5 of Britain’s Best Coastal Walking Holidays

English Coast Path Signpost
Photo: Contours Holidays

Britain is full of charming country lanes and rolling green hills, but nothing beats the fresh air and sweeping vistas of a good coast path. Lined with historical ports and teeming with wildlife, there’s something for everyone around our magnificent shoreline.

Unfortunately, with great beauty comes great popularity. The high footfall of the South Downs Way or the Pembrokeshire Coast Path can sometimes be off putting, especially as the summer holidays approach.

However, hidden amongst the cliffs and marshes of our 7000-mile coast are countless oh-so-quiet, lesser-known trails. You can take the stress out of venturing off the beaten path with Contours Holidays’ self-guided walking tours.

Explore the Coast with Contours Holidays

All of your accommodation, maps, luggage, and emergency support are sorted, so you can focus on the historical ports of Northumberland, the castles of South Wales, or the wilderness of ancient Breckland.

Together with Contours Holidays, we’ve put together a list of our favourite lesser-known coastal walks from all across the country to help you plan your next seaside adventure. They have plans for all skill levels, so whether you want a whistle-stop tour or to take it slow you can find a version of these walks that will work for you. We’ve given you the shortest and longest versions of each holiday below, but if you’re looking for something in between you can find all of the plans on Contours’ website.

South Northumberland Coast Path

St Mary's Lighthouse
Photo: Quaid Lagan; Unsplash

Start: Sunderland
End: Cresswell
Distance: 39 Miles
The Harder Way: 2 days; Strenuous
The Easier Way: 5 days; Easy/Moderate
Dog friendly? Yes
Highlights: St Mary’s Lighthouse and its resident seals, Tynemouth Priory, sweeping coastal views

This charismatic Northern English trail will show you all you need to know about our historical ports and towns. Starting in Sunderland, you’ll work your way over rocky outcrops, through Roman ruins, and past towering sea stacks until you reach the quaint village of Cresswell.

There’s something for everyone on this 39-mile hike, including the chance to meet the resident sea-life who call the rock-pools of the famed St. Mary’s Lighthouse home.

Kent Coast Path

Kent Coast Path
Photo: Contours Holidays

Start: Camber
End: Ramsgate
Distance: 67 Miles
The Harder Way: 4 days; Demanding
The Easier Way: 8 days; Easy/Moderate
Dog friendly? No
Highlights: White Cliffs of Dover, medieval Sandwich, Dover Castle

The Kent Coast Path is a peaceful way to see the stars of the South coast. Stretched out like a middle-ages walk of fame, you’ll pass through the medieval town of Sandwich, Dover Castle, and the thriving Dover Port.

Of course, the crown jewel of the region is the world-famous White Cliffs of Dover.  You will be able to see them in all their glory in the middle of your holiday.

It is a perfect trail for history buffs, with a chance to stop at the Battle of Britain Memorial as well. There are certainly challenging sections, as you will cover some rugged terrain, but if you conquer the climb, the views are unforgettable.

Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path

Boats along Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path
Photo: Ben Wicks; Unsplash

Start: Knettishall Heath
End: Hopton-on-Sea
Distance: 136 Miles
The Harder Way: 8 days; Demanding
The Easier Way: 16 days; Easy/Moderate
Dog friendly? Yes
Highlights: Bird spotting in the tidal marshes, ancient Breckland

Peddars Way and the Norfolk Coast Path is one for people who like the best of both worlds.

Starting in Knettishall Heath, you will ramble through the wild heathland and wide-open skies of ancient Breckland. Then, when you reach the coast, you will be greeted with the abundant wildlife of East Anglia’s tidal marshes.

These environments are especially good for bird watching. Marsh harriers hunt amongst the reeds and the visiting brent geese shelter here from the Siberian winter.

Whether it is the countryside or the seaside that you’re after, this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a feast for the senses and will charm you every step of the way.

Carmarthenshire Coast Path

Carmarthen Castle on Carmarthenshire Coast Path
Photo: Contours Holidays

Start: Amroth
End: Burry Port
Distance: 62 Miles
The Harder Way: 4 days; Demanding
The Easier Way: 8 days; Easy/Moderate
Dog friendly? No
Highlights: Loads of Welsh castles, Marina at Burry Port, waterside wildlife

If you love castles, this path is a no brainer. It passes the ancient Amroth, Laugharne, Llansteffan, Camarthen, and Kidwelly.

If castles aren’t your thing, then there’s plenty more in the South Wales countryside to get stuck into. The bustling marina in Burry and the oldest town in Wales lie amongst the undulating hills.

The trail offers up a particularly peaceful perspective on the British coast, with the chance to sit and gaze over the tranquil waterside scenery in the Afon Taff tidal channels.

Kintyre Way

Kintyre Way
Photo: Contours Holidays

Start: Tarbert
End: Machrihanish
Distance: 102 Miles
The Harder Way: 5 days; Strenuous
The Easier Way: 8 days; Moderate/Demanding
Dog friendly? No
Highlights: Rare coastal wildlife, sweeping hills, Scottish whiskey

This path isn’t strictly a coastal path, but as you weave from coast to coast you will get to experience all the wonder of the Kintyre Peninsula in full.

The rugged coastline makes this a more challenging route, but it is a true hidden gem with very quiet trails. If you are looking for some solitude and a real escape into the countryside, then look no further.

The undisturbed surroundings make it the perfect walk to spot rare coastal wildlife. With a little bit of luck, you can find basking sharks, otters, eagles, and wild horses set against the wide skies and white sand beaches of Kintyre.

Like What you See?

If you’ve found the inspiration you’ve been looking for then head to Contours’ website to get planning your getaway. They can take bookings from up to two weeks in advance so you can be out on the trails in no time.