The best coastal walks in the UK
STUDLAND BAY, DORSET
A crescent of white sand surrounded by the chalk cliffs of the Jurassic Coast, this is one of the best places in Dorset for foraging at low tide. Fore / Adventure – led by ethnobotanist and bushcraft instructor Dan Scott and his partner Jade – runs shoreline walks and kayaking tours, looking for sea scars, spider crabs, razor clams and cockles cooking on the beach with Dan’s portable barbecue.
ISLAND OF ST NINIAN, SCOTLAND
Britain’s northernmost archipelago is full of epic corners shaped by the seas. Perhaps the most atmospheric is St Ninian, accessed by the UK’s largest active tombolo – an hourglass-shaped expanse of fine sand that slowly disappears as the tide rises. The island itself, where part of the Picte treasure was discovered by a local schoolboy in 1958, makes a great walk past the ammophiles to rock lookouts and views of the West Shetland coast.
There is a certain romanticism in this small point off the southwest coast of Mull, which can be hiked at low tide (Erraid roughly translates to tidal island in Old Gaelic). The beautiful David Balfour Bay takes its name from the work of Robert Louis Stevenson Kidnapped and the pink granite underwater at Tinker’s Hole mooring seems to glow on sunny days. For over 40 years, the island has been managed by the Findhorn Foundation, an intentional community built around sustainability and spirituality, where guests can stay in stone cottages originally built for lighthouse keepers. Financial contributions, decided during meditation, are considered “energy exchanges”.
GUGH, SCILLY ISLANDS
Off pretty St Agnes, the southernmost inhabited point of the Isles of Scilly and England, Gugh Tide feels even more remote with just two houses. Accessible only at low tide via The Bar, a particularly charming tombolo with surprisingly turquoise water on either side, it’s a place of Bronze Age cairns and ancient burial sites. A walk to Kittern Hill, its highest point, passes Gugh’s Old Man Standing Stone and Obadiah’s Tumulus, a Neolithic entrance tomb. Views to the west overlook St Agnes and Turks Head, Britain’s southernmost pub. After that, there is no land before Spain.
Kent-based writer Toby Skinner talks about the joys of the UK’s best coastal walks and foreshore – the landslide between high and low water:
In my new home in Margate, my daily walk or bike along the beach is both the same and ever-changing. Sometimes large, rumbling waves assault the dike, throwing cascades of spray on the old mosaic lido panel. Other times the ocean is distant and calm – the harbor arm towers over the bare, wavy sand as men with buckets silently roam Walpole Bay in search of peeler crabs to use as bait. At high tide, the figure of Antony Gormley outside the Turner Contemporary is completely submerged. At low tide, she exposes herself in a recurring nightmare of nudity. Surrounded by rock pools and wrack, he seems to be looking for answers that never come.