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.
1st March 2023 - We are now fully booked on our coast path routes until the end of May but please send quote requests in for June onwards as there is availability for the rest of the year. If you do plan to walk between now and June then our inland routes, Coleridge Way, Mendip Way, Saints Way Dartmoor Way and Two Moors Way still have availability for most dates so please get in touch.
Distance : 16.5 miles - Easy Grade Walking with a moderate/strenuous climb and descent from Hay Tor What these grades mean -
You can split this section and overnight at Haytor
Summary : Mainly ancient droves and tracks mixed with river meadows, wooded stream valleys and then a dramatic climb to the Moor and its best know Tors at Haytor before descending the Granite Tramway on the Templer Way to Bovey Tracey
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. Those taking the high moorland link will return to Buckfastleigh at the end of their trek walking through the Abbey Grounds.
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 is your next challenge. 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 !
The route now starts to edge onto the moor using a back lane through Bagtor Mill and the deep wooded valley of the River Lemon which is point you turn to push straight up the moor ahead. Its a stiff climb through old mining remains but the views towards Rippon Tor and Saddle Tor just get better and better the higher you go. Eventually you will top at unmistakeable Haytor Rocks with its two Huge stone Tors that just beg to be climbed!
This is Dartmoor’s best loved summit and its largest and most impressive Rock Face sitting at the heady heights of 1495ft. The two improbably huge outcrops were formed a mere 280 million years ago - rough steps cut into them allow you to reach the top for incredibly far reaching views off the moor .
To the South, you will spot Torbay and Dorset’s Lyme Bay on the coast whilst in all other directions open rolling moorland stretches away as far as you can see and better than any map, you can trace at least three days walking on The Dartmoor Way from up here.
From the Tors you descend quickly to reach the Haytor Quarries lonely harsh places that provided granite for some of the UK’s finest buildings, London Bridge, the British Museum and the National Gallery. Wander through the remains of the old village that included houses, a pub and even a school for the families of the hundreds of men that toiled here in the 18th Century.
Basking Lizards, Dragonflies, Damselflies and butterflies are now endemic flying around the remains of old hoisting cranes in the attractive deep pools left in the quarries. At Holwell quarry you can still enter the small beehive type shelter built as a blasting shelter for the quarrymen with huge granite slabs for a roof.
Overnight stops at Haytor on the Dartmoor Way
The walk now starts its descent from the Moor back to Bovey Tracy but before you leave you can take refreshments in the famous Rock Inn at Haytor Vale. You then follow a remarkable route along the old Granite Railway, part of a two day walking route to the coast known as The Templer Way. James Templer born 1772 as an orphan ran away to sea and returned having made his fortune in India to build the world’s only tramway that ran from Haytor Rocks, not on rails but granite blocks. Teams of 19 horses dragged flat bed trolleys laden with 3 tonnes worth of stone an incredible 1,300ft down the mountainside towards the Canal at Bovey. The granite blocks which were painstakingly grooved out for the wagon wheels are there to this day and provide a superb trail off the moor as you drop over 1000ft on the Granite Railway Route. You quickly lose all the visitors to Haytor as you descend and instead find peace and wildlife on a now silent tramway that has long since passed into history.
Watch for Peregrine Falcons , hare, Ravens and Kites on the high moor, stoats, woodpeckers and if you are lucky perhaps an adder as you enter the glorious oak, birch and beech trees in Yarner Woods part of the East Dartmoor Nature Reserve. Everywhere butterflies, wild flowers and birdsong accompanies the walker on The Templer Way as you follow the granite blocks and milestones step by step back to your accommodation in the valley at Bovey Tracey
The day ends easily as you enter the glorious wooded estate at Parke, a wonderfully peaceful and spacious place, managed by the National Trust and the headquarters of Dartmoor National Park. Look for the Orchards and Walled Gardens by the main House and you will also find a fine cafe there ! From there you follow the road a short distance into the market town of Bovey arriving at its impressive old Mills guarding the churning River Bovey.
Information on overnight stops at Bovey Tracey on the Dartmoor Way
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