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.
The Highlights - Jaw dropping gorges, caves and rocky ravines in the Mendips, walk where Exmoor National Park literally falls into the ocean on the South West Coast Path. Journey in the footsteps of the Romantic Poets on The Coleridge Way, visit vast wetlands with some of the UK’s best birdwatching, New Age Glastonbury, Cheddar Gorge, historical Wells and the beautifully compact Quantock Hills.
View our Map of Somerset Walking Routes to choose your Somerset walking holiday.
So how would we describe Somerset to walkers ? Try Diverse, Secret …and Special!
More than any other region of the South West, Somerset offers the walker a kaleidoscope of walking scenery and experiences - quite simply this is one of England's finest and unspoilt landscapes and if you want to avoid the crowds heading to Devon and Cornwall walk here.
Within its 40 miles of coastal walking you can climb along the heather-clad hogsback hills of Exmoor National Park at the point they plunge into the ocean, enter remote and dense wetlands, marvel at empty beaches strewn with fossils and complete the second longest stretch of sands in Europe.
Turning inland, stretching almost from the beaches you can link into two unique and wildly different walking ridge routes along The Mendip and the Quantock Hills – Both stand glaring in defiant opposition to each other rising abruptly above the lush patchwork quilt of the Somerset Levels – often draped in rolling mists below your feet as you walk, these are the ancient marshes of Avalon
To walk along the spine of the Mendips is to traverse a breezy limestone plateau of hills and valleys riddled with open caves, ravines, other- worldly rock formations and the deepest gorge in the UK
In the Quantocks, you are travelling through the first recognised Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the UK. A unique place where dense bracken and deep forest clad combes cut through an escarpment landscape that was beloved by and inspired the Romantic Poets.
Overnight stays range from the sleepy thatched villages of cider country to fascinating medieval market towns, remote moorland villages, and tranquil fishing harbours.
Somerset’s central location is also a major bonus for walkers and with a busy international airport at Bristol and trains from London taking less than 2 hours you are out and on your walk while the rest are still travelling west with the crowds to reach the better known trails.
Walking through Time – Walks here come with a real sense of the passage of time and a rich evolving human heritage. It's history dating from the dawn of time itself with caves that revealed the oldest human cave skeletons amongst the bones of hyena, mammoth and cave bears.
Onto the magic and mystery of Avalon and King Arthur which then blends into the Medieval as you walk in the shadow of Dunster's fairy tale castle or pass the mighty Gothic Cathedral at Wells surrounded by cobbled streets.
At Glastonbury complete the ancient pilgrimage to climb the iconic Glastonbury Tor and visit the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey - the centre of early Christianity and the resting place of King Arthur and Guinevere.
Somerset for all Seasons - Overlooked by the hoards rushing down the motorway to Devon and Cornwall in peak season, Somerset remains the best secret of the West Country so come here to walk with a feel of freedom and space at any time. Sheltered from the exposed Western coastline it can also offer walking for all seasons, including the Autumn and Winter months when more exposed areas are off limits.
View walking options in full detail using these links or check our Somerset Walking Map showing all our Somerset Walking Holiday Routes.
The Coleridge Way - - In the footsteps of one of our greatest poets a mix of moderate moorland walking with lush wooded valleys, coastal views and rolling countryside. Staying in remote and untouched villages, this is a timeless route taking you through the Quantock Hills, Exmoor National Park and the hidden Brendon Valley of Lorna Doone fame.
Up to 6 days of walking - More Details on this walk
Somerset Coast Path. Summer 2017 (bookings 2018) - Part of the brand new around England Coast Path, easy walking on a unique coastline, this is such a new trail that it's unknown to most walkers. Great variety with beaches of fossils and stunning geology mixed with low clifftop walking and one of the most important birdwatching wetlands in the UK. Medieval Dunster and the unspoilt fishing port at Watchet, home of Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner. Around 3 days with plenty of options to extend the walk on linked routes.
The Mendip Way – Summer 2017 (bookings Autumn 2017) - Walk the complete ridge of the Mendip Hills from the coast to inland Frome. On the way the ravines and caves of Cheddar Gorge and Wookey Hole, timeless Somerset villages, historic Wells and the option to divert to Glastonbury and climbs its iconic Tor. Up to 5 days walking.
The Exmoor Adventure - Summer 2017 (bookings 2018) The ultimate short break on Exmoor. Three full days of walking that cover a different aspect of the National Park each day. Day 1 it’s the moors - climbing from sea level over Dunkerry Beacon and the moors' highest point to Simonsbath. Day 2 - the Gorges on the Two Moors Way to Little Switzerland (Lynmouth) on an exhilarating descent through the sparkling combes and gorges to reach the sea. Day 3, it’s the coast – and the best day of the Exmoor SW Coast Path as you return to your starting point at Porlock - a switchback trail of dramatic cliffs and coastal woodlands. 3 day walking break with options to add more days
The Exmoor & Quantock 100 mile Challenge - Summer 2017 (bookings 2018) For those who want the ultimate variety with a challenge! Walk the full Coleridge Way into Exmoor but return on the South West Coast Path to Minehead before continuing onto the unique West Somerset Coast Path. At the end of the 'Northern Jurassic Coast' you head inland on a new link trail The Two Castles Way to complete a full circle of just over 100 miles. Around 8 days walking but with lots of extension options on the way if you have time.
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