Route Description

The England Coast Path is opening in sections. The open sections are described here. The path aims to stay as close to the coast as possible. In many places that means you will be walking right alongside the coast. In some places the path heads inland, usually only for short distances. The open sections of the path are well signed, look out for the distinctive acorn waymarkers. Away from towns and villages you will usually find the path has a natural, unmade surface, some areas will get muddy in wet weather. Closer to where people live you might find smooth surfaced paths, and in towns and villages you may be walking on promenades or pavements alongside roads.

Calshot to Gosport

The Calshot to Gosport stretch of the England Coast Path is a 23.3 mile/37.5km trail which encompasses a mixture of rural and urban areas. The coastline is dominated by the Oil refinery to the west and the densely populated city of Southampton at its northern extent providing many opportunities for leisure activities and refreshments. Small towns and villages along its eastern side such as Hamble-le-Rice are interspersed with farmland, cliffs and beaches. The stretch includes many historical sites including Royal Victoria Country Park and museums reflecting its rich maritime heritage.

There are plenty of opportunities for wildlife watching at the many nature reserves along the route, including Calshot Marshes Local Nature Reserve and Hook-with-Warsash National Nature Reserve. Things you can expect to see include: Teal, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Black Tailed Godwit, Redshank and Dunlin. The stretch also includes two ferry rides, one from Hythe to Southampton Quay across Southampton Water, and the ‘Pink Ferry’ across the River Hamble to Hook-with-Warsash.

Gosport to Portsmouth

The Gosport to Portsmouth Stretch of the England Coast Path is a 28.69 miles / 46.7 KM trail which is predominantly urban in character. The coastline is dominated by the towns of Gosport to the west, Fareham at the northern end of the Harbour, and the densely populated city of Portsmouth, on Portsea Island. In addition to residential areas, there are leisure areas, most notably two golf courses, recreation grounds, and several marinas. Areas such as Gosport, Portsmouth and Fareham host many shops, pubs and cafes in the vicinity of the Harbour’s waters, with Gunwharf Quays being a particularly significant retail site in Portsmouth. Parts of the Harbour are industrial in nature, with a working container port plus continental ferry terminal. The stretch features many important historical sites and museums, reflecting its rich maritime heritage. Notable tourist destinations include the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and Portchester Castle.

Towards the beginning of the trail there is Browndown Site of Scientific Special Interest (SSSI) and the Gilkicker Lagoon SSSI. Although the lagoons saltiness creates a harsh environment where species have to adapt to survive, five species of mollusc of national rarity live in the lagoons. There are other natural environments present along the stretch, such as shingle beaches, mudflats and saltmarsh, which support particularly diverse birdlife. There are a small number of islands in the harbour, one of which is managed by the RSPB for nesting birds.

East Head to Shoreham-by-Sea

The East Head to Shoreham stretch of the King Charles III England Coast Path is a 44mile/71km trail which includes seaside promenades, sweeping beaches, historic towns, and nature reserves teeming with birds. There are two beautiful nature reserves, Medmerry and Pagham Harbour which provide excellent opportunities for wildlife watching. Medmerry underwent a managed realignment by the Environment Agency and is now an RSPB nature reserve where various wildfowl and birds of prey can be spotted. Walkers can enjoy the dynamic coastline at Pagham Harbour while keeping a look out for little terns or blacktailed godwits.

The path passes through popular seaside resorts including West Wittering, Bognor Regis, Littlehampton, Worthing and Shoreham-By-Sea. Walkers will find lots of opportunities for leisure activities and refreshments at these locations.

Shoreham-by-Sea to Eastbourne

This easy to follow 33-mile (53km) stretch of the England Coast Path linking Shoreham-by-Sea to Eastbourne opened in May 2022.

This new trail covers a wealth of unique environments. Setting off from Shoreham-by-Sea, you cross the River Adur estuary. Here migratory wading birds and waterfowl can be seen on the saltmarsh and mud flats. Other sights include the old lighthouse in Shoreham Harbour with views of its maritime use, including unique houseboats, traditional boat yards and large commercial ships as they pass through Shoreham Port.

The trail leads onto Hove Esplanade – on route to Brighton, where remains of West Pier can be spotted, and the Brighton i360 viewing tower can be seen – the tallest structure in Sussex. Walking along the bustling promenade on Brighton seafront up to Palace Pier then past Brighton Marina. Here you can follow the Undercliff Walk as far as Saltdean. (There is also the option to take the clifftop route here.)

Once reaching Saltdean chalk clifftop, the walk leads you to Peacehaven and on to Newhaven. In Newhaven several nature reserves, including Castle Hill Local Nature Reserve and Ouse Estuary Nature Reserve can be visited. A host of wildlife including migratory and nesting birds like lesser whitethroat and fulmars, wildflowers like birds’ foot trefoil and thrift, and plenty of butterflies and insects can be spotted.

There are also historical sites to see in Newhaven, including WWII gun emplacements and the 19th century Newhaven Fort. By the harbour, the quayside promenade offers great views of the fishing and leisure boats and the large Newhaven-Dieppe ferries that dock here.

Eastwards from Newhaven, the trail firstly goes around low-lying Seaford Bay including Tide Mills to Seaford esplanade, before reaching the Sussex Heritage Coast at Seaford Head. This famous and well-known stretch of coastline along the Sussex coast includes the iconic chalk cliffs of Seaford Head, Seven Sisters and Beachy Head, where the South Downs National Park meets the sea.

On this path you pass Cuckmere Haven, which is a popular visitor location for walkers, dog walking, bird watching, visiting the beach and for photography, as there are amazing views of the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs and Cuckmere River meanders.

On the eastern side of the Cuckmere River estuary is the Seven Sisters Country Park at Exceat, where the England Coast Path joins the existing South Downs Way National Trail. This follows the clifftop footpath along the Seven Sisters, Birling Gap, Belle Tout, Beachy Head and Eastbourne.

Beachy Head is another internationally famous site for both locals and visitors, with glorious views both seawards along the coast towards Hastings and on a clear day towards Dungeness and inland across the South Downs to Firle Beacon.

This stretch of the England Coast Path ends at Eastbourne Pier, where you can walk along the promenade by the sea in this popular coastal town.

There are train stations within easy access to the coastal path, including at Shoreham by Sea, Portslade, Brighton, Newhaven, Seaford and Eastbourne. With good connections along the coast and to London.

There are regular buses along the A259 coast road between Brighton and Eastbourne, providing opportunities to hop on and off the bus close to the coastal trail, including the Sussex Heritage Coast.

Camber to Folkestone

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

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!

Ramsgate to Whitstable

This stretch of over 25 miles offers coastal walking through the seaside towns of Ramsgate, Broadstairs, Margate, Westgate, Birchington, Herne Bay and Whitstable.

This stretch starts in the seaside town of Ramsgate, which has the UK’s only Royal Harbour, and the UK’s largest network of civilian wartime tunnels. The trail takes you past the entrance to the tunnels as you walk beside Ramsgate Main Sands. Following the Grade II listed cliff stairs up to the clifftop, you pass beautiful rock gardens. Then through the King George VI Memorial Park with its 19th Century Italianate Glasshouse and tearoom, and where you will hear the ring-necked parakeets.

Along the chalk clifftop to Broadstairs, part of the longest continuous stretch of coastal chalk in Britain, you can see France across the channel on a clear day. At Broadstairs you pass the promenade overlooking popular Viking Bay and go downhill towards the harbour. Here you will see Bleak House, Charles Dicken’s holiday home, sitting above the clifftop. At Broadstairs Harbour you’ll spot turnstones, a bird well known to this part of the coast, which return each winter.

Carrying along the undercliff promenade beside Stone Bay beach, one of the Isle of Thanet’s 10 award winning beaches, the trail goes up to the clifftop again. You walk along the clifftop and will see the lighthouse built in 1691 as you near Joss Bay. There is a new footpath as you reach Kingsgate, and you will see Kingsgate Castle and Kingsgate Bay with its majestic chalk arch. The path then follows the clifftops towards Botany Bay, famous for its chalk stacks.

The path continues to Margate, one of the old seaside resorts in the country and home to the Turner Contemporary gallery. You pass one of the oldest- surviving amusement parks in the country which features a Grade II listed wooden rollercoaster.

The trail passes quieter sandy beaches at Westgate and Birchington and then follows the Northern Sea Wall. This stretch is flat bordered by shingle beach and grazing marsh and you can see coastal and marshland birds including marsh harriers. New fencing has been installed around the saline lagoons next to the sea wall to provide safer nesting and roosting spaces for birds such as avocet and ringed plover. And newly installed information panels help identify the wildlife. You then you go past Reculver Towers, one of the earliest Roman Forts built against Saxon raids.

Between Reculver Country Park towards Herne Bay, the path follows clifftop grassland which provides spectacular views out to sea. Sand martins that nest in the holes in the cliffs at Bishopstone can be seen flying above the path.

The trail then reaches Herne Bay with its historic pier, picturesque seafront, and distinctive 80-foot Victorian clock tower. Continuing past Tankerton, and the pretty multi-coloured beach huts, you arrive at Whitstable, a picturesque seaside town, famous for its oysters.

Whitstable to Iwade

This easy-to-follow walking route starts in Whitstable, a popular seaside town and famous for its oysters since the Roman times. Walking from Whitstable Harbour, you’ll see fishing vessels and market stalls as you head west along beach boardwalk and quiet roads towards Seasalter. On route you pass old Whitstable fishing huts, an eclectic mix of houses and modern beach huts looking over the wide shingle beach.

At Seasalter, you can clearly see the Isle of Sheppey to the north, which sits in the Thames Estuary just off the Kent coast. Continuing your walk you enter the Swale, a strip of tidal waters between the Isle of Sheppey and Kent mainland, where the shingle beaches start to give way to saltmarsh and mudflats. The Swale estuary teems with wildlife, and in the winter months is swarming with thousands of wintering birds such as dark bellied brent geese and dunlin, oyster catchers, curlew and ringed plover.

Walking inland along Faversham Creek, some 5km, before arriving at this historic town. Faversham is the oldest market town in Kent, with hundreds of listed buildings and maritime history. The path takes you through boatyards, passing Standard Quay filled with historic barges and an array of shops before crossing the creek on the swing bridge.

Walking along the seawalls between Faversham and Oare, sailing barges and boats using the narrow creeks and the distant Swale estuary can be spotted. These settlements have a long history of boat building, and this tradition is reflected in the 17th Century Shipwright’s Arms, a pub perched on the seawall.

Walking north from Oare you pass through Kent Wildlife Trust’s Oare Marshes Nature Reserve. Here you can see grazing marsh with freshwater dykes, open water scrapes, reedbed and saltmarsh from the seawall and another haven for wildlife. The area has a long history as part of the gunpowder industry, and you can see signs of this in remains of buildings and boats.

As you continue on the path you enter Conyer Creek and pass a former 19th Century brickworks site, a great place to spot wintering birds on the adjacent mudflats. The site is now all grown over and in spring you can hear nightingales singing in the scrub.

Once you have followed the creek back to the Swale estuary, large freight and barges can often be seen travelling to and from the industrial docks nearby, such as at Ridham and further west in the Medway Estuary. You are now just 1km away across the Swale channel from the Isle of Sheppey. Here you pass the remains of the old ferry to the island, long disused, before reaching and crossing Milton Creek, near Sittingbourne.

The trail leaves the coast around the industrial complex and port at Ridham, before returning to the seawall towards Kingsferry Bridge near Iwade, close to Swale rail station where the trail ends.

Stoke Marshes to Otterham Creek (Medway, Kent)

This 23.5 mile (38km) long section follows the western shores of the Medway Estuary, from Stoke Marshes (west of the Isle of Grain), through the busy urban ‘Medway towns’ and on to the muddy creeks at Riverside Country Park and Otterham Creek.

The expanse of the Medway Estuary with its extensive saltmarsh and grazing marsh habitat is visible from the remote seawall walk along the Stoke Marshes.  Turning inland towards the village of Stoke takes you onto higher ground, with far reaching views over to the Isle of Sheppey bridge and towards the Medway towns.

Once on the coast again, the trail passes an old ‘boat graveyard’ near to Port Werburgh marina with its array of houseboats.  Westwards from here, there is a tranquil walk along a unique wooded beach, with the remains of Cockham Fort quietly eroding, before reaching the village of Lower Upnor with its plentiful pubs.

The strategically defensive location of the Medway, on the outer Thames Estuary, contributes to the rich military and maritime history evident along the trail, with many historic forts and castles overlooking the water. As the trail leaves Lower Halstow and heads towards the ‘Medway towns’ of Strood; Rochester: Gillingham and Chatham, the spectacular 16th Century Upnor Castle can be visited; and the Norman Rochester Castle are prominent features on the estuary frontage. These castles and the Royal Historic Dockyards at Chatham are just some of the popular tourist attractions in these towns. Today, the maritime theme continues with the many marinas, quays and boat clubs found throughout the Medway towns.

The trail follows roads through the Medway town, with occasional glimpses and visits to the riverside, such as at Sun Pier in Chatham, and a walk all the way around St Mary’s Island – with spectacular views of the boats and islands in the estuary. Once east of Gillingham, the trail offers views out across the mudflats, which provide food for huge flocks of wintering wader birds, such as grey plover, knot and dunlin and waterfowl such as shelduck and dark-bellied brent geese. These can be viewed along the trail, especially at Riverside Country Park, which also offers a visitor centre and café stop.

To get to Stoke Marshes – take the 191 bus to Grain Crossing, from Grain (Chapel Road shops) or the Medway towns.

To get to Otterham Creek, walk from Rainham rail station (Gillingham ME8 7SF)) or park at Motney Hill (Rainham ME8 7TZ) or Riverside Country Park (Gillingham ME7 2XH).

Grain to Woolwich

Walkers can follow a continuous route from Woolwich to the sea on the Isle of Grain.

This 49 mile (79km) stretch joins Grain – on the Isle of Grain – with the Woolwich foot tunnel. From Woolwich a new section links up with the Thames Path, creating a continuous, way-marked route from the source of the Thames, Gloucestershire, through the centre of London, to the sea. This new section of national trail, from London to Grain, will allow walkers to enjoy fantastic views, while taking in the natural and cultural heritage of this uniquely diverse and fascinating stretch of the coast.

From Woolwich the route follows closely along the south bank of the Thames. The river has long been a busy port, as numerous wharves and jetties – many of them redundant – will testify. In places, new stylish residential developments – with wide promenades, benches, and trees – are springing up to replace derelict industrial sites. Elsewhere, the route passes numerous heritage sites, including the impressive Woolwich Arsenal with a long history of providing armaments and ammunition for the British army and navy. But this is also a working landscape and interspersed with historic sites are busy wharves, industrial complexes, the magnificent Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, and at Swanscombe: the largest pylon in Europe.

And there is no shortage of wildlife, even close to the centre of London on some of the more industrialised sections. At low tide a wide variety of birds can be seen feeding on the mud, and it is not unusual to see the occasional grey seal hauled up on one of the many small beaches. Heading eastwards towards the Isle of Grain the industrial landscape fades away. Industrial heritage is replaced by long stretches of remote grazing marsh, and between the Napoleonic fort at Cliffe and the village of Allhallows there is nothing but wildness – twelve miles of sea, sky, and grazing marsh.

There is a bus service along the A228 between Grain and the Strood and Rochester area where there are railway stations. Visit the Traveline website to plan your journey.

Woolwich is well served by public transport. Visit Transport for London’s journey planner page to find out more.