Klaxons at the ready. We have a major announcement to make. It is not, repeat, not grim up north. Sure, we have a fair smattering of urban blight, decaying mills, bad traffic and dubious sorts doing unmentionable things. But we also have natural assets a-plenty. Take the region’s beaches. The coast here – all 1,400km of it – makes up the largest stretch of undeveloped coastline in England. Over 80% of it is protected. It includes a World Heritage waterfront, two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and, yes, lots and lots of golden sand. So while Ian Brown may once have said something about Manchester having everything except a beach – he missed out the fact that one of the joys of Manchester, and all of the cities and towns in the North West, is that you’re never too far away from one. Here are our picks of the best.