Travel updates: Britain's most popular beaches swamped amid heatwave

Annabel Fenwick-Elliott
·24 min read
bournemouth - Andrew Matthews/PA
bournemouth - Andrew Matthews/PA

It was always going to be an almighty squash today on Britain's most popular beaches amid the heatwave, with temperatures exceeding 32C in some regions, and so it was. 

In Bournemouth, council workers were busy at dawn clearing the beach of huge quantities of rubbish left behind from the previous day. Many tourists pitched tents overnight in order to secure their space on the sand today. 

There was several miles of traffic leading into Camber Sands in East Sussex, where police were turning cars away at 10am this morning. In Devon and Cornwall, the RNLI and HM Coastguard responded to "dozens" of emergencies.

But there were pockets of calm to be found. Our writer Emily Luxton said that while Bournemouth appeared 'overwhelmed', elsewhere in Dorset 'plenty of other beaches all along the coast are still fairly empty.'

In Devon, our expert Tracey Davies was surprised to find Torquay entirely manageable, reporting: "Down on Torre Abbey sands, the main beach, it was pleasantly busy, but not packed at all; largely families, but it felt more like a good day in May rather than peak August."

Scroll down for more of the latest updates.

04:05 PM

More turned away from flights to Greece amid QR code chaos

After yours truly - and several others - were denied boarding a BA flight to Greece this week over complications with the current entry requirements, more holidaymakers have contacted The Telegraph with similar stories.

In order to enter Greece at the moment, travellers are required to fill in a “passenger locator form” (PLF) at least 24 hours before arrival so they can receive a QR code to show authorities on arrival, either printed or on a smartphone. 

Some travellers have been turned away at check-in because they weren't aware of the 24-hour time window, while others have had issues with adding multiple family members to the form.

One reader, a lawyer, who was unable to board a flight to Thessaloniki from Luton Aiport, told us: "We too were victims, along with others, of a problem with the PLF form process. In our case we were unable to add our children on to the form. The QR code did get sent but all four family members were not on the form. It was a nasty experience."

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The family has since managed to reach Thessaloniki ​on a new flight with Aegean Airlines from Heathrow the following day "all without a problem." Cheers to a happy ending.

03:50 PM

Scenes in Torquay surprisingly civilised but 'very few people wearing masks'

Our expert reports from Torquay in Devon: "I could tell the moment I arrived that this was not a normal August on the English Riviera. For a start, I found a parking space right on the front."

She also noticed a large proportion of Torquay's 150 or so B&Bs were either closed, boarded up or showing 'no vacancies' signs, writing:

Down on Torre Abbey sands, the main beach, it was pleasantly busy, but not packed at all, largely families, but it felt more like a good day in May rather than peak August. Over on the quayside, usually packed bars like Offshore and Vaughans still had empty tables, while Mitch Tonks' Rockfish restaurant was fairly buzzy, but tables all had to be pre-booked in advance.

Tracey reported several closed bars, restaurants and shops on the main stretch, while Living Coasts aquarium, usually a big draw for families, has now closed permanently thanks to the effects of the pandemic. "While most people who were out and about were social distancing, very few, if any, were wearing masks," she says.

03:39 PM

Tents accumulate on the beaches in Dorset

Visitors desperate to secure their spot in the sun are pitching tents in increasing numbers across the English coast. 

tents - PA
tents - PA
bournemouth - PA
bournemouth - PA

03:19 PM

The Cayman Islands extend their border closure until October 1

The Cayman Islands Government has today announced that they will be keeping the borders closed for an additional 30 days, until October 1, 2020. 

It has made the decision based on the rate of infection in other countries, particularly in the United States where the pandemic is approaching five million confirmed infections. 

Hon Moses Kirkconnell, Minister for Tourism stated:

"From the outset of the pandemic the government has placed the highest priority on public health and safety and we are approaching the reopening of the Islands borders with the same degree of due care and attention. It is unfortunate that this decision had to be taken but we believe it is the most prudent thing to do given the environment beyond our shores. Waiting to open our borders is allowing us to learn from the experiences of other countries and is ensuring that sufficient time is allocated to putting all of the necessary precautions in place [to] keep our Islands safe and people protected."

During this time, repatriation flights by Cayman Airways will continue to operate on an ad hoc basis. The Governor’s Office is also in advanced discussions with British Airways to introduce a regular fortnightly service to London, Gatwick. 

However, while the Cayman Islands is currently on the British Government’s FCO ‘safe' list, there are restrictions for visitors. Only people who have been pre-authorised may enter the Cayman Islands at this time. They are subject to mandatory quarantine for a period of 14 days in a government facility. 

So, where can you actually travel at the moment? Read here for the 26 countries you can actually visit right now

03:14 PM

Spain cracks down on nightclubs and Paris tightens face mask laws

Countries across Europe are doubling down on their efforts to curb a second wave of Covid-19.

Spanish police last night sent special units to nightclubs in the beach resort of Fuengirola near Malaga to enforce health regulations on partygoers, including the wearing of masks and the practice of social distancing.

“The police pressure that is carried out is essential so that people who are resistant to the law end up complying with it,” police officer Jorge Moreno told The Associated Press, stating that since June 15, officers have issued 2,000 sanctions for rule-breakers. 

Since lockdown was lifted in Spain, most new recorded cases of the virus fall within the 15-to-29 age bracket, according to a recent report by the Carlos III Health Institute. Northeast Catalonia has ordered all nightclubs to be shut down altogether.

Meanwhile in France, face masks will be mandatory in busy outdoor areas in Paris from Monday, including open-air markets and along the banks of the River Seine; but not including tourist sites such as the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysees boulevard.

The rate of positive tests in Paris is now nearly double the national average, at 2.4 per cent.

02:45 PM

A dispatch from Dorset

We asked writer Emily Luxton about the state of affairs today in Dorset as the coast again drew sun-worshippers from near and far. Here's what she had to say:

I was on Castle Cove in Weymouth, which is a smaller beach that only locals really know about. It was still pretty busy, but not overcrowded and it didn't feel like anyone was too close. Everyone was being careful to social distance on the steps. There was a fair amount of traffic around Weymouth but no more than we normally have in summer. 

However, the traffic driving down into Dorset was horrendous on Friday - especially the A31 and all the roads into Bournemouth. I think Bournemouth definitely looks like it's been overwhelmed recently, but there are plenty of other beaches all along the coast and many are still fairly empty. I'd encourage people to do some more research and try exploring some new places so that we don't all end up in the same spots.

02:30 PM

Sammy the seal pops up at Weymouth

Famed local 'Sammy' the seal made an appearance today at Weymouth in Dorset.

sammy - getty
sammy - getty
sammy - getty
sammy - getty
weymouth - getty
weymouth - getty

02:09 PM

Malawi cracks down on 'alarming' virus surge

Malawi has shut bars and churches in new restrictions to limit the "alarming" spread of coronavirus, three months after a court blocked the government from imposing a full lockdown.

Since the first positive case was detected on April 2, confirmed cases have nearly doubled over the past four weeks to hit over 4,624, including 143 deaths as of Saturday.

Malawi had not been placed under a lockdown after a court in April blocked the government from enforcing a full lockdown because it had failed to announce any measures to cushion the vulnerable.

Attorney general Chikosa Silungwe on Sunday unveiled newly-gazetted regulations to curb the spread of the virus:

  • Wearing of face masks will now be mandatory.

  • All public gatherings, including at bars and religious centres have been banned.

  • Bars will only be allowed to sell take-out alcohol.

  • No groups of more than 10 people are allowed, except for funerals with a maximum of 50 people.

Mr Silungwe also said an "army of enforcement officers" had been hired to ensure the regulations were followed.

01:57 PM

How to live like a laird in your own Scottish castle

Fancy staying in a Scottish castle for the weekend? Now you too can be a monarch of the glen, writes Steven King:

Have you heard about the Monster of Glamis? A child of noble birth so wretchedly malformed that he was not allowed to be seen in public; so hideous that he remained hidden in the castle in which he was spawned; so accursed that mention of his very existence was forbidden - yet whose legitimacy could not be denied and whose claim to entitlement could only be obscured and, perhaps, eventually forgotten. The identity of this poor tormented creature has puzzled historians for centuries.

Well. As it happens, I was at Glamis earlier this year, before lockdown, and the case was easily solved while I was smoking a cigarette and drinking a glass of whisky with the current householder, Simon Patrick Bowes Lyon, 19th and 6th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne.

Intrigued? Read on here.

01:33 PM

Can I visit France? The latest travel advice as tourists warned of new quarantine

France's inclusion on UK's list of countries exempt from quarantine gave Britons keen for a European summer holiday cause to rejoice.

Now, however, there are rumblings France may follow Spain back on to the UK's 'quarantine' list.  British visitors have been warned in recent days about new spikes in certain regions, with chancellor Rishi Sunak stating that travel agreements with other countries - including France - remain under constant review.

France’s weekly rate has overtaken that of Portugal, which has reduced its coronavirus cases to the extent that ministers are considering lifting the travel ban on it next week. 

Government sources stressed there was no imminent decision on France as it recorded its highest daily number of new Covid-19 cases in two months, with 1,695 positive tests, slightly fewer than the 1,772 seen in Spain.

Keep up to date with the latest advice here

01:21 PM

Boris is heading to Bonnie Scotland next week for a staycation

Boris Johnson is reportedly heading to Scotland for a summer holiday as quarantine rules jeopardise trips abroad, according to the Press Association

The Prime Minister has spoken about allowing a "brief staycation to creep into the agenda, if that's possible" when quizzed about his plans for a getaway.

But The Sunday Times has now reported that Mr Johnson, fiancée Carrie Symonds and their son Wilfred will travel north of the border next weekend.

A No 10 source declined to comment but did not deny the report, and there are suggestions any trip would be closer to a week in duration than the fortnight reported.

Their last known holiday was a winter break to the private Caribbean island of Mustique.

Speaking last month, Mr Johnson said:

I would encourage people still to think of wonderful staycations here in the UK. There are all sorts of fantastic destinations, the best in the world, I would say. 

Are you thinking about taking your own Scottish staycation? Read our round-up of the most beautiful and remote cottages here

Fiddle Lodges, Scotland
Fiddle Lodges, Scotland

01:03 PM

The best walks, villages and pubs in uncrowded Kent

While the crowds converge on Cornwall, Kent sits pretty in quiet seclusion, reports Joe Bindloss.  

Sure, there are busy tourist sights, from Canterbury cathedral to the sunny strands at Margate, but there’s also the Kent only locals know about, with old-fashioned country pubs, tree-shaded trails and beaches that see more seagulls than sunbathers: 

Kent’s most famous strips of sand – Botany Bay, Viking Bay, Margate Main Sands – draw hordes of day trippers, but it’s easy to find a more secluded stretch of beach by heading along the cliffs. Pocket-sized Joss Bay and Kingsgate, just north of Broadstairs, were rumoured haunts of the 18th-century smuggler Joss Snelling, who managed to evade the king’s taxes, and prosecution, till the ripe old age of 89. 

For more recommendations in Kent, read here. 

Kent
Kent

12:48 PM

UK police have reminded nearly 30,000 travellers to wear face masks but issued only 33 fines

Huge numbers of travellers are still refusing to wear face masks on public transport, the Sunday Telegraph can reveal, after figures showed that the police were forced to stop almost 30,000 people in less than a fortnight.

Despite the widescale non-compliance, most passengers caught breaking the law were allowed to carry on their journey, with just 33 fines issued since the new regulation was introduced.

The worrying figures only record incidents in which the police spoke to a traveller and suggest the true scale of the problem is much bigger.

The Government introduced the new rule requiring passengers to wear face masks on trains, buses and tubes on June 15, in the hope of encouraging commuters to return to work. 

But data released by British Transport Police under the Freedom of Information Act, has suggested the law is being widely ignored, with little sanction for those caught breaching it.

Dominic Penna and Martin Evans have the full story.

12:30 PM

Can I visit Portugal? The latest advice as country launches 'Covid-safe' insurance

In recent weeks, doubts have been raised about the science behind Portugal's exclusion from the UK's list of travel corridors, and 'progress' has been made in adding it to the FCO's quarantine-exempt countries.

In the meantime, if you are undeterred by the FCO guidance, and as long as you are not unwell, you can enjoy a holiday in Portugal right now. 

Better still,  Portugal's National Tourism Authority has launched an insurance incentive for foreign holidaymakers that includes cover for medical expenses “associated” with Covid-19, as well as protection against cancellations or holiday interruptions, starting at €37.20 (£33.62).

Read our full advice piece here.

12:15 PM

Watch: Southend beach packed with sun-seekers as heatwave continues

Thousands flocked to Southend beach in Essex over the weekend to enjoy the hot weather in the south of England. On Friday, the UK saw its hottest August day in 17 years with a high of 36.4C.

12:00 PM

A look at today's British beaches

The sun is still shining, so the coast is still busy.

st ives - getty
st ives - getty
bournemouth - pa
bournemouth - pa
belgium - afp
belgium - afp

11:45 AM

Algarve's low hotel occupancy 'disastrous' for the economy

Hotels in Portugal's Algarve region last month saw a 60 per cent decrease in occupancy compared to last July, hoteliers’ association AHETA has reported.

This dip has been most pronounced among British holidaymakers; down 90 per cent year-on-year.

Elidérico Viegas, chief of AHETA, told TSF radio: “This situation is disastrous for companies,” adding that he hopes the Portuguese government will offer aid to the Algarve so its economy can survive. 

Britons are still visiting Portugal, however, despite the FCO's warning against all but essential travel. There has been "absolutely overwhelming" demand - mostly from English travellers - for a new insurance package launched by Portugal's National Tourism Authority that offers cover for foreign visitors. Read more here.

11:31 AM

Our hotels editor has found a pocket of Cornwall that's not overrun with tourists

Congratulations, Jade Conroy, on finding a slice of Cornwall that is actually peaceful at the moment. 

The photos of St Ives, Polzeath and Padstow that surfaced on the news last week painted a picture of a destination bursting at the seams. Jade, however, had a very different experience when she visited last week:

I spent a couple of nights in Portloe – a fishing village found along the jagged Roseland Peninsula on the south coast – and found it soul-soothingly, mind-emptying-ly peaceful.

Days out from Portloe included a visit to The Lost Gardens of Heligan, a 30-minute drive away, which is currently asking visitors to pre-book timed slots, and also has a one-way system in its busiest parts.

Nearby St Mawes, the bouji, pastel-tinged, so-called Cornish Riviera, was also on the sedate side – a surprising fact considering it has recently been voted the most popular seaside town in Britain.

Gorran Haven quay at sunset saw locals meet up for a dip or else a glass of wine on the sand. It was decidedly un-Benidorm.

Read her full dispatch here.

portloe
portloe

11:15 AM

The UK's best 25 al-fresco restaurants, chosen by Telegraph experts

Though as a nation we’re not best known for our al fresco dining scene, this summer has proven that just the merest hint of sunshine (not to mention a full-blown heatwave) has us making a beeline for outdoor eating spots, says Pip Sloan

So, whether it’s a picnic bench, rooftop garden, restaurant terrace or beachside bar you are seeking, we have ideas aplenty: Telegraph columnists, along with our favourite chefs and food writers, all share their most treasured spots, from Michelin-starred stalwarts to hidden gems, in locations both urban and gloriously rural.

Here are 25 of the best.

11:00 AM

A rubbish weekend in Bournemouth?

Photos have emerged this morning from Bournemouth of the aftermath as its beaches heaved with visitors over the sweltering weekend, leaving a trail of rubbish in their wake...

bournemouth - pa
bournemouth - pa
bournemouth - PA
bournemouth - PA
bournemouth - pa
bournemouth - pa

10:45 AM

Mariella Frostrup: My run-in with a Cornish local as the over-entitled hordes fill their town

Stepping from the seclusion of her lockdown in Somerset into the explosion of activity that defines Polzeath beach in midsummer was a shock to the system for Mariella Frostrup. She writes:

On one balmy evening returning from a dog walk, three teens sat in the car park playing loud music just below our house. I asked them politely to turn it down and one asked politely why he should, since his beach was covered with people he hadn’t invited to his town?

We engaged in a short, civilised discussion, and emerged, I like to think, with a widened understanding of each other’s points of view. He moved his ghetto blaster, I thanked him for his tolerance and suggested that, since his family run a nearby caravan park, he might think of the money and put up with the eight weeks of over-entitled hordes.

Read her full account here.

10:30 AM

Europe stunned by American coronavirus response as it approaches 5m infections

The United States' failure to contain the spread of the coronavirus has been met with astonishment and alarm in Europe, as the world's most powerful country edges closer to a global record of five million confirmed infections.

Much of the incredulity in Europe stems from the fact that America had the benefit of time, European experience and medical know-how to treat the virus that the continent itself didn't have when the first Covid patients started filling intensive care units.

Yet, more than four months into a sustained outbreak, the US is about to hit an astonishing milestone of five million confirmed infections, easily the highest in the world.

Health officials believe the actual number is closer to 50 million, given testing limitations and the fact that as many as 40 per cent of all cases are asymptomatic.

Read more here.

10:15 AM

Comment: With age, I've come to hate doing new things on holiday

Oliver Smith has a disease that seems to afflict the old far worse than the young, he says. It is neophobia – that is, a fear of trying new things – and it is most pronounced when he's on holiday:

The world keeps inventing new things to rouse me from my torpor. I take one glance at people indulging in such activities and return to my novel.

Take Segways. Why would you pay good money to bomb around town on what is essentially a mobility scooter? They are the transport equivalent of a bum bag: guaranteed to make you look like a fool. I watch tourists riding these devices and always sense regret.

Then there is paddleboarding, the Segway of the seas, which seems mostly to involve hanging out with social media “influencers”, wearing a sarong, getting a sore back and losing your balance. If it has taken until the 21st century for the pastime to become popular, then it must be rubbish.

Read his full rant here.

10:00 AM

Why Puglia's palazzi hotels are perfect for a post-lockdown holiday

With its long summers and even longer coastlines, Puglia offers the perfect antidote to weeks of lockdown under Fair Albion’s grey skies, writes Kate Bolton. The many glitterati seduced by this area in recent years has transformed the once stout and sensible heel of Italy into a chic and sexy stiletto.

Reflecting its new look, the latest hotel trends here breathe contemporary style into historic palazzi – stately residences from the heyday of Apulian splendour.

Read on here.

puglia - Serena Eller
puglia - Serena Eller

09:45 AM

Wuhan is seeing a tourist boom

The Chinese city of Wuhan, the former epicentre of the global coronavirus pandemic, is seeing a surge in visitors to its main attractions after admission was made free for 23 of its 'A-level' scenic spots.

Wuhan's Yellow Crane Tower received over 12,000 visitors on Saturday compared the usual daily average of about 2,500. 

Nearly 400 A-level tourist sites across China are, as of yesterday, free to visit until the end of the year in a bid to boost the economy.

wuhan - getty
wuhan - getty

09:30 AM

A postcard from the British seaside town where Covid snobs aren't welcome

Since lockdown began in March, Anna Hart has barely strayed from her adopted hometown of Margate, a classic cheap-and-cheerful, bucket-and-spade seaside town in Kent.  She writes:

During these past few weeks, with lockdown restrictions easing and travel back on the cards, I’ve been proud of the good grace with which Margate has welcomed visitors from all backgrounds, and with all budgets.

We have had our problems. Our carparks, public toilets and litter bins are woefully inadequate for a mid-pandemic heatwave in the school holidays. And these past weekends, the litter left on Margate’s Main Sands has been quite a shock.

But even so, I’ve seen very little of the snobbery, selfishness and nimbyism exhibited by other UK destinations. And I’ve spent the past few weeks marvelling at this, and feeling prouder of my town than ever before. After all, litter can be cleaned up. But a welcoming and hospitable spirit? This is what really makes a holiday town beautiful.

Read her full piece here.

09:07 AM

Secret seaside: 10 UK alternatives to crowded Cornwall

Many parts of the British coast have been inundated this weekend thanks in part to the glorious weather. So where can you go for peace and quiet?

Our UK experts suggest their favourite lesser-known corners

Carmarthenshire  - James Osmond
Carmarthenshire - James Osmond

08:56 AM

Global fatalities soar past 722,000

Brazil has become the second country to pass the grim milestone of 100,000 coronavirus deaths.

Just a day after Latin America and the Caribbean became the hardest-hit region in the global pandemic, Brazil reported a total of 100,477 fatalities, joining the United States as the only two countries to surpass the six-digit death mark.

Tolls continue to rise across the world, with global fatalities having now soared past 722,000.

India has more than two million infections - its caseload doubling in three weeks - and has recorded 42,518 deaths.

And more than 10,000 people have died from coronavirus in South Africa.

126d4395-40c9-404c-a029-d6802e8b2987

08:51 AM

Havana is back in lockdown

Cuba has reimposed a strict lockdown on Havana in the face of rising Covid-19 cases.

Bars, restaurants, pools and beaches are closed, and public transport is suspended.

The number of cases of the virus had dwindled to only a few a day but have jumped in recent weeks to April levels, with 59 new infections reported yesterday. Forty-one of these cases were imported, according to Reuters; many from Venezuela. 

havana - shutterstock
havana - shutterstock

08:37 AM

Beachgoers reminded of Covid risk

As temperatures soared across western Europe, holidaymakers crowded beaches despite warnings about the risk of infection.

On Saturday, a day after Britain recorded its hottest August day in 17 years at 36.4 degrees Celsius (97.5 Fahrenheit), much of its southern coastline was packed with tourists.

Local authorities in Germany warned that some beaches and lakes would be closed if there were too many people.

Belgian police arrested several people on Saturday after a brawl broke out on a beach at the Blankenberge resort between officers and youths they had told to leave for refusing to respect virus safety measures.

08:23 AM

British holidaymakers gamble on Greece as it overtakes Spain

British tourists are gambling on Greece for their holidays despite a spike in cases as the country has overtaken Spain in popularity for the first time, reports Sam Meadows.

Data from Skyscanner, the flight bookings website, showed that when the Government changed its travel advice requiring people returning to England from Spain to quarantine for two weeks, travellers began to look elsewhere.

While Barcelona, Ibiza and Malaga were consistently in the top 10 most sought after routes on the site throughout 2019, in the week after quarantine measures were announced they were replaced by Greek destinations including Crete, Corfu and Santorini.

Top travel destinations
Top travel destinations

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it is monitoring the international situation “very closely” and keeping its travel advice under review. People returning from Greece do not currently need to self-isolate.

08:12 AM

Yesterday's top stories

A quick recap:

  • Ministers make 'progress' in dropping Portugal quarantine

  • Huge demand for Portugal's new 'Covid-safe' insurance package

  • Face maks outside are now mandatory in Saint-Tropez

  • MSC Cruises announces restart of operations in the Mediterranean 

  • Gatwick puts terminal on ice as axe falls on thousands of BA staff

  • British men arrested at Malaga airport for refusing to wear masks

Read yesterday's blog here.