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No, we don't mean finding fossils or Roman coins; or, in a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall inspired forage, coming across a marsh full of samphire, we are talking here about unique and special seaside places to eat. For so long in the UK it was not possible to sit and gaze at the ocean as we dined, as we are so used to doing on the continent. Now, thankfully, all that is changing. Here are some brave pioneers:

There's been a buzz for a while about The Hive, at Burton Bradstock in Dorset. Perched directly on the beach with a flotilla of tables and awnings stretching over above the sands, this is seriously stylish al fresco. Astounding fresh seafood is their hallmark and they offer quirky events, such as the 'telling tales' evening, where you can bring the kiddies in their pyjamas to listen to a storyteller.

The Hidden Hut at Porthcurnick Beach in Cornwall is really just a shabby old beach shack which by day is a perfectly lovely little cafe. However, it looks belie its secret reputation. Once or twice a week, it hosts a "feast night" that has been so renowned it has been booked out all summer. Local chef Rick Stein is a big fan. The dishes are simple and inexpensive, like lobster and chips, but reportedly "an unforgettable beachside eating experience".

In Norfolk, you can find Michelin starred fish and chips! Chef Graham Backiston of Morston Hall has opened No 1 New Street Fish and Chips in Cromer, where, with views of the beach, you can tuck into sustainably sourced fish with pea fritters and follow with home-made ice cream, all to the masterchef's recipes.

Up in Northumberland, The Ship Inn at Low Newton-by-the-Sea, Alnwick, is right on the shore and here you can eat the local kippers and crab, accompanied by warm stotties and hot soups while looking over the dramatic coastline.

Welsh foodies will be rewarded after a long hill tramp to the harbour at Porthgain in Pembrokeshire to end up at The Shed bistro, where you can sit outside and watch the fishing boats come in as you devour crab sandwiches.

In Devon, The Beachouse at South Milton Sands is another gem, in an absolutely idyllic location. Looking out over Thurleston Rock, in a National Trust protected bay, this café is open all day until quite late at night and is able to offer rib eye steak for a very reasonable price -perfect with a bottle of wine watching the sunset.

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