Discover challenging and dramatic walking trails shaped by the footsteps of traders, smugglers, saints and pirates. Cornish walking trails will reveal ancient tin mines, clifftop castles, timeless fishing villages and wild moors as you travel through a landscape of huge cliffs and hidden coves that goes back to the depths of time itself. In between the coastal drama, iconic harbours such as St Ives and Padstow give walkers access to some of the UK‘s best restaurants and coastal hotels. A county encircled by the wild Atlantic ocean, there is over 330 miles of spectacular world class coast path here taking you around the farthest corners of England - put simply it feels like walking on the edge of the world.
Stretching from coast to coast across the southwest of England, Devon is a richly diverse county with rugged shores and cliffs in the north, and classic Victorian seaside resorts in the south. In between you'll find tranquil green pastures, wooded gorges and the two dramatic wild moors in the National Parks of Dartmoor and Exmoor. Choose Devon for its walking variety, and you'll find that the popular image of cream teas and thatched cottages is true - but that Devon is so much more once you explore it on two feet. Coast to coast routes like the Two Moors Way will offer a journey through it all from the wild northern shores that inspired the Romantic poets to the maritime ports of the south coast.
Free your soul and clear your mind! Walking on the wild moors of these National Parks is a wonderful antidote to modern living. England's last true wilderness, Dartmoor offers 365 square miles of virtually uninhabited freedom with high moors and twisted dramatic granite tors a land of myths, ghosts and legends. Exmoor, its smaller and more gentle neighour, is 250 Square miles of near perfect and unique beauty, with high uplands swathed in heather and steep, wooded gorges and rushing streams. See Dartmoor ponies and Exmoor stags in these wildlife rich areas, home to 30 species of mammals and over 240 types of bird. The moors offer a unique opportunity for more challenging walking where the only human sound you will hear is the rhythm of your own breath.
Avoid the crowds and discover “Secret Somerset” missed by so many rushing headlong for the far South West. The 'land of the summer people' was named in a time when this area could only be visited in the summer months as the sea receded. Today its a rich, fertile and 'for real' landscape crowned by the fine walking ridges of the Mendip and Quantock Hills both protected areas of outstanding natural beauty. Rising up over King Arthur‘s Vale of Avalon along with the magical Tor at Glastonbury, walkers will find hidden gorges, wooded combes and the best inland panoramas of the South West. Also boasting its own Jurassic Coast Path, providing a gateway into the wilds of Exmoor National Park, Somerset offers walking routes without the crowds for those who want to find..... what the rest miss.
Dorset has a comfortable old world “English” feel to it and its walking routes traverse a rather more green and agricultural land of thatched cottages, cream teas.... and fossils ! Walkers here will find the more gentle rolling farmland, pretty villages and chalk ridges beloved by Thomas Hardy that sweep down to end abruptly at the World Heritage Jurassic Coast. Here, alongside the sea, those after more challenging routes can take a walking holiday through time itself amongst the dramatic chalk stacks, cliffs and arches of the Dorsetshire fossil coast. An area that can be very busy in high season but often suits walkers looking for more gentle and less exposed walking than the far west of the region.
Wales offers some of the best walking and outdoor activities to be had anywhere in the world. The 870-mile Welsh Coast Path was only fully opened in 2012 and is the world's first walk along the entire coast of a nation. The terrain is on an equally grand scale with towering cliffs, vast stretches of unspoilt golden sands, imposing castles, offshore islands and to the north there is the backdrop of Snowdonia National Park with its stunning mountains. Wales in general offers walkers great value for money compared to more popular areas like Cornwall with walking options to suit everyone, from those who want the cosmopolitan restaurants and facilities of towns like Tenby and St Davids, through to isolated and remote forests and coastal hills that sit on the very cusp of the Snowdonian Peaks. Bursting with confidence and pride in its “Welshness”, its Celtic history, language and culture there has never been a better time for walkers to enter Wales.
The South West Coast Path is the UK's longest National Trail and one of the top ten walking routes in the world. It snakes, dips and rises continuously on its way through a staggering 1014km (630 miles) of pristine coastline, 450 miles of which is through nationally protected areas. It's a challenge too; walking the entire South West Coast Path is the equivalent to scaling Mount Everest four times! From towering cliffs to hidden coves, ghostly tin mines to lush subtropical wooded creeks. One minute a dramatic rock theatre hewn out of the cliffs, the next a prehistoric fossilized forest or a 20thC Art Deco Island Hotel. What sets The South West Coast Path apart from other trails is that around almost every corner is yet another surprise as you retrace the footsteps and histories of the tin miners, fisherman, smugglers, wreckers and the customs men who chased them.
CLICK HERE to view a short video covering the stunning North Cornwall Coast Path scenery on this route.
Travel along the Cornish Coast Path on a magnificent journey to St Ives wandering white glistening sands lapped by turquoise blue seas and backed by pristine unspoilt dunes, a seemingly endless run of some of the finest, longest and most golden beaches in the West Country.
Sand and surf may be a recurring feature but this route brings you much more, breaking out of the beaches into dramatic rocky headlands, tortured cliffs, deep sea caves and fantastic rocky stacks and arches as you travel Cornwall’s Atlantic Coastline.
The history of human habitation travels with you as you pass Bronze Age cliff top castles, hermit’s caves, abandoned mines, holy wells and smugglers coves.
From a historical angle this section offers an immersion into Cornwall’s proud and wild industrial past. In the St Agnes area alone over 100 mines clung to the cliff top and bored their holes out to sea in their heyday.
Today you are left to stumble across the abandoned engine houses and ghostly chimneys that dot the landscape along the path and add to the atmospheric backdrop of the walking. Smuggling tales and Cornish Legends enrich the locations on route as you pass the likes of Hells Mouth, Stinking Hole and Deadman’s Cove all testimony to the shipwrecks and free trade that was practised in these parts.
On hot days lizards bask in the ruined engine houses and adders and slow worms enjoy the sunshine in the rolling cliff lands. Keep your eyes open and you will spot an array of butterflies, moths and dragon flies in the dunes and marshes. Out at sea grey seals are a common sight and there is always the chance of spotting a basking shark from high up on the cliffs whilst the rocky headlands and islands are the home of Peregrine Falcons, razorbills, kittiwakes, fulmars and occasional oystercatchers and puffins.
The Cornish Coast Path takes you through all this on an ever undulating trail carpeted with meadow flowers, purple heather and yellow gorse. Varied walking throughout, sometimes on the cliffs high above the crashing Atlantic rollers then down at sea level picking your way through superbly isolated and undamaged sand dunes or dodging the surf as you cross stunning sandy bays. You will climb and descend into hidden coombes and coves, each bay and panorama seeming to be better than the last.
This section of path is less strenuous than the far west of Cornwall on a route graded as moderate walking but be assured it is still challenging enough in places and you are guaranteed to get plenty of undisturbed coastal isolation along the trail. At night you will rest in the handful of idyllic little fishing harbours or the larger habitations such as Newquay, Padstow and St Ives with their excellent restaurants and bars geared up and ready to welcome the weary walker.
If you want more than just walking en route you can surf the legendry Cribber Wave at Newquay, take a day out to Cycle the Camel Trail , race sand yachts or try kite surfing, eat world class food at Rick Steins or Jamie Oliver’s restaurants, bathe in 18C seawater rock pools or take a torch into a sea cave to find a holy water grotto. For the rest of us we can look forward to 66 miles of stupendous coastal panorama and drama, to splendid isolation on a path which will rejuvenate all those who follow its golden trail from the calm of the Camel Estuary along the northern edge of Cornwall to end in the culture and art of St Ives.
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