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.
Most of our walkers choose to book multi-centre walking holidays on our trails, walking on to a new overnight location every night.
However you may prefer to stay in one or perhaps two locations only rather than moving on every day.
- You don’t have to pack and unpack your bags every night and can keep access to your car if needed.
- You can get to thoroughly explore the walking and attractions in a particular area.
- Your holiday will often be cheaper as there are no daily bag transfer costs
- You may be keen to stay in a specific accommodation for the duration of your holiday.
The best options for this type of holiday require a mix of good facilities in an inspiring location where it is worthwhile spending a few days. You also ideally need a cross section of walks so you do not have to travel too far (or at all) to complete several different walks from your single location.
Our suggested One Centre breaks can all meet these criteria, so scroll down for some options and examples. As ever with Encounter Walking all your walking, route information, transfers and support are provided by us. You just need to turn up, walk, explore and escape!
Fowey sits looking at its sister town Polruan on the other side of the estuary and in our opinion is simply the best place to stay on the South Cornwall Coast Path. A stunning historical natural harbour town at the foot of the mighty Fowey Estuary at the end of a protected 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty', Fowey has so much to explore and the fact that it is still working port has somewhat protected it from the usual tourist trappings that have rather overun some of the other coastal towns. It offers a fantastic variety of walking from your doorstep along with high quality restaurants, facilities and accommodation options.
- Charlestown to Fowey on the South West Coast Path through Daphne du Maurier Coastline.
- Fowey to Looe & Polperro on the South West Coast Path – the best section between Falmouth and Plymouth.
- Inland hidden valleys from Fowey to Lerryn and Fowey to Lostwithiel (Fowey River Valley).
- Helmans Tor to Fowey on the Saints Way - either Eastern or Western routes.
- The Inland "Hall Walk" one of Cornwall’s finest circular walks using two small ferries en route or the Gribbin Head walk using both the Coast Path and Saints Way in a circular wander.
Gentle canoe trips on the River Fowey to hidden Lerryn, the passenger ferry to Mevagissey with the option to walk to the Lost Gardens of Heligan. Boat trips up the River Fowey and to Polperro, easy visits to The Eden Project and Lanhydrock Estate. Fowey itself has access to nearby stunning unspoilt beaches and inland creeks only accessible to the walker.
Accommodation in Fowey is in B&B’s, top-end boutique hotels, and several atmospheric inn’s overlooking the fascinating harbourside.
Request a Quote and let us suggest an itinerary and accommodation based on Fowey.
Look at any combination of the above locations with perhaps two or three days in each place to build a week long holiday without the complications of moving on every night. Staying in Fowey and St Ives is the favourite Two Centre Option for those wanting the option to walk every day but be based in two larger locations with plenty of choices for other activities / exploring as an alternative if they want a day off the trails. Padstow with its options for cycling the Camel Trail is another good choice.
We can help with travel between the locations you want to stay in as well as suggest an itinerary with as much or as little walking built in as you want.
Email us for options and we will suggest an itinerary and accommodation based on the best two centres for a walking break.
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