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 11.5 miles - Grade - Moderate - what this grade means
This morning a gentle walk out to Cape Cornwall the only "Cape" in England. Watch for pods of dolphins, sharks, seals and views across to the Scilly Isles. For many years this was claimed as England’s most westerly spot until newer measurements shifted the crown down to Lands End. The South West Coast Path has now been rerouted around the headland allowing the walker a great detour up to visit the little ruined chapel and long mighty chimney atop of the headland . Built for the mine but creating too strong a draft to be useable it has remained as a vivid landmark to shipping. Off shore the Brisons Rocks notorious for shipwrecks were used as particularly remote prison in previous times. After passing tranquil Cape Priests Hole with its handful of lobster boats and open bathing pool in the rocks, your climb high on to the cliff tops is rewarded with Bollowall Barrow. A spectacular set of excavated Neolithic stone chambers over 3 metres high which would have been a shrine or tomb for the dead with a small entrance grave on the west side that overlooks the dramatic seas. Invariably local Legends speak of little people (fairies) dancing around the barrow on moonlit nights true or not it’s certainly a wild and dramatic place to be buried.
Dropping back to sea level cross the amazing large round boulders from the surreal fossilised beach at Porthnanven better known as Dinosaur Egg Beach before leaving lush Cot Valley on another climb up and up through heather and gorse past gaping mine shafts in the cliffs now homes to colonies of bats. Pass the Natural Rock Arch at Progo Poreth Ogo “the cove of the hole” after which glimpses of the mile long golden sands at Whitesand Bay spur you on down the cliffs.
At the end of the beach walk is the legendry surfers Mecca Sennen Cove. Still cited by many as Cornwall’s best beach it’s well serviced with refreshments and has an air of tranquillity being sandwiched between the pounding seas at Cape Cornwall and Lands End.
Overnight stops in Sennen Cove on the South West Coast Path
As Lands End looms towering cliffs look out to The Irish lady a striking offshore rock said to be named after a sole wreck survivor who made it to the rocks offshore before she slipped back into the deep exhausted and was washed ashore. The rocks get more dramatic, The Armed Knight, Dr Syntax Head and Sharks Fin and finally, Lands end with its fantastic views towards the Longships Lighthouses and the rest of the world beyond. You have probably heard groans about the “Lands End Experience" the commercial and crowded tourist trap just inland from here. Sure it’s a bottleneck but most of its visitors don’t wander outside the “theme park” and they can’t take away the significance of this being the end of Cornwall and the start of the rest of the world. Watch for the seals converging on the rocks below the lighthouse particularly at the end of the summer when they breed, offshore dolphins, porpoises and basking sharks are often spotted and in the air Shags, Fulmars, jackdaws or maybe peregrine falcons and choughs. It’s a dramatic spot.
Onto softer golden sands passing the remains of a water wheel, the natural arch at Tol Pedn Penwith (the holed headland of Penwith) and huge nautical landmarks on route to Porthgwarra where a paved tunnel has been hand drilled by miners through a huge boulder to reach the shore, Above the remains of the Capstan two man made caves poke out of the rock like searching cliff face eyes. More idyllic beach at Porth Chapel where you can pause to see St Levans Holy Well and todays final scene is perhaps the most dramatic as you reach the Minack Theatre hewn out of the cliffs above Porthcurno
Overnight stops in Porthcurno on the South West Coast Path
Map of all
for this walk
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