Coastal Narratives

White Cliffs of Dover, September 2018

In May 2016, alongside my Dad and Nan, I set off from the Somerset coastal resort of Minehead determined to complete the 630 mile trek around the South West Coast Path National Trail. Perhaps naïve to what this task would ask of us, we struggled around the initial few sections with heavy backpacks and ambitious mileage goals. Years later, I’m finally due to complete the journey before I turn 30 in June 2023.

So comes another goal. Can I walk the entirety of the English coast? I first heard about the England Coast Path only in 2022, when a section opened between Woolwich in London, and Grain in Kent. I found that multiple sections of the path were open, or in development, across the country with the aim to fully complete by (what seems an ambitious) 2025. An unfinished National Trail might not seem the optimal proposition, but the gaps and missing links counteractively present a more feasible task. Where do you begin a 2,700 mile hike? Well, I can easily make a start on the 47 mile path from Woolwich to Grain, or the 58 mile stretch between Brean Down and Minehead. So that’s what I’m doing. An unordered walk along every stretch of coast in this country as defined by the England Coast Path.

Unfortunately I was a bit late to recognise the benefit in archiving my journey, but I’m making up for lost time now. This blog is an attempt to combine a useful travelogue with my professional interests in urbanism, architecture, heritage and public transport, and my personal and political interests that partly spur from my background as a queer, mixed heritage/Black cis male from London. It might occasionally touch on the opportunities hiking can present to consider your own physical and mental strengths and limitations.

I hope you’ll find this an enjoyable – if quite often banal – account of my journeys around the burgeoning England Coast Path National Trial. Whilst I’m not completing the path in a particular order, you can follow my journey in an anti-clockwise direction using the links in the index below.

  1. North Wessex
  2. Devon & Cornwall
  3. South Wessex
  4. Solent & Isle of Wight
  5. South East
  6. Essex
  7. Norfolk & Suffolk
  8. North East
  9. North West
England Coast Path trail development progress, November 2022. Source: Natural England.