7 incredible coastal walks in the UK

Discover some of the best coastal walks in the UK, from the wild shores of Arran to the rolling hills of the South Downs.

Durdle Door

Standing on a shoreline, wind whipping at your coat and breathing in the vast expanse of blue ocean is an experience that everyone can appreciate; it triggers a deep sense of calm that seems wired on an evolutionary basis in our brains.

Any epic natural scene will help you feel better - sweeping valleys in the Highlands, vast forests in Northumberland, you name it - but there's something special about coastlines.

It's why so many adventure holidays will take you to the coast and why coastlines are where you'll find some of the most stunning walking trails in the UK. On an island like ours, we're spoiled for choice when it comes to coastal walks - depending on how many of our various peninsulas and islands you include, the coastline of the UK is around 11,000 miles.

We've rounded up what we believe are seven of the best coastal walks around, ranging from Dorset to the Causeway Coast, including some classics and a couple of hidden gems. So lace up those boots, grab your jacket and head out the door - there's coastal trails to be explored!

#1 Northumberland Coastal Path (Bamburgh to Budle Bay)

Bamburgh Castle
This iconic location is perfect for a brisk walk, no matter the season.

Distance: 5.5 miles

Start: Bamburgh Links Car Park

Finish: Bamburgh Links Car Park

This wild and windswept stretch of coastline is comprised of rugged cliffs facing out onto the North Sea, interspersed with wide sandy beaches. While sunbathing will be off the cards on all but the rarest of warm, sunny days, there are some superb coastal walks in Northumberland to explore.

Starting beneath the imposing shadow of Bamburgh Castle, the route heads onto the beach and along the coast to the West, views of the historic castle to your left and the open sea to your right. Once you reach Budle Bay, a huge expanse of mud flats that acts as a bird sanctuary, return along the road to Bamburgh village. You might catch a glimpse of the waders and wildfowl that make the coastline their home, and there are plenty of opportunities to pause and admire the incredible views.

Discover more in the North East

#2 South West Coast Path (Exmouth to Lyme Regis)

South West Coast Path
On a clear day, there's nowhere quite like the South West.

Distance: 30 miles

Start: Orcombe Point, Exmouth

Finish: Cobb Gate Car Park, Lyme Regis

Spanning a total of 630 miles, the South West Coast Path is an epic walking challenge that would take at least a month to walk in full, so most people pick out specific sections to tackle. The full path stretches from the Somerset coast round to Dorset, passing the Atlantic Ocean and English Channel on its way. You might assume we'd opt for a coastal walk in Cornwall - and they are incredible - but this route begins in Devon.

This 30-mile route is a serious walking challenge, roaming along the coast of the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. While earlier sections enjoy beautiful sandy beaches, as the route approaches its finale at Lyme Regis you will encounter rockier paths, complete with landslides to pick over and some technical ground underfoot. Be sure to keep an eye out for the striking ammonite fossils that this coastline is famous for, as well as a rich variety of flora and fauna along the way.

Discover more in the South West

#3 Arran Coastal Way (Sannox to Lochranza)

Isle of Arran
Clear waters and towering glens - it has to be the West Scottish coast.

Distance: 9 miles

Start: Sannox

Finish: Lochranza

The Western Isles of Scotland are world-famous for their incredible mountains, rocky headlands and deep blue waters, so it was tough to pick out one specific coastal walk. While Skye takes the headlines for its breathtaking mountains, Arran holds a place in our hearts for its stunning coastal trails and opportunities to spot wildlife, not to mention the rich array of pubs awaiting in Lochranza.

From the crescent-shaped Sannox Bay, with inland glens at your back, head north along the coast following a forestry track, Creag Ghlas Laggan rising to your left. There is some scrambling to be done to navigate the boulder field at An Scriodan, from which a decent footpath leads you along the coast and into Lochranza. Keep a weather eye out for dolphins and basking sharks as you walk, as well as golden eagles when you descend into Lochranza, which can sometimes be seen from the Arran Distillery.

Discover more in Scotland

#4 Wales Coast Path (Port Eynon to Rhossili)

Rhossili Bay
This beach on the Gower Peninsula is world-famous for its golden sands.

Distance: 7 miles

Start: Horton Bay Car Park, Port Eynon

Finish: Worms Head Car Park, Rhossili

The Gower Peninsula is quickly growing a reputation for being an outdoor adventure hub, hosting events like the Love Trails Festival and sponsored walks like Macmillan's Mighty Hike. It's because this stunning region of South Wales has natural beauty in spades, including sweeping beaches, towering cliffs and historic ruins. In fact, Gower was the very first place in the UK to be named an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1956.

Beginning at Port Eynon, the most southerly point of the Gower Peninsula, this easily-navigable route follows the Wales Coast Path in a North-Westerly direction. You will cross over rocky headlands and skirt past dramatic cliffs, arriving at the golden sands of Rhossili Bay beach, renowned as one of the most stunning beaches in the world. Close by is the Worm's Head, a rocky promontory that is only accessible for two hours either side of low tide. Scan the tides for the wooden ribs of a long-wrecked ship called the Helvetia.

Discover more in Wales

Spend quality time together and reconnect as a family with challenging and exhilarating experiences including coasteering, canyoning, whitewater rafting, kayaking and a private island escape.
  • 7 nights from £1,395
Betws-y-Coed, Clwyd, UK

Family Adventure Holiday North Wales

Spend quality time together and reconnect as a family with challenging and exhilarating experiences including coasteering, canyoning, whitewater rafting, kayaking and a private island escape.

  • 1 day canyoning
  • 0.5 day coasteering
  • 0.5 day whitewater rafting
  • 0.5 day kayaking
  • 1 day hiking
This epic running holiday takes you through the wilds of mid Wales, across the Cambrian mountains, to Aberystwyth on the stunning west coast, accompanied by Welsh trail superstar - Tim Higginbottom.
  • 4 nights from £765-£775
Newtown, Powys, UK

Trans-Wales Trail Run

This epic running holiday takes you through the wilds of mid Wales, across the Cambrian mountains, to Aberystwyth on the stunning west coast, accompanied by Welsh trail superstar - Tim Higginbottom.

  • 5 days road running

#5 Norfolk Coast Path (Salthouse Circular Route)

North Norfolk Coast
Vast skies and wide open beaches make this coastline a favourite of walkers.

Distance: 5 miles

Start: Salthouse

Finish: Salthouse

Norfolk doesn't have the dramatic cliffs or clear blue waters that make other coastlines around the UK so attractive, but it draws thousands of walkers each year all the same. They come for the huge expanses of open beaches and salt marshes that are the hallmark of Norfolk coastal walks, with vast skies and sea mist helping to create some of the most sensational sunrises and sunsets you can hope to see in the British Isles.

Salthouse lies, unsurprisingly, along the Salthouse Marshes and commands impressive views across the North Sea, but this walk begins by heading inland. From Salthouse Heath, head West and through fields to Snipe Marsh before descending onto the beach beyond Cley Marshes. Follow the coastline East to the Little Eye Pill Box, then head back inland to Salthouse. You may spot seals in the water, as well as buzzards and hares inland.

Discover more in the East of England

#6 Causeway Coastal Route (Portrush to Bushmills)

Causeway Coast
Dramatic cliffs and stunning harbours are the hallmarks of the Northern Irish coastline.

Distance: 20 miles

Start: West Strand Car Park, Portrush

Finish: Old Bushmills Distillery, Bushmills

In stark contrast to our previous listing, the Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland is full of dramatic cliffs, sweeping valleys and pristine waters - it's why this coastline was picked for filming the fantasy epic Game of Thrones. If you're looking for a coastal walk with breathtaking scenery and testing trails, look no further.

This 20-mile stretch of the Causeway Coastal Route begins at the picturesque fishing harbour of Portrush, along the wide, open sands of Whiterocks Beach and towards the imposing and haunting ruins of Dunluce Castle, standing atop the towering cliffs. This point commands panoramic views over the North Channel and marks the point at which you will soon turn inland to Bushmills, home of the famous Old Bushmills Distillery and the end of your journey.

Discover more in Northern Ireland

#7 South Downs Way (Alfriston to Eastbourne)

Seven Sisters
The iconic chalk cliffs of the South Coast greet you as you follow the South Downs Way.

Distance: 10 miles

Start: The Willows Car Park, Alfriston

Finish: St Bede's School, Eastbourne

Lying in the Easternmost reaches of the South Downs National Park, the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head cliffs are some of the most spectacular chalk cliffs in the UK. Combined with the rolling hills that lie inland of the South Coast, this is arguably the most beautiful section of the South Downs Way, which begins far to the West in Winchester.

Beginning in Alfriston, a historic village in the Wealden South Downs, the route heads South through Friston Forest before striking out to the East along the coast line. Dramatic chalk cliffs stand along virtually the entire route to Eastbourne, with brilliant views across the English Channel from their summit. From Beachy Head - which, at 530 feet, is the highest chalk sea cliff in Britain - the route tracks into Eastbourne and the end of the South Downs Way.

Discover more in the South East