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A breathtaking coastline hike — Berwickshire Coastal Path

Odd Wellies (CC BY 2.0)

A breathtaking coastline hike — Berwickshire Coastal Path

Hiking Collection by Dan Hobson

3-4

days

3-4 h

/ day

32.2 mi

2,850 ft

3,025 ft

The Berwickshire Coastal Path is a mid-distance hiking route that explores one of the most breathtaking coastlines in Britain. Expect sublime cliff-top views, crumbling castles, sandy beaches, smugglers’ coves, rock arches, nature reserves, and vibrant fishing communities.

Starting from Cockburnspath, in Scotland, the trail heads south along the coastline. It rounds St Abb’s Head, goes through Eyemouth, over the border into England at Marshall Meadows Bay, and onto finish in the historic town of Berwick-upon-Tweed. The official route is 30 miles (48 km). However, with a couple of worthy detours, this Collection totals 32 miles (52 km).

Due to the shortness of this route, it is a relatively quick (although not entirely easy) way to experience a much-celebrated stretch of coastline. This landscape is not just hailed for its awe-inspiring views, fascinating geology, and enchanting history, though. Much of the trail explores areas of international importance for seabirds, marine life, wildflowers and coastal grasses.

Highlights along the way include: Pease Dean Nature Reserve, an ancient woodland where wildlife thrives; Fast Castle, an atmospheric ruin on a plateau surrounded by cliffs; St Abb’s Head, a National Nature Reserve with a picturesque lighthouse; Eyemouth, a fishing town with a rich smuggling heritage; Marshall Meadows Bay, which marks the northernmost point of England; Berwick Pier and Lighthouse, where awesome views and seal-spotting opportunities await; and Berwick-upon-Tweed, a historic town surrounded by mighty walls.

In this Collection, I’ve split the trail into two stages, averaging 16 miles (26 km) each. Considering the landscape is challenging in places, it is a fairly ambitious itinerary that would suit fit and experienced hikers. I have opted for a north to south direction, as per the classic routing. There is nothing stopping you hiking south to north.

Of course, you can divide the Collection into as many days as you are comfortable with or walk any single stage. Whilst not abundant, B&Bs are dotted up and down the coastline. Also, the 253 Borders Bus plods up and down this section of coastline between Berwick and Edinburgh, which comes in handy if you wish to split stages.

The considerable elevation gain throughout makes this trail a surprisingly strenuous undertaking. Do not let the modest distance fool you into underestimating the challenge. With steep ascents and descents into coastal coves and some perilous cliff-edge sections, care is needed. There are also a few sections along the road to be aware of if that really isn’t your thing. Anyone with average fitness and ability will find this trail itself manageable, especially when divided into three of four stages

This trail works well in all seasons. Sturdy footwear is needed at all times, as are decent waterproofs. As you are following the coastline for the most part, navigation is easy. Civilisation is never too far away either.

To get to the start via public transport, your best bet is catching the aforementioned 253 bus from Edinburgh, which runs hourly and takes 30 minutes. At the end of the trail, Berwick has a mainline railway station.

The northern end of the route links with the Southern Upland Way (click here to see a Collection on the Southern Upland Way: komoot.com/collection/904418).

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Berwickshire Coastal Path

29.6 mi

2,475 ft

2,650 ft

Last updated: November 11, 2021

Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: Cockburnspath to St Abbs — Berwickshire Coastal Path

    Difficult
    07:05
    15.5 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,675 ft
    1,850 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The first stage begins as a gentle amble through farmland before traversing wild cliffs on a dramatic section of the coastal path.

    

    From Cockburnspath, hike along footpaths to Cove Harbour. Here, head right along the coastline to Pease Sands, where a short section along the road takes you to Pease Burn

    by Dan Hobson

    View
  • Difficult
    07:16
    16.7 mi
    2.3 mph
    1,175 ft
    1,200 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The final stage winds along cliff tops and beaches, past old smuggling hotspots and vibrant fishing communities, to the historic town of Berwick-upon-Tweed.

    

    To begin, drop into Coldingham Bay and then rise inland around Abbey Burn. You continue along cliffs around Killiedraught Bay and wind around the

    by Dan Hobson

    View
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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    2
  • Distance
    32.2 mi
  • Duration
    14:21 h
  • Elevation
    2,850 ft3,025 ft

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