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.
It was our first experience with an organised walk company and we were thrilled with Encounter Walking. Without exception, all the B and B hosts were warm and helpful, accomodation was first rate and the breakfasts were excellent. The itinerary and maps provided excellent detailed information for planning our days. Luggage transfers worked very smoothly. We would definitely recommmend Encounter Walking to our firends.
Wonderful service! Really helpful for my first time planning something like this from across the pond. Encounter was was very patient with me in the booking process answering my multitude of questions and very accommodating while I tweaked my plans. From the directions for the hikes to the bus locations and taxi numbers, this service made the hike worry free and flexible. We planned each day individually from the info supplied to accommodate the weather or just how we felt after each days walk. One note: the miles shown in the info may have been stated a bit shorter than what my walking app showed. The Wales Coastal Path was so beautiful and so worth the walk! We even got to know the luggage transfer guy (taxi service) who was very helpful and personable.
The accommodations were great! So charming! Each one had something special to offer. Thoroughly enjoyed our stays! I would highly recommend Encounter particularly for those not familiar with the coastal walk!
We really enjoyed the final leg of a brilliant walk. It all went very smoothly and we really enjoy having everything arranged for us. The accomodation was very good and all our hosts were very helpful. The only weak link was the Webley Hotel in St Dogmails. The owner was lovely and he worked incredibly hard but the rooms were a bit 'tired'. Saying that the food was very good and the hotel is in a brilliant location for dramatic sunsets and walking on the estuary.
All our hosts provided really good packed lunches.
We really appreciate the hard work that went into finding such good locations for the overnight stops. It was really worth the extra mile to the Old Vicarage at Moylgrove !
This is a really great walk. We had a group of 5 friends, plus another joining part way through. All arrangements made by Encounter Walking Holidays worked like clockwork. The coastpath is spectacular and rugged, with lots of wild flowers and birds, plus seals on the rocks and a pod of dolphins. The weather was bad for two days but we still managed to walk and the accommodations were all very helpful and friendly. (Especially Vivienne at Hampton House in Trefin - she has a wonderful boot drying machine!) We have now completed the whole of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path and highly recommend the walk.
Everything was very well planned and fulfilled my expectations. All hosts were friendly and helpful. And the route is easy to follow - very well marked - you only need a map to follow your progress, not to find the way. Although it is a challenge to get to and from especially St Dogmaels, once you are there, local transport with walkers shuttle busses (al least in the summer) makes it very easy to shorten some of the days, or to stay in the same place two or three days, and take the shuttle to or from the walking.
This was my second time on PCP. I last walked the route in 2009 and always wanted to return. I found it easier this time. Most of the styles have been replaced by gates. It may sound like a small thing, but it really makes a difference on some of the very long and challenging days. The views, especially on the northern half of the route are magnificent. Compared to SWCP, the walking is easier, the views just as beautiful, but there is a lot more overgrowth to battle, I think due to the more humid conditions. I probably will return again, but next time I will skip at least the part before Milford/Sandy Haven - walking is beautiful, interesting, and diverse, even in the more industrial parts of the trail, but too many horseflies to my taste on this section.
Excellent organisation of the walk by encounterwalking. We had no problems at all. Good information material and very good communication and informations before the walk. The B & Bs/guest houses/hotels were between very good and excellent with one exception which will be taken care of by encounterwalking.
The Pembrokeshire coast is beautiful and overwhelming and so was the walk. The scenery is dramatic and changes every minute. As we walked on the South West Coast Path (St. Ives to Mousehole) last year we have a good comparison and we can recommend both very much. The scenery in Cornwall is in parts perhaps even more dramatic whereas the views of long parts of the coast in Wales are unique. The level of difficulty of both trails is comparable, they are both strenous. In fact 2 of us found the Wales trail more difficult: the path is in parts overgrown with grass, fern and other plants up the the breast and the trail is in parts so narrow that we had to perform kind of a catwalk which is tiring in the long run. The other 2 found Cornwall more difficult: the trail is in long parts covered with rocks and stones which makes it strenous to walk. But the beautiful landscape overcompensates every strain and we had no problems (we are in our sixties/early seventies and in normal shape).
By the way: we spent some days in London after our walks and we were never so exhausted on the trails as we had been after one day walking in London. We found out that 15 km or a bit more walking was enough for us. So on two days we made use of the bus which connects many places along the coast and which is a very good thing. We had a lot of fun with the (lady) driver of the Strumble Shuttle whom we met several times as she drives six days a week and who was very friendly and helpful. Time tables of all bus routes are in the buses but it may be a good idea for encounterwalking to enclose a timetable in the information material. To sum it up: we spent a wonderful and unforgettable week in Wales. Thank you for the perfect organisation, Damon.
Parts of this stretch of Coast Path are very challenging with steep ascents and descents, and sheer drops to the sea below. The weather was mostly perfect walking weather, no rain but 2 days of very strong on shore winds. All of the information supplied by Encounter Walking was perfect. The accommodation was comfortable and convenient to the path with very welcoming owners; the transfer of luggage went smoothly(always a welcome sight at the end of a day hiking). Thank you to all at Encounter who looked after me so well!
Pembrokeshire must be Wales Best Kept Secret. The trail is easy to follow. It was challenging both mentally and physically, but around every corner or the top of every climb, the views were wonderful. Encounter Walking had us booked into the best B&Bs, the luggage was always waiting for us and Damon answered all of our questions (every single one of the million) quickly and cheerfully. It was the trip of our dreams but much better.
We had a wonderful walking holiday. Encounter helped us to custom make our itinerary (very patiently when we kept changing things). All of the accommodations were clean, friendly and comfortable. The luggage transfer was smooth. Everything was hassle free. The hiking was spectacular. Even the weather cooperated. We hiked the lower part, Amroth to Bosherton, then skipped up to St. David's and hiked from Justinians to Dogmael. The wildflowers were stunning. The path was in good condition. Thank you Encounter.
The holiday was indeed a success, I very much enjoyed my 4 days walking on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, it’s such a beautiful unspoilt coastline. It was VERY windy on the last day, Wednesday, & I had to be careful on some of the more exposed parts of the route. But walking south-to-north meant the wind was usually at my back.
I found the walking itself fairly strenuous with all the ups & downs, but I managed it within the times you indicated in the itinerary. All the arrangements worked like clockwork, thank you very much. And I was happy with all the accommodation & everyone gave me a warm welcome. I would certainly be happy to come back to you for another holiday in the future.
It was fantastic weather - can't ever complain about it being too hot! And the hottest day was ended with arriving at the lovely garden at the Manor Town House in Fishguard, a gem. The first B and B in Trefin was a bit random, and obviously the only place to stay there, though all have been very welcoming. The Grove as you said, in St. Davids, has had the noisy fan taken out so that was fine.
The Webley was rather daunting from the outside particularly as had scaffolding up (not their fault!) and really, all was fine, with the absolute treat being the Manor Town House. Forgot to mention the Golden Lion at Newport - walked in to the one before it and tried to check in! (way more upmarket/expensive but would love to stay there one day).
Re the walking, the last day (16 miles I think in itinerary) was a bit too much, ie long and strenuous, for me so two of us walked across via minor road from Newport, via the garden centre at Moylegrove, and on to Poppit Sands. If anyone else wants to do that, its a very nice walk, and still some very good views of the coast.
Just as a thought - you don't do the Dorset coast do you? thinking of next year.....
By the way the taxi driver took us to the exact spot the walk starts at St. Dogmeals, and also via the Abbey there. The buses, everywhere, were very good. Thanks very much - Liz H
Damon: Our feedback is all good. Pentower in 'Fishguard and Golden Lion in Newport were perfect for our needs. Tony and Mary are delightful, interesting, and generous people--incredibly nice, large room, extraordinary breakfast, interesting conversations, lots of special touches and tips about getting around and seeing things--Fishguard is lacking in eating options with some places apparently out of business. We very much enjoyed the Golden Lion and glad for the extra night in Newport--used the "rest day" for another walk on the coast and a drive to the burial chamber and to Nevern. Also loved having great food on premises--the best and most efficient and friendly serving staff we have ever encountered. We adjusted our walking to 3-4 hour roundtrip hikes from Strumble Head, Dinas Head (should not be missed ever), Moylegrove, and Newport. With a rental car, that worked well--stunning weather was the real gift. When starting from Moylegrove, parking halfway between the village and the trail at the garden center and taking advantage of the delightful cafe with full day hours was a good tip from a fellow walker--the walk from the garden center down to the trail is like Robin Hood's forest--beautiful. The next chapter in the wilds of the Brecon Beacons was also inspiring--unbelievable scenery on brief walks (although, next time, we would just spend more time on the coast)., Brecon itself appears a bit worn out.
So thanks again for your friendly guidance. Let us know which coast Encounter
Walking tackles next!
The scenery was pretty stunning; I especially liked the views around Ramsey Island ad was sorry their was no way to get there on the day I stopped at St David's. St David's, Solva, Newport were all very interesting
The two rest days were actually very good; I probably wouldn't have attempted the last day (Newport to St Dogmaels) otherwise. As it was the last 15 miles turned out to be quite easy: I had the wind in my back.
Accommodation: all very good and the people very friendly and helpful. A couple of updates: Anchor Guest House in Broad Haven has new owners, Helen and Ian. The seafood pie at the restaurant next door (Ocean Cafe...) was excellent.The other very good meal I had was at St David's - Indian at Saffron. The Coach House does an excellent breakfast too.
Wildlife: didn't see all that much, apart from a few rabbits, but lots of birds whose names I don't know, lots of butterflies. The spring flowers were exquisite. My friends all liked the picture of Witch's Cauldron!
Signage is really very good. In a few places I had to retrace my steps, but nothing serious and I can't remember exactly where. Another comment: it would be good to have a few more benches, because when it's wet you don't want to sit down in the grass. The lunch stop at the bench at Carn Ogof (map 63) was one of my highlights.
Most of the B&B places have free wifi, which might be worth mentioning in your notes.
That's all. Thank you so much again for organising at short notice.
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