Britain has some of the most beautiful and dramatic coastlines in the world, much of it owned or maintained by the National Trust. One of the best ways to experience it is to head out on a good coastal walk recommended by users in ViewRanger’s online community.
Whether it’s a stroll along a sandy beach or a clamber over boulders, ViewRanger users upload and share their favourite routes with others so it is an excellent place to seek inspiration for your next adventure.
Select a geographical area you are interested in and download the routes before you go to give you a selection to choose from - then use the ViewRanger smartphone app to keep you on the right path.
To get you started, we have selected five of our favourite coastal walks for you to enjoy over the summer months:
1. Old Harry Rock, nr Studland, Dorset: 4.3 miles
Dorset’s Jurassic coastline is characterised by its dramatic rock formations and fossils aplenty. Old Harry’s distinctive white chalk stacks form the most easterly point of this part of coastline and have been carved out by the pounding of the waves over thousands of years. Views from Old Harry are spectacular – across Poole Bay and Bournemouth to Hengistbury Head and the Isle of Wight.
This circular costal walk, recommended by ViewRanger user Nick Morley, starts and finishes in the village of Studland and incorporates Ballard Down, which is owned by the National Trust. The down is an area of chalky grassland and plants are largely short and hardy, such as grasses and common herbs, and are a haven for insects and butterflies. The land was temporarily used for agriculture during World War II but has since been returned to its natural state by conservationists.
You will not need any specialist equipment however walking boots are recommended. For those you want to unwind with a cuppa afterwards, the harbour at Sandbanks is just a short drive away and is great for people-watching.
2. Holy Mountain, Isle of Anglesey, Wales: 6 miles
If you enjoy unearthing historical secrets, then the Isle of Anglesey off the north-west coast of Wales is worth a visit. Ancient stone megaliths and standing stones are numerous, as are the remains of Iron Age and Roman settlements. The relatively flat landscape means a stunning sea view is never far away.
Our circular walk has been recommended by Alasdair Shaw from Archaeoroutes – a keen walker with a passion for archaeology. It starts near the coast at Cytiau’r Gwyddelod; the remains of 20 stone huts which were restored more than 30 years ago and are thought to date back to Neolithic times.
The route then turns north, following the rocky path to the summit of Holyhead Mountain to Caer-y-Twr. This Roman hill fort likely served as a watchtower and provides spectacular views out over the Irish Sea. The route descends southwards to meet South Stack Road and Plas Road where you can view the enigmatic Bronze Age Penrhos Feilw standing stones before following the coastal road back to the start.
For the more adventurous – the Isle of Anglesey coastal path runs the entire length of the 125 mile long coastline and much of it has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). It usually takes about 12 days to complete and more information can be found on the Visit Anglesey website.
3. Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim, Northern Island: 2 miles
Legend would have you believe that the Giant’s Causeway – one of the world’s iconic coastal phenomenon – is the remains of a great raised path built by the giant Finn MacCool to allow him to reach Scotland to fight rival giant Benandonner. The reality however is that Northern Ireland’s most popular tourist attraction was formed following an ancient volcanic eruption.
The Giant’s Causeway is made up for about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, battered over thousands of years by wild North Atlantic waves. Now owned and managed by the National Trust, the Causeway is a site for exploration and reflection that captures the imagination of all who visit.
WalkNI.com have contributed nearly 200 walking routes to ViewRanger, suitable for the Sunday stroller up to the serious rambler. Their Giant’s Causeway route starts at the visitor centre, descending the steep slope to The Skookans, where walkers are exposed to the brisk Atlantic winds (wrap up warm!) and continuing on the path until the first stones appear.
The Causeway is popular with tourists but many rarely venture past the first sets of stones. WalkNI recommends negotiating the Giant’s Gate and continue on to Port Noffer, also known as the Bay of the Giant. Being slightly more sheltered, wildlife in the bay is more abundant, with rich plant and bird life. Continuing further will lead to a viewing platform which looks down into the spectacularly named Amphitheatre, where the true, impressive scale of the rock formations can be savoured.
4. Wells-next-the-Sea to Morston, North Norfolk: 7.5 miles
The North Norfolk coast is a designated AONB and it is not hard to see why; wildlife-rich salt marshes, undulating sand dunes, shingle beaches and seal-spotting opportunities are all framed by a vast East Anglian sky. Designated by UK National Trails, the 45 mile long Norfolk Coast Path was opened in 1986 to allow walkers easy access to this stunning landscape.
Our walk has been recommended by ViewRanger user Jim Storer who has a page full of walks from all around the UK. This 7.5 mile linear coastal walk starts in the pretty harbour town of Wells-next-the Sea, full of boutique shops, welcoming pubs and Georgian architecture, before picking up the coastal path to the village of Stiffkey and onwards to Morston.
The path is largely flat and clearly signposted but does become a little narrow on occasions so ensure you are tracking your route on ViewRanger so you do not get lost. For those requiring a little mid-walk refreshment, the Red Lion at Stiffkey is incorporated into the route and seems an ideal spot to relax and enjoy the scenery.
Once you reach Morston, Norfolk County Council operates a well-regarded and regular Coastal Hopper Bus service and there is a bus stop close to the Anchor Inn. Timetables and information on fares can be found on their website.
5. Robin Hood’s Bay, North Yorkshire: 5.6 miles
The Yorkshire coastline is famed for its majestic multi-coloured coastal cliffs and sheltered harbour towns. Robin Hood’s Bay is one of the most popular on the Cleveland Way National Trail. In the 18th Century, the village was reportedly the busiest smuggling community on the Yorkshire coast before the fishing industry transformed it into a thriving community.
This route – written by Graham Wilson for walkingworld.com – starts in Robin Hood Bay before following the clifftop path to Ravenscar and looping back to the start. Just south of the village you will find the Old Coastguard station, owned by the National Trust, where visitors can stop and learn about the North York Coast’s distinctive geology, local wildlife, and its chequered historical past.
There are some rocky sections to be aware of along the clifftop path and plenty of opportunities to explore rock pools and hunt for fossils at Boggle Hole. The beautiful beach at Stoupe Beck Sands is a great place to stop for a picnic. Our route loops back at the disused quarry near Stoupe Brow Farm on the outskirts of Ravenscar and follows the edge of the moor past Susanna Hill before rejoining the Cleveland Way.