From striking cliffs rising out of the sea to sandy coves and quaint fishing villages, England’s coastline offers a tranquil escape for those dreaming of the great outdoors. The nation’s coastal and marine environments are connected via the England Coast Path, providing access to incredible beauty spots and spectacular places to relax. Set to open in its entirety in 2021 – designated the Year of the English Coast – when it will create the longest signposted trail in the world at nearly 3,000 miles, vast sections of the England Coast Path are already open to capture the imagination.
Passing some of England’s most tranquil spots, walkers will be able to take in breathtaking scenery en route, explore historic castles, tuck into delicious fish and chips and find fossils in ancient cliffs – these are just some of the top things along England’s Coast Path that helped England take second spot in the Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2020.
With its imposing castles and offshore islands that are teeming with wildlife, the Northumberland coast offers beauty and history in equal measure. Daydreamers can imagine taking in the breathtaking views from the imposing walls of Bamburgh Castle that stand proudly overlooking this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, spying rare puffins and seals from the Farne Islands and exploring the historic Holy Island of Lindisfarne when the tide is low.
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 are beautiful all year round.
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. Foodies can add the catch of the day from the seaside harbour of Whitby to their taste of Britain wish list. Adventurers can look forward to exploring the haunting ruins of its abbey, while history buffs can get inspired by learning 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. Lovers of the coast can visualise exciting days searching for fossils against a backdrop of dramatic colours at Hunstanton Cliffs and building sandcastles on vast sandy beaches. And culture lovers can dream of exploring 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.
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. Travellers eagerly anticipating their next visit can imagine gazing upon chalk stacks at Botany Bay or strolling beneath the famous White Cliffs at St Margaret's at Cliffe. Foodies can savour the prospect of sampling delectable cuisine from top chefs in Whitstable, while animal fans can look forward to spotting wild birds around Romney Marsh and the bird reserve at Dungeness.
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. With stunning scenes around every corner, imagine spying the natural limestone arch at Durdle Door, or rock pooling on the white pebbles of Lulworth Cove – part of a 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.
Those wanting to uncover Britain’s rocky headlands, hidden coves and sandy beaches can add South Devon’s Coast Path to their British travel list. 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, the small harbour town of Salcombe and its waters have helped shape the area’s 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.
Prepare to 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 bridge project by English Heritage. Fans of Britain’s rich ancient history and folklore can dream of uncovering the area’s connection to the legend of King Arthur and a coastline that has sparked the imagination for centuries.
Art fans dreaming of Britain can put Crosby Beach on their wish list. Located to the north of Liverpool, the beach 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 to discover. There are a host of inimitable experiences to imagine, from exploring the striking red sandstone cliffs of St Bees Head Heritage Coast or visiting the maritime port of Whitehaven to enjoying a scenic ride on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, on a route that comes peppered with historic castles and ancient ruins.
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