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 36 miles coast to coast Grade Mainly Moderate to Strenuous with some Severe grade exposed and open moorland - what these grades mean
Created and developed by Cornishman Frank Squibb in the spring of 1994 this is Cornwall’s best and most challenging coast to coast walking route and for experienced walkers it can be combined with the Saints Way and the South West Coast Path to give Cornwall's most varied week of walking in the 100 mile circular challenge.
Not only linking two coastlines, inland you also top the highest points in ancient the ancient county of Kernow (Cornwall) on the wild and imposing tor of Brown Willy and the eerie rock sculptures of Rough Tor both high on the bleak and mysterious expanse of Bodmin Moor.
The Smugglers Way takes you down forgotten drove roads and ancient lanes mixed with testing sections of wild and open moorland walking. Either side of Bodmin Moor deserted, hidden river trails follow stunning and unspoilt forested valleys and pasture as you follow the waters gushing off the high ground and charging down to the sea.
Start with an overnight in the busting Cornish South Coast fishing port of Looe and end by exploring the stunning natural fjord like harbour at Boscastle. In between a highlight is a stay in one of Cornwall’s most remote and atmospheric locations at the infamous and dramatic Jamaica Inn of Daphne du Maurier fame high on Bodmin Moor.
The route is not short on the unusual either, prepare to walk down an abandoned WW2 runway, tramp the foreshore of King Arthur’s burial lake, spend a night with a variety of moorland ghosts, pass locations from Thomas Hardy's poems and whilst you might not be (un)lucky enough to meet up with the infamous wild cat, the “beast of Bodmin”, you will be wandering through otter, deer, buzzard and kingfisher country all the way.
WALKERS NOTE: Whilst much of the route follows footpaths, bridleways and back lanes there is no specific National Trail route marking. Sections around the Bodmin Moor Tors can be challenging walking on open moorland with no facilities or even footpaths in some sections. The moorland is best suited to experienced walkers with good map reading skills. Backed up with the accurate line maps of the Smugglers Way Guide book this will see you through in clear weather but if you head out in poor visibility the additional ability to be able to use compass bearings is then a must.
SO…….If you prefer your walking to be well signposted, well travelled and with regular facilities click look at sections on the Cornish Coast Path instead. If on the other foot you are stirred by the thought of undertaking more of a challenge, are motivated by something different away from the crowds and want to push yourself to unearth the unusual and the remote…. then read on!
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