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.
A beautiful area and a magnificent varied route, including river walks, wild moorland, old bridleways, disused railway lines and woodland paths. We were lucky to enjoy 7 sunny clear days, enabling easy walking, fantastic clear views and everywhere dry underfoot. The Dartmoor Way is not marked too clearly, and many fingerposts are very weathered and unclear or even missing, so care is needed to avoid straying from the correct route. With care and attention and a good map it provides a stunning walk, lovely villages, old pubs, plenty of history and comfortable accommodation each evening. The maps, information and luggage transfers were very helpful, and the route provides plenty of opportunity to visit other attractions, sites and places of interest. We thoroughly enjoyed the week as did George our labrador! Thanks for all your help.
Well what a fantastic walk we had! I would like to thank you for organising lovely accommodation with great food and for transporting our bags onto each location with ease. The route itself is not marked out very well along the way, and maybe this is the only feedback that should be passed onto Dartmoor National Park. However, the route was absolutely stunning and breathtaking in parts. It was incredibly quiet along the route and some days we never saw another walker??!! The park is underutilised compared to other national parks, however, this is nice in a way!!!
Our 10 year old and 14 year old also did the walk with us and loved it all too....although they are glad to be home for the rest! I will definitely be back to Encounter to book the next walking holiday....the detailed itinerary was invaluable and gave us so much additional information and your choice of stopovers were fantastic. Thank you so much for organising such a great family and wonderful memories to cherish forever. Thank you again.xx
We finished our Dartmoor Way on 6th August. Everything was perfect and very very beautiful the way on the Moor. The GPS helped us a lot to follow the way and we think that without it to get lost is very easy.
Thanks very much - Carmen
The walk was a success! Dartmoor was beautiful, the weather was good, and the people we met were very friendly and helpful. This includes all the landlords and –ladies at the pubs, hotel and B&B. Thank you for all the useful information, suggested detours etc! We really enjoyed the extra walk on the moor by Belstone and going down Lydford gorge.
We had a few minor problems, however.
We lost our way a little between Water and Moretonhampstead. I think we chose the wrong path at Horsham and somehow ended up in Manaton. We walked on with the help of the OS map and by looking at the landscape around us, and came on the right track again near Neadon.
After North Bovey (as described on page 6 paragraph 2) it was a bit unclear which gates we should go through/over, what field we were supposed to go over, and in what direction. We went in what we knew was the right general direction and found the right path after a while.
We were a bit confused before Belstone, regarding how many footbridges we were supposed to cross (3?) and what paths to follow. With the help of the OS map and my tablet with GPS we eventually managed to find our way to Belstone.
On Sunday we went to Lydford Gorge and then planned to catch the bus to Tavistock from Lydford or Mary Tavy. The only problem was that there were no buses on Sundays! We had to change our plans and get a taxi instead.
The information in the Dartmoor Way generally seemed rather old and sometimes out of date. Several gates had changed and were no longer stiles or kissing gates. One example: the kissing gate described in paragraph 1, page 12 is no longer in use, but still stands by the path as an object of interest. Apart from these minor problems, we had a wonderful time walking on and around Dartmoor!
Thanks Karin thats really helpful and we have left the information above on the site in case its of use for others this year. The good news however is in the previous review - we are hoping for some improvements shortly on the ground that will tackle these issues for 2017 season.
Dartmoor itself is lovely. We walked the Way in 7 days. The first 3-4 days were not on the Moor itself, but through lovely forests and by lots of streams. Days 5-7 include much more time on the Moor. What I did like were Encounter's additional notes which helped. The accommodations, while not fancy, were very pleasant. If anyone is staying in Okehampton, we happened on an Indian restaurant on Fore Street called Ma'ida - it was absolutely excellent and you should try it.
For the down side, the Dartmoor Way I think is not yet an official national trail, and I don't remember seeing any waymarkers that referred to it. Generally, many of the footpaths did not have waymarkers, and we relied a lot on our GPS. The Way is therefore not heavily walked, and we had a number of places where paths were seriously overgrown with nettles & brambles (this being July and it has been wet and warm). In one place, a path about a quarter of a mile long took us almost 45 minutes to get through. Also, when the weather was wet and we were walking through fields of grass that were knee high, because the path hadn't been walked much, we ended up soaked. So I wouldn't particularly recommend the Dartmoor Way itself, or not in the growing season, but I would recommend Encounter wholeheartedly.
As well as the notes being helpful, everything arrived on time, and when even on a Sunday morning there was an issue with payment at one hotel (the hotel's mistake) someone at Encounter picked up my call, sorted it out and then also rang the next hotels to make sure there would be no recurrence of the problem. I will certainly use Encounter again for another walking holiday.
Encounter Walking Note - Positive note from us we have just heard (July 2016) that the route has applied for grant development money for 2017 season which will include a new section, full signage and path improvement (finally) so we hope to be looking forward to better conditions on the trail for next season and furthermore will hope to be involved in that work - get in touch if you want to know the latest There are plans for an extended section to the South of The Moor linking Tavistock to Buckfastleigh via Ivybridge as an option - anyway improvements to this trail look like they are coming and we are delighted to see this after working on this route for many years !
Excellent customer service from Encounter Holidays who were able to accommodate our desired walking distances (no more than 13 miles per day) and also accommodate the dog. They responded very quickly when we emailed them to confirm that the dog could sleep in our room at the Plume Of Feathers in Princetown when the pub's website explicitly forbids it! The accommodation and food was generally very good in all the places we stayed.
One point I would make about walking with a dog is that some of the stiles on the Dartmoor way, especially but not exclusively between Lydford and Tavistock, are very hard to get a dog through. There are some near-vertical 5 foot tall ladder stiles with no feasible bypass; I would advise that you do not attempt this walk if you are unable to lift your mutt that far! It's a shame the waymarking is poor on the Dartmoor way, we saw not one sign anywhere that mentions "Dartmoor Way". The walker's guide to the route is OK but is annoyingly imprecise about distances: it uses terms like "after some time you get to..", "eventually you reach..." and "in a while the track narrows" rather than what you really need to know which is whether it is 100m or 1km later. Most walkers might consider that this adds to the interest but not, I suspect, when you are trying to find your way through a Dartmoor fog.
First of all, the accommodations and luggage transfers were very well organised. Sleeping in places where also dinner is being served is an advantage, then there is no need to go out again in the evening. Also good to have a supermarket nearby or on route to buy the necessities for the day, this was the case almost every day. The walk was good and the moors were beautiful. The route was easy to find, but off course we made mistakes and had to walk back a few times. In this case our navigator on the phone was a good help, we compared the route we had walked with the shape on the map and could easily find where we went wrong ;-) Often stiles were replaced by gates, or had disappeared, but the map always showed us we were still on track. The thing we didn't like so much was the fact we had to follow roads quite often. Even a very busy one for a few kilometres, that was kind of scary because the cars drove fast. Also lots of roads were very very narrow with high hedges on both sides, so there was nothing to see at all and we felt trapped and a bit claustrofobic. Any tractor and there would be no way to pass each other. The beautiful fields and views on the other side of the hedges remained invisible for us on these paths. It would be a good thing to address the locals about it to maybe replace these huge hedges for something else that offers views, just a thought, also for safety. But we were satisfied. The weather was perfect (no rain at all), the people were kind, we enjoyed being outside and looking over the fields, walking among the sheep and cows (and sometimes even horses). So yes, it indeed was a good walk and vacation and thank you for that! A personal thing: people who are afraid of heights would like to be informed which parts of a walk are a bit tricky f/e no wall or gate next to a steep slope down....
The Dartmoor Way is fantastic. One of the most exciting walks I have ever done. And I have done many walks in Great Britain and Ireland. The endless moors with the Tors, the gorse, the heather, the grass and the wild ponies are an explosion of colors in the autumn. The open wide landscape, the forgotten villages and the River Vallyes and Gorges. Just great! There are not very good waymarkets, so you must be able to use a map and compass. But it is a interesting challenge. The accommodations were excellent, clean, calm and comfortable.
We had a glorious time! This was the perfect way to experience Dartmoor, the land and the villages. We're back home now and have already been contacted by several friends who wish to plan their own walking holidays next year. Encounter Walking took care of all the arrangements, as they said they would, so all we had to do was walk and enjoy the scenery.
Our accommodations were just perfect, comfortable, clean, cozy and everyone was so friendly and helpful. The food was fantastic. Hearty, delicious meals every evening after a long day of walking. On this vacation, we weren't just tourists standing off at a distance taking pictures and reading brochures. We got to meet some of the people of Devon and share stories with them. This alone makes the rain worthwhile... oh yes, there was rain. But the moors are something to behold in the rain, so beautiful! And the ponies! There were lots of ponies! We can't wait to come back! Thank you to everyone!--Arlitia and Dan
We were a party of elderly walkers, and had a great time,the planning notes received were spot on and helped us a lot.Our weather was not great but we are used to that. Our last days walk from Princetown to Buckfastleigh as explained in the notes is a long days walk, with the Swincombe Bridge still not back in place (work is in progress)adding further distance.
One of our walkers who had picked up an injury had a hard job to arrange a taxi from Dartmeet and relied on a good samaritan to get him back to Buckfastleigh We have been with other walking companies but this was the best accommodation we have ever had. I detail corrections you might like to include for future clients. When you mention the diversion at Swincombe bridge you mention the bridleway running from left to right there is a marker post here.The blue indicators mentioned in the guide have faded over the moor from Princetown. On day one at Goodstone woods, major felling has taken place and the bridleway resembles an assault course,and these trees looks as though they have been felled for some time, it is also heavy with mud due to heavy machinery. Thanks for a well organised holiday.
We were amazed at how changeable the weather was. It reminded me of an old Montana saying - if you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes! Any day it didn't rain we counted as a good day. By that measure we had twice as many good days as bad days, so we were happy.
The bag transfers and accommodation bookings were flawless. After a hard day hiking, we were always pleased to be welcomed at a cozy inn or b&b and see our bags there. We enjoyed the variety of lodgings as each provided a slightly different experience. Our absolute favorite was the Abbey Inn with its great location, excellent food, and friendly staff. It was the perfect place to start and end the Dartmoor Walk.
We were able to hop across the stepping stones at Swincombe as the water was low. Some helpful hikers pointed out the loose stones for us. Glad to hear that the footbridge is in place.
We took all your diversions and appreciated your clear, concise directions. We wished you had written the Dartmoor guide! Its quality was very uneven; some sections were crystal clear and others left you hanging. At Water we had everyone at the Kestor Inn trying to help us get back on track. The OS maps are outstanding and really helped on Dartmoor. (I write hiking guidebooks for Hawaii, so am particularly interested in guides and maps.)
Twice we took taxis on rainy days with long mileage. The first was from Chagford to Finch Foundry. We spent a couple of hours at the foundry, hiked to Belstone and had a nice lunch at the pub there and then the rain stopped and the clouds lifted, so we did the high moor diversion into Okehampton. The Okemont River and falls were raging - very exciting.
The second taxi ride was from Tavistock to Stamford Spiney. (The cab driver had to call dispatch for directions on that one.) We then had plenty of time to see the quarries and Merrivale on the way to Princetown. During the day we enjoyed high winds, rain, sun and even some hail. We arrived and departed from Princetown in the sun. Even the prison looked cheery.
We hiked the final 14 miles on an absolutely spectacular day. This last day had everything - desolate moors, lush farms, tiny villages, high ridges, and deep, dark rivers. As we approached Buckfastleigh, we took a shortcut straight to the church and Abbey Inn where we had started 13 days earlier.
It's hard to say which trip we liked better, as the two were so different. We very much enjoyed the contrast between the Cornwall coast and Dartmoor. We loved the ruggedness of the coast and the changing colors of the ocean. We loved the variety of Dartmoor, both in the weather and in the scenery. Between towns we hardly saw anyone and had the illusion we were the only ones hiking the way. Visiting London afterwards was a real shock after spending so much time in the country.
Thanks again for a great trip. The Two Moors Way looks awfully good, and I hear the coastal path is great around the Lizard toward Fowey, so we may be back.
Dear Damon and Prue, Just to let you know that we've returned safely from our fabulous Dartmoor Adventure. I don't know how you did it but the weather was perfect, especially on Saturday when crossing the top of the Moor.
Fabulous views and some really interesting archaeology right on the route. Our navigation was pretty good, even after all these years, although our legs were pretty tired after the late afternoon steep decent to Fingle's Bridge on the second day. We did have a problem picking up the route at the top of the descent as the landowner has recent re-fenced the fields and the bracken was at it's highest.
Thank you for all your help. The route books and maps and your additional information was spot on, the accommodation was good and in keeping with what we were expecting. The Globe at Chagford is a little eccentric and, in hindsight, perhaps I should have gone with your original recommendation of the Ring'o'bells, but it added to the overall experience! The food at the Cromwell Arms in Bovey Tracey was the best and the bed the softest. We would have no hesitation in whole-heartedly recommending Encounter Walking and it's knowledgeable, friendly and patient staff. All in all a great experience!
Who knows where we'll go next!
Had a great trip, beautiful landscape, especially the open moorland, lots of animals and birdlife, and weather was pretty decent, only one really rainy day. Everything went smooth, thanks to Encounters great planning and the additional route descriptions were a great help :)
My husband and I are back home and we are full of wonderful impressions and memories. Everything went so well and the weather was much better than we had expected. Only on three days did we have rain for a short time which was not a problem. We enjoyed being on each of the walks, liked the places where we stayed - Farleigh Cottage in Chagford with Lyn and The Church House Inn in Holne were our absolute favourites. We had no problems finding the way with the good A to Z map and the route descriptions. We so much enjoyed walking through the many river valleys as well as seeing some fine bronze age sites (stone circles and rows, standing stones, cairns and burrial cists). The moor was great with wide views and a great contrast to the green valleys. In the months before our walking tour we exchanged many e-mails with Damon who advised us and created our tour according to our special wishes. Thank you so much!
Great start and end stay at Abbey Inn, Buckfastleigh. Rain all first day, but no problems. Two good nights at Cromwell Arms. Excellent optional walk of high tors, thanks to provided notes by Damon. I did miss final turn into Bovey Tracey, but was probably distracted by sweet black berries along the Templer Way. Had rain leaving Bovey Tracy to Chagford. Had an excellent lunch at the Kestor Inn before continuing via taxi to Sandy Park Inn, due to rain and time of day. Good walking Chagford to Okehampton with improved weather. Had heavy fog on the moors just before Sourton, but was able to locate the path by following the stone wall. The Highwayman Inn was one of the best finds on the trip. The final hill into Lydford was a muddy slog after six four-wheel-drive vehicles passed before me. The Castle Inn was one of my favorite stays. Took the optional walk through Lydford Gorge and really enjoyed the waterfall. The Apple Tree B&B in Tavistock was a nice surprise. I would classify it a boutique B&B, and the owners were a lovely young couple. The walk to Princetown was made easy via the old railway. The most Dartmoor ponies on the trip. Leaving Princetown on the final leg started in heavy fog. Had an excellent lunch at the Forest Inn in Hexworthy. Completed the trip via taxi into Buckfastleigh to have time to explore the Buckfastleigh Abbey near my inn. My thanks to the luggage transfer group that performed flawlessly.
We had a wonderful holiday, despite the heat which did make sleeping difficult on a couple of nights.
Everything went very well for us, and we even had a bit of an adventure, when we came upon an injured walker down in a hollow who couldn't get any phone service. We helped him up a steep hill where he was able to call an ambulance. It turns out he'd broken his leg, although at the time we thought it was just a sprain! At any rate, that added a bit of excitement to our day.
There was one point where we felt the guidebook was misleading, and hopefully I can remember it. We were walking through Belstone Cleave, where there are several footbridges. At one point, the guidebook says that you come upon a footbridge, cross it, and take the path "in front" which climbed gently. Well, this confused us, because there was more than one path, and we ended up taking the path that ran straight from the footbridge clearly up a hill, when we should have taken the path to the right along the river. If the guidebook had said, "take the path that runs along the river," there would have no confusion. Sadly, as it was, we went considerably out of our way. It wasn't disastrous, just a bit annoying!
Otherwise, we found the guidebook just fine, and your company's additional notes were really handy!
We liked all the accommodations, especially the Three Crowns, which was superb.
Thanks again for arranging this for us--we'll surely use your services again!
Thanks for the emails. I was extremely lucky with the weather – it started to rain just as the Hotel in Holne came into view (around 3:30pm)! I watched other walkers trudging through the downpour past my hotel window! So apart from a couple of windy and fairly cold days, the weather was perfect (well, for England, anyway).
I managed to get to all the megalith sites in your notes, but passed on climbing the tors – trade-off to appease my aching feet! My boots are suspect, as my little toes were letting me know they were cramped.
Your added notes were excellent, and it was certainly worthwhile taking the detours. The only one I missed was the viaduct option at Meldon – somehow I was well passed the turnoff to the alternate route before I realised it. The only issue I had was with getting oriented and back on course each morning in the bigger towns. I guess a little map of the towns would have helped.
I had a pastie and pint in the little pub at Sourton, and a chat with the proprietor. All the accommodation was good and the luggage arrived each afternoon without hitch. The night in the pub at Lidford was er.. interesting!
The cab arrived prompt to take me from Holne to the steam railway, and the journey to Heathrow was very relaxing. I’d forgotten how peaceful train journeys can be – particularly when you’ve got the first class carriage virtually to yourself!
Do you have any suggestions for another trek?
Amber said she liked the first day of walking in Dartmoor just because it was a new adventure. Glynis said she liked the last day of the Coast path because it was not too difficult, open view, path a bit wider.
I loved the last two days on Dartmoor-Princeton back to Tavistock and Princeton to Holne. I thought it was different terrain lots to see. Ponies everywhere. And I liked the tors and ruined farm buildings. I liked the openness too. Although there were some wonderful things along the coast path too. Butterflies everywhere. Beautiful rock formations. Minack theatre...... Walked slower. It always seemed like I had to add 1.5 to 2 hours to the time. Several factors - old, out of shape, picture taking, lunch (which we always packed to save time), and figuring out route......I thought your help was excellent and I tell everyone who asks about you.
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