view from the clifftops Kingsdown

If you live near the coast, you will know that a walk along the beach can often be quite blustery. But if you really want to blow a few cobwebs away and feel totally invigorated and refreshed, then head out on a clifftop adventure.

High up on the cliffs it might be a bit windy – and whatever you do, don’t get too close to the edge – but it really does make you feel on top of the world, quite literally. If you’ve got things on your mind, the vast views can help you put things into perspective.

A big problem can suddenly feel a lot smaller and less significant. Or if you’re feeling stressed, a blast of fresh air and exercise outdoors, really does help.

St Margarets clifftop walk

Clifftop adventures

Living on the south east coast of England, most of my walks are close to beaches, but it’s my clifftop adventures I enjoy the most, whether alone, or with friends – they’re truly exhilarating.

I love the feeling of being high above all the rushing about going on below. I like the peace and solitude, the fresh, clean air, the climb to the top and when the weather’s blustery, cold or wet, I enjoy the challenge. 

Jane and Vicky cliff walk

If you’re a keen photographer, take some panoramic pictures when you get to the top, as my friend Vicky did. You’ll get some epic shots. 

These walk offer spectacular views. Fill your lungs with some seaside air, celebrate the fact you made it and maybe even have a cuppa at the top, if you packed a flask.

cliffs at St Margarets

Feel the bracing sea breeze, hear the waves crashing against the rocks, stop and watch the soaring seabirds. If you walk on the South East coast of England, as I do, you might be lucky enough to have views across to France, on a clear day.

I can often see France during my clifftop walks in Folkestone, Dover and Deal, less than 30 miles away across the English Channel.

Cliffs Thanet blue sky

What to wear

You’ll probably need an extra layer of clothing and definitely wrap up warm on cold days. Wear some shoes or boots with a good grip. Expect to have rosy cheeks by the end.

Coastal erosion

Do make sure you stay right away from the edge of clifftops, whether you’re taking photos, posing for photos, or simply enjoying a walk. There have been quite a few cases of coastal erosion on the south coast in recent months and especially after periods of wet weather.

At the beginning of 2021 a huge chunk of cliff fell into the sea at the beauty spot Samphire Hoe, near Dover. There were two cliff collapses just 10 seconds apart. Thousands of tonnes of chalk fell into the sea.

From the photo here, you can see the danger of chalk rocks falling from cliffs, at Westgate, in Thanet, Kent.

crumbling cliff Westgate Thanet

If you walk at the bottom of cliffs, do take notice of signs warning of dangers. Rocks which fall from eroding cliffs can weigh several tonnes

cliff erosion sign Kingsdown

As long as there have been cliffs, there has been erosion, without it, we wouldn’t have beaches. Waves, wind and rain put pressure on cliffs and sediment falls into the sea. Some areas are more vulnerable than others. Climate change is expected to accelerate cliff and coastal erosion. Coastal management plans are in place in areas where there is a particular risk.

Walking for health and wellbeing

I always feel so much better after a long walk, along the cliffs, or otherwise. Afterwards, I’m too tired to worry about little things, which no longer seem so important and I’m content to simply put my feet up with a nice cuppa. It makes me appreciate my home comforts. After a walk I feel healthier, in body and mind.

I often walk alone, it gives me time to process things I’m been pondering and unable to make a decision about. But if you prefer a bit of company, arrange a walk with a friend. You’ll have some interesting chats along the way and usually a giggle or two.

Or go somewhere that you will be sure to see other walkers or dog walkers along the way, if you’re concerned about safety. Most walkers are friendly and will say hello.

cliffs Kingsdown with the sun shining

The benefits of regular walks

There are so many great things about walking for health and wellbeing.

Here are just a few: 

It’s free

You don’t need any special equipment

You can walk alone, or with a friend, or friends

It gives you the feel good factor

It improves your mood

You will burn calories (for me, this means I can eat more cake)

Keeping active is important, physically and mentally

Being in the great outdoors provides great inspiration

Walking and exercise aid sleep

It’s time away from a screen or your mobile phone 

Walk regularly. Build it into your weekly routine. Join a walking group if you want to walk with others, make new friends and discover new routes.

Let me know how you get on.

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