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.
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.
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.
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!