A bimble around the coast of Britain

Dissatisfied with staring at screens all day, Emma challenged herself to a walk around the coast of Britain. After four-hundred-and-something days, she shares her story so far.

One of my favourite words is ‘bimble’.  It means to walk at a leisurely pace. So, when I first said I was going to walk around the coast of Britain it was a bit of a shock to everyone. I had never expressed an interest in walking long distances or camping, despite my parents (who are Ramblers members) taking us out every weekend, rain or shine.

I think some part of me was craving a challenge, and to break out of a routine. Most of my days consisted of staring at my office computer screen, going back to my flat to stare at a slightly smaller laptop screen, then looking at my little phone screen before bed. There must be more to life than this I thought, as I watched another compilation of cats getting startled by cucumbers. 

My ‘mad adventure’ on the coast of Britain  

After about a week of walking, it felt like a switch had flicked in my brain. Being outdoors just felt right and I kicked myself for not getting into hiking sooner! I think humans are built for long distance walking and it’s important to carve out time in our day to get outside. Walking the coast has been the best thing I’ve ever done.

A view down through plants to a harbour

Having a route that’s marked for you gives you the time to let your mind wander into an almost meditative state and notice what’s around you. The coast paths have been brilliant for that (excellent job Ramblers campaigners and volunteers!). Not knowing what will be around the corner is often the best part. I’ve woken up to dolphins splashing outside my tent in Scotland, stumbled across a secluded bay filled with hundreds of seals in Wales and enjoyed watching seagulls grab ice-creams out of the hands of bewildered tourists in England.  

I’ve found you can never get bored of the coast of Britain. From the brightly painted harbour towns to the charmingly tacky seaside resorts and all the dramatic cliffs, long beaches, tiny bays and estuaries in between. Even the same stretch of beach can change so dramatically throughout the day with the changing tides and weather.  

A path winding through heather on a cliff top

Because of this, it’s really important to have accessible paths, and it’s comforting when you see signs reminding you, you’re on the right track.  

Overall though, the biggest highlight has been the incredible people I’ve met along the way. I’ve been floored by the generosity of people who have offered me a place to sleep, use of their washing machine, and shared their own adventure stories and tips over a pint. 

Long-distance hiking tips I’ve gathered from 400+ days of walking : 

  • You probably don’t need all those tins of baked beans. 
  • Look backwards – some of the best views are right behind you after you’ve slogged up a great big hill. 
  • Filter your stream water - don’t think the lovely clear rainwater flowing straight off the gutter is safe to drink. Trust me. 
  • Bring a hiking stick! An essential part of the intrepid explorer costume  

A misty sunrise on a grassy field beside water

I read that the furthest you can get from the coast in Britain is only seventy miles, which is kind of amazing. That’s walking distance isn’t it? Technically all of Britain is in walking distance to me now. There’s a real risk this experience will not humble me in the slightest. But I’m not finished yet. 

Join our Coast Path Countdown as we work to connect all sections of the England Coast Path to create routes right around Great Britain.

Follow Emma's adventure around the coast on her blog 'My legs hurt'.

Two people walking along a beach shoreline

Coastal walking – 7 ways to stay safe

Coastal walking is a very safe activity most of the time but there are a few extra safety precautions to consider while enjoying your summer walks.

View down a sandy beach

Walking the entire South West Coast Path

Keith recalls getting hooked on walking the South West Coast Path and how it had such a positive impact on his ability to manage stress.

Two women standing on a boardwalk in front of a shingle beach

An adventure on the coast path in Kent

Walking the Kent coast for her 70th birthday inspired Helen Wild to begin a journey of annual walking challenges with friends.