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 miles Moderate Grade Walking but with some strenuous sections from Druidstone to Newgale beach and again from north of Newgale Village to Solva - what these grades mean.
Summary - A change to more mountainous climbs and descents with strenuous sections where you cut through hidden valleys and coves. A two mile section of wide golden sands to break this up at Newgale.
The Pembrokeshire Coastal Path climbs steeply from Broad Haven Sands above the two rock arches at Den’s Door but once the cliff tops are reached enjoy commanding views back as far as Skomer Island and forward towards the lure of St David's Head. Beneath your feet, the cliffs here are some of the most fractured and unstable on the whole Welsh Coast Path. Witness the huge landslip at Black Point where the rocks tumble often as you watch.
You pass a huge scrubland undercliff section broken loose below the coast path and soon to descend in a huge landslide to the ocean below taking the last mounds of its Iron Age Cliff fort to a watery end. At the Haroldstone Chins Rocks, the geology changes again and far older and smaller fractures pattern a cliff face drenched in rich green lichen a sign of how clean and pure the air is here.
The Pembrokeshire Coastal Path pushes inland around Druidstone Villa's, dropping to sea level past a space aged grass roofed 'Eco House' built into the high backed Dunes and mischievously renamed as the “Tellytubby House” by the locals. Druidstone Haven has a beautifully remote feel around it with its small stream tumbling down to the beach from the mountainous dunes above.
Follow it to explore the beach here with its fine pinnacles and immaculate sands.
It’s a touch disappointing to note that Druidstone has nothing to do with mystical men in white robes and beards. Drue was actually one of the Norman Knights who took this place as his own.
At the inlet of Nolton Haven, a narrow break in the cliffs opens up into a huge coliseum like cove that stretches back to a tiny hamlet, little more now than a pub and a church. Yet 200 years ago it was a major harbour for shipping out coal mined between here and Newgale; what has not been lost is the most amazing view out to sea from its secret inlet.
The next section to Newgale is on rather mountainous trail, climbing through a rocky landscape of heather and bracken passing Ricketts Head. A monster sized peaked stack that nature has somehow left behind, isolated and detached from both sea and cliff. The Pembrokeshire Coastal Path then takes what feels like an impossibly steep route up the cliff face to pass around the obstruction.
Signs of Human activity reappear at the long disused colliery at Trefane Cliff with its spoil heaps, engine shed ruins and lonely crumbling red brick chimney. Similar to the Cornish Tin Mines, deep shafts and narrow galleries were driven 100m out below the sea floor here; leaky subterranean mining that was the most dangerous occupation of the time.
Dropping to the immense beach at Newgale, you now reach the most immaculate sands in the Pembrokeshire National Park, opening out a breathtaking two miles before you to the next mountainous range at the top of St Brides Bay. You enjoy the first level walk of the day on wide sands under huge skies. It’s a beautiful and immense feeling of open space to enjoy.
The back of the beach is lined by a huge pebble ridge created by the last Ice Age; it’s the Welsh equivalent of Dorset’s Chesil beach which you have to scramble over if you want to visit The Duke of Edinburgh Inn, relocated here in 1896 after its original beach side incarnation was literally washed away by the tides.
Culturally, this is a hugely significant spot as you cross Brandy Brook and the much talked of Landsker line which historically split the English speaking area of Wales in the south from the Welsh Language areas of the North.
Everything before this little stream, place names, towns and castles was dominated by the Norman invaders giving it the nickname of Little England beyond Wales.
Having crossed the brook, you reach the raw, untainted Celtic Wales and you immediately notice the prevalence of Welsh place names and culture from here on.
As if the Welsh Coast Path senses the Landsker, it immediately throws up strenuous climbing and descending through the Cwn Mawr valley and the start of the more mountainous scenery of the Northern Pembrokeshire Coast Path, all heather slopes and rocky outcrops rising inland of your route.
On your seaward side is the impressive natural arch at Ogof Felen and the imposing sight of Dinas Fach the first of two huge isthmuses before Solva that protrude out into the ocean like a pair of drinking dragon’s heads, this one with a huge blowhole at its tip adding to the effect. Its twin is the long snaking ridge of Dinas Fawr which hardy prospectors would inch along looking for Welsh Silver deposits.
Those today looking for adventure "Striding Edge" style, can head out along its narrow backboned ridge to get superb views over the ocean. It’s not for the faint hearted however, with sheer drops on both sides hundreds of feet to the ocean.
For the rest of us, the coast path into Solva descends to the idyllic cove at Gwadn on a delightfully wide grassy trail, a relief after those narrow cliff edge paths. Gwadn is one of those heavenly spots sitting at the end of a classic 'U'-shaped glacial valley with carpets of Violets, Squills and Seapinks creating a colourful patchwork with the ever present bright yellow gorse.
A perfect little pebble ridge rises at the back of the hidden cove overlooking a little wooden “trolls” bridge that the walker uses to ford the valleys stream.
Today’s final hurdle is the knife edged Gribbin ridge that divides the two deep meltwater valleys and then reveals the twisting dog leg harbour of Solva below you that rightly lays claim to be the prettiest harbour on The Pembrokeshire Coast Path. It’s all the better for your dramatic arrival descending through woodland above scores of sheltering yachts and fishing boats to reach the still waters at an impressive batch of 10 castle like Lime Kilns.
Overnight stops and facilities in the harbour village of Solva on the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path South
Map of all
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