Encounter Walking


Minehead to Westward Ho! - South West Coast Path

The Exmoor Coast Path - Section 1 of the South West Coast Path

87 Miles from Somerset to the Cornwall Borders walking the very start of the South West Coast Path

Exmoor Walking Holidays, South West Coast Path, Self Guided Walking Breaks UKIntroduction to the Section

If you aim to walk all 630 miles of the South West Coast Path (and once you start believe us you won’t want to leave it unfinished) then the opening section from Minehead is your geographic introduction to this UK National Walking Trail......and you could not ask for a more dramatic start or experience more of a contrast in scenery in your first week of walking.

Leaving the tame Somerset levels at Minehead you are immediately thrust straight into another world climbing the dramatic hogback hills of Exmoor National Park where it feels like you walk on the edge of the world.  Lonely moors meet the cliffs here  to tumble  into the mighty Atlantic as stunning waterfalls cascade from rocky heights to impenetrable jagged outcrops far below. 

Woolacombe Walking, North Devon Coastal Path, Walking Holidays EnglandInspiring to so many this is Lorna Doone Country, home to Kubla Khan and a walk taking you through a blaze of yellow gorse, and purple heather. The mysterious atmosphere is all around, the heath, at times cloaked in mists and punctured by twisted rock towers as you climb towering crags above churning seas and enter ancient coastal woodland that clings to the edge of the trail before it plunges into ravine like coombes and untouched hidden coves. 

At Great Hangman you will ascend from sea level to scale the highest point on the whole 630 miles of coast path your reward relentless panoramic views across the moors of Devon, across the water to the mountains of Wales and ahead to beckoning vistas and seascapes in distant Cornwall, an endless run of cliffs and coves each one looking better than the last.

Hardy weathered sheep, magnificent stag herds, feral goats and Exmoor ponies watch you from one side while on the other you are accompanied by basking seals,  peregrine falcons, razorbill, kittiwake and the ever present swooping buzzards

Then come the contrasts as you leave mighty Exmoor National Park to enter a new world on the North Devon Coast amongst expanses of unspoilt sandy beach drawing you into the golden softer dunes of the expansive Taw and Torridge estuaries.  The former habitat of Tarka the Otter this protected area is a remote sanctuary for wildlife, the South West Coast Path here being tranquil, meandering along disused railway lines and ancient sand paths. Protected salt marsh estuary ablaze with wild flowers, rich in mammals and wading birds and for walkers compared to other west coast sections an unfound area,  remote, inspirational and far less visited. 

North Devon Coast Walking, South West Coast Path, Luggage Transfers South WestHistory surrounds you as you tread in the footsteps of hardy moorland clansmen, wreckers, smugglers and the Custom Men that chased them.  Fractured headlands and reefs, jagged and menacing recall this dark smuggling and wrecking past as you encounter Brandy Cove, Breakneck Point, Damage Cliff and the aptly named Desolation. In between the walking you will stay overnight in everything from charming coastal villages and fishing ports to the Grand Victorian holiday retreats loved by the poets and the romantics.

And it’s not just walking....opt to arrive in style by steam train or try your hand at taking on Devon’s most sought after waves with a board or kite surfing lesson or try fun fuelled Coasteering the only way to fully engage with the local coastline.  Eat amongst the pickled fish at the artist Damien Hurst's seaside restaurant, visit the Country's smallest Church and its largest Biosphere dune systems. Finally don’t miss the chance to take a day out on the ultimate island get away with a ferry crossing from the path to leave the modern world behind for the isolated ancient sites and towering cliffs on stunning, car free Lundy Island.

Whatever your plans as you pass along the North Devon Coast Path to reach Westward Ho after 87 miles this opening section of the South West Coast Path will have given you a true flavour of the richness and variety to come on the next 630 miles and above all else a definitive “walk in” entrance to Exmoor and the wider West Country to remember forever.

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