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.
Highlights - A huge variety of walking including open moors, ancient woodland and deep gorges ending at the coast. Well off the usual tourist track on quiet and peaceful trails with few walkers. Discover timeless, pretty villages and endless inspiring views on a walk suitable for all. Links Exmoor National Park with the protected Quantocks and Brendon Hill Areas of Oustanding Natural Beauty.
Options – Link to one of the best sections of the South West Coast Path West to Barnstaple or East back to Minehead or join the Somerset Coast Path on the week long 100 mile challenge route. Climb Dunkerry Beacon, highest point on Exmoor. Add an extra day at Lynmouth to walk the best and final day of the Two Moors Way walk on a crazy descent from the heights of Exe Head all the way down the gorges to sea level.
A 51 mile footpath through North Somerset from Nether Stowey to Lynmouth, over the Quantock Hills, The Brendon Hills and walking through Exmoor National Park
Samuel Coleridge, one of England’s most influential poets, moved to live in the tranquil Somerset Quantocks in 1797 and inspired by the stunning scenery he found he went on to write his best loved poems here including The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and the epic Kubla Khan. Quickly joined by his fellow Romantic Poets William and Dorothy Wordsworth the trio spent so much time roaming the moors and coast that a Government Agent was sent to investigate the local rumours that they were spying for the French.... luckily for them the unimpressed Agent concluded that they were “mere poets”.
Coleridge himself was such a fervent walker he would walk from Nether Stowey to Porlock in one day. Today’s walkers can follow a longer route along the Coleridge Way to the coast at Lynmouth, exploring the Quantock and Brendon Hills before reaching the charming moorland village of Porlock and crossing breathtaking Exmoor National Park. From 2015 the Coleridge Way was extended on to the coast at Lynmouth taking in the little visited Brendon Valley, home of Lorna Doone. En route you will uncover at your own pace, the locations and scenery that inspired Coleridge, Wordsworth and the birth of the Romantic Movement itself.
"On springy heath, along the hill-top edge,
Wander in gladness, and wind down, perchance,
To that still roaring dell, of which I told;
The roaring dell, o'erwooded, narrow, deep,"
A real treasure of a walk, The Coleridge Way takes you through an array of different scenery in a quiet, unspoilt and little known area of The West Country. Be prepared for expansive panoramic views by day and by night cosy stays in timeless historic thatched villages.
Walk a diverse route that one day travels a purple carpet of moorland heather scarred by deep wooded coombes.
The next follow atmospheric sunken paths alongside rushing, sparkling wooded stream valleys. A journey that ends on ancient dark forest tracks that take the walker into a set of fierce deep gorges culminating at the dramatic Valley of the Rocks and the stunning coastline of North Devon.
Expect to see wild deer on this hiking trail, from mighty lone stags to nervous roes, watched by soaring buzzards and kestrels on the moor and woodpeckers and dippers in the wooded valleys. Don’t expect to encounter tourist crowds, noise, cars or stress, just a stunning landscape, ever varied walking and the same escape from urban life that inspired Coleridge to create his masterpieces.
Passing through The Quantock Hills, Brendon Hills and crossing Exmoor National Park. The Quantocks was made the first designated Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty in England in 1956 and are also a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) - nearly 10% of the world's maritime heathland lies within its boundaries.
The Brendon Hills offer seldom visited upland walking leading into the unique delights of the Exmoor National Park walking routes.
Voted number 2 in the UK’s best 10 “Peaceful Walks” by the Independent Newspaper as well as making the list of Britain’s best Autumn walks in The Times, this is a route suitable for all and with its run of charming pub and tea shop villages to sustain you on the way, The Coleridge Way is walkable at any time of year.
3 days Fast and Fit Walkers route (17 miles daily average)
4 day Std Walking Route (13 miles daily average)
6 day Relaxed Walkers route (9 miles daily average)
Grade – Generally Moderate Walking (what this grade means) with a few steep ascents of around 600ft. Suitable for all fit walkers over 4 days and any level of walkers over 6 days.
This route is well marked on the ground and is fully marked on OS Maps. The Coleridge Way follows the edges of the moorland and is therefore suitable for all levels of walkers but does have more challenging options such as climbing Dunkerry Beacon for those who want it.
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