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.
Section 6 - Lulworth to Worth Matravers - Jurassic Coast Path Walking Holiday
Highlights – The unique green wilderness of the Army firing ranges, the Ghost Village of Tyneham, Kimmeridge Bay Marine Area.
The next 7 miles of the South West Coast Path cross the Army Firing Ranges between Lulworth and Kimmeridge. Timing is key here as its superb walking BUT the ranges are heavily restricted, only open at weekends (and not every weekend at that) and longer periods in the Summer and Easter holidays. When the ranges are in use, access between here and Kimmeridge is impossible on the coast and options are either to miss out the section with a transfer, walk a long 13 mile inland diversion or take a transfer to Corfe Castle to rejoin the coast path on a pleasant walk from the interior. Contact us to check on Firing Timetables, accommodation and the best options for you depending on the date you will arrive here. Accommodation is very scarce between here and Swanage and we usually set up transfers from the Pub in Worth Matravers to and back from your next overnight accommodation.
The remote route today to Kimmeridge Bay is the most demanding sections of the Dorset Coast Path. The whole coastline is a protected site of special scientific interest particularly unusual as the absence of farming for over 60 years has led to a unique eco system developing with rare birds, flowers butterflies and the largest wild herd of Sika Deer in the Uk. All of it unfettered and untouched by fertilisers and modern farming techniques. It's a surreal landscape with abandoned tanks and armoured vehicles adding to the backdrop of the ocean.
You enter the firing range through scrub high above the chalk cliffs at the Fossil Forest, the most complete record of a Jurassic Forest in the World. Here spot bulbous fossilized remains of conifer type tree stumps from a forest that sat here over 100 million years ago, part of a long lost saline lagoon.
The Dorset Coastal Path now skirts the stunningly unspoilt Mupe bay with its Mupe Ledge rock formations moving on to a series of zigzag climbs above sheer cliff through open grassland and gorse scrub Lulworth Castle creeps into view as you pass through the majestic grassy earthwork ramparts of the 4th C Iron Age Fort at Flowers Barrow. Another surreal sight with half of the original fort missing, having disappeared over the encroaching cliff edge but its a breathtaking spot.
A huge climb and almost vertical descent brings the narrow peninsular of Worbarrow Trout and Worbarrow Point with superb views over this most remote bay with its multicoloured cliffs of red, brown and orange. Long abandoned remains of some fisherman’s cottages share a lonely spot on the cliffs with the kestrels here.
Slightly inland of the South West Coast Path you can now visit the deserted ghost village of Tyneham. A settlement since the 13thC, in 1943 the Army requisitioned the firing ranges as part of the War Effort and ordered the 252 villagers out, virtually overnight. A sign hurriedly left on the Church door said "Please treat the church and houses with care; we have given up our homes where many of us lived for generations to help win the war to keep men free. We shall return one day and thank you for treating the village kindly"
Well sadly, the return has never happened - what is left is a fascinating and somewhat moving, time capsule of a Village from the middle of World War 2 left pretty much as it was on the day it was evacuated. 60 years on you can wander the lanes seeing buildings in various states of collapse while others have been restored. The Church and School in particular with its desks set out ready for a lesson that has never come, a platform at one end for the infants that never grew up here. Old agricultural equipment lies where it was left and there is a display in the church with some information and photos of the village before it was lost. Other than this there is little else here just an uncorrupted glimpse into a village past and a lost community
Back on the Jurassic Coast Path Tyneham Cap is the last big climb before you reach Kimmeridge Bay a nodding donkey oil well pump the unexpected welcome here. Oil was discovered at Kimmeridge in 1959 and at one time this was the most productive well in the UK. The bituminous oil rock here has long been fashioned since Roman times for trinkets, bangles and armlets, the oil rocks themselves can sometimes be set alight with a match. The superb Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve is sited here with interactive displays including a rock pool aquarium for those who don’t want to explore the beach itself. Its a unique and unspoilt marine environment due to its rocky ledges which make it one of the most accessible marine wildlife spots in the UK. If you have time during a lunch break you can hire a mask and a map and a short buoyed Snorkel Trail leads snorkelers through a variety of seabed habitats, including sandy seabed, rocky reef, Japanese seaweed garden, sea lettuce and kelp fields.
Inland of the bay the village has a welcome Cafe and in the church you will find 4 sobering headstones of coastguards all who died aged 26 in the “execution of their duty” along the Dorset Coast.
A steep ascent on steps brings you to the Clavell Tower a bizarre 19thC folly with its 12 Tuscan columns and parapets, its most famous visitor was Thomas Hardy who would bring the local coastguards daughter here in his early years ! This is the tower committed to print in The Black Tower by PD James. Perhaps most remarkably the whole building in danger of collapsing into the sea was dismantled in 2002 and re-erected stone by stone in its present position 82ft inland.
You now end a long day on glorious section of the Dorset Coast Path running above the Kimmeridge Ledges past the waterfall at Freshwater Steps. Then a final steep ascent over the limestone topped Hounds Tout Cliff before the path descends around the compact bay at Chapman’s Pool to within striking distance of the village of Worth Matravers and the excellent Square and Compass Pub!
Overnight stops at Worth Matravers and nearby Swanage on the South West Coast Path
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