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.
41 miles via Lands End and Britain’s most westerly point with the option to return on the St Michaels Way to complete the Lands End Circle
It's said that Lands End is both the beginning and the end of Great Britain and this world class walk takes you there and back again passing through both ancient and modern Cornish Culture on the way. Walking into the heart of the regions remote and windswept mining past start on the most isolated section of the 630 mile South West coast Path tracking the relentless, restless seas around Lands End before moving into the contrast of perfect golden sands and turquoise waters in the sheltered lush valleys and coves on southern sections en route to Penzance.Trail Introduction
To understand the existence of the Cornish Coast Path every walker should try to engage with the county’s mining and fishing history. Tin and copper prospecting has gone on here for 2000 years and the scars and relics of these struggles are now a protected world heritage site. Magnificent Coastal Scenery, ancient Bronze Age fields and high moorland are punctured by a stream of breathtaking mining ruins that simply cling and hang off the sheer cliffs above the turbulent Atlantic. Much of this industrial archaeology is freely wandered through on the South West Coast Path sections of which were made by the boot steps of the tinners and miners of old. For those who want to head even further into the past short detours off the path take in unique stone circles, ancient standing stones, colossal stone slab burial quoits and inhospitable Bronze Age cliff castles prolific amongst the gorse and heather moorland and tumbling cliffs.
For the adventurous walker the Coast Path avoids nothing. On a strenuous but exhilarating journey you will be scaling mighty cliff tops, descending to hidden smuggling coves and spending your nights inland in remote and real Cornish communities whose traditions and history are entwined with the harsh realities of life above and below these dramatic granite moors and restless seascapes.
An important area for migrating birds this peninsular is the first they find after thousands of miles of flying over the ocean, and exhausted and unusual visiting birds arrive here to mix with yellow hammer, goldfinch, buzzard, curlew, falcons, and kestrels. Out at sea due to its remoteness, this is the most common section of the coast path for spotting seals, basking sharks, porpoise and dolphin pods.
Mediterranean coloured seas wash in and out of sandy coves, blankets of wild flowers frame the trail, the ghosts of the successes and failures of the tinners mix with the legends of mermaid sirens and hooting cairns, such a feast of magnificent natural beauty and remarkable human drama in just four days walking is probably impossible to beat.
Watch a play above the sea in a theatre hewn out of the cliffs, go underground in a disused mine shaft or to explore an ancient burial chamber by torchlight. Take a Surfing lesson at the ultimate Cornish surfing beach or just do no more than wander at your leisure through it all tracing struggle and survival as you complete your own journey to the end of Cornwall........ and on to the start of the rest of the world.
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