No matter where you live in England, you’re never more than 70 miles or so from the sea (various villages in Derbyshire and Leicestershire lay claim to be the most central point in England). That’s likely too far for a day trip, but you could enjoy a weekend away at the coast, or take a longer break. This post looks at the main coastal paths in England, along with Wainwright’s famed coast-to-coast path. Pocket Mountains is a small publisher that offers a nice range of quality coastal/country walking books, for England and Scotland.
See tips for zero waste hikers (including safety tips for dogs and where to find vegan hiking shoes/boots). Obviously keep away from cliffs with dogs (or humans). Don’t let dogs eat seaweed (many love to play with the fronds), as it can expand in the stomach and cause blockage.
Never pick up pebbles from the beach (illegal in Italy) as they are natural sea defences. Avoid crabbing (many are injured, even if returned to the sea).
The Salt Path is the fascinating story of how one woman and her husband of 32 years (diagnosed terminally ill) have their home and jobs taken away from them. With nothing left and little time, they make the impulsive decision to walk the 650 miles of the sea swept South West Coat Path from Somerset to Dorset, via Devon and Cornwall. Carrying only the essentials on their backs, they live wild in the ancient weathered landscape of the cliffs, sea and sky. And yet through each step, their walk becomes a remarkable journey. A wonderful story of coming to terms with grief, and the healing power of the natural world. The Wild Silence is the follow-up.
The England Coast Path
The England Coast Path is still in progress (delayed due to COVID), with parts becoming more accessible to the public. When complete, it will be the longest waymarked coastal path in the world (currently Wales holds that title). The English version will be three times longer (around 2800 miles). Presently you can walk sections that you can find on Contours Walking Tours website:
- Somerset Coast Path (66 miles) is from Weston-super-Mare to Minehead along the Jurassic Coast.
- South West Coast Path(630 miles) takes in Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset.
- Isle of Wight Coast Path (33 to 71 miles) goes around the entire coast.
- Kent Coast Path (67 miles) goes from Camber to Ramsgate.
- Norfolk Coast Path (87 miles) is from Hunstanton to Hopton-on-Sea
- Lincolnshire Coast Path (20 miles) is from Gibraltar Point to Mablethorpe (presently stile-free). This is where we have lots of basking seals, so take care not to approach, if with dogs (their bite is as strong as a rottweiler, if they are defensive with pups nearby – often hiding in the sand dunes.
- Cleveland Way Heritage Coast (53 miles) stretches from Saltburn-by-the-Sea to Filey.
- South Northumberland Coast Path (39 miles) is an urban walk from Sunderland to Cresswell.
- Northumberland Coast Path (28 to 74 miles) takes in the Holy Island of Lindisfarne (look at tide tables, to avoid you or your car getting stuck/washed away at high tide).
Great Walks on the England Coast Path looks at 30 routes on the new national trail. Includes a varied selection of walks from estuaries to beaches to saltmarshes, routes are from 9 to 45km to suit all ages and abilities.
Wainwright’s Coast-to-Coast Path
The Coast to Coast Path takes you from St Bees on Cumbria’s west coast to paddling your toes in the little village of Robin Hood’s Bay in East Yorkshire. The walk takes a few weeks, and you stop at B & Bs along the way, often companies will send your baggage on. It’s pretty difficult in place, so likely only for seasoned walkers.
The walk connects dozens of smaller walks, pieced together by travel writer Alfred Wainwright, and despite not being an ‘official walk’, it’s the most popular in England. It takes in the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors, and is actually mostly inland as you are not walking along the coast, but from one coast to another.
The Coast-to-Coast Walk is a personal travelogue by Trevor Bell, who walked the 200 miles, in search of an England that is fast disappearing. Going beyond the usual trail guide, this covers the history, people and villages along the way – along with flora, fauna, folklore and fells and waterfalls.
The Green Road into the Trees is not all coastal walks, but Hugh Thomson includes them in this book. He shows how forgotten cultures like the Celts, Saxons and Vikings lie closer to the surface than we thing. The walks include the Dorset Coast to Stonehenge, and Cambridge to the Norfolk Coast.