England Coast Path – South East
From the Thames Estuary to Southampton, passing stunning wildlife and culture
• The 33-mile (53km) route from Shoreham-by-Sea to Eastbourne, linking west to east Sussex, is the first complete section of the England Coast Path in Sussex to open. • This new stretch, the 17th full stretch to open, will form part of the 2,700-mile-long England Coast Path, which will become the longest walking route in the world. • The route includes coastal towns, stunning sea views with the iconic back-drop of the white chalk cliffs, and rural landscapes created by the South Downs meeting the sea.
Spring has sprung with a new trail for Sussex residents and visitors to enjoy. The new section of the England Coast Path will help connect people with nature and provide a wealth of health and wellbeing opportunities.
The easy to follow 33-mile (53km) walking route, which includes part of the South Downs National Park, along the west and east Sussex coast, passing seaside promenades and nature reserves, has been opened by Natural England today.
This route will eventually help connect the country’s entire coastline into one long trail. The walk will take people through some of the finest landscapes in England as well as the many coastal towns, cities and ports which have shaped this islands nation. And for the first time in footpath history, legal rights of public access to typical coastal land including beaches, dune and cliffs will be secured, allowing walkers to access places they’ve never been before.
Jim Seymour, Natural England Area Manager said:
“This trail encompasses the iconic white chalk cliff and sea views, the South Downs National Park with its abundance of wildlife and the popular coastal towns.
“At a time when the benefits of connecting with nature are clearer than ever, it’s fabulous that we are opening up this 33-mile-long section of footpath across the South Downs and along the east and west Sussex coast.
“I have personally felt the value of walking a section of this route recently with my family and I look forward to exploring more of this new route now that it’s open on my next trip.”
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.
Andy Le Gresley, South East National Trail Partnership Chair said:
“This new 33-mile stretch of the England Coast Path is fantastic news for visitors to the beautiful and varied Sussex coastline.
“The trail links several iconic Sussex locations with a high-quality, well-signposted walking route. Walkers can enjoy a unique variety of urban and countryside coastlines, and a mix of different terrains and views – from steep hills to easy promenades.
“This new stretch of trail is also a vital link in the South East section of the England Coast Path. Once complete, the whole of the South East Coast Path will provide a new route for walkers, running from Shoreham-by Sea to the London Borough of Bexley.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank local authority access officers and Natural England staff for their years of hard work and dedication to design, negotiate and create this excellent new section of Coast Path.”
The maps and documentation pertinent to the new path will be available for viewing and download on: www.gov.uk/englandcoastpath and for more information visit www.gov.uk/government/collections/england-coast-path-improving-public-access-to-the-coast
The Countryside Code, updated this year, is the official guide on how to enjoy nature and treat both it, and the people who live and work there, with respect.
Find out more about the this stretch of the England Coast Path and Natural England on our social media channels: https://twitter.com/naturalengland (@NaturalEngland), https://twitter.com/NESussexandKent (@NESussexandKent) www.instagram.com/naturalengland/, https://www.facebook.com/naturalengland.
If you do have any queries regarding the day to day management of the new rights, please contact the relevant access authority:
West Sussex County Council on email@example.com or 01243 777 620
Brighton & Hove City Council on firstname.lastname@example.org
East Sussex County Council on email@example.com
or 0345 6080 193
Sussex Downs National Park Authority on firstname.lastname@example.org
For more general queries regarding coastal access please contact the Natural England enquires team on:
Updated 4th February 2021
Part of this route, near at the eastern end of Samphire Hoe has eroded from the cliff fall on 3rd February. Part of the England Coast Path that runs along the edge of the cliff between Round Down and Shakespeare has collapsed and is no longer useable. It is extremely dangerous.
For your safety, if you are local and visiting the cliffs for your exercise please can you maintain a safe distance from the cliff edges and follow any local signage that is in place.
Please also be prepared when out walking currently. The ground conditions remain very wet and poor, therefore please keep to the Public Rights of Ways and follow the Countryside Code – Click here to view quickly.
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.
Kent’s Heritage Coast has won international recognition as the 4th region on Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2022. Kent was the only UK destination to feature and was selected for its unique experiences, ‘wow’ factor and its ongoing commitment to sustainable tourism practices.
Visit the News Page to read more on this fantastic news!
Find useful facts and learn more about the England Coast Path in the South East below. Select the blue tabs below for more details.
The England Coast Path is a new walking route that will follow the entire coast of England. For the first time people will have the right of access around all our open coast. This includes – where appropriate – any land, other than the trail itself, which forms part of the Coastal Margin. The path is being opened in sections but will, when completed, be the longest coastal path in the world. It will be a National Trail.
At the moment you can only walk some sections. The open sections are shown on the interactive map. As new sections open they will be added to the website maps. You can also see open sections and find out about progress on other sections on the gov.uk website.
In the South East, the following sections are open to the public (as of February 2022):
The England Coast Path has been created under new legislation. In parts it follows existing public rights of way, but many sections are completely new and use a new right of access. Because of this it has different rules to public rights of way. Please make sure you obey any on-site signage.
In most places you don’t have to stick to the path. Land to the seaward side of the trail, shaded pink on Ordnance Survey Maps is Coastal Margin. Much of this land has public access. Although you have the right to explore away from the path please use common sense – the England Coast Path includes land that is steep, unstable and not readily accessible. Just because the maps says you can go there doesn’t mean it is safe to do so.
The England Coast will be the longest coastal walking route in the world when it is complete.
The England Coast Path is much more than just a path. It has been created under new legislation. It allows access to the coast including the cliff tops and the beach. Everything to the seaward side of the path is designated as Coastal Margin. This gives you the right to walk off the path. You can see where this land is – it is shaded pink on the 1:25,000 Ordnance Survey maps.
But, although the land is shaded pink, you don’t have the right to walk everywhere – the Coastal Margin includes land:
In some places the existing National Trail, or part of it, will become part of the England Coast Path as well, for example the South West Coast Path, Norfolk Coast Path and the coastal part of the Cleveland Way. In this case you will see signs on the ground for the existing Trail, but also some ‘part of the England Coast Path’ signs.
There are benefits to the existing National Trails becoming part of the England Coast Path as it makes it much quicker for the Trail managers to resolve any problems due to erosion. It also means that you are able to walk in the Coastal Margin.
You might find in some places the line of the existing National Trail is different to the line of the England Coast Path – in that case you can choose which one to take.
Visit our Walking Holidays Page for holiday inspiration for the England Coast Path – South East.
Visit our News Page for the latest interesting and exciting news on the England Coast Path.
Discover something new to explore every step of the way, from natural icons and historic attractions to coastal towns and villages…
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