Coastwalk – an introduction

The idea of doing a walk around the coastline of Britain wasn’t an instant one. I didn’t decide one day to go the nearest beach and go “Right this is it. I will now walk the entire coastline of Britain just for the sh*ts and giggles!”. No, rather it has been an idea that has been developing over a number of years, possibly from every time I’ve visited the coast and taking a little walk along the beach. Living in the Teesside area (I know how unfortunate!) I have pretty easy access to the coast, living only about 6 or 7 miles from it as the crow flies. I have spent many a day on the Costa del Teesside visiting the local coastal towns of Redcar, Saltburn and Seaton Carew and also further afield at Whitby in North Yorkshire too.

Back in the summer of 2013 I took a walk from Saltburn to Skinningrove on the Teesside coast (see Coastwalk #1) and having really enjoyed it, I decided to keep doing the North East coastline in no particular order. Usually depending on time, mood and practicality I would do one part of the coastline on one walk and then on another walk do another part of the coast. I would use public transport to travel to where I needed to be, complete a stretch of the coast, and then come back home, all in the space of one day.

However, whilst walking part of the Northumberland coast in 2015 I found it took longer to travel to and from the walk then it took to do the actual walk itself (plus because I was walking too fast to try and get the return bus on time I found my fat thighs were chafing and I ended up walking like John Wayne – not a pretty sight!). From then on, I have started to stay overnight in places along the coast so that I can walk further, enjoy the walk, and not worry about excessive chafing and trying to catch the last bus home.

I think with staying overnight in places and walking further and further along the coast, it has sort of come to my mind to see how far I can get round the coastline of the UK. I may go all the way, I may give up in a couple of years, but I will try and see where it leads me to (probably the madhouse).

I should point out that I won’t do the coastwalk in one go as I work full-time and have to earn money to pay for B&Bs and the like (unless I win the lottery, in which case I will do the coastwalk in one go and stay at 5 star hotels while I’m at it). I should also point out that I probably won’t walk the coastline in one direction all the time. Depending on time and practicality I may do one stretch of the coast one time and then complete another stretch of the coast in completely the opposite direction another time.

I have also made a few rules to keep some consistency whilst doing the walk:-

1. I will walk as close to the coast as I can, as long as it’s safe and practical to do so and I’m not trespassing on anyone’s land (mainly because I don’t want to get shot by any angry landowners).

2. There will be no gaps in the journey – I will walk every step of the way (except when I get a ferry because I can’t be bothered to walk to the next crossing point). I have already broken this rule twice – getting a bus to do the journey if it was too dangerous to walk along roads.

3. I will cross any rivers I come across by the nearest safe crossing point, be it bridge, ferry or ford (but definitely no swimming across).

4. If I can reach an island by foot from the mainland I will do so (as long as time permits)

5. There may be other rules I make up as the Coastwalk continues which will probably contradict the four rules above.

So that’s a bit of an introduction to the Coastwalk. As of October 2019 I have completed 62 walks, having walked approximately 735 miles of the British coastline from Portmahomack in the Highlands to Bridlington in East Yorkshire. I will document every step of the walk in this blog, so I hope you enjoy reading it (or even if you just look at the pictures that would be great!)

Happy reading!

James Wearmouth

17 thoughts on “Coastwalk – an introduction

  1. Hi James and how wonderful to discover another coastal walker. I like your attitude to doing the walk and wish you all the best with your ongoing process. I shall add you to my list of fellow coastal walkers on my blog – there’s quite a few of us. Not many… but a few!


    1. Hi Ruth. Thank you and I wish you all the best with your coastal walk too. You will certainly get yours done a lot quicker than mine! It’s good to see there is a small but growing band of coastal walkers and I’m trying to follow as many of them as I can to see what adventures they get up to.


  2. Hi James, welcome on board. Its always good to read other “coasters” trials and tribulations. I’ve only met, knowingly, a couple of other people doing the same challenge face to face. But what you have set out to do is something that will be a permanent memory for the rest of your life, you will visit many places you been to before, meet a host of new and interesting people.

    However, it will get harder the further south you go from the north-east and thats why drawing inspiration from other walkers who have gone before or still facing their challenge can help.

    On the practical side, I used to get chafing in the upper thighs and reverted to wearing ‘snug’ cycling shorts and getting ‘lubed’ up in the affected area.

    Keep it going.

    Cheers Alan Palin


    1. Hi Alan

      Thank you! I wish you all the best with your coastal journey too. It certainly has been an interesting trip so far and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the coastal walk has got in store for me.

      It’s good to read on other people’s journeys as it is a great and valuable source of information, and I shall certainly continue to read your blog for what to expect on the coastal journey.

      As for the chafing, you may be pleased to know that I haven’t much trouble since the incident in Northumberland as I go at a much slower pace now when I’m walking. It is a great practical tip though!

      Many thanks
      James Wearmouth


  3. Hello, just found your blog (I see Ruth & Alan have beaten me to it, though not by much). I think I shall greatly enjoy reading your exploits; I love a bit of history thrown in about the things and places encountered on the way.

    There seems to be a small and oddly solitary community of ‘coasters’ now, when not that long ago it seemed like no one else was doing it. It’s a good development.

    Anyway, best of luck!


    1. Hello! Thank you for taking the time to read my somewhat lengthy blog posts! I am trying to cut down on the amount of detail I put in because sometimes I can write too much haha.

      I’m glad to see there is a small but growing community of ‘coasters’ – it makes me feel like I’m not the only one daft enough to do a coastal walk!

      All the best


  4. Hi James, I finished my coast walk in Sept 2016 in Scarborough after nearly 7 years. I see you started in North Berwick? and you have been spoilt so far as this section of the coast (down to Scarborough) was by far my favourite. I live in Dawlish so give me a shout when you get this far and I will join you for a few miles. Good luck.



    1. Hi Martyn

      It must have been a fantastic achievement to have done the entire coast. It seems a long way off for me!

      I actually started off in Saltburn in Teesside and then have walked the coast in no particular order since then depending on time and ease of access. Currently the furthest north I’ve got is North Berwick and the furthest south I’ve been is Scarborough.

      I shall definitely give you a shout when I’m in Dawlish. It will be good to have the company on the walk.

      Many thanks


  5. Only just found your blog and love the photos and all the history you have amassed about the places you’re walking through. You seem to have got a fair lot of ground covered since you started at the beginning of the year. Me and Barbara are at completely opposite ends to you and moving very slowly – having to travel from East Sussex to the far end of Cornwall and factor in kids, husbands and full time work doesn’t leave enough time for Coastal walking! But when we get there we love it. Look forward to reading more of your travels of the other end of the country.


    1. Hello! I really enjoy reading your blog and look forward to reading of your further adventures along the coast. This is going to be a long term project for me too with having to work full time (although no kids to worry about just yet!) although I do think that the best way to walk the coast is slowly as you get to see far more wonderful things.

      I wish you all the best with your journey. Hopefully our paths will cross one day somewhere along the coast!

      Kind regards


  6. Hi James, I see you have now reached Lossiemouth, well done. I think there is a chance our paths may cross somewhere north of Inverness later this year. Have you just fallen behind in writing up your trip reports?


    Alan Palin

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi James, as you can see I’ve rounded Cape Wrath and started the walk eastwards along the roof of Scotland. I estimate 5 days to John o’Groats, which I may try and achieve on my next visit, maybe next week. As you are probably aware the further away you get from home the tougher it gets and requires greater planning.
        As you have also probably seen, about 2 years ago, I started walking down the east coast south from Berwick-upon-Tweed, this was due to the ability to spend one or two days walking when the weather in Scotland was against me. On this ‘second front’ I have now reached Suffolk. The start/end point is Poole in Dorset. Its something you may wish to consider i.e. going south from Scarborough (?), it would mean getting a few more days walking in a year.
        If you need any advice re: the west coast of Scotland then please ask. Do you intend to do Skye.?
        Cheers for now,


        Liked by 1 person

      2. My aim is to get John o Groats by the end of next year and then from 2021 head southwards from Bridlington.

        You’re right it’s getting harder and harder the further I get from home. Much more planning required now than when I was walking in the North East of England. I feel as if I have to pack everything including the kitchen sink haha!

        I’m not sure about Skye yet. I did say at the start of the coastal walk that I would do any island if I can get there by foot but I’ll decide on Skye when I get round to that part of the world.


  7. The best section of the coastal walking is the south west coast path, having walked nearly all of England with the exception of Essex which will be started in 2020, my wife and I return to the south west for 3 weeks walking every year since 2016, it has slowed our coastal journey but it’s a treat to return to such beautiful scenery, not bad for 2 retired people from Edinburgh area.

    Liked by 1 person

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