It's all well and good finding the perfect family friendly holiday cottage, but what about the beach? I hesitate to write this because I don’t want too many people to know about THE perfect family friendly beach, but just between you and me, I think I’ve found it. First some background, I’ve been living in south Devon for six years and during that time barely a month goes by without me declaring that I’ve found a new favourite beach; the area is heaving with beautiful beaches. For me the perfect beach involves a quiet, unspoilt spot with sea, sand and scenery. I’ll walk miles to find something just right. Then when I think I’ve found a perfect beach, I organise the family and pack the car with my wife and three children plus assorted beach paraphernalia. We then drive as close to the beach as we can get before starting the two mile hike with my back and shoulders laden in bags of buckets, blankets, beach clothes, spades, picnics and towels. Sometime into the trek someone wants a wee and someone wants to be carried. So I send the children into the bushes and carry my wife.
After this had happened a few times I realised that my definition of a perfect beach was still influenced by my years of bachelorhood. It was time for me to accept that I could have a perfect beach or I could have a family friendly beach. A family friendly beach needs toilets, a good cafe and perhaps most important of all – easy accessibility, which means that it also comes complete with crowds. So, for a while, I gave up my dreams of the perfect beach and accepted a universal truth - that when it came to beaches people can have the quiet unspoilt scenic spot or they can relax with their family in their keenly fought-over five square metres of sand, but they can’t have both.
Or so I thought. And then I discovered something remarkable – a beautiful, sandy, almost deserted, accessible beach, with toilets and a great cafe, which also had rockpools and sheltered sea for swimming in. It also has something else, something that makes a great family beach into the perfect family friendly beach – it has a stream. My children are aged between two and seven and they love playing in the sand and the sea. They also love rockpools and ice creams, but they absolutely adore a stream and can literally spend hours floating boats and building dams.
Now, have I really got to tell you all where this perfect family friendly beach is? I’ll whisper it. The perfect, family friendly beach is... South Milton Sands.