Enjoying a coastal walk

A walk on the beach - people walking in the dunesA study presented to the British Psychological Society in 2012 found that getting outside to any location was beneficial, but a walk on the beach or a coastal walk had the most impact on emotional well-being.

Being by the seaside often brings back happy memories of childhood holidays, and somehow the sight and sound of the sea helps us to get our lives in perspective and provides a new lease of life. Much needed at the present time as we emerge warily from lockdown.

You’re probably longing to visit your favourite seaside places after so long spent at home. This post is all about getting the most from your days of coast walks.

How to plan your walk by the sea

  1. Plan your own route using an Ordnance Survey map, always bearing in mind that the distance over a hilly route can take much more time and energy than on the flat. And it’s possible you may come across erosion or cliff falls along the path, and have to take a diversion that might be longer. You might consider doing a linear (one way) walk and get a taxi, train or bus back to your starting point.
  2. Find a coast walk online (such as this Get Outside guide to coastal walks in Devon) or in a walk book. The advantage of these is that the writer has done all the preparation for you, graded the difficulty, and noted if there any tricky spots to negotiate. They also include useful information such as where to park, and where to find pubs and cafes for refreshment along the way. Some also mention historical and architectural information, which provides interest if energy is flagging!
  3. There is so much variety in coast walks that it’s easy to take in points of interest to everyone in your party, whether you enjoy cliffs, coves, beaches, harbours, wildlife, seaside towns and villages, the horizon, bird watching, wild flowers…
  4. If you have more time and are walking for several days it’s best to book accommodation in advance, rather than searching for a B&B or hotel at each stage. If you’re camping, bear in mind you’re not allowed to wild camp beside the path without first getting permission from the landowner.

Safety on coastal walksCoast walk - A Lady and child paddling by the sea shore

Always check tide times before you set off. According to the RNLI getting cut off by the tide is a common cause of lifeboat launches, and there were no less than 499 such rescues in 2016. In the same year there were 478 lifeboat launches to rescue walkers and runners in the UK and Ireland.

The coast path is very close to the cliff edge in many places, and sometimes covered in loose scree so take care, especially in wet weather, and always wear the appropriate footwear.

Also look at the weather forecast, remaining aware that weather can change quickly on the coast, with mist and rain blowing in unexpectedly.

Preparation for your walk

  • Clothing – function definitely takes priority over style when you’re walking! Layers are best at any time of year, preferably made of quick-drying fabric, which will prevent chafing or getting chilled when wet.
  • A fleece will provide wind protection and a light waterproof jacket should be permanently in your bag. Zip-off trousers quickly turn into shorts if the sun comes out. Protect against strong sun and/or wind with a hat.
  • Walking shoes or boots – wear them in beforehand so you don’t get blisters (good quality socks also help with this). Boots provide ankle support for rougher terrain.
  • Food and water – walking gives you an appetite and it’s so true that everything tastes better in the outdoors, so take some snacks, even on a short walk. Making sure you’re properly hydrated is essential.
  • First aid kit – sea breezes disguise the heat of the sun so apply sunscreen liberally before and during your walk. A pack of plasters is always a good idea, in case your shoes start to rub.
  • Backpack – a rucksack is the easiest way to carry all your bits and pieces as the weight is better distributed and your hands are free.

Coast Walks - ScotlandListening to the waves and the calls of sea birds, gazing out at ships on the horizon and breathing in the salty air provides the ultimate relaxation. After a day of coastal walking you’re bound to feel better in body and mind, sleep soundly, and return refreshed to your daily routine.

Other post about walking :

Local walks from your front door

Quiet walks to get away from the crowds

Countryside walks

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