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Step to it: 5 of the best British seaside walks

Travelling
5 minute guide

Georgina Wilson-Powell

6 April 2018

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The UK has just over 11,000 miles of coastline, from sweeping golden sand beaches amid dramatic craggy outcrops to those iconic white cliffs. Make it your mission this summer to explore a part of the British coastline you don’t know. Rock pools full of crabs, water meadows, windswept sand dunes, bird-filled estuaries and peaceful nature reserves all await.

This spring we’ve partnered with TOMS to bring you five of the best seaside walks, that take in both the classic British seaside experience to something more wild and free. Plunge your feet into the sea, feel the mud and sand beneath your toes and breathe in the salty air, sometimes the coast’s the only place to be.

5 of the best seaside walks

Burton Bradstock-West Bay, Dorset

The UK’s Jurassic coast is some of its most spectacular. Take in the primeval geology of the UNESCO certified south coast in Dorset, with a walk between Burton Bradstock and West Bay (where TV hit Broadchurch was filmed). 

It’s a beautiful 3.2 mile walk, with directions from two handily placed bus stops in the centre of Burton Bradstock. Almost all of the walk is along the stunning cliff tops as you pick up part of the South West Coast Path National Trail (which runs for 95 miles).

As you’re walking, take a moment to think about the immense history that’s under your feet. Once all you can see would have been a tropical sea, the 15 mile beach at West Bay was created 200,000 years ago. Keep your eyes peeled for fossils or keep going until you get to the cute Watch House Cafe by the harbour in West Bay - it’s a perfect pit stop for locally caught, sustainable shellfish or fish n’ chips.

How to get there: If you’re not driving, the nearest train station is Weymouth and there are buses to Burton Bradstock.

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The Jurassic coast fields film-worthy views in every direction

Kyle Rhea, Skye

There’s really no bad walks on Skye but it’s not all dramatic blustery craigs and crashing seas around this ancient, mystical island. Scotland’s second biggest island has proved a huge draw to summer walkers in recent years and it’s no surprise when such a vibrant and delicious food scene awaits afterwards (see here for more reasons to visit Skye).

Sometimes a quiet stroll by the water though is all you need and this easy one hour, 1.5 mile walk overlooking the Kyle Rhea isn’t just a favourite with humans, it’s also a bit of an otter sanctuary.

Start at Kylerhea Otter Hide and you’ll be rewarded with stunning views looking back over to the mainland. Halfway along the walk is a hide out with binoculars where you can stop and watch the otters, seals and birdlife who call this secluded seashore home. Take a picnic and make it a slow paced, take in the sights, kind of afternoon.

How to get there: Drive over the Skye Bridge on the A87 to get over to the Isle of Skye. Or the Kylerhea Otter Hide is close to the car ferry between Gleneig and Kylerhea.

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Watch out for otters as you stroll along Kyle Rhea on Scotland's second largest island, Skye

Holme Dunes Coastal Walk, Norfolk

Norfolk’s coastline is all deserted beaches, salt marsh flats and sand dunes, which all weather the battering storms from Siberia every winter. Brave any wind and head to the Holmes Dunes Coastal Walk on the corner of The Wash. This Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is looked after by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, and under Norfolk’s huge open skies you’ll feel a million times better, even if you only go for a short blast of sea air.

Explore mud flats and water meadows, huge flat beaches and spot an ever changing cast list of birds, ranging from barn owls to turns. The vast seaside expanse here is home to natterjack toads, butterflies and dragonflies and once a upon a time (4,000 years ago) there was a Bronze settlement here who used stone circles, much like Stonehenge.

For a short walk head from the car park to the handily placed tea room and back again (obviously stopping for a cream tea to keep you going) or for a longer walk, keep going along the paths to a stunning pine forest at Thornham (you can pick up a bus to get back again too).

How to get there: Holme Dunes Coastal Walk is 15 minute drive from Hunstanton. Or get the train from Kings Lynn and cycle to the coast (around two hours).

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The Norfolk coast is some of the most dramatic and deserted coastline in the UK

Lindisfarne, Holy Island, Northumberland

One of the UK’s most iconic seaside walks takes in the stately beauty of the ancient castle at Lindisfarne. The 16th century building, owned by the National Trust, is undergoing renovation but the landscape around it is as beautiful and pristine as ever. The castle’s chequered history makes the walk seem as though you’re stepping back in time. There’s a landscaped garden from 1911, massive limestone kilns from the 18th century and of course the haunting ruins of Lindisfarne Priory which date back 1,400 years, further along the coast.

While you might not be covering great distances (1-5 miles), there is so much to take in on tiny Holy Island. Just crossing the causeway is a stunning experience (the tidal island is only accessible twice a day), and aside from history, there’s an abundance of wildlife. 

Explore the island’s rock pools and find crabs, anemones and starfish or spot some of the migrating birds like oystercatchers, turnstones, redshanks or ringed plovers.

How to get there: Holy Island is on the NCN1, Coast and Castles cycle route, if you’re coming under your own steam or leave the A1 at Beal and follow signs for Holy Island.

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Take your TOMS for a walk from seashore potters to cliff top hikes - they're with you every step of the way

Ramsgate to Margate

Make a day of it with this 10 mile walk that takes in three classic British seaside towns in Kent. From Ramsgate you’ll head over to Margate, via Broadstairs (these resorts all sit on the Isle of Thanet) and fall away into the sea with soft white chalk cliffs. While the towns themselves can be busy in summer, the beautiful coastal stretch between them often isn’t, and at low tide you can walk along the sand, shoes in hand, paddling in the surf.

Start from the Blue Flag beach, Main Sands in Ramsgate and find yourself winding between cliff top and shady cove; there are nine bays on the way to Margate, Botany Bay is the prettiest (but surfers love Joss Bay). 

While away the day with plenty of beach cafe and pub stops, there are rock pools and sand dunes, deckchairs to hire and sandcastles to build. Walk right into the bustling town of Margate - you’ll come to the stunning Turner Contemporary art gallery and the protective arm of the harbour wall, where wooden fishing boats bob and craft beers are on offer from one of the harbourside brew pubs. Take in the sunset sitting on a sea wall on Margate beach, before finding a cute cocktail bar in this hipster-on-sea enclave. You’ve earned it.

How to get there: Take the train to Ramsgate and walk down to the harbour. Much of this walk is also part of the Viking Coastal bike path that stretches for 32 miles along Kent’s coast.

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