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.
Pembrokeshire Coast Path South | Pembrokeshire Coast Path West | Pembrokeshire Coast Path North | Walking Short Breaks
Distance - 186 miles across the Gwlad hud a lledrith - “The Land of Magic and Enchantment.”
Introduction - Through the last two centuries of Welsh history, Pembrokeshire has been quite simply the Holy land at the Western End of the Celtic world. A wonderful and mysterious extremity defiantly facing the full fury of the Atlantic Ocean that has given “The land of Magic” a revered status, for not only the Welsh, but also for the invaders and crusaders that tried to control and tame this isolated, unique and exposed western outpost of mainland Britain.
For the Walker today, the Pembrokeshire National Park is a place where you can leave behind the pressures of the modern world to unwind and relax in a remote haven on the very edge of where the land ends and the sea begins.
Pounded by mighty Atlantic Swells yet faithfully clinging to the edge of soaring cliffs and enticing bays, the Pembrokeshire Coast Path covers the entire length of the only Coastline National Park in the UK.
It embraces this land's diversity by revealing almost every kind of maritime landscape on the way. At every step on The Pembrokeshire Coast Path, you are with the restless ocean, around every corner a surprise emerges from this ruptured coastline of explosive blowholes, cathedral like rock arches, hidden sea caves, windswept dunes and sheltered glacial estuaries.
As the miles pass by so does history itself as you encounter ancient burial chambers, windswept Castle ramparts and chains of imposing Napoleonic Forts.
You discover the remains of a unique and proud industrial past preserved in the old quays, mines and quarries along the route. Walking South to North, you leave the historical influence of the English and Norman invaders behind at the mighty headland pincers of St Brides Bay, to enter the very Welshness of the wilder Celtic homelands in the North.
At night in The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, expect to rest in hidden fishing villages nestled in deep green valleys, beneath towering Norman Coastal Castles in historic medieval towns or simply gazing over wide broad golden sands in perfect crescent shaped bays. A walkers odyssey, in two weeks of wandering, The Pembrokeshire Coast Path will lead you into pure air, clean seas and forgotten corners. Past no less than 58 stunning beaches and over 14 unique harbours. You will climb 35,000ft on the way, well over the height of Mount Everest, in a glorious run of short steep ascents and descents from the hidden coves to the towering cliffs, a huge twisting and relentless Celtic Coastal rollercoaster
For those wanting to discover the cultural context, the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path is a dramatic trail through time and culture itself. Walk past lonely Cromlechs (burial chambers), Megalithic standing stones, and over 40 long forgotten Iron Age cliff fortresses. This is an area whose prehistoric history dates right back to the huge bluestone Menhirs used to build Stonehenge that were somehow dragged from their remote location in the rolling Preseli Hills. How and why remains one of the greatest mysteries of the human world.
Throughout your walk you will encounter medieval churches and tiny chapels, many set up by the early sea fairing Saints at a time when this corner of Wales was the very centre of the Celtic World linking Ireland, Cornwall and Brittany with the development of Christianity in the UK.
In the footsteps of St David and St Patrick, you will make the same coastal pilgrimage to the 6th Century Holy town of St Davids, the smallest “City” in the United Kingdom, with its breathtaking Cathedral and Bishops Palace set in the most unlikely and heavenly peninsula location.
Elsewhere on this section of The Wales Coast Path, you will be in the shadow of the huge and impressive Norman Coastal Castles, a legacy of Pembrokeshire's fluid past, as a battleground of cultures and conflicts between Celts, Vikings, Normans and the English. From the modern age, other twists in the path will reveal imposing Victorian Forts, Royal Navel Dockyards and the tunnels, quays and quarries from the areas industrial Archaeology when this coast was part one segment of the worlds most famous Coalface.
The sheer inaccessibility of the Pembrokeshire Coast Paths rocky stacks and offshore islands mean that this is the only UK National Trail that links some of the worlds largest breeding sites for migratory and sea birds. Huge deafening colonies of Manx Shearwaters, Cormorants and Razorbills swirl in feathered clouds on the offshore islands of Skomer and Skokholm and you can expect glimpses of rarer birds such as Choughs, Puffins and Peregrine Falcons.
Undisturbed by the human interference and protected from their usual predators by the sheer inaccessibility of the high cliffs, and volcanic headlands, sea birds thrive in unprecedented numbers here in designated Marine Nature Reserves.
The aquatic life is rich with the seas open to the mighty Atlantic Ocean and as you walk in Pembrokeshire, you will be witness to the power of one of the highest tidal ranges in the world.
Gaze from the heights of the cliff tops into the azure blue waters, and you will see the largest Grey Seal colonies in Southern Britain along with the chance to spot pods of porpoises, dolphins and for the lucky even passing whales and basking sharks. On land, a lack of intensive modern farming in long forgotten corners of the Pembrokeshire National Park results in healthy populations of protected species that are difficult to find elsewhere in Wales.
The Pembrokeshire Coast Path supports the rare Adder snake, Horseshoe Bats and Glow Worms whilst Grey Squirrel and wild deer are present in the southern Pembrokeshire woodlands.
Uncommon Butterflies including the grizzled skipper are attracted to the protected coastal meadows, dunes and salt marshes which are a vibrant explosion of purple heathers and bright yellow gorse.
Add to this mix the carpets of wildflowers and rarer orchids that transform the Welsh Coastal Park here into a riot of colour during the spring months.
In the UK, only Cornwall, or the very North of Scotland can come close to the coastal magnificence experienced by those who visit Pembrokeshire, but even they can no longer compete with the overall challenge of the full 850 miles of Welsh Coast Path. If you can’t undertake it all, then head for Pembrokeshire and walk the original inspiration for this incredible walk on its most dramatic section through the Gwlad hud a lledrith.
CLICK HERE to see the detailed walking information for the South Section from Amroth to Milford Haven
CLICK HERE to see the detailed walking information for the West Section from Milford Haven to St Davids
CLICK HERE to see the detailed walking information for the North Section from St David's to St Dogmaels
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