A total of 461 British beaches have been awarded the top “recommended” gong for having excellent bathing water quality, while 46 failed the cleanliness test. 

That’s according to the Good Beach Guide, which reveals that 42 more bathing spots have reached the highest grade in 2011 than in 2010.

Beaches that failed the water quality test include Blackpool’s south and central beaches, St Andrews’ east sands, the beach at Aberdyfi, Gwynedd, Wales and Lyme Regis’s church beach.

Meanwhile, Bude’s Summerleaze beach and Par, in Cornwall, raised their standards from failing last year to being “recommended” this year.

Beaches that come recommended by the guide include Polzeath and Newquay in Cornwall, Bognor Regis in West Sussex, Sheringham in Norfolk, Tenby in Pembrokeshire, Portobello central beach in Edinburgh and Portrush in Antrim, Northern Ireland.

Rachel Wyatt, coastal pollution officer at the Marine Conservation Society, told the Telegraph: “From 2015 Europe’s beaches will be classified using even stricter water quality standards due to the revision of the Bathing Water Directive.

“But instead of viewing these new standards with dread, our coastal communities and water companies should welcome them as an opportunity to attract more people to the UK’s wonderful and varied seaside resorts.”

She added: “The next few years are critical as the quality of the UK’s bathing waters can play a vital role in the economic recovery of our traditional seaside resorts.

“Making sure their local beaches are ready to comply with the revised Bathing Water Directive is a huge opportunity for local authorities and chambers of commerce to attract increasing numbers of tourists to the UK’s coastline.”