The United Kingdom is one of the best places in the world for walking, with miles of trails stretching over fields, moors, mountains and hills, but it’s the island’s coastline that really impresses. All around England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, dramatic cliffs beckon keen hikers and sometimes strollers with their winding paths and epic views. Here are eight of the best clifftop walks in the whole of the UK.
White Cliffs of Dover, Kent
Perhaps the most famous cliffs in England, the White Cliffs of Dover aren’t just a natural landmark, there is also a popular walking trail that weaves along the top of them. The trail can be taken at different heights, dependent upon your sense of vertigo, and it offers jaw-dropping views down into the English Channel below. Although many people bring their children and dogs here, the path is chalky and slippery in places, and the edge often crumbles away — so care needs to be taken.
Old Harry Rocks, Dorset
Seriously impressive views of the Jurassic coast beckon at the Old Harry Rocks in Dorset. Although the distinctive chalk rock formations are the highlight of any clifftop walk here, the towering cliffs provide epic views all along the coast, with opportunities to extend a hike to take in more of the view. Nature lovers should keep their eyes peeled for peregrine falcons, rare butterflies and pink pyramidal orchids along the route.
Porth Dinllaen, Llyn Peninsula
The walk here may start at a low level, leading you along beautiful beaches and flat terrain, but once you’ve passed the lifeboat station, the path climbs up the cliffs to offer dramatic views back toward the bay. As you continue along the cliffs, impressive views beckon in all directions, offering plenty of photo opportunities.
St Kilda, Scotland
This most remote of all the Scottish islands is best known for its seabird colonies, as well as being the island at the end of the world. The highest sea cliffs in the British Isles can be found on the largest island in the archipelago, Hirta, offering staggering views in all directions. Anyone seeking dramatic clifftop walking should book a trip here immediately.
Duncansby Head, Caithness
If you like dramatic pinnacles jutting out of the sea, waves crashing around them, then you can’t get much better than Duncansby Head, the most northeasterly point of mainland Britain (yes, even further northeast than John O’Groats). The entire walk is filled with epic vistas, but it’s the sight of the black stacks rising out of the water that entices keen hikers.
Duirinish Peninsula, Isle of Skye
Skye is rife with dramatic clifftop walks, but perhaps the most impressive views are found on the Duirinish Peninsula to the northwest of the island. The Trotternish Peninsula may be home to impressive natural landmarks, such as the Old Man of Storr and the Quiraing, but the most awe-inspiring views are seen from the other side of this wild and wonderful island. The hike from Ramasaig to Orbost is one of the most challenging clifftop walks in the UK, but the views are worth it.
Compton Bay, Isle of Wight
Beautiful beaches stretch as far as the eye can see, from the cliffs overlooking Compton Bay on the Isle of Wight. An impressive coastal walk follows the chalk ridge that runs through the middle of the island, offering dramatic views out to sea and plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife, including seabirds, colourful butterflies and wildflowers.
Pembrokeshire Coastal Path
Stretching for 186 miles, from St Dogmaels in the north to Amroth in the south, the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path is one of the best long-distance walks in the world. It may take two weeks to complete the entire route, but it’s easy to dip in and out for half-day or full-day hikes along the route. The rugged clifftops offer stunning vistas out to sea with epic views of the waves crashing against the rocks below. The contrast of the rocks and the scattering of wildflowers that line the cliffs make for excellent photo opportunities.