This paper analyses the finite-amplitude flow of a constant-vorticity current past coastal topography in the long-wave limit. A forced finite-amplitude long-wave equation is derived to describe the evolution of the vorticity interface. An analysis of this equation shows that three distinct near-critical regimes occur. In the first the upstream flow is restricted, with overturning of the vorticity interface for sufficiently large topography. In the second quasi-steady nonlinear waves form downstream of the topography with weak upstream influence. In the third regime the upstream rotational fluid is partially blocked. Blocking and overturning are enhanced at headlands with steep rear faces and decreased at headlands with steep forward faces. For certain parameter values both overturning and partially blocked solutions are possible and the long-time evolution is critically dependent on the initial conditions. The reduction of the problem to a one-dimensional nonlinear wave equation allows solutions to be followed to much longer times and parameter space to be explored more finely than in the related pioneering contour-dynamical integrations of Stern (1991).