England has been crowned one of the top destinations for travellers next year, taking second spot in the Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2020 - the 15th annual awards celebrating the finest destinations, journeys and travel experiences in the world. Packed with ‘timeless treasures’, the award shines a light on the English seaside and in particular the launch of the England Coast Path in 2020. Providing access to the country’s entire coastline for the very first time, at nearly 3,000 miles it will be the longest continuous trail of its kind anywhere in the world. Passing some of England’s most tranquil spots, visitors can take in breathtaking scenery en route, explore historic castles, tuck into delicious fish and chips and find fossils in ancient cliffs – just some of the top things to do along England’s Coast Path that lie waiting to be explored...
With its imposing castles and offshore islands that are teeming with wildlife, the Northumberland coast offers beauty and history in equal measure. Look out from the imposing walls of Bamburgh Castle that stand proudly overlooking this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, spy rare puffins and seals from the Farne Islands and venture out to the historic Holy Island of Lindisfarne when the tide is low.
Durham Heritage Coast
A designated stretch of historic coastline, Durham's wild cliffs and sweeping dunes are home to an abundance of wildflowers, insects and other wildlife. While the flowers bloom in spring and summer, the striking coastal rock formations, the Magnesian Limestone Coastal Grasslands and rugged clifftops can be enjoyed all year round.
North Yorkshire and Cleveland Heritage Coast
Running the length of where the North York Moors National Park meets the North Sea, the North Yorkshire and Cleveland Heritage Coast mixes dramatic clifftops with picturesque fishing villages and towns. Sample the catch of the day in the seaside harbour of Whitby before exploring the haunting ruins of its abbey, or learn more about the history of Robin Hood’s Bay and the region’s rich mining past.
A designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty for over 50 years, the Norfolk Coast contains everything from the sweeping sand dunes and salt marshes of Holkham National Nature Reserve to the magnificence of Holkham Hall stately home. Visitors can search for fossils against a backdrop of dramatic colours at Hunstanton Cliffs, build sandcastles on vast sandy beaches and explore a host of traditional seaside resorts, including taking in a show at the Grade II-listed Pavilion on Cromer Pier – Europe’s last end-of-pier theatre.
The Kent Coast
Separating the ‘garden of England’ from the sea, Kent is home to 350 miles of picture-perfect coastline featuring grand chalk and sandstone cliffs and more Blue Flag sandy beaches than anywhere else in the country. Gaze upon chalk stacks at Botany Bay or stroll beneath the famous White Cliffs at St Margaret's at Cliffe, sample delectable cuisine from top chefs in Whitstable or spot wild birds around Romney Marsh and the bird reserve at Dungeness.
The Jurassic Coast
Stretching 95 miles from Devon to Dorset, the UNESCO World Heritage coastline showcases 185 million years of history and the incredible power of the natural world. Spy the natural limestone arch at Durdle Door, go rock pooling and relax on the white pebbles of Lulworth Cove or embark on a coasteering adventure in this diverse landscape that is a feast for the senses. Lyme Regis, with its rich fossil hunting heritage, historic harbour and cobbled streets, is steeped in mysticism, while Undercliff, one of the first National Trust Reserves, was created over time via a series of landslips.
Uncover rocky headlands, hidden coves and sandy beaches along South Devon’s Coast Path. Once the haunt of smugglers, it’s now home to miles of clifftop pathways for hikers to explore, providing exceptional views and an abundance of instagrammable shots. Sitting in the heart of the South Devon Area of Outstanding National Beauty, discover the small harbour town of Salcombe and the waters that have helped shape its history - from the Salcombe Sand Bar that inspired poet Alfred Lord Tennyson to the ruins of Salcombe Castle, dating back to the reign of Henry VIII.
Be inspired by the ruins of Tintagel Castle on Cornwall’s north coast, perched high on a rugged rocky outcrop and linked for the first time in more than 500 years thanks to a ground-breaking project by English Heritage. Uncover the legend of King Arthur and a coastline that has sparked the imagination for centuries.
Crosby Beach to the north of Liverpool offers miles of sandy coastline and a unique art installation, best enjoyed at low tide. Internationally acclaimed sculptor Antony Gormley’s Another Place, a collection of 100 life-size iron figures overlooking the sands, covers a stretch of coastline of nearly two miles, with viewing especially rewarding at sunset.
With miles of undisturbed coastline, and in close proximity to the renowned beauty of the Lake District, the Cumbrian coast has a number of treats for visitors. Explore the striking red sandstone cliffs of St Bees Head Heritage Coast, visit the maritime port of Whitehaven or enjoy a scenic ride on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway to see historic castles and ancient ruins.
Inspired by the England Coast Path? Discover more of the country's best walking trails or visit Lonely Planet for further details.