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 - 9.5 miles Moderate Grade Walking, with a short Strenuous section in the Brandy Bay area - what these grades mean
Summary - Mainly higher level cliff top walking with occasional diversions in and out of valleys and a beautiful section of rare coastal woodland on the descent to Broad Haven.
From Musslewick Bay, the Pembrokeshire Coast Path traverses the cliff tops to Nab Head passing the immense pinnacle at Tower Point, that sits like a Giant Chess Piece drenched with nesting and fishing sea birds. This is an ancient headland, occupied by Hunter Gatherers 9000 years ago and over 40,000 flint and bead items were unearthed here during excavations.
The Pembrokeshire Coast Path tracks the sturdy buttressed walls of the nearby St Brides Castle estate built by the Barons of Kensington no less, and there are good views inland of the castle. An unusually gentle descent passes along lowering cliffs sliced at regular intervals by deep “zawns” or chasms that force the walker into a toothlike profile to reach the sands at St Brides Haven.
An atmospheric and isolated hamlet, it’s little more than a couple of fisherman's cottages set in a picture postcard inlet at the foot of the Castles fields. Named after the 5th Century Irish Saint Brigid of Kildare, her tiny Church looks out wistfully to sea past a row of huge Celtic Crosses.
The older chapel that was taken over as a Salting House by the fisherman, has long since been washed into the sea but the eerie remains of the coffin stones where its graveyard once stood still remain, poking out from colourful red cliffs by the bays limekiln. The fisherman having been buried here, returned to the ocean one final time.
After the calm of St Brides, the Wild Coast Returns as The Pembrokeshire Coast Path climbs once again onto a high cliff run attacked by seemingly endless savage cuts from the sea. Deep zawns, sea chasms and the occasional waterfall tumbles onto the rocks below you.
Watch out here for two ad hoc rock sculptures from the artist Alain Ayers, including the large holed stone, one of his “Eyes of the sea” that you can use to glare through over the ocean to the craggy off shore island of Stack Rock. Mill Haven interrupts the high stuff with a sharp descent into a deep hidden valley, before more strenuous climbing above a run of huge coves at Dutch Gin and Brandy Bay. No need to explain what activity was going on in these hidden coves, though it’s hard to fathom how anyone could get their bounty back up these sheer cliffsides.
The Pembrokeshire Coast path draws a switchback route around these jagged intrusions, the final two inlets so deep and narrow that you can hardly see the bottom and the local tale is that anyone who does descend them goes straight to hell itself.
Brandy Bay is the highlight, a huge volcanic amphitheatre of dizzy heights that has you gazing down on boiling white waters far below the path, whilst you teeter around the chasms narrow upper lip.
Safely past the smugglers traps, things get easier and at the summit crag at Ticklas Point enjoy the natural rock "bed", perfectly positioned on the edge of the cliff where you can lie down undisturbed by the modern world and drink in superb views East to Broad Haven and north to wild St David's Head.
The final barrier to the back of St Brides Bay is the huge Brough Head Cliffs and its as if the Coast Line finally gives up on torturing the walker.
On the other sheltered side, you descend to a completely different world, with a tranquil azure bay cloaked in rich ancient woodland, often harbouring a couple of sheltering yachts far below.
Not having seen a tree of any significance since before St Anne's Head it’s a bit of a revelation and a carefree descent from here, rediscovering bluebells and songbirds amongst the ancient beech, oak and pine trees almost Mediterranean after the harshness of the outer West Coast.
Breaking out of the thick woodland, Little Haven lies just below and you arrive on the little stone pier that guards this tiny cove. A pretty village, more like Cornwall than Pembrokeshire, with its stacked coloured cottages and welcoming brace of pubs.
Then, one last climb and descent to Broad Haven Beach and an abrupt return to the 21st Century amongst the surfers and Sand kite flyers on its wide golden sands, the roar of the waves, a constant backdrop during your stay as they crash up the beach to meet you.
Overnight stops in the villages of Broad Haven and Little Haven on the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path
Map of all
for this walk
Go to top
Company Registered in England No: 8227323
VAT Registration No: 138 8656 68