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.
14.5 miles - Moderate Grade - what this grade means
Read about Nether Stowey accommodation and the first night stay before starting The Coleridge Way Walk
The Coleridge Way starts at the door step of the Poets home, Coleridge Cottage. Now run by the National Trust and open to visitors, it makes a fitting start for your adventure. From the peaceful village of Nether Stowey, the route climbs past the impressive remains of the lost 11th Century Stowey Castle, built by Alfred of Spain for the Lord of the Manor. The Motte and Bailey Castle was totally destroyed in the 15th century after its Lord was beheaded for treason. Its legacy, the dramatic views from its earthworks over the Bristol Channel to Steepholm Island, inland as far as Glastonbury Tor and North to the Brecon Beacons and the distant shores of Wales.
You then begin a steady climb through the Quantock Hills using sunken bridleways past the haunting site of Walfords Gibbett – where Walford (who was the local Charcoal Burner) murdered his wife, was caught and then hung, left swinging in a cage for 1 year and 1 day here at the entrance to the great forest on the spot where he committed his terrible crime.
The Coleridge Way traverses below the large Iron Age hill fort at Dowsborough running through peaceful ancient woodland and plantations before emerging onto the open moorland of the Quantocks themselves. The views as you pass the large cairn on the top of Woodlands Hill are already stupendous, stretching as far as The Bristol Mendips.
A steep tree covered descent brings you back from the heights to arrive in the pretty village of Holford with its tranquil thatched cottages built for the workers in the old Huguenot silk factory and you can pause here to visit the village inn and church.
Entering rich parkland on the Alfoxton Estate, look for herds of deer here and the gruesome 18th Century crested dog pound that was built to contain the area’s stray animals after the local huntsman was attacked and killed by dogs. Before your next climb you pass the cottage where William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy lived and Coleridge was their regular visitor.
The next few miles are superb walking along the northern ridge of the Quantocks, The Coleridge Way taking you through a delightful array of bracken, heather, steep gorges and peaceful woods. On one side there is the edge of the moor above you on your other a beautiful patchwork of rolling countryside slipping away to the sea below – welcome to The Quantock Greenway.
You eventually reach West Quantoxhead on a glorious leafy carriageway high on a wooded escarpment with your views now westward towards Minehead and the start of the South West Coast Path. Check out the welcoming Windmill Inn, the impressive St Audries Church and former smugglers houses at Robbers Roast.
Those walking the Coleridge Way on a very relaxed schedule can choose to halt here staying by the church on the edge of the Quantock Hills for the night
CLICK HERE to read about an overnight stay at West Quantoxhead on the Coleridge Way after 8 miles
From this point those Quantocks loom above you again as you now turn to traverse the Western edge of the moor, crossing the mouth of hidden coombes and valleys, spotting deer and buzzard high above you before dropping to the timeless little thatched village of Bicknoller with its welcoming Inn.
Easy walking now through rich pastoral scenery between the Quantock and Brendon Hills, first crossing the West Somerset Steam Railway route on your way to the appealing village of Sampford Brett (Sandy Ford) with its 13th Century Church of St George. Here you have the option to overight at nearby Williton, where you will deviate off the trail for around 1 mile following the Macmillan Way West trail past an old river mill and through lush meadows into the small town where overnight accommodation and good facilites exist.
CLICK HERE to read about an overnight stay at Williton on the Coleridge Way after 11 miles
Back on the Coleridge Way and beyond Sampford Brett you enter a lovely hidden and deep wooded valley which twists en route to the Elizabethan Manor House at Aller Farm, although to reach it you must cross a wooden footbridge where you will be asked to transport 1p to the other side... to keep the tree spirits appeased!
The Coleridge Way finally climbs into a superb section of ancient and impressively deep droves and sunken trailways. The final trackway at Combercross Lane, hewn from the rocks and fringed by a twisted and contorted tunnel of trees, leads towards your overnight accommodation at the village of Monksilver, which sits in as peaceful position below the first of the wooded Brendon Hills,
Click Here to read about overnight stops at the village of Monksilver right on the Coleridge Way route
Or Click Here to read about the larger village of Stogumber as an alternative option you can consider 1 mile off the path at this point
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