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.

Tilbury to Southend-on-Sea

This stretch of the England Coast Path is well served by public transport allowing opportunity for linear or circular walks on the coast or around islands in the area and is full of natural and cultural history.

The landscape starts off with ships at Tilbury Cruise Terminal and moves between tall cranes of the DP World London Gateway Port, to ancient forts protecting the Isle, to crop filled fields and low-lying salt marshes and back to the bright lights of Southend-on-Sea ending at Barge Pier.

You can stop at the point where SS Empire Windrush docked; where Queen Elizabeth made her rousing speech to troops at Tilbury Camp; visit the World’s End Pub frequented (according to his diaries) by Samuel Pepys; or the forts of Tilbury and Coalhouse and the 13th Century Hadleigh Castle.

The London 2012 Olympic mountain-biking park is carved into the hillside overlooking the Thames at Hadleigh, cheerful murals adorn the sea walls beside Thorney Bay Beach on Canvey Island and Southend-on-Sea will entice with fun fairs, fish and chips and the world’s longest pleasure pier at 1.3 miles.

As for wildlife, spot three species of invertebrates previously recorded as extinct in Britain, an old rubbish dump that has become a nature reserve, visit Thurrock Thameside Nature Reserve, Canvey Island and Two Tree Island and spot flocks of waders and larger Brent Geese.

But can you find the beach made entirely of rounded glass from an ancient bottle dump for a truly unique listening experience?

Southend-on-Sea to Wallasea Island

After filling up on fish and chips and experiencing the bright lights and excitement of Southend-on-Sea pleasure beach and pier, head out east towards Barge Pier where this stretch of England Coast Path starts.

The city landscape changes to private residences that were formerly the military barracks for Shoeburyness. Moving away from the active military area where the boom of exploding ordnance dominates for miles around, the trail slips in and around the creeks and rivers winding their way through the marshes and isles in the area. Here lies the remains of HMS Beagle on which Charles Darwin sailed.

After miles of solitude passing Great Wakering, Potton Island, Barling, Sutton Ford Bridge near Rochford and Paglesham with only farmland inland of the trail and marshland seaward, walkers will come upon Wallasea Island, home to the RSPB Nature Reserve, where the land is being reclaimed by the sea. Deliberate holes in the seawalls allow tides in and invite dense flocks of seabirds that will provide an autumn and spring spectacle.

Keep an eye out for the causeway with remnants of floating WWII bridges, marinas full of boats and why not stop a while at a holiday village.

Burnham-on-Crouch to Maldon

The section of the King Charles III England Coast Path between Burnham-on-Crouch and Maldon loops around the Dengie Peninsula. It is one of the more remote sections of the National Trail in the East of England, despite being close to major populations there are very few settlements along the entire length apart from at each end. The route is bounded on the landward side by farmed land, that has over years been drained to allow crops to grow (the very area where malaria was so rife up to the 1800s that the local farmers are recorded as marrying up to 15 times as successive wives succumbed to the disease).

In his book ‘A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain’ Daniel Defoe noted “It was very frequent to meet with men that had had from five to six, to fourteen of fifteen wives… they being bred in the marshes themselves, and seasoned to the place, did pretty well with it; but that they always went into the hilly country for a wife… when they came out of their native aire into the marshes… they presently changed their complexion, got an ague or two, and seldom held it above half a year, or a year at most; and then [the men] would go to the uplands again, and fetch another.

To the seaward side of the trail, miles of saltmarsh and mudflat open up to the horizon at low tide, a home to thousands of shoreline birds and a reason why this area is of international importance for its wildlife.

The route passes through very few villages and there are no significant facilities or parking giving the area a feel of true wilderness. The exposed coast should be respected and despite being generally flat can still offer a challenge to walkers looking to complete the section. A tourism draw, with parking and shorter circular loops using the local paths, is the small chapel of St Peter on the Wall dating from the year 660.

Maryland Creek
Walkers on the trail at Mayland Creek

Maldon to Salcott, Essex

40 miles from London, this part of the Blackwater Estuary boasts big skies, was visited by Vikings, Romans and WW1 pilots.  Vast expanses of intertidal salt marsh and mudflats are breeding and grazing grounds to dark-bellied Brent goose, little tern and ringed plover amongst many other waders and wildfowl, native oysters and golden samphire.

In the historic maritime town of Maldon you can take a trip on a Thames sailing barge or visit Promenade Park the largest waterside park for family fun in Essex.  It’s also home to the culinary renowned Maldon Sea Salt company.

The route passes by Heybridge known for homing the final stage of the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation Canal, historically used to transport coal and wood to the inland town of Chelmsford.

Goldhanger, thought to get its Nordic name from the Corn Marigold growing in surrounding grassland, was first mentioned in the Domesday Book.  On the path from the crest of the seawall nearby you can experience panoramic views over to Osea Island.

Tollesbury nestles between Tollesbury Fleet and the RSPB reserve at Old Hall Marshes is ideal for bird watching.  The town itself hosts an impressive marina that is a boating centre for all the family. And Salcott is named after the huts that stored the salt harvested in the area since the Iron Age.

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.

Hunstanton to Sutton Bridge

This section of the King Charles III England Coast Path follows the Norfolk and Lincolnshire coast, between Hunstanton on the eastern shore of The Wash and Sutton Bridge on the River Nene.

The sandy beaches at Hunstanton, Heacham and Shepherd’s Port present walkers with a seaside holiday vibe, also offering stunning sunsets and views across The Wash to Lincolnshire. But within these tourist honeypots sits a highly protected landscape, with multiple designations for wildlife. Local initiatives have made important progress in protecting the vulnerable species such as the ringed plover and oystercatcher which nest along the beaches.

Between Heacham and Snettisham, the path passes Wild Ken Hill estate, known for rewilding, regenerative farming, and traditional conservation practices – also a popular location for BBC’s Springwatch.

As a ‘superhighway’ for migratory birds during autumn and winter, an appealing part of the route is RSPB Snettisham reserve, where visitors can see the ‘whirling wader spectacular’. Having gathered to feed on the mudflats, species such as knot, dunlin and oystercatchers fly up into the air en masse with the rising tide and perform incredible murmurations.

Up to 40,000 pink-footed geese also gather in The Wash over winter, taking flight at first light in close V-shaped formations across the sky. They make an unmissable, high-pitched ‘wink-wink’ sound as they call to each other before they head inland to find food for the day.

The shoreline on the open coast between Snettisham and Sutton Bridge is predominantly alongside sea banks that were constructed to protect the drained arable farmland. The banks and adjacent saltmarsh are also grazed by cattle.

There is a sense of remoteness by the sea banks, with no public facilities or connecting paths for a number of miles, but with good services and transport links in the centres of King’s Lynn and Sutton Bridge. Between these two hubs, the path follows the Peter Scott Walk along the sea bank between West Lynn and the lighthouse on the mouth of the river Nene, which was once owned by Sir Peter Scott.

Although remote in parts, it is the perfect stretch to experience the splendid isolation of you and the thousands of other species, big and small, that live within the landscape.

Browse the Trail gallery

Explore the King Charles III England Coast Path in the East