Anna Lloyd-Morell: One cannot miss the beach at Southwold; head from town for the white-noise sound of strong waves churning and the hard tamping down on firm, soft sand.
Stretching a good mile from Pier to Harbour, it feels endless and despite Southwold being a seaside resort (albeit a small, days-of-yore-quiet kind) the beach feels quite rural and unspoilt. A long string of colourful beach huts nestles between low dunes and the muscovado golden sand, unobtrusive until their owners arrive with buckets, spades and children mid-morning. Dawn and dusk are by far the best times to swim here but the weather has a micro-climate of its own here; gusty, unforecast wind makes the usually burning sun feel distinctly more chilly and whips the waves into powerful breakers. Sudden mists filter Turner-esque sky colours into a glorious canopy under which to swim. Stay near shore and you will have to fight and ride the swell. This is not gentle sea swimming. It is all about the waves on this stretch of beach; the rhythmic, hypnotic pounding of the strong North Sea. So fierce and invigorating, it is the perfect foil to the gentleness of the backdrop of this lovely, picture-postcard town.
Swimming on a falling tide is very dangerous here and has been known to be fatal. Conversely swimming on a rising tide is a hoot as you can go from the Pier to the River Blyth with minimal effort. So be careful.