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: 12 miles - Grade: Mainly Moderate with some strenuous sections - what these grades mean
Today make the border crossing into the North Devon Coast at “County Gate” passing through grand estates, a unique cottage church and some ever more challenging walking on route to an overnight in the enchanting seaside village of Lynmouth.
Leave Porlock behind with a gentle ramble zig zagging through Yearnor Woods and looking carefully for Lord Lovelace’s follies poking out from the oak, pine and holly.
As you navigate up the slopes above Culbone Rocks you enter the former leper Colony where the afflicted worked the woods by burning charcoal.
Pause to enter the colony's diminutive Culbone Church officially the smallest and perhaps most secluded in England, ancient oak pews crammed into a space only 35 feet by 12 feet and holding a maximum of 30 people it’s been here since the doomsday book and had its own Lepers window for those who were not let in.
Rounding Sugarloaf hill you move into the beautiful mixed woodlands of the Glenthorne Estate where several choices of path allow you to wander deeper through Victorian rhododendrons and a Pinetum, past stone pillars capped with wild boar heads, trout lakes and even a tunnelled ice house hidden under huge towering 100 feet pines.
Take lunch down to hidden Glenthorne Beach past the remains of the estate's jetty and boathouse.
There is plenty to see on route including the slate cross marking the cairn & spring known as sisters fountain, locally said to mark the holy spot that Joseph of Arimathea drank from on his way to Glastonbury whilst another short diversion from the coast path takes in the Roman Fort high on the open grasslands at Old Burrow Hill
In the afternoon you cross a seemingly endless run of youthful bubbling streams rushing and cascading through gorse, heather and scree slopes before they drop to the ocean far below.
The walking and the place names get noticeably wilder as you negotiate the steep coombes and valleys of Dogsworthy and Desolation Point. Woodland recedes for open cliff path passing the lonely lighthouse at Foreland Point - the Devon Coast's most northerly point before you end a satisfying day descending from the cliffs of Butter Hill to cross the bubbling River Lyn chasm to arrive in the Victorian “Gorge resort” of Lynmouth.
Overnight stops in Lynmouth on the South West Coast Path
Map of all
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