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 13 miles - Grade - Generally Moderate grade with some easy lane sections - what these grades mean
After the Saints Way splits below Lanivet on this eastern option you find yourself passing just below Helmans Tor and a climb to the summit is a must. The only Tor in this area of Cornwall it’s a dramatic wind swept and breathtaking spot. Immense boulder stacks and statues litter the summit at 680 feet.
On a good day you can see coast to coast and your whole route Padstow to Fowey is laid out below you, it has an other worldly feel to it in amongst the granite crags and you can still see some evidence of the 6000 year old Neolithic Settlement that existed here.
The twisted formations here are every bit as good as the Dartmoor Tors and its a place to explore and sit and contemplate the world as the view is 360 degrees - look for its Logan Stone a huge granite wind sculptured boulder so weathered that it rocks if pushed
From the Tor you join the Ridgeway another former drover’s lane with superb views off the hill crest as you follow this ancient trader’s lane into the charming village of Lanlivery. The Church is particularly impressive here with a tower over 100ft high specifically built so it could be easily spotted from sea as an inland marker for the Fowey Estuary.
Lanlivery was the last overnight for the drovers and their sheep and cattle in days gone by. A last place of safety before they dropped into the wilder Fowey valley to herd the livestock on downriver to the ships in Fowey Harbour 8 miles distant. Close by and reached by a short path is the stone clad Holy Well of St Bryvyth the first of two you will pass today.
Overnights at Lanlivery on the East Leg of the Saints Way route.
You are now passing above the ancient Stannary Town of Lostwithiel in the middle ages this was the capital of Cornwall and today is an option for an overnight stop with more facilities and exploring opportunities for those walking on the 3 day Saints Way break
Overnights at Lostwithiel on the East Leg of the Saints Way route.
The Saints Way now passes through the remote sounding “no mans land” before dropping from the high ground into the fertile and rather secret valley of the River Fowey just south of Lostwithiel. At first talking the now virtually disused old road to Fowey you pass timeless hamlets at Milltown and Lantyan the settlement here said to be on the site of The Palace of King Mark from the legend of Tristan and Iseult and Daphne du Maurier’s Castle Dor Novel uses locations all the way along this section to Fowey in its retelling of the ancient tragedy.
With stunning views across the Fowey creeks and inlets you continue on towards the village of Golant, passing by the Church of St Sampson before dropping to the river foreshore, a superbly preserved church with carved oak beams, some entertaining stained glass depictions and the Holy Well of St Sampson by the church door, still used today for water for christenings .
Golant is a real find, a stunning and unusual harbour village full of brightly coloured little boats The Fishermans Arms is a true waterside pub with views from its terrace over the river you won’t want to leave.
Very cut off from the main routes the village really does feel lost to the wider world, a hidden harbour 3 miles inland with no sign of the sea at all. Instead rolling wooded creeks line the rivers edge and the walk now climbs through the bracken and gorse with superb views of the glistening waters below you as you descend into a hidden creek at the Old Sawmill now an A List recording studio only accessible by boat from the water or on foot.
One more climb finally brings you to the northern edge of Fowey and still flanking the river you emerge into this beautiful natural harbour flanked on one side with its shops, restaurants, boats and ferries, enjoy the satisfaction of having crossed the county coast to coast – from one bustling fishing harbour to another.
Overnight stops in Fowey at the end of your Saints Way adventure
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