There’s nothing like the clean ocean air and the bracing wind whipping inland from the seas to wake you up from head to toe, is there? Wide expanses of ocean, punctuated by cliffs and beaches carved by the irrepressible forces of nature, leaving footprints of history shelved into the rock.
We’re blessed with some of the most stunning, unspoiled coastal views in the UK, and a brisk walk along these fantastic coastal planes will provide you with a great day spent rejuvenating the body and the mind whilst providing a gluttonous feast for the eyes.
These are our tips for the 5 best coastal walks in the UK.
1. Durdle Door & White Nothe
Distance - 7 miles / 11.3 km
Time - 4 hours
Starting point - Lulworth Cove (BH20 5RQ)
Level - Challenging - 4 big hills!
This walk along the Jurassic Coast is certainly one for the bucket list. Durdle Door is, quite simply, one of the UK’s wonders of nature that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime.
Durdle Door might be the headline act, but the views along the way from Lulworth Cove are stunning; which is a good job, because you may well find yourself stopping every now and then to catch your breath from the hilly climbs.
This walk is full of historical landmarks from Iron Age hill forts, bowl barrows and prehistoric monuments dating back as far as Neolithic times.
Starting at Lulworth Cove and detouring into the headland, you get amazing views of Weymouth Bay and the Island of Portland.
2. Whitby Abbey to Robin Hood’s Bay
Distance - 7 miles / 11.3km
Time - 3 hours
Starting point - Whitby Abbey
Level - Moderate
This is a walk full of the piratey charm of smugglers’ legends. Following the cliff edge path from the beautiful, historic port town of Whitby, you’ll weave your way from Whitby Abbey, along a jagged coastline with dramatic drops all the way down to the brooding North Sea.
There are no major hills to climb but this makes for a brisk walk and you’ll feel like you’ve earned a tasty beverage at one of the many pubs in the phenomenal Robin Hood’s Bay on arrival.
Prepare to be thrust back in time to the romance of this smuggler’s haunt. Make sure that you reserve time to wander the winding alleys of the tiny coastal village carved into the cliff. This haphazard labyrinth might be the delivery-person’s nightmare but as a visitor, you’ll never want to leave!
You can get the bus back to Whitby, but it you feel like doing the round walk, there’s the easier Tinder Track that takes you more directly back to Whitby. Some of the view of the sea is obscured along the way, but it’s a nice walk through beautiful countryside, nonetheless.
3. The Giant’s Causeway Red Trail
Distance - 2 miles / 3.2km
Time - 1.5 hours
Starting point - Causeway Hotel, Bushmills, County Antrim
Level - Moderate
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986, The Giant’s Causeway is about as impressive as volcanic eruptions get! Comprised of an area of around 40,000 tessellating basalt columns, this nature reserve is a truly memorable destination hike in beautiful County Antrim.
The bracing clifftop walk takes you along the remarkable Causeway Coast to the Amphitheatre viewpoint where you can take it a view so magical, it’s hard to believe it hasn’t been CGI’d!
There are options of expanding your path by drifting onto the Yellow Trail which takes you along Shepherd’s Steps, or a more circular route along the Blue Trail, taking you slightly more inland, but worth it just for the exercise. All the paths are clearly marked.
It’s worth dropping into the Visitor Centre by the Causeway Hotel for route maps and information.
4. Marloes Peninsula coastal walk
Distance - 4 miles / 6.4km
TIme - 2 hours
Starting point - Marloes Sands, Pembrokeshire, SA62
Level - Moderate
The Marloes Peninsula is a beachy coastal walk in the Pembrokeshire National Park, teaming with dramatic coastal scenery, dotted with Iron Age forts and scattered with islands bathing in the distant sea.
There are fabulous views across the Pembrokeshire coast, with views of St Bride’s Bay, the Solva coast and St David’s peninsula. This is a particularly highly recommended walk for wildlife lovers - expect to stumble across seals, a wide array of seabirds and even porpoises if you keep your eyes peeled.
There are some gradients and steps to contend with, but this is a generally accessible, occasionally rugged path.
This circular path around the coastal peninsula passes an Iron Age fort and many sandy coves and caves. Marloes Sands Beach is particularly highly regarded and a perfect spot to stop for a rest on a sunny day.
5. Sandwood Bay
Distance - 8.25 miles / 13km
Time - 4-5 hours
Starting point - Blairmore car park (N 58°29'38.04" W 5°5’42.72")
Level - Challenging
Widely regarded as a pilgrimage as much as a pleasant walk, this great arc of sandstone cliffs surrounding a pristine sandy beach is a memorable walk, with a sky that seems to go on for ever.
This walk punctuates the beauty of the coast line by contrasting with the bleak moorland approach from your inland start destination. But the effort is worth it!
The lone sea-stack jutting out of the water just out from the shoreline of the main bay has all the magic and mystery of Vietnam’s Halong Bay. If you’re lucky, you might spot some dolphins who aren’t averse to making an appearance. And keep a look out for the reclining mermaid bathing on the rocks - last seen in 1900.