The UK’s coastal walks are some of the best in the world, and as an avid walker myself, I love to head off into the great outdoors for a long walk.
This post highlights nine 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
Cornwall’s Atlantic coast is both a dramatic and unforgiving landscape carved from the relentless pounding of the sea. It is also the longest coastline in the UK, measuring 1086km.
UK coastal walks are sensational, and the views along the coast are breathtaking. 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 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 photographer’s dream.
Length of Walk: 5.8km
Availability and Rates for accommodation in Perranporth
Check out The Larches in St Agnes for a fabulous stay in a modern barn conversion. Sleeps four.
Jurassic Coast – Dorset
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.
UK 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 starts your coastal loop walk in Dorset.
Finish: Lulworth Cove
Length of Walk: 4.1km
Availability and Rates for accommodation in West Lulworth
A Perfect Day out in Dorset at Hengistbury Head
Quirky and Unusual Places to Stay in Dorset
North Devonshire Coast – Devon
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 UK 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
Availability and Rates for accommodation in Branscombe
Availability and Rates for accommodation in Beer
Fancy a few nights in a lighthouse cottage in Devon? Check out Landward Cottage, located on the South West Coastal Path, and sleeping five 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
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 fantastic coastal views and wildlife, such as birds, butterflies and flowering plants that inhabit this coastline.
If you enjoy military history, you will see WW2 ‘dragon’s teeth’ pillboxes and 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
Availability and Rates for accommodation in Eastbourne
East Dean to Birling Gap Circular Walk
Birling Gap to Eastbourne Walk
Norfolk Coastal Path – North Norfolk
In an Outstanding Natural Beauty area, 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. Norfolk’s beautiful 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
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 on 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
Availability and Rates for accommodation in Craster
Pembrokeshire Coast – Wales
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.
Start of Walk: Oriel y Parc St David’s is the start of your Pembrokeshire coastal walk
Finish: At Start (Loop)
Length of Walk: 20 km
Availability and Rates for accommodation in St David’s
What to Do and See in St Davids
Sutherland Coast – Scotland
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
Availability and Rates for accommodation in Achmelvich
Causeway Coast – Northern Ireland
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 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 and the Giant’s Causeway. It includes views of wide bays, sandy beaches, dramatic cliffs and off-shore rocks. It is a World Heritage Site and an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).
Start of Walk: Portstewart is the start of your coastal walk
Length of Walk: 16km
Availability and rates for accommodation in Portstewart
Availability and Rates for accommodation in Ballycastle
Saturday 22nd of August 2020
What an amazing collection of hikes in the UK! I’m going to save this for when travel resumes! But for now I’ll share it with family in UK. We visits Giants Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. It was absolutely amazing!
Sunday 23rd of August 2020
I'm so glad you found it useful to read. I hope that when you come to the UK again you can try some of them out!
Saturday 22nd of August 2020
Very inspiring and useful info! I love walking along coasts. The photos remind me a bit of northern California.
Friday 21st of August 2020
You had me wanting to hop on a plane right now and head to the UK. The only coastal walk I've done in Britain was in Devon years ago and I remember it being so beautiful. Some of these others look even better. I'd probably start with Northumberland in hopes of getting to see inside that castle! Fabulous photos Angie.
Sunday 23rd of August 2020
I think Northumberland is just such an iconic place to visit.