Coast is partnering with the Ramblers each month to promote coastal walking. In this month’s column, walking experience manager HEATHER THOMPSON explains why walking the coast provides such a boost to body and mind.

From boosting our mood to reducing anxiety, the mental benefits of coastal walking and spending time in green spaces are well known. But when it comes to our wellbeing, not all landscapes were created equal: in fact, studies have repeatedly shown that these positive effects are even more pronounced when we spend time by the sea.

Back in 2013, researchers conducted one of the most extensive studies to date into the effect of different natural environments on our happiness. In the study, 20,000 smartphone users were promoted to record where they were and their sense of wellbeing at random intervals. Coastal landscapes were found by some distance to be the happiest locations.

Whether it’s the sea breeze on our cheeks or the gentle rhythm of the rolling waves, spending time by the sea has a deep psychologically restorative effect. So as the sun begins to peek out from behind the clouds and summer draws ever nearer, now’s the perfect time to get out exploring.

And this fantastic circular route in Carhampton, Somerset has something for everyone: from panoramic views to a landscape rich with centuries of history.

Starting out at the Carhampton Recreation Centre, turn left along the main road towards the Butchers Arms. Bear left down the lane opposite the pub and to the left of the Church of St John the Baptist, a Grade I listed 11th century church.

Continue ahead as it becomes a green lane and after crossing a small stream, turn immediately right through a kissing gate and follow the footpath on your left. Pass through a couple more kissing gates before heading across a field towards the sea and a kissing gate. Follow the path round to the right onto a track which ends at the road.

Turn left along the road and cross over the railway by Blue Anchor Station, a reopened Victorian station that is now part of the West Somerset Railway, the longest standard gauge independent heritage railway in the UK. Go down the steps onto the beach and head left along the coast path towards Dunster. Follow the coast for about a mile until you cross the wide concrete outfall and reach the car park at Dunster Beach.

Turn inland along the road and as you walk, look up at the hill ahead to see the Conygar Tower, a folly built in 1775 whose name is a combination of the medieval ‘coney’ for rabbit and ‘garth’ for garden. Cross the railway and continue past a cul de sac. At the end of the pavement, as the road goes go right, go left through a gate along the Riverside Jubilee Walk. Start with your river on the right then cross a bridge and continue until you reach the subway under the main road.

Once through the subway, turn left towards the traffic lights and turn right up to Dunster Village. Follow the main road past the Yarn Market and the museum and then carefully follow Church Street left and past the Church of St George.

When a pavement appears on the left side, cross over and take the first left along Mill Lane. Cross the mill leat and turn right along Mill Gardens and left onto Gollox Bridge. Cross the River Avill and walk left of the house ahead and past the bridleway. Go through a gate and turn right up the footpath to Bat’s Castle, passing through another gate and following a grassy path up the wooded valley.

As the path starts to open up, join the path coming in from the left up to a T-junction. This junction is between the remains to two Iron Age settlements, Black Ball Camp and Bat’s Castle. Turn left, enjoying the views over Exmoor and Wales, and walk through Bat’s Castle.

Descend gently and keep straight until you reach Withycombe Hill Gate. Turn left down the sunken, stony lane and follow this for about a mile, bending right when a path goes left to Dunster.

When you reach the outskirts of Carhampton, continue straight ahead along Park Lane. When you see a tree in the middle of a junction, go left along High Street to the main road, opposite the Carhampton Stores. Go right to cross at the lights back to your start by the Recreation Centre.

For a full route description, visit:

Coastal walking: family-friendly walking routes.


Looking for a route closer to home? Try out our three alternatives:

Arnside, Cumbria

A circular walk crossing the border between Cumbria and Lancashire and taking in views of the Kent estuary viaduct and the attractive bay of White Creek.

Cromer, Norfolk

A point-to-point from Cromer to Cley-next-the-Sea featuring woodland paths leading to the highest point in Norfolk, wonderful clifftop views and the chance to visit the Muckleburgh Collection.

Skipsea, Yorkshire

Linking Skipsea Sands and Barmston Holiday Parks, this route passes World War II lookout posts and Skipsea Castle, a motte and bailey built in 1086 by Flemish mercenary Drogo de la Buevriere.


For many of us, spending the majority of our time by the coast may be more of a wish than a reality. But the good news is you don’t need a house with a sea view to experience a wellbeing boost. Researchers from the University of Exeter have found you’ll start to feel the benefits after just two hours a week by the seaside. Just about the time it takes for a leisurely seaside stroll.

But with so many picturesque stretches of coastline to choose from, knowing where to start can seem daunting. That’s where the Ramblers come in. As well as a library packed full of coastal routes like the ones above, we’re also Britain’s largest and most vibrant walking community: in fact, we led over 96,000 group walks last year.

And from our network of group walks to our free, health-boosting Wellbeing Walks, we’ve got something for everyone. Check out our website and take your first step toward better wellbeing: