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 - 13 miles - Grade: Easy walking with a few moderate sections - what these grades mean
Overinght stops in Brixham before you start your South West Coast Path Adventure
Torbay or not Torbay that is the question!
The walk today takes you round the blue waters and 20 odd beaches of the semi circular Torbay. Everyone it seems has an image of Torquay – often rather unfairly that of Fawlty Towers or an Agatha Christie inspired retirement home and for those hell bent on rushing past this section then summer ferries link Brixham with Torquay along with plenty of local buses so you can miss it out and start at Day 2. But our view? Those prepared to keep an open mind should walk the path and will be surprised, enjoying a stimulating introduction and rather amusing wander.
Torbay is as much a part of the history and scenery of the South Devon Coastline as the rocks and stacks to come and to miss it out is to lose this context to the path. Walk it and you will get in an easy first day walking but still cover a respectable 13 miles which will set you up well for the remoter sections of path beyond Torbay. What you won’t be expecting is to spend parts of the day passing through impressive rocky outcrops, ornamental coastal gardens and parks, gentle azure coloured bays backed with golden sands and appealing continental looking seascapes. Whilst there is a section along the seafront between Paignton and Torquay Harbour, this in itself has much to amuse as you follow the Agatha Christie Mile and watch those heading down Paignton Pier a true British Seaside Institution. Away from this short section are the great vistas of Torbay heralded as the English Riviera by those who were destined to miss the Grand Tour of Europe by the Napoleonic Wars and the charm of the place lined by elegant Georgian mansions and mock Italian villas is without doubt best entered by, encountered through and left behind by those walking through it on the coast path.
Overnight stops in Torquay before you start your South West Coast Path Walking Holiday
For those ready to walk round the bay you leave the Statue of William of Orange guarding the busy fishing harbour at Brixham before taking the Devon Coastal Path through the old gun placements at Battery Gardens in an area with huge naval significance running from the Spanish Armada through to D Day – pause to learn more at the Brixham Battery Heritage Centre just off the path. Pleasant wooded descents this morning through The Grove bring gentle cliff climbs and falls through pretty beaches at Churlston Cove and over the shingle bank lining Elberry Cove. Churlston Point opens out into wide grassy expanses with the first grand views of Torbay leading the walker over Broadsands Beach to follow the steam railway line from Dartmouth into Goodrington Sands now passing through the first set of lush ornamental gardens clinging around the red cliffs of Roundham Head.
Into bustling Paignton esplanade which will bring a smile with its classic English Pier a town based on salt marsh, sand dunes..... and cabbages before more welcoming seaside gardens are entered at Hollicome Park. The tarmac promenade into Torquay harbour is quick and straightforward alongside sandy beaches at times or on the sea wall. Historic Torre Abbey provides an interesting diversion through grassy open spaces just off the main sands, this place is now a museum and art gallery - originally founded back in 1196 and a former “home” for prisoners from the Spanish Armada – today an oasis of calm in the centre of Torquay and a great lunch stop.
Rock Walk brings more palm gardens as you reach the impressive cosmopolitan harbour and marina of modern Torquay crossing the Millennium Footbridge to pass the D Day launching point at Beacon Quay. For those who want to know more about the coastline drop in here at the Torquay Living Coasts Centre packed with information on the coastline to come with a superb aviary of coastal birdlife which will help with your identification of the wildfowl on future days.
Overnight Stops at Torquay - South West Coast Path
Your short urban encounter over, the Devon Coast Path now starts to climb and fall through more coastal gardens and grassy lookout plateaus such as Daddyhole (Devils Hole) Plain while offshore stands impressive Thatchers Rock and other pinnacles leading the walker onwards to the stunning Hopes Nose Rocks. You now follow the Bishops Walk sanctioned for its views by the Bishop of Exeter back in 1840 so he could look to sea over the Ore Stone where you will spot Devon’s largest Kittiwake colony. Now enter high level woodland at Black Head and the jagged rocky headlands at Anstey’s Cove before a steep wooded path brings you to the twin beaches at Babbacombe and Oddicombe where the route uses a run of wooden cliff bridges and walkways to reach the famous 240ft cliff railway which scythes its way through the line of dark red, tree covered cliffs. With good accommodation options away from the bustle of Torquay spend your first night in the wooded coves of North Torbay with good dining options and pleasant views before you start the switchback climbing on the trail tomorrow.
Overnight Stops at Babbacombe on the South West Coast Path
Map of all
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