Pembrokeshire Coast Path, Wales
The Pembrokeshire Coast Path can be walked in a couple of weeks, but you don’t need to do the whole 299km length of it in one go to enjoy the magnificent coastal scenery it passes through.
Whether you want long sandy beaches, hidden coves, soaring sea cliffs or tranquil estuaries there’s all this and more, along with a great array of wildlife from seals and porpoise to a fantastically varied birdlife, which includes chough, peregrine falcons, kittiwakes, shags and puffins.
Walk the path in early summer and you’ll also discover the colourful carpet of wildflowers that fringe either side of it.
The Jurassic Coast, Dorset
This is a place to amble along and admire both the scenery and history – a history that stretches back some 250 million years and reveals itself in the the cliffs along this remarkable stretch of coastline.
With a bit of luck you may find a fossil or two, whorled ammonites being amongst the commonest yet most attractive, and there are regular ‘fossil walks’ from Lyme Regis and Charmouth, where experienced geologists will help you search for the preserved remains of these ancient life forms as well as inform you about the region’s fascinating geological history.
Wales Coast Path
The 870-mile Wales Coastal Path has only been open since 2012 so there’s still chance to be amongst the first to walk the full length of the trail, from Queensferry in the north to Chepstow in the south.
If you don’t have time for such an epic hike, the path has been divided into eight sections which make more accessible multi-day walks, and will introduce you to a coastline that’s incredibly varied, with everything from magnificent medieval fortresses to vast stretches of empty beach, towering sea cliffs, lovely fishing villages and invariably a good pub at the end of each day’s walking.
South West Coast Path
Running from Poole in Dorset, through Devon and Cornwall to the finish point at Minehead in Somerset, this 630-mile National Trail encompasses some of England’s most beautiful coastline.
Energetic walkers may complete the entire length in a month, but most people do short sections of the trail at a time until they’ve eventually completed the whole lot.
The official website is a great place to plan your walk since it offers ideas for walks from between two and ten days in length, which enables you to focus on the kind of coastal walking you prefer.
North Sea Trail
The North Sea Trail isn’t strictly just a UK coastal walk since it also links parts of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands as well as England and Scotland.
But one of our favourite UK sections is that along the coast of North Yorkshire, which takes in the cliff-hugging villages of Robin Hood’s Bay and Staithes with their fossil-rich shorelines. It also offers the chance to explore the North York Moors National Park inland along the linked in Cleveland Way.
The Skye Trail
This challenging seven-day route isn’t strictly a ‘coastal walk’, since it also involves some demanding but spectacular inland hillwalking, including the magnificent Trotternish Ridge, as well as remote, dramatic coastal cliffs. And since this is Skye it also has some of the most inspiring panoramas in Britain.
The Skye Trail is not an ‘official’ route so you’ll need to have good route finding skills of your own, but the reward for taking on this tough hike is the chance to discover some of Europe’s remotest and most beautiful landscapes.
Northumberland Coast Path
If you think England is an overpopulated island head for the Northumberland coast…
Here you’ll find mile after mile of empty coastline taking in everything from huge crescent-shaped beaches backed by high dunes to the long golden strand at Bamburgh with its mighty castle. There’s even the chance to head offshore and wander around Holy Island with its atmospheric monastery.
In places you’ll probably spot more seals than people, so quiet is the Northumberland coastline; and at just 61-miles in length you can comfortably complete the route in as little as four days.
Holkham Bay, Norfolk
This easy four-mile walk is best done in late summer, when the sea is often warm enough to swim in without a wetsuit; so you can break your stroll with the odd dip – or maybe just a paddle for the less hardy or brave.
The huge expanse of Holkham Bay consists of golden sands backed by pinewoods and the spectacular Palladian-style 18th-century Holkham Hall. At the east end of the walk is the cheerful seaside town of Wells-next-the-Sea, with its colourful beach huts and all;. To the west of the bay are the attractive coastal villages to the west of the bay have some great après-walk pubs.
Causeway Coast Trail, Northern Ireland
Obviously the highlight of this 51-km, two- to three-day walk is the sight of the spectacular basalt columns of Giant’s Causeway, but there’s much more to it than that.
Besides fantastic coastal views which also take in the coast of SW Scotland, you’ll experience the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Dunluce Castle and, if you don’t mind a brief detour inland, the famous Bushmills Distillery.
And if a mere 51-km isn’t enough for you, keep walking – the Causeway Coast Trail is just part of the 1000-km Ulster Way, a complete circuit of Northern Ireland.
Coast to Coast Walk
Okay, so again this is not technically a coastal walk – nor is it even an official National Trail – but you start and finish beside the sea on this 192-mile yomp from St. Bees Head on the Irish Sea Coast to Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Sea Coast.
Devised by the curmudgeonly hiker Alfred Wainwright the route takes in northern England’s finest landscapes including three national parks – the Lake District (where you achieve the walk’s high point of 780m Kidsty Pike), the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors.