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 11 miles : Grade - Strenuous - what this grade means
Ferry Crossing at Dartmouth (River Dart)
Don’t be deceived by your final day, yes the route heads onwards now to the edge of the urban area of Torbay but you have a run of strenuous ups and downs to cover before Brixham with a great end to the walk overlooking your destination and reflecting on your journey from a Napoleonic Headland Fort.
The daily ferry crossing this morning is of the Dart with the luxury for once of 3 ferries to choose from ! Descend into Mill Bay Cove with its small castle like old mill before a steady climb through impressive Monterey Pines at Warren Woods Wildlife Trust reserve to Froward Point and the Coast Defence Battery. This is a great place for a quick explore, hidden in the pines are a scattering of gun positions, searchlight platforms, the concrete bases of Nissan huts, battery ramps and other defences all open to wander through. Slightly inland of the path take a look at the unusual stone 80ft daymark it has stood since 1864 marking the eastern entrance to the Dart. Just inland of the path here is the National Trust Gardens at the Art Deco Coleton Fishacre with fine terraced gardens full of tropical plants, ferns and bamboo.
The trail leads on to Pudcombe Cove where you can still spot the remains of an old swimming pool right on the beach along with fruit trees planted to encourage wild birds by the former owners of Coleton Fishacre. Now the next four miles is a treat, a classic coast path rollercoaster up and down the cliffs with a final brace of tough ascents above Long Stands and then again up lofty Southdown Cliffs. From Southdown after some high level trail a gentle descent to Sharkham point brings a perfect viewpoint for a packed lunch and time to reflect on the next section of the South West Coast Path as the views open up across urban Torbay towards the red cliffs of East Devon ahead.
After rounding St Marys Bay you may mistakenly think you have reached Brixham but one more headland is covered and as ever with the coast path it’s a final surprise . The Berry Head Country Park a site of Special Scientific Interest sitting on an extensive area of grassland that is said to hold over 500 species of plants including many rarer species. It is another former Iron Age Cliff Castle and now a nature reserve, where Skuas, Shearwaters, fulmars and kittiwakes share the 200ft cliffs with the largest guillemot colony on the South Coast of England (they call them the Brixham Penguin round here).The cliff caves are home to the protected Greater Horseshoe Bat. Perched at the top of the stacks sits the one of the UK’s stumpiest lighthouses surrounded by Napoleonic Forts and battlements and you can explore it all up here. Fortified in the late 18C against the French cross the dry moat to enter the old ruined fort past the well preserved old sentry box. A Bizarre and otherworldly Radio Navigation beacon sits in defiance above the remains which also include the Northern Fort, (the old guardhouse now converted for refreshments) and the old artillery store with an exhibition centre showing a live RSPB display of the activity on the cliffs below you. From here you can walk on out to the coastguard station before a final drop to the proud fishing harbour of Brixham, the entrance to the grand sweep of Torbay and the end of your South Hams adventure.
Overnight stops in Brixham at the end of your South West Coast Path Walking Holiday
Map of all
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