For a country so small, England has a wealth of supremely scenic coastal trails. What’s more, some of England’s best coast path hikes also feature pivot points that link up with epic long distance trails. This means you get to discover cinematic shorelines, absorbing histories and testing gradients as well as views and routes that go on for miles.

A blond person sits on a rocky outcropping, overlooking a coastline abutted by green cliffs. England.
Hit the trails of England's Coast Path in 2020 © GgWink / Getty Images

And these English hiking hotspots are due to get even more attention from 2020, when the England Coast Path will officially launch. At just under 2800 miles, it’ll be the longest managed and waymarked coastal path in the world, and will sweep right around the country’s coast from the Scottish and Welsh borders. If you fancy pulling on your boots for it, it’s likely to take even the fittest walkers the best part of a year to complete. An epic trail indeed.


South West Coast Path / Two Moors Way

Tucked away in England’s south west, the Exmoor town of Lynmouth is picture postcard pretty. Here towering headlands meet broad beaches, and gorges plunge down from tawny moors. It sits square on the 630-mile South West Coast Path, an eight-to-10 week, roller-coaster romp around England's southwest peninsula, past beaches, bays, shipwrecks, seaside resorts, fishing villages and clifftop castles. Lynmouth is also at one end of the Two Moors Way; a 100-plus-mile, 10-day jaunt to south Devon that takes in both Exmoor and Dartmoor National Parks.

A small path leads to a fishing community with historic white buildings with orange roofs. The town sits on the edge of a bay with rolling green hills in the background. England.
Stop into atmospheric Rob Hood's Bay to kick off your Coast to Coast trail hike © Stanciuc / Getty Images

 Robin Hood’s Bay

Coast to Coast

A tangle of mazy lanes, age-old pubs and Victorian villas wind down to the beach at Yorkshire’s Robin Hood’s Bay, a historic fishing village set amid dramatic cliffs. Once a smuggling hotspot, the port is now famous as a jumping-off point for the 190-mile Coast to Coast trail. Taking around 14 days, and also known as Wainwright’s Coast to Coast (after the man who devised it), the route to St Bees in Cumbria has numerous variations. It’s not technically a national trail, but is a spectacular trek through three national parks via a memorable mix of valleys, plains, mountains, dales and moors. 

Small pink flowers bloom on grassy patches in a salt marsh. The sky is blue with small clouds. England.
A carpet of flowers on a salt marsh near Bowness-on-Solway © Val Corbett / Getty Images


Hadrian's Wall Path

Bowness-on-Solway lies within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on England’s northwest coast, just west of the Cumbrian city of Carlisle. While sand dunes and salt marshes draw bird watchers and holidaymakers, it’s also at the end of the epic Hadrian's Wall Path. This eight-day, 84 mile trail follows the world-famous Roman structure from Wallsend in the east right across northern England via a string of castles, ramparts, battlements and forts. 


South Downs Way

Despite a reputation as a seaside resort packed with snoozing pensioners, Eastbourne offers access to a restored Victorian pier, sweeping pebble beaches and towering chalk cliffs. The East Sussex town is also the finish point for thousands walking the 100-mile South Downs Way, a sweeping, seven to nine day hike from Winchester to the sea. Mostly following a line of rolling hills, it delivers big skies, wonderful views, picture-perfect villages and prehistoric sites. 

A rock arch stretches into a small bay at twilight. A small yellow boat sits on the shore. Jurassic Coast, England.
Discover the rock formations of the Jurassic Coast © artherng / Getty Images

 Lyme Regis

Jurassic Coast / South West Coast Path

The charming, south coast heritage resort of Lyme Regis has several hiking claims to fame. As well as sitting on the mighty South West Coast Path, it’s also a pivot point on the Jurassic Coast, an extraordinary 95-mile strip of shore where rock arches, sea stacks and natural features showcase 185 million years of geological history in just 95 miles. Stretching from Exmouth in East Devon to Swanage in Dorset, it’s England’s only natural UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lyme Regis and nearby Charmouth are also ideal spots to search for the fossils that pop up on local beaches, exposed by the erosion of surrounding cliffs. 

Holy Island (Lindisfarne)

Northumberland Coast Path

You have to time your visit to Holy Island carefully – this 2-square-mile speck of land on England’s northeast shore is only accessible via a causeway that appears at low tide. Its storied past pivots from monks to Vikings, and more recently daring sea rescues. You’ll find this appealing spot part-way along the 62-mile Northumberland Coast Path, which surges from Cresswell to Berwick-upon-Tweed taking in high cliffs, vast empty beaches and some of Northumberland’s famously photogenic castles.

Two backpackers walk down a dirt path that cuts through a green field and hugs a cliff line. Norfolk Coast Path, England.
The Norfolk Coast Path stretches for 130 miles © Mike Harrington / Getty Images


Norfolk Coast Path

In east coast Cromer, fishing boats sit beside a pebbly shore, an appealing pier juts proudly into the waves and cafes dish up delicious meals of sweet-tasting Cromer crab. On either side stretches the Norfolk Coast Path which, together with the inland Peddar’s Way, encompasses 130 miles. It leads through a bewitching, largely flat landscape in which mellow villages are home to ancient windmills and salt marshes, and sand dunes are crowned by seemingly endless skies.

Isle of Wight

Isle of Wight Coast Path

These days the Isle of Wight, anchored off England’s south coast, delights in a new-found air of driftwood chic – to the trappings of traditional family holidays add vintage campervans and cool seafood shacks. It also offers some classic coastal hiking, with 68 miles of shore-side trails. These take in the stunning Needles chalk stacks and fort, yachting haven Cowes, resort towns, fishing harbours and surf beaches.

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