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.
One of the main features of the Dartmoor Way is the chance to make short diversions off the route that link in some of the highlights of the moor. Our staff have walked and rewalked The Dartmoor Way to find these “not to be missed” options. To get the most from the Dartmoor Way make sure that whoever organises it for you includes details on how to get to these options - or ask us for help ! These include -
Easy Grade - 29 miles
Moderate - 45 miles
Strenuous - 34 miles
An invigorating climb through the rocks and bracken takes you past Haytor and on to the looming towers of Hounds Tor – the formation is superb though some locals refuse to visit as its said to be so badly haunted by a pack of black phantom hounds.
Two wide avenues run between one of the moors most stunning Tors a mass of pillars, caves and towering stacks that provided an otherworldly background for the Sherlock Holmes classic Hound of the Baskervilles as well the 1975 Doctor Who story The Sontaran Experiment.
This is one of the most dramatic and extensive Tors on the moor and a great place for scrambling to the top of the rocks
Its Medieval and Tudor style is evident throughout as you explore the great halls, kitchens and stately bedrooms of this granite masterpiece. Surreal uber Kitsch relics from the turn of the Century contrast with the Jacobean architecture – have you ever seen an electric table cloth before? Outside get lost in grandiose gardens of Rhododendrons that lead to Croquet Lawns, miniature rose gardens and hidden Victorian Wendy Houses – the whole thing is like something from Alice in Wonderland. Runner up in the South West’s tourist attraction awards in 2010 this is rightly the National Trust’s flagship Devon property and is currently receiving financial support for ongoing restoration and protection from the National Lottery.
For those who just want to admire it in passing from the outside you can walk this upper route on the day to Chagford and make use of the ever welcome National Trust tearooms here en route. However if you want to take a full visit through the Castle and Grounds - and you won’t be disappointed if you do, then consider either a short day from Mortenhampstead to Chagford on The Dartmoor Way OR splitting the section with an overnight stop at nearby Sandy Park.
You may think you have seen a lot of watercourses on the Dartmoor Way but this one is truly unique, totally at odds with its immediate surroundings and a designated SSSI (Site of Specific Scientific Interest) for its geology. The raging narrow gorge is now managed by The National Trust (click here to view their website information on the gorge) and whilst there is an entrance charge expect vertical lush woodland ravines towering above white water highlights such as Devils Cauldron and Tunnel Falls mixed with sections of peaceful and still dragonfly pools. Networks of foot bridges and viewing platforms link a dramatic path parts of which were hewn out of the rock by enthralled Victorians to run right along the side of the gorge so you can walk just above the churning waterfalls and plunging drops. The highlight is the 100ft high White Lady Waterfall that dwarfs the walker as it crashes down the vertical side of the gorge.
To take a full circuit of the gorge adds 3 miles to the walk from Okehampton but you won’t have wasted anything exploring this superb environment and with a tea shop at each end you will be able to recover from the steep ascent and descent into this other world.
Make sure you stay overnight at Lydford and a visit to the Gorge fits perfectly into the end of the shorter days walk from Okehampton.
How did it get here and how does it survive are the two most common questions for anyone making the pilgrimage here. The story of its construction is that of a Seafaring Merchant so grateful at surviving a fearful storm at sea that in thanks to God for protection he promised to build a church on the highest point of ground he could see when he returned to land. You can see this miniature mountain from Plymouth and so the promise was kept and the church constructed during the 12th Century. Its at this point that the usual Dartmoor legends embellish the tale as the Devil infuriated by the plan did his best to stop construction by removing the stones overnight that were laboriously dragged up the 325 ft slopes every day. This it appears delayed the construction project for so long that the Arch Angel Gabriel took control and flinging a rock at the Devil from a nearby Tor managed to hit him right between the horns – he fled the spot and the Church was finished as promised by the Merchant.
That those living there kept returning over 1500 years to build and rebuild is testomony to the power of this location and one can only try to imagine the ceremonies and rituals that took place on this spot.
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