Planning your Berwickshire Coastal Path walk

Published 8 May 2022. Last updated 23 May 2022

Berwickshire Coastal Path waymark

With dramatic cliffs and rock formations, undulating hills, and picturesque fishing harbours, he Berwickshire coastline offers an outstanding walking opportunity. One that is taken up with aplomb by the 30 mile/48km long Berwickshire Coastal Path.

Setting off from Berwick-upon-Tweed, at the northern tip of Northumberland, the trail takes you along the coastline of the historic county of Berwickshire, now part of the Scottish Borders. It’s a great walk, through a splendid yet not very well known part of the island of Great Britain.

In this guide

  1. What is the walk like?
  2. The route
  3. Planning an itinerary
  4. Finding and booking accommodation
  5. Getting to/from the Berwickshire Coastal Path
  6. Guide books and maps
  7. And finally, and any questions

What is the walk like?

The resort and fishing village of Eyemouth

The journey between Berwick-upon-Tweed and Cockburnspath offers 30 miles/48km of mostly coastal walking, with only one short section away from the sea. Along its length you come across mighty rock formations, nature reserves, and an abundance of seabirds. There’s quaint fishing harbours, idyllic beaches and a world of geology. The southern half to Eyemouth and St Abbs, features tourism, holiday makers and caravan parks. The northern section is far quieter, once you’ve got beyond St Abbs.

Navigation is relatively straightforward; the route is well waymarked. However it’s not an overly easy walk. The undulating cliffs are followed for most of the trail, with lots of ups and downs to traverse.

You can walk the trail in either direction, but walking south to north will mean the sun will be behind you most of the way, and the wind will be in your favour.

If you’re looking for a shortish walk in a beautiful part of the world, the Berwickshire Coastal Path ticks all the walks. And for those seeking a longer challenge, you can combine it with a good walk along the Northumberland Coast Path which connects at Berwick-upon-Tweed. Find out more about it in my own tales of the walk and see if that persuades you!

The route

The Coastal Path runs from Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland, before traversing the coast to Cockburnspath in the Scottish Borders. You can see the route using the map above. Using the controls you can scroll around, zoom in and explore the route.

You can download the GPX file if you wish.

Planning an itinerary

Grassy clifftops on the Berwickshire Coastal Path

At 30 miles/48km long, the Berwickshire Coastal Path can be walked in either two longer days, or three shorter ones. Two days is doable, but it’s harder. So unless you’re a gluten for punishment, I’d recommend three days. This gives you time to relax and see some of the tourist sights on the way. Unfortunately though, it’s not possible to split the trail into three similar sized days. Unless you organise for a taxi to pick you up somewhere, you’re really looking at two longer days with a shorter third.

Itineraries for both are available. Locations with a railway station nearby are marked with a 🚂. Everywhere listed below has accommodation, as well as a pub and a shop, unless otherwise noted.

Note that whilst the official distance for the trail is 30miles/48km long, this includes an optional 1½mile/2½km spur to Coldingham for accommodation, and the same again back to the main route. The itineraries below do not include the spur in their distances.

2 Day Itinerary

There’s two options for a two day itinerary. You can break at St Abbs, or you can break at Eyemouth. Breaking at St Abbs gives you two roughly equal days. This is the better option, however there’s limited accommodation choices at St Abbs – you’ll most likely need to walk the 1½mile spur route to Coldingham. Alternatively you may need to use taxi or local bus services to Eyemouth where there are plenty of facilities. Which is where the second option comes in – if you’re staying at Eyemouth, why not break there? However this does mean you have one shorter and one longer day.

2 Day Itinerary
Stage From To Distance Notes
MilesKm
1 Berwick-upon-Tweed 🚂 St Abbs 13½ 22 1
2 St Abbs Cockburnspath 13 21 2
Eyemouth alternative
1 Berwick-upon-Tweed 🚂 Eyemouth 10 16
2 Eyemouth Cockburnspath 17 27 2
  1. No pub and limited accommodation in St Abbs. Pub and alternative accommodation can be found in Coldingham, using the 1½mile spur route. Alternatively use local buses or taxis and stay at Eyemouth.
  2. No pub and no accommodation in Cockburnspath. Accommodation can be accessed using local bus services.

3 Day Itinerary

I say 3 day. It’s really two and a half. Again there’s two options. The most obvious place to break is St Abbs and Eyemouth. This leaves a really short day in the middle, but you can spend time exploring Eyemouth Harbour, the local museum, and perhaps enjoy the beach.

Alternatively break at Burnmouth to create a two shorter days. There’s limited facilities at Burnmouth so you will likely want to stay elsewhere.

3 Day Itinerary
Stage From To Distance Notes
MilesKm
1 Berwick-upon-Tweed 🚂 Eyemouth 10 16
2 Eyemouth St Abbs 4 6 1
3 St Abbs Cockburnspath 13 21 2
Burnmouth Alternative
1 Berwick-upon-Tweed 🚂 Burnmouth 7 11 3
2 Burnmouth St Abbs 7 11 1
3 St Abbs Cockburnspath 13 21 2
  1. No pub and limited accommodation in St Abbs. Pub and alternative accommodation can be found in Coldingham, using the 1½mile spur route. Alternatively use local buses or taxis and stay at Eyemouth.
  2. No pub and no accommodation in Cockburnspath. Accommodation can be accessed using local bus services.
  3. Limited accommodation and no shop in Burnmouth. Use local buses or taxis and stay at Eyemouth or Berwick-upon-Tweed.

When to walk?

With good walking conditions and an easy to follow route, you should be able to follow the Berwickshire Coastal Path all year round. However be aware that coastal winds may make the route the little chilly in winter!

Breaking up the walk into day hikes

If you are local – or are perhaps staying locally as part of a longer holiday – you can split the walk up into day walks and use local bus services. The 253 bus runs between Edinburgh and Berwick-upon-Tweed and serves Burnmouth, Eyemouth and Cockburnspath. The 235 bus runs between St Abbs and Berwick and also serves Coldingham and Eyemouth.

Extending your walk

If you’re looking for a week-long walking holiday along the coast, then a great idea is to do both the Northumberland Coast Path and the Berwickshire Coastal Path. Both trails connect at Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Another option is to keep walking north up the coast from Cockburnspath. A trail called the Forth to Farne goes on up the coastline to North Berwick. It will take you roughly two days to get there.

Finding and booking accommodation

Just over 7 miles to the end of the trail

Being by the seaside, and being a lovely part of the world, the Berwickshire Coastline can get rather busy. This means you’re best booking your accommodation in advance.

There’s no dedicated accommodation guide, but you can easily find accommodation using your favourite search engine. For my own trip, I found that almost every B&B and pub had online booking.

If you’d prefer not to change accommodation every evening, one option is to base yourself at either Eyemouth or Berwick-upon-Tweed and use local buses in the morning and evening to get to and from your accommodation. Border Buses route 253 runs serves Berwick, Burnmouth, Eyemouth and Cockburnspath, and the 235 serves Berwick, Burnmouth, Eyemouth, Coldingham and St Abbs.

Accommodation Booking Services and Baggage Transfer

A small number of companies do offer organised holidays on the trail, although often spreading it out over four or five days. You can find them with a simple web search.

We’ve been unable to find any operators who do baggage transfer for the trail.

Hostels and bunkhouses

There is only one hostel on the Berwickshire Coastal Path, and that is YHA Berwick-upon-Tweed at the southern end of the trail.

Camping

Unfortunately there are next to no sites that offer tent camping on the Berwickshire Coastal Path. Wild camping is legal on the Scottish part of the trail and you may find a couple of suitable spots to do that, however getting fresh water may be a challenge at times.

Getting to/from the Berwickshire Coastal Path

Time for a quick rest before arriving in Cockburnspath?

The southern end of the path is at Berwick-upon-Tweed where you will find the only railway station on the trail. It’s on the East Coast Mainline, and Berwick is well connected by intercity rail services to many major cities, including London, Edinburgh and Newcastle, amongst others.

The railway line passes through Cockburnspath at the northern end, however there is no station. The nearest stations are Dunbar, Reston and Berwick, all served by Border Buses route 253. This service also goes onto Edinburgh which is also very well served by trains.

Local buses run along the route, connecting both ends with some of the villages en-route. Border Buses route 253 runs serves Berwick, Burnmouth, Eyemouth and Cockburnspath, and the 235 serves Berwick, Burnmouth, Eyemouth, Coldingham and St Abbs.

Guide books and maps

Looking down on Burnmouth Harbour

As with most smaller trails, there’s no dedicated guidebook for the Berwickshire Coastal Path. However Scottish Borders council publish a trail leaflet, available as a PDF on their website. It contains some background information about the route, and a rough map.

Northumberland Coast Path: & Berwickshire Coastal Path XT40 mapby Harvey's

There’s one strip map of the route that we know of – the Harvey’s XT40 map covers both the Northumberland Coast Path and the adjoining Berwickshire Coastal Path.

The map uses Harvey’s own 1:40,000 scale mapping and will be perfectly appropriate for walkers. If you’re walking both trails, this may be a useful purchase.

Alternatively if you’d like Ordnance Survey maps, the route is covered on the following:

  • Landranger (1:50,000): 67, 75
  • Explorer (1:25,000): 346

And finally, and any questions

A brief diversion inland at Hallydown Dean

The Berwickshire Coastal Path is a lovely walk, one very worth doing either as a short trip, or as part of a larger walk. Navigation is easy, the scenery is stunning. There’s only one thing more to say. Go on and get your walk planned!

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