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.
This day really is one of variety, woodland and cliffs taking you around impressive Rame Head passing its forts and into the pretty bay at Kingsand and Cawsand and a last encounter with the tiny streets and lanes of a Cornish coastal village.
Keeping up high above Whitsand Bay this morning the route gives outstanding views and takes you past the massive Tregantle Fort an imposing structure built in the 1860's to protect Plymouth from the sea.
Near the hamlet of Freathy you can drop to the beach for a break at Sharrow Grotto an cave hewn out of the cliff face by Lieutenant Lugger an ex Naval Purser over 200 years ago as a cure for his gout....which apparently worked.
The next landmark is the breathtaking headland of Rame Head - if you have been walking from Falmouth you will have first sighted this many days ago. Steps lead up to rocky hillock which formed part of the Iron Age fort that was situated here. Right on the edge is a lonely chapel built over 600 years ago and still commanding itself over the scenery.
After dropping through some coastal Woodland you find yourself at the twin villages of Kingsand and Cawsand handy for lunch stops with several pubs and cafes by the beach. These pretty villages have changed hands between Devon and Cornwall several times through past history and both were notorious for smuggling.
Finally after passing through the rather unsettling Dark Trees woodlands you now enter wonderful country estate at Mount Edgcumbe. This huge country estate brings a final set of surprises for the weary walker as the path joins a cliffside carriage way (Earls Drive) on an unforgettable romp through the estates ornate gardens, follies, ruins and fountains guiding you into Plymouth Sound and the very western end of Cornwall separated only by a short ferry ride from the maritime city of Plymouth.
Stop for a celebration pint at the end of Cornwall in the Edgcumbe Arms pub and you can watch for the arrival of the Cremyll Ferry and your river crossing link to Devon - its pretty reliable as its run for over 1000 years !
For those staying overnight you will usually be based on the waterfront at Plymouth Hoe and the last 2 miles from the ferry once you have landed in Devon follow the excellent Plymouth Waterfront Walkway packed with maritime history, sculpture and intrigue as it leads you through these well trodden streets to the Hoe
Overnight stops in Plymouth at the end of your South West Coast Path walking holiday
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