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.
Meirionydd and Snowdonia Coast Path - Route Summary
Distance 60 miles (96 km) extra inland options add 14 miles for those who want more strenuous walking options
Grade Easy 52%, Moderate 33%, Strenuous 15%, Severe 0% - Extra Inland options all strenuous grade - What this means
Is this for you? A varied walk for those that want to be close to the mountains and the ocean. Generally easy but with inland mountain options if you want a challenge. Great mix of beach, forest, coastal marshland & inland hills with bags of Welsh culture & History en route
Highlights Portmerrion Village, mountain steam railways, golden huge unspoilt dunes and sands, superb Snowdonia views, ghostly slate mines, Harlech Castle, Happy Valley & the Bearded Lake!
Terrain Easy footpaths on coastal plains & marshes, sand dunes and sandy beaches. Some inland sections with steeper climbs mainly on good paths and forest tracks. Mountain alternatives more challenging.
Walk the Meirionnydd section of the Wales Coast Path and take a journey through an ancient 5th century Welsh Kingdom, created by Meirion, son of Cunedda King of Gwynedd.
This is a unique section of the 800-mile Wales Coast Path, an untouched, little visited and unspoilt stretch of wild North Wales, linking the long protruding finger of the Lyn Peninsula to the north with the huge cliffs and crags of Ceredigion to the south.
Walking in Meirionnydd, you tread on the very edge of Snowdonia’s coastal mountains, which give the trail its alternative name, The Snowdonia Coast Path. Virtually the whole route has the protection of being within the boundaries of modern-day Snowdonia National Park, but it is a region of the Park set apart from the tourist hotspots around Snowdon itself.
Here, away from the crowds, you can enjoy a daily backdrop of the mountains rising just inland of your route as you follow the coast on your trek through Meirion.
This walk is accessible and enticing for all levels and abilities – the main route offers mainly easy to moderate walking as it hugs the ever-changing coastal strip, but there are more challenging diversions inland including options to get into the mountains, for experienced walkers wanting to push themselves.
Variety - If this route is anything, it is a one of huge variety and diversity. You’ll find yourself wandering through long lost estuarine salt marshes one day then navigating huge deserted dune systems on another. Sometimes the trail is a logging track through dense forest plantation, at other times you’re on the ocean foreshore, tracking wide golden sands.
Peaceful stretches of fertile coastal meadow lead on to dramatic high rolling hillsides, crossed by ancient drovers’ trails. Compared to the other sections of the coast in West Wales, visitor numbers here are low. No sprawling caravan parks along this bit of coast, just empty sands. It’s eternally peaceful, remote and a walk for contemplation, perfect for those who want to pass through a landscape with as little interruption as possible from the modern world.
The only impediments to your progress down the coast are huge snaking estuaries which pour out to sea from the mountains – majestic and glistening beasts offering beautiful inland diversions though deep forested clefts – one is crossed using the iconic 700m wooden railway viaduct at Barmouth while another, at the Dyfi, is so wide and deep that it forces you inland onto the “Panorama Trail” and a day long adventure through the hills and forest of mid-Wales to reach a crossing deep in the interior at Machynlleth.
This remoteness and lack of development ensures a diversity of flora and fauna along the route, with each section attracting different birdlife. Spot waders in the salt marsh, then ringed plover nesting on the shingle beach. Look out for curlew, choughs, guillemot, while inland red kites hover and there is the chance of seeing hunting ospreys and even peregrine falcons.
Unlike the hardy sheep and cattle, which you will spot easily, you’ll be lucky if you see the secretive polecat, otter, badger or fox, but rest assured they are there!
The saltmarsh and dune systems contain rare orchids, fungi, and many species of moths and butterflies. Along the coast are sea-pinks, thrift and gorse while inland there are contrasting sections of peaty moorland, hillside sheep pasture, tall pine forests and ancient oak and beech woodland.
As for humans, this is a land that reveals huge lofty coastal castles, iron age forts, ancient standing stones and ghostly abandoned slate mines – and even an audacious Italianate style village, at Portmeirion. Overnight stops include tiny farming villages on the coastal strip, the fortified outpost of Harlech with its iconic castle, hidden fishing harbours and coastal towns.
This section of the Coast Path is unique as there are virtually no coastal cliffs. (For these just keep on walking into Ceredigion!) It’s a route that works well for those who don’t like sheer drops and the endless climbs and descents that characterise coastal Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.
The tiny and iconic Cambrian Coast Welsh railway loosely tracks the coast with its single carriage trains, offering options to split or shorten longer sections or to spend multiple nights in one place if you wish.
For those who like a challenge to their walking however, the inland diversions provide more variety with this walk than any other coastal route. Experienced walkers who love solitude and wilderness can elect to climb high into the Rhinog range to conquer the lonely “pass of the drovers” or take an extra day at the end of the walk to climb and conquer one of the most iconic and loved mountains in Wales, Cadair Idris.
So, leave the summer Mount Snowdon circus to the other visitors and enjoy the blissful isolation on a walk into a pre-medieval kingdom, along a mesmerising coastal corridor tracking the very edge of Wales, from the foothills of mighty Snowdonia to the peaceful forest and hills of its interior.
Watch the video below for a taste of what the route has to offer.
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