Britain’s best coastal walks

Explore the UK's shores with our round-up of the islands' most spectacular coast walks

Dorset coastline, Dorset

Guide to the best coastal walks in the British Isles, including route descriptions, maps and wildlife highlights.

According to Ordnance Survey, Great Britain’s coastline is 11,073 miles (17,820 km) in length. With so much shoreline to be explored, we’re spoilt for choice with places to walk. To help you out a little, we’ve put together a selection of spectacular walks, from Cornwall and Devon’s well-trodden shores to the rocky headlands of northern Scotland.

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England

St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall

St Michael's Mount at sunset
The spectacular St Michael’s Mount

This nine-mile coastal walk begins at Lamorna Cove, winding along the South West Coast Path past the ‘prettiest village in England’, the coastal town of Newlyn and bustling Penzance, ending at iconic St Michael’s Mount.

The route

  • 14.6km / 9 miles

  • 5 hours
  • moderate

Route and map

St Michael's Mount map

Falmouth to Mylor, Cornwall

Mylor Bridge Cornwall
Canoe at the picturesque village of Mylor Bridge, Cornwall ©Getty

Enjoy clifftop views over the moody English Channel with a short coastal walk before warming up at one of Mylor Yacht Harbour’s eateries.

The route

  • 6.8km / 4.2 miles
  • 2.5 hours
  • Moderate

Map and route

Falmouth map

Mount Edgecumbe and Rame Head, Cornwall

Rame Head, Cornwall
Rame Head at the start of Whitsand Bay as seen from the coast path. Cornwall England UK

Escape the bustle of Britain’s Ocean City on a centuries-old ferry service to a spring-infused landscape of quiet coves, birdsong, woodland and charming fishing village.

The route

  • 10.8 / 6.7 miles
  • 3.5 hours
  • Moderate

Map and route

 

Plymouth to Rame Head map

Valley of Rocks, Devon

Hiker on the headland in Valley of the Rocks on South West coast path near Lynmouth
The valley has inspired writers including Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth ©Getty

On a quiet day, there’s a lost world feel to North Devon’s enigmatic Valley of Rocks. Here, ancient fossil-rich fingers of Devonian stone form shadow puppets against the sky, framing one of south-west England’s most dramatic views, as Exmoor stampedes off the edge of towering cliffs and down to the churning sea.

The route

  • 11.3km / 7 miles
  • 4 hours
  • Moderate

Route and map

Valley of Rocks map

Coleton Fishacre, Devon

Kingswear, Devon
View of the colourful houses of Kingswear from Dartmouth, Devon ©Getty

Step off the ferry and take a stroll along Devon’s South West Coast Path to the lush gardens of a 20th-century estate, home to exotic ferns, trickling water features and woodland glades.

The route

  • 10.3km / 7 miles
  • 4 hours
  • Moderate

Route and map

Colton Fishacre

Branscombe to Beer, Devon

Panoramic view over Beer, Devon
Panoramic view over Beer, Devon ©Getty

If you’ve built up a thirst walking from Branscombe along Devon’s coastal cliffs and beaches to Beer, then you’re in luck – the tiny seaside village has a handful of traditional pubs, perfect for a well-earned pint.

The route

  • 4.9km / 3 miles
  • 2 hours
  • Moderate

Map and route

beer, Devon map

Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door and Bat’s Head, Dorset

durdle door
Durdle Door – a natural limestone arch, created as a result of softer rocks being eroded behind a hard limestone cliff ©Getty

Visit one of England’s most striking natural wonders, then slip away from the crowds and explore the cliffs and coves beyond.

The route

  • 9.9km / 6.1 miles
  • 4 hours
  • Moderate

Map and route

Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door map

Seven Sisters, East Sussex

Seven Sisters East Sussex
For many, these huge chalk cliffs are even more picturesque than the famous White Cliffs of Dover up the coast ©Alamy

Walk atop the magnificent chalky cliffs of the Seven Sisters in the South Downs, where kittiwakes and fulmars can be seen alongside Brimstone butterflies and flowering cowslips.

The route

  • 6km / 3.7 miles
  • 2 hours
  • Easy/moderate

Map and route

Seven Sisters map

Mersea Island, Essex

East Mersea, Essex
This east-coast island, tethered to the mainland of Britain by a haunted causeway ©Getty

Mersea is a land of two halves: you’ll find restaurants and cafés in West Mersea, offering the oysters and shellfish that the island is famous for, as well as a vineyard selling locally produced wine. While East Mersea is all salt marshes and farmland, fantastic for a stiffly breezy, cobweb-clearing walk.

The route

  • 5.6 km / 3.5 miles
  • 1.5 hours
  • Easy

Map and route

East Mersea map

Holkham Beach, Norfolk

Holkham Bay on the North Norfolk
Sunrise on a misty morning at Holkham Bay on the North Norfolk Coast ©Getty

Take a hike through creaking pinewoods, beside wildlife-rich marshes and along one of Britain’s most beautiful beaches on the North Norfolk coast.

The route

  • 7.8 km / 4.8 miles
  • 3 hours
  • Easy/Moderate

Map and route

Holkham map

Robin Hood’s Bay, North Yorkshire

Robin Hood's Bay
Robin Hood’s Bay was once a smuggling village ©Getty

Steep stairwells, pitched roofs, an intriguing past and windy clifftop walks make this village in the North York Moors National Park the perfect starting point for a refreshing coastal walk.

The route

  • 4.3km / 2.7 miles
  • 1.5 hours
  • Easy/moderate

Map and route

 

Robin Hood's Bay map

Embleton Bay, Northumberland

Embleton Bay, Northumberland © Tim Hurst
Embleton Bay, Northumberland © Tim Hurst

Walk over ruddy-gold sands, across babbling coastal rivers and through wind-shaped dunes to the dramatic ruins of a 14th-century castle – welcome to Embleton Bay, one of Britain’s most beautiful beaches.

The route

  • 17.6 / 10.9 miles
  • 5 hours
  • Moderate/hard

Map and route

Embleton Bay map

Scotland

Handa Island, Sutherland

Handa Island
Looking towards mainland Scotland from Handa Island ©Jake Graham

Wrapped by brutish Atlantic swells and biting winds, this remote island off the west coast of Scotland makes for harsh living. But in spring, enduring these forces is one of north-west Europe’s largest seabird colonies.

The route

  • 6.4km / 4 miles
  • 2 hours
  • Moderate

Route and map

Handa Island map

Ardmeanach, Mull, Inner Hebrides

Looking north across Loch Scridain to the towering basalt terraces of the Ardmeanach Peninsula ©Alamy
Looking north across Loch Scridain to the towering basalt terraces of the Ardmeanach Peninsula. Encased at the foot of the 170m-high cliffs is the Fossil Tree ©Alamy

On the western coast of the Scottish island of Mull, beneath the brooding volcanic massif of mighty Ben More, lies one of the wildest environments in the British Isles. A single-track road gives way to a logging track at the hamlet of Tiroran, navigating the southern side of the peninsula along Loch Scridain. The six-mile stretch of headland between here and the sea is known simply as ‘The Wilderness’.

The route

  • 18km / 11.2 miles
  • 6 hours
  • Challenging

Route and map

Ardmeanach, Isle of Mull map

Rockcliffe to Kippford, Dumfries and Galloway

From The Muckle overlooking Rough Island and Rough Firth
From The Muckle overlooking Rough Island and Rough Firth ©Simon Whaley

Explore Dumfries and Galloway’s blooming Rough Firth, a Scottish inlet dotted with tidal islands, gorse-clad hills and woodlands brimming with the sweet scent of bluebells in this four-mile walk.

The route

  • 6.4km / 4 miles
  • 2 hours
  • Moderate

Route and map

Kippford to Rockcliffe map

Wales

South Stack, Anglesey

South Stack, Anglesey
South Stack, Anglesey ©Alamy

Take to the cliffs of north-west Wales, a dramatic coastline where great northern divers surf wild waves and Arctic skuas bravely soar.

The route

  • 8.2km / 5 miles
  • 3 miles
  • Moderate

Route and map

South Stack, Anglesey map

Ramsey Island, Pembrokeshire

Ramsey Island, Wales
Ramsey Island Ramsey lies just a mile from the St. David’s peninsula ©Geograph

St. Justinian the hermit sought sanctuary on Ramsey Island in the 6th Century and, if it’s peaceful solitude you’re searching for, then this secluded outcrop is still the perfect place for a day’s retreat.

The route

  • 4.2km / 2.6 miles
  • 1.5 hours
  • Easy

Map and route

Ramsey Island map

Skomer, Pembrokeshire

landscape of Skomer Island along the Welsh coast
landscape of Skomer Island, a small island along the coast of Wales; Skomer, United Kingdom

A protected National Nature Reserve since 1959, Skomer Island is one of the most important wildlife sites in Europe. In one day you can see puffins, grey seals, rare wild flowers, stunning views and much more.

The route

  • 5.6km / 3.4 miles
  • 2 hours
  • Easy

Route and map

Skomer Island map

Marloes Peninsula, Pembrokeshire

Rainbow above Wooltack Point on the Deer Park in Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK
Rainbow above Wooltack Point on the Deer Park in Pembrokeshire ©Drew Buckley

One of the finest stretches on the Pembrokeshire coastline, the Marloes Peninsula takes in a long sandy beach, dramatic rock formations and clifftops of wildflowers. Charismatic choughs whirl through the air, kestrels hover and, out at sea, grey seals and porpoises play alongside diving gannets.

The route

  • 8.8km / 5.4 miles
  • 3 hours
  • Moderate

Route and map

Marloes Peninsula map

Tenby, Pembrokeshire

Tenby, Wales
Tenby, Wales ©Alamy

Perched on the western fringes of Carmarthen Bay, the charming seaside towns of Tenby and Saundersfoot are designated conservation areas that offer superb Blue Flag beaches and picturesque harbours. Take a hike along the coast and then return inland with our 8 mile walking route.

The route

  • 12km / 7.5 miles
  • 4 hours
  • Moderate

Route and map

Saundersfoot to Tenby map

Cwm Nash and Traeth Mawr, Glamorgan

Nash Point and Glamorgan Heritage Coast, Wales
Nash Point and Glamorgan Heritage Coast, Wales ©Alamy

The Glamorgan Coast is just a short drive from the largest city in Wales, yet despite its proximity to the urban world, few landscapes exude such a profound sense of wilderness.

The route

  • 7.2km / 4.5 miles
  • 2.5 hours
  • Moderate

Route and map

Cwm Nash map

Northern Ireland

The Causeway Coast, County Antrim

Duncluce
The ruins of the Dunluce Castle on the Causeway Coast, Northern Ireland ©Alamy

The undeniably impressive Giant’s Causeway is Northern Ireland’s most popular tourist attraction. But step off the beaten track and you’ll be able to marvel at this coast’s geology, myths and breathtaking views in virtual solitude

The route

  • 9.6 km / 6 miles
  • 4 hours
  • Moderate

Route description

Giant’s Causeway

Carrick-a-Rede, County Antrim

Carrick-a-Rede, Northern Ireland
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is a famous rope bridge near Ballintoy in County Antrim ©Alamy

Step across a swinging rope bridge high above the Atlantic and on to a rocky offshore island, once a salmon fishery. In spring and summer, the walk down to the beach offers visitors the chance to see a range of unique flora and fauna – don’t forget your camera

The route

  • 1.4 miles
  • 1 hour
  • Easy/moderate

Route and map

 

Sea pinks