separate outbuilding. It is on the market with Winkworth Fowey for £475,000.


Are you looking to buy, sell, rent or let? Get in touch.

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