Coastal scene on the England Coast Path

Things to do

The new coastal path provides plenty of opportunity to explore, and unlike the other National Trails you don’t always have to stay on the path. New OS maps will show where the new right of coastal access exists – in these areas you can explore on the coastal side of the path, although there are some places you can’t go. To see up to date maps of where you can go visit the Gov.uk website.

You are responsible for your own safety. Just because there is a right of access to cliff tops it doesn’t mean they are safe – be sensible! Some coastal habitats are very sensitive to disturbance, if there are signs saying you can’t explore please take note and keep away. You also can’t enter into anyone’s garden (or house for that matter!), or walk on cropped fields even if they are within the area marked as coastal access. Please also obey Ministry of Defence signs – for obvious reasons!

Please also keep an eye on the tide. In some places you will have to follow a different route at high tide - you can find tide times here.

However you can explore beaches, dunes, cliff slopes and rough grassland. You can stop to picnic, admire the view, or follow the path around the coast.

Hopton on Sea to Sea Palling, Norfolk

This 21 mile (34km) section of the coast path offers a contrast of shady trees, dunes and beaches with lively seaside towns, entertainment and maritime heritage.

From Sea Palling, a new section of the coast path allows walkers to enjoy a quieter section of the coastline for the first time before entering the wildlife haven of Winterton-Horsey Dunes SSSI.

In contrast, the summer beaches from Hemsby to California are bustling with people in deckchairs, enjoying ice-creams and building sandcastles. During autumn and winter, you may have this whole stretch of beach to yourself.

The coast path follows the line of a disused railway and soon descends on to the beach at Caister-on-Sea, passing in front of the lifeboat station. The old lifeboat shed is now a museum where visitors can learn about the station’s proud heritage.

Great Yarmouth is a town of contrasts from the Golden Mile’s energetic hub of entertainment to the working port and quays, busy market and a wealth of historic buildings and museums. The industrial maritime heart of Norfolk’s coast soon leads to a beautiful beach as the trail continues from Gorleston to Hopton-on-Sea, perfect as a sunrise summer stroll or a blustery autumn ramble.

Camber to Folkstone, Kent

This stretch of coast includes the unique area of Dungeness, the largest expanse of shingle in the country. Its wild landscape is home to a beautiful shingle flora that holds a third of all plants in the UK. You can see Derek Jarman’s unusual shingle garden, two lighthouses and enjoy a bite to eat and a ride on the narrow gauge Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch railway - all within view of the vast Dungeness nuclear power station.

There is much evidence of historical wartime defences along the coastline: Napoleonic Martello towers, the Royal Military Canal at Hythe, now a pretty waterway; the amazing Listening Ears at Lade which provided an early form of radar to detect enemy aircraft and a floating harbour from WW2 at Greatstone. Indeed, there is still plenty of present day military activity, the MoD ranges at Lydd and Hythe train soldiers today.

There are wide expanses of lovely beaches at Camber and Greatstone, with fantastic views along the coast. Enjoy a special and unique part of the coast here!    

Folkestone to Ramsgate, Kent

This stretch showcases England's iconic White Cliffs with their stunning views across to France, the wild area of Sandwich Peninsula with much wildlife, particularly birds, and views out across the extensive mudflats. Walkers can enjoy cliff top walks and more level areas around Deal, Sandwich and the lower cliffs at Ramsgate. There is a huge range of history here: the Romans landed at Richborough in AD43, medieval castles at Dover, Deal and Walmer, the historic Cinque Port of Sandwich, Napoleonic defences including the astonishing Drop Reboubt fort at Dover and numerous sites from both World Wars. Ferries taking troops, ammunition and horses across the channel used this coastline – there is no shortage of interesting sites and view points such as St Martin’s Battery at Dover. 

The path has easy access by road, rail and ferry, so is a great resource for visitors from home and abroad. There are plenty of welcoming cafes, restaurants and pubs along the way for refreshments - a necessity after a great day’s walk!

Filey Brigg to Newport Bridge, Middlesbrough

This section starts by following the existing Cleveland Way National Trail and takes you along some of the best coastline in the UK - from the iconic and fascinating Filey Brigg, through Scarbough, Robin Hood's Bay and Whitby, providing you with opportunities to explore castles and shops as well as enjoy the wonderful beaches. Further north you reach the tiny fishing village of Runswick Bay and beautiful Saithes, before heading further noth still towards the industry of the Tees Estuary.

Brean Down to Minehead, Somerset

This section takes in 58 miles of the beautiful and diverse coast of Somerset. This section includes miles of golden sandy beaches and dunes and extensive wetlands with excellent birdwatching. It takes you along gently undulating fossil cliffs and past bays with stunning views. You'll pass through the historic port of Watchet. The stretch from Blue Anchor runs near to the West Somerset Steam Railway and into Minehead where it joins the South West Coast Path.

Sea Palling to Weybourne, Norfolk

The coast is beautiful here, with long sandy beaches. There's history to explore, 800,000 year old flint tools have been found here and the famous West Runton Elephant Fossil. Or you can enjoy the villages, walks, and of course try Cromer crab.

Weymouth

Weymouth is famous for its beautiful sandy beach which slopes gently into the sea making it perfect for families. It's the ideal place to enjoy a day of sun and swimming and of course, the sand is perfect for making sand castles. If your sandcastles are in need of a bit of inspiration you could visit Sandworld and see the amazing sand sculptures on display. 

When you have had enough of sand you could explore the lovingly restored Nothe Fort with its stunning view across the Jurassic Coast (quick look for fossils on the way). No trip to Weymouth would be complete without a visit to Portland, via the natural phenomenon of Chesil Beach with its new visitor centre. There are great walks to experience on Portland with fantastic views all round. 

Durham, Hartlepool and Sunderland

The scenery and wildlife make this coast special. The area is famous for its wildflowers.  If you're looking to explore the section in the North East make sure you don't miss out on the retro Lickety Split Creamery in Seaham for the best ever icecream sundaes!

It’s not all flowers and ice cream though, there are plenty of opportunities to celebrate the area’s industrial past including Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience, the Heugh Battery Museum in Hartlepool or the National Glass Centre in Sunderland.

Allonby to Whitehaven

Did you realise you can visit one the largest Roman sites in northern Britain on this stretch of coast? The Senhouse Roman Museum at Maryport is dramatically situated on the cliffs and well worth a visit.  Or you can just enjoy the excellent beach at Allonby.

Scenes from the England Coast Path