The Best UK Coastal Walks
The UK’s coastal walks are some of the best and most dramatic in the world, and as an avid walker myself, I love to head off into the great outdoors for a long walk. I have chosen 9 of the Best Coastal Walks in the UK for you to discover. These spectacular walks offer a choice of stunning landscapes along the most dramatic UK coastlines.
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The Atlantic Coast – Cornwall #1
Cornwall’s Atlantic coast is both a dramatic and unforgiving landscape carved from the relentless pounding of the sea. It also happens to be the longest coastline in the UK, measuring 1086km. Coastal walks are sensational, and the views along the coast are breath-taking. It is easy to see why Cornwall is one of the best-loved counties in the UK, with many incredible outdoor pursuits and a temperate climate in the summer months.
Activities in Cornwall range from walking, kayaking and scuba-diving to surfing and bird-watching, to name a few, so there is something for all ages to enjoy. If you love the outdoors, then Cornwall’s stunning coastal walks, sandy beaches and turquoise waters will be the perfect travel choice for you.
The Best Walk in Cornwall
Discover the clifftop views of turquoise waters at Trevaunance Cove, ancient quarries and disused mines. Watch the waves crashing against the cliffs as you start your coastal walk in Perranporth.
Start of Walk: The seaside village of Perranporth is a popular destination for locals, tourists and surfers. Picturesque scenery and a three-mile sandy beach are just a few reasons why you must visit this area of Cornwall.
Finish: St Agnes – This quintessential Cornish village has several shops, bars and restaurants. Charming traditional stone cottages line the steep hills of the main street and are a photographers dream.
Length of Walk: 5.8km
Check out The Larches in St Agnes for a fabulous stay in a modern barn conversion. Sleeps four.
Jurassic Coast – Dorset #2
The Jurassic Coast in Dorset is a World Heritage Site in Southern England and is one of the world’s richest sites for prehistoric remains. It consists of Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous cliffs, documenting 185 million years of geological history. The Jurassic Coastline is famous for fossils of Jurassic aged marine life, and the beach at Lyme Regis is best for fossil hunting.
Coastal walks are popular along the cliffs, and Durdle Door (below) is probably the most popular coastal site to see in Dorset. Formed from the central erosion of the rock face, this natural occurrence has formed a hollow entrance.
The Best Walk in Dorset
From the charming rural village of West Lulworth, take an exhilarating walk from Lulworth Cove over the limestone cliffs to see the view of Durdle Door. The route rises from just above sea-level to 134 metres in less than half a mile, and there are many steps.
Head down to Man O’War beach if you feel energetic but remember, what goes down must come up, and it is a steep incline. If going down to the beach is not for you, then head higher over the jagged crags of Bats Head for fantastic views.
Start of Walk: Lulworth Cove car park is the start of your coastal loop walk in Dorset.
Finish: Lulworth Cove
Length of Walk: 4.1km
North Devonshire Coast – Devon #3
Devon’s north coast has Unesco’s first UK World Biosphere Reserve around the Taw and Torridge estuaries. The UK’s largest sand-dune system is at Braunton Burrows, which covers 2,000 acres and is home to over 400 plant species.
The Best Walk in Devon
An exhilarating but demanding coastal walk will allow you to experience fascinating geology, superb views and the chance to spot various wildlife, including birds of prey.
Start of Walk: St Winifred’s in Branscombe, one of the oldest churches in Britain, is the start of your coastal walk.
Finish: Beer Cliff car park
Length of Walk: 7km
Fancy a few nights in a lighthouse cottage in Devon? Check out Landward Cottage located on the South West Coastal Path and sleeping 5 plus two of your four-legged friends!
Did You Know? The South West Coast Path runs from Minehead in Somerset through Cornwall and Devon and finishes in Poole in Dorset. It covers the full 630 miles of the UK’s most favourite long-distance walking route.
The South Downs – East Sussex #4
A magnificent range of white chalk cliffs edges the coast of the South Downs in East Sussex. These cliffs, known as The Seven Sisters, are considered “whiter” than the cliffs in Dover. One of the best walks in the UK, the South Downs offers amazing coastal views and wildlife such as birds, butterflies and flowering plants that inhabit this coastline.
If you enjoy military history, then you will be able to see WW2 ‘dragon’s teeth’ pillboxes, fortifications to impede the movement of tanks scattered across the Seven Sisters. Watch out for the red and white lighthouse along the coastline, warning seafarers of the dangers of the area known as Beachy Head.
The town of Eastbourne is nearby and offers a traditional English seaside setting with a pier, fish, chips and ice-cream shops, and a long promenade.
The Best Walk in East Sussex
Discover beaches, a shipwreck at low tide, WW2 fortifications and Cuckmere Haven rumoured to be a smugglers’ landing site! Listen to the waves crashing against the chalk cliffs as you walk this dramatic UK coastline.
Start of Walk: Birling Gap car park and cafe is the start of your coastal walk
Finish: Exceat – Seven Sisters Country Park
Length of Walk: 6.4 km
Norfolk Coastal Path – North Norfolk #5
Set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, north Norfolk is home to much of The Broads National Park, Britain’s largest protected wetland. Several nature reserves of international importance are also here, making north Norfolk a haven for wildlife and birds and a great walking destination. Seals are often spotted out at sea, and visitors can take boat trips to see them.
North Norfolk’s beautiful coastline stretches from the pretty town of Sheringham to the seaside resort of Hunstanton. Its beaches are sandy, many winning the Blue Flag Award for cleanliness and its towns and villages are charming. Head to the clifftop setting of Cromer, and see its Victorian pier striding proudly out to sea.
The Best Walk in North Norfolk
Discover beaches, iconic beach huts, a deer park and tree-framed sands.
Start of Walk: Wells beach car park is the start of your Norfolk coastal walk
Finish: Holkham – National Nature Reserve
Length of Walk: 8 km
Check out Albert’s Cottage for 2 in Wells-next-the-sea for a stay in a genuine fisherman’s cottage. What more could you want!
Northumberland Coast – England #6
It is simple to see why the Northumberland coast is designated as an area of outstanding beauty with its windswept sands, dramatic craggy cliffs and foreboding castles overlooking the North sea. With a coastal path running from Berwick-upon-Tweed to the River Coquet, it is perfect for nature lovers and ramblers alike, and with famous landmarks such as Lindisfarne, what isn’t there to love about Northumberland.
Check out Mallow Eco-Lodge located within easy reach of Bamburgh and its famous castle, or maybe a stay in the grounds of the 13th century Haughton Castle at Farm House – if you are lucky, the owner of the castle may allow you a private tour of his home!
The Best Walk in Northumberland
Walk along the wild coastline taking in a visit to Dunstanburgh Castle on the way to Low Newton.
Start: The fishing village of Craster is the start of your Northumberland Coastal Walk
Finish: Craster (Loop)
Length of Walk: 10km
Pembrokeshire Coast – Wales #7
Wild, rugged and beautiful Pembrokeshire, with its flower-dotted cliffs, dazzling beaches and secret rock pool coves, is a fantastic coastline to visit. From Tenby in the south to St Dogmaels in the north, the Welsh coastal landscape covers limestone cliffs, volcanic headlands, estuaries and valleys.
Wildlife in Pembrokeshire is second-to-none, with all manner of animals using its coastline as breeding grounds, including puffins, linnets, whales, dolphins, grey seals, sheerwaters and falcons, to name but a few.
The Best Walk in Pembrokeshire
Circumnavigate Pembrokeshire’s rugged coast with a long-distance coastal walk with views out to sea at Ramsey Island and Whitesands Bay.
Finish: At Start (Loop)
Length of Walk: 20 km
Sutherland Coast – Scotland #8
Along the northernmost tip of Britain is Sutherland, with its rugged cliffs (the highest on mainland Britain), perfect coves of powder white sand, blue waters and dunes of seagrasses for as far as the eye can see. This dazzling scenic coastline offers wide open spaces, wilderness and, for the most, complete isolation.
A fabulous place to stay for two is Am Bathach, a modern log cabin perfectly sited midway between the west, north and east coasts.
The Best Walk in Sutherland
Follow the path over the grassy hills before arriving at Achmelvich beach with its clear turquoise waters. Continue further and discover Hermit’s Castle, the smallest in Europe.
Start of Walk: Achmelvich beach car park is the start of your Sutherland coastal walk
Finish: At Start (Loop)
Length of Walk: 6 km
Causeway Coast – Northern Ireland #9
The Causeway Coastal Route includes some of the most remarkable Irish landmarks you could wish to see. The nail-biting Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, the ruins of Downhill Demense and of course, the world-famous Giant’s Causeway. This spectacular UK coastline will have you gasping at the stunning views, beautiful beaches and dense forests that you will encounter, and not forgetting the legends and folklore that go hand-in-hand with this unique landscape.
The Best Coastal Walk in Northern Ireland
Walk from Portstewart to Ballycastle all the way to the Giant’s Causeway. It includes views of wide bays, sandy beaches, dramatic cliffs and off-shore rocks. It is a World Heritage Site as well as an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).
Start of Walk: Portstewart is the start of your coastal walk
Length of Walk: 16km