The acclaimed German filmmaker Werner Herzog once said, “The world reveals itself to those who travel on foot.” He was speaking from experience: Herzog once walked from Munich to Paris with only a small duffel bag, jacket and compass, and came away with enough to fill his travelogue Of Walking in Ice. Likewise, the England Coast Path, which has been in the works for more than a decade, contains entire worlds within it. Divided into four main sections, the route will traverse 2,800 miles in total once it's complete, making it the longest coastal path in the world. There will be much to see on this slow burn around the country, beginning in the northeast at the border with Scotland, down to The Wash bay, continuing west to Southampton, along the English Channel and around Cornwall, jumping the Welsh border, picking up south of Liverpool and continuing up to meet the opposite coastal border with Scotland. The complete route is expected to be finished next year. Below, we highlight four portions that have already opened to the public.
Amble to South Bents
The wild and rugged northeast stretch filters down the rocky coast of the North Sea into lush grassy dunes and expansive tidal plains. Trek the coast around the River Tyne and into Northumberland, which links Druridge Bay to the ports and resorts farther south. South Blyth Beach is famous for its charming strip of particolored huts that can be rented in summer. Sprawl out on a stretch of golden sand or cool off in the still brisk sea. In the historic town of South Shields, visit the Arbeia Roman fort—a significant garrison and military supply base of the Roman-British era—for gladiator reenactments and falconry exhibitions.
Allonby to Whitehaven
A 22-mile-long Cumbrian section connects Allonby to Whitehaven, along thousands of acres of sharply undulating dunes brimming with white burnet roses and birdsong. Distinct from the other portions of the trail, this region had prominent shipbuilding and steel-manufacturing industries, vestiges of which are still visible today in the local maritime museums. On the cliffs overlooking Solway Firth, the Senhouse Roman Museum at Maryport is situated on one of the largest Roman sites in Northern England. Adjacent to the museum is the western edge of Hadrian’s Wall, another Roman fortification which was constructed in 122 AD and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
Hopton-on-Sea to Sea Palling, Norfolk
Quiet tree-lined paths and rolling dunes abut lively seaside towns on perhaps the most ebullient and bustling stretch of the England Coast Path. The 21-mile route cuts through the wildlife sanctuary of Winterton-Horsey Dunes, full of marshes and birch woodlands that are home to finches, great northern divers and red-necked grebes. During autumn and winter months, you’ll likely have the route to yourself. But in the summertime, the coast of Great Yarmouth is awash with deck chairs and beach blankets, quaint shops and cafés, along the picture-postcard promenade known as the Golden Mile.
Clovelly to Tintagel
A challenging but ultimately rewarding 47-mile trek takes hikers around the North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Hartland Peninsula before crossing the county line into rugged Cornwall. Dramatic, jagged headlands are the backdrop to plunging river valleys and the 13th-century Tintagel Castle, thought to be the birthplace of King Arthur, a site emanating myth and legend. Navigating ancient woodlands and the sun-drenched cliffs of Hartland Point, the route leads to the waterfall at Speke’s Mill Mouth and then on to beaches replete with unique vegetation and marine life such as dolphins, seals, puffins, rare orchids and bog violet.