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.
Distance 7.5 miles to Gwithian or 12 miles to Hayle - Grade - Moderate - what these grades mean
A steep climb this morning takes you up to Western hill with grand views back to St Agnes Beacon and Kelsey Head. From here this morning you wander above the crashing tumultuous breakers on cliff tops and high meadow full of primroses and dog roses in season.
At the oddly named Ralphs Cupboard you will find an awesome chasm, a deep cave whose roof has collapsed. Locally depending on who you ask, Ralph was either a wrecker who used the cave for securing and storing his ill gotton gains or instead a Giant known as “Wrath” who lay in wait for passing ships and towed them back to the cave to devour the sailors – either way a place to avoid for those out at sea !
The path switchbacks into the Carvannel Valley passing the waterfall at Porthcadjack Cove before reaching the high level Reskajeage Downs which give great views of the Crane Islands offshore that were once linked to what is left of Crane Castle another headland hill fort.
The names get more dramatic as Deadpan’s Cove leads you through the gorse to Hells mouth. The latter well named with its 200’ sheer drops to the sea far below. It’s a veritable cauldron of relentlessly attacking and crashing waves and gloomy sea caves that boom loudly as the air is forced out of them by the waves far below you.
Your first views of St Michaels Mount on the other side of Cornwall now appear as you climb on past groups of semi wild Shetland ponies to the Trig Point at Navax point. This area is famous for its seals and Mutton Cove beach is one of the best places for spotting them in Cornwall. Below you the cliffs are peppered with caves used by the seals giving birth and it’s often easy to spot them basking in the sun as you walk on towards Godrevey Point.
Offshore now the exposed and dramatic Lighthouse at Godrevey built in 1859 guards the deadly reef known as the Stones and frames fantastic views across to the end of the trail at St Ives that looks tantalisingly close until you realise you need to walk round the great sands at Hayle to reach it. Virginia Woolf spent her childhood holidays at St Ives staring back at this spot and from it took the inspiration for her book “To The Lighthouse”. Inland Gwithian is a pretty thatched village with one of Cornwall’s best beach cafes for lunch.
Overnight stops in Gwithian on the South West Coast Path
Three glorious miles down the "Towans" (sand dunes) beyond Gwithian you reach the town of Hayle and the alternative option for your overnight stay tonight.
Overnight stops in Hayle on the South West Coast Path
Map of all
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