Whitehaven colourful coastal walk

Walking trail

This dramatic cliff-top walk starts at Whitehaven’s historic 17th-century harbour, passing the town’s industrial archaeology to join Wainwright’s Coast to Coast path.

See the work of the Colourful Coast project

Experience wild, secluded beaches and discover a series of hidden gems such as Saltom Pit, the Haig Pit and Fleswick Bay. Learn more at www.colourfulcoast.org.uk (National Trust and partners).

Whitehaven Harbour and Candlestick


Map route for Whitehaven colourful coastal walk


The Beacon, Whitehaven, grid ref: NX969181


Start by Wellington Terrace at Whitehaven Harbour (just past the Beacon Museum). Follow waymarkers up to The Candlestick (Wellington Pits imposing chimney), then continue to the Haig Pit (hidden gems one and two). On the cliff top you'll join the wagon way where trucks full of coal used to be shunted down to the harbour. With Georgian alabaster mines, sandstone quarries, a 12th-century priory, England's first under-sea coal mine and even the site of a top-secret Second World War radar station; this coastline has fascinating stories to tell. The Beacon, Haig Pit and St Bees' Priory all tell them well, and are well worth stopping at to find out more.


Just after Haig Pit, follow the side path to the right to an information board above Saltom pit. There's a path here down to the ruined winding house (hidden gem three) or continue along the cliff path.

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Follow the path for a short distance to come to another junction. Here, the wagon way continues on to the left, while the narrower footpath runs along the cliff top to the right. Follow the cliff edge path beyond the fields up the heathery slopes ahead onto St Bees Head. You will join an incline sloping up the cliffside towards the sandstone quarry. Here you can choose to drop down to Barrowmouth Bay (hidden gem four). Fleswick Bay, Barrowmouth and Saltom Bay are wild and tranquil worth a bit of a scramble to get down to them. Semi-precious stones hide among the shingle at Fleswick and we've been told that the caves there were used by smugglers.


At the quarry follow the way marked path on the seaward side of the quarry gates. At the far side of this quarry you will finally emerge onto the St Bees coastal path, which you can now follow all the way to St Bees. At first there is only one path, running along the top of the cliffs, but for most of the route there is also the option to walk in the fields to the left.

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This path brings you to the lighthouse (hidden gem five), RSPB viewing points (hidden gem six), Fleswick Bay (hidden gem seven) and eventually to the beach at St Bees (hidden gem eight). To reach the railway station next to St Bees Priory (hidden gem nine), take the road running out of the car park behind the beach. When the main road curves to the left, turn right onto a side-road and then onto a footpath which crosses a field towards the Priory. The station is 220yd (200m) to the right of the Priory.

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The Beacon, Whitehaven, grid ref: NX969181

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Whitehaven colourful coastal walk


Walk from one end to the other, and catch the train or bus back.

Easy terrain although some uneven and narrow sections with short but steep climbs. Clifftop route, so steep drops. Permissive access routes across farmland allow you to avoid the cliff edge on much of the headland.

Dogs welcome under close control due to grazing livestock. Please do not allow your dog to foul on paths or around picnic areas. No bins provided - please take all litter, including dog waste, home.

Whitehaven colourful coastal walk

Contact us

Whitehaven colourful coastal walk

How to get here

The Beacon, Whitehaven, Cumbria CA28 7LY
By train

Whitehaven station 0.1 mile (0.2km) from the harbour. St Bees' station 0.7 miles (1.1km) from the beach.

By road

Whitehaven 26 miles (42km) west of Keswick and 10 miles (16.1km) south of Workington on A595.

By bus

600 from Cockermouth, X6 from Barrow, 570 from Kendal, Grasmere and Keswick.

By bicycle

Hadrian’s Cycleway route 72 goes through Whitehaven, and the Coast to Coast route 71 starts from Whitehaven, as does Reivers’ cycle route 10. See Sustrans website for more information on all these routes.

Whitehaven colourful coastal walk

Facilities and access

  • Toilets, pubs and café available in Buttermere village
  • Dogs welcome under close control due to grazing livestock