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 8.5 miles Grade - Moderate with some strenuous sections in the undercliff section - what these grades mean
With a break from the cliff top views it’s the serene River Axe Estuary flanked by flocks of curlew, sandpipers and egret that is crossed this morning using the Old Toll Bridge, the former Toll Gates no more - burnt on the beaches by the fed up locals at the turn of the last century. The bulk of today’s walk then is truly unique through one of the most unusual terrains of the entire South West Coast Path as it enters the Downlands Undercliff.
A National Nature Reserve since 1955 of over 800 acres, this is a jungle-like untouched land where the geology and the scrub vegetation has literally run riot following the Christmas Day landslip of 1839 when the land slipped towards the sea after storms. For those living here at the time a huge section of coastline literally fell off the end of their world, apparently leaving a “terrible devil like stench of brimstone in its wake (!)”. Overnight an 800m long abyss appeared, so dramatic that a new island was formed by it which the terrified locals named Goat Island.
The final miles of the Devon Coast Path twists and turns through the maze like tunnels of undergrowth beside the chasm in a land home to over 80 species of bird and unique in the fauna found here. Virtually untouched by man for over 150 years, badgers, foxes and roe deer roam free through ivy covered ash, sycamore and hazel which in turn fight with areas of thick fern and gorse.
It’s a bizarre walk with periodic views from the jungle opening out onto a twisted, contorted and untouched coastline that is all but impossible to get down to. Eventually you exit the dark undercliff to emerge above the coastline with views now of the new challenges ahead on the horizon towards the mountainous “Golden Cap” and panoramas as far as the Isle of Portland.
A final descent today brings you to Lyme Regis with its 13th Century crescent shaped harbour wall – The Cob – probably the simplest and most atmospheric harbour Quay along this coast. It’s where the Duke of Monmouth arrived in 1685 though these days better known as the spot where The French Lieutenants Woman stood and stared out to sea in John Fowles’ tale. Jane Austen based Persuasion on the town, though amongst the many fossil hunters who arrive here today it is Mary Anning the local girl who lived, collected and inspired generations of scavengers from here who was the most famous resident. She worked tirelessly on her finds unearthing countless fossil gems including the first complete plesiosaur in 1824. The Lyme Regis Museum, like the town, is full of fossil information and guided fossil hunts can be arranged from here and in the Land of the Fossil at the heart of the Jurassic coast it’s hard to avoid getting swept up in the Fossil Fever with a speculative wander along the beaches and rock pools nearby.
Overnight Stops in Lyme Regis on the South West Coast Path
Map of all
for this walk
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