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 : 12 miles - Easy Grade Walking with one moderate/strenuous climb to Ramshore Down. What these grades mean
Summary : Mainly ancient droves and tracks mixed with river meadows, wooded stream valleys and a section of Forest Plantation.
Information on overnight stops at Buckfastleigh before your Dartmoor Way Walking Holiday begins.
The Dartmoor Way leaves the centre of Buckfastleigh via an ancient 200 step stone stairway ascending the hill above the town to the eerie remains of its 700 year old church.
It’s a dramatic start to the walk and an immediate introduction to the dark side of Dartmoor - in the churchyard you find the Tomb of Richard Cabell a hated local squire whose “cruelty knew no bounds”. The locals who bore the brunt of his wickedness claimed he had sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for immortality. He was felt to be so evil in life, that when he died in 1677 the villages insisted he be buried under a huge stone slab and then entombed in a metal barred building outside the church to ensure his ghost did not escape and torment them further. Their tales of his phantom black hounds howling at night outside the tomb ready to accompany the Squire to hell itself persuaded Conan Doyle to write his Sherlock Holmes classic the Hound of the Baskervilles.
The route runs past the old alter and chancels, now roofless, crumbling and open to the elements. The Squires tomb and the labyrinth of caves below the church have been a centuries old draw to Satanic Worshipers and the darker side and it was the former who are said to have started a fire under the alter stone in 1992 that destroyed this fine building leaving the sinister shell you wander through today.
Passing the remains of a much older chapel as you depart you take the mystical Fairies Lane, an old green trackway back to the river Dart On the way you can divert to view the old limekilns and caves below the church which revealed fossilised remains of hippopotamus, hyena, and elephant the whole area here a mass of wild garlic and bluebells at the right time of year.
The walk onto Ashburton is an easy one which breaks you in gently for your Dartmoor Way adventure along an old drove road giving unusual views of the stunning Buckfastleigh Abbey before a steep descent into Ashburton Village. A highly attractive place and the southern gateway to the moor Ashburton has a cluster of interesting cafes, craft shops, second hand bookshops and unique specialist shops centred around its old bridge and Town Hall. The information centre here is on your route and well worth a visit and the town itself is a most pleasant place – so much so that some walkers prefer to start and end the Dartmoor Way here.
Overnight stops at Ashburton on the Dartmoor Way
From Ashburton you follow a bubbling stream out through attractive river meadows and woodland as the forested foothills of the moor begin to rise steeply around you. After passing the impressive old mills on the River Ashburn you have the first steep ascent on the Dartmoor Way as you leave the valley on an ancient trackway to Widdon Farm. The rewards for your efforts are the first views of Dartmoor itself from Victors Seat (made from an old set of plough wheels).
Now on the horizon is Rippon Tor the rocks so prominent they were used by sailors to navigate their arrival at Dartmouth and Teignmouth far to the south of here. Beyond this the iconic distant rocks of mighty Haytor, Dartmoor’s most famous summit which will watch over and follow you now for the next few days. Clearly others have enjoyed the view as Victors Seat is the only bench we have ever come across that has a box containing a visitor’s book !
Descending to the thatched hamlet of Stig you then follow another tranquil wooded river valley before the day’s big ascent up Ramshorn Down. Here a tiny, little walked path snakes through dense and ancient bluebell woodland up a hidden valley to eventually break out onto the open gorse and bracken uplands of the down.
From the cairn at the top it’s a 360 degree panorama, Haytor's rocks now look tantalisingly close, Cornwall appears to the West and in the other direction you will be able to spot the twinkling blue sea at the end of the Teignmouth Estuary many many miles away.
A fast descent brings new terrain as you cut between the two dark forested hills at Rora Woods and Penn Woods your route a zigzag descent through huge pines and forestry operations before emerging at the pretty hamlet of Liverton, a classic Devon village all thatched cottages and millstones though there are many more to come on the Dartmoor Way. The day ends easily with a gentle downhill amble along backlanes to Bovey Tracey following the ancient route into the market town arriving at its impressive old Mills guarding the churning River Bovey.
Information on overnight stops at Bovey Tracey on the Dartmoor Way
Not to be missed if you can make the time for it - with an extra night at Bovey Tracey you can tackle the High Tors Option on a “rest day” here walking a high level route linking the best loved of the Iconic and breathtaking Southern Moor Tors including Haytor, Hounds Tor, Bowermans Nose, an abandoned medieval village, the unique high moor granite tramway and more besides on a 9 mile walk which avoids any duplication with The Dartmoor Way.
CLICK HERE for full details about The Southern Tors Option on the Dartmoor Way Walk
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