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.
12th September 2023- We are sorry but we are now fully booked until October on all our routes - please contact us for Autumn and 2024 dates
Highlights - Pretty much every Step (!) but in particular enjoy The Wild Lands End Trail and Cornish Mining World Heritage Section and the geological wonders on the Dorset Jurassic Coast For the most challenging walking sections see the North Atlantic Coastal Path from Westward Ho to Padstow and The Lizard or the South Devon Coastal Path for remoter and less walked sections.
All the way through enjoy stunning overnight stays in unspoilt harbours such as Padstow, St Ives, Fowey, Salcombe and Clovelly to name just a few.
View our Walking Map of The South West Coast Path Sections
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 far above our other UK national trails is that around almost every corner is yet another surprise. Unlike many other walking routes this path is not a modern creation. On the South West Coast Path you re-trace the footsteps, histories and lives of old tin miners, fisherman, smugglers, wreckers and of the customs men who chased them.
A route that snakes its way through a staggering 1014km (630 miles) of pristine coastline, The South West Coast Path is the Uk’s longest National Trail and if you ask anyone that has set foot on it they will tell you it's the UK’s best. The sheer variety of coastal scenery coupled with the unique history and culture make it a world class pinnacle of walking, one recognised by the likes of the Lonely Planet Guidebooks who list The South West Coast Path in its top ten walks, up there with the likes of Himalayan Trekking and the Inca Trail in Peru.
Over 450 miles of the Coast Path is through nationally protected areas which itself is testament to its breathtaking quality – on what other walk could you pass through a National Park, Two World Heritiage Sites, a UNESCO protected Biosphere and no less than five designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty – its simple........in summary there is hardly a dull mile of The South West Coast Path the whole way.
With everything organised for you by Encounter Walking, you are free to walk at your own pace, enveloped in the ever present and ever changing panorama and drama of the UK’s best loved coastline.
With our help we make sure you don’t miss the must see locations, attractions, monuments and historical remains that can be located ....but also easily missed along the way. An outstanding array of flora and fauna much of it unique to this part of England further enriches that experience with the chance of everything from surprising mighty Red Deer Stags, to glimpsing wild Dophins, lazing Grey Seals, enormous Basking Sharks and soaring Peregine Falcons and Puffins. With detailed daily itineraries, route descriptions and luggage transfers you are free to enjoy the trail unhindered.
Every night you will enjoy and explore a new location, be it a tiny timewarped village, stunning coastal harbour, old fishing hamlet or modern day port. With Encounter Walking the days are long gone when you were forced to pack a tent and a youth hostel membership card.
The success of Cornwall, Devon and Dorset has brought in superb and unique accommodations along the route from trendy Boutique hotels to remote Farmstays and welcoming inns.
For the hungry walker seeking rewards for their efforts harbours such as Padstow, Fowey and St Ives are now renowned across the UK for hiding the best restaurants outside of London. From Rick Stein to Jamie Oliver the South West Coast Path has caught the imagination of not only walkers but of food lovers alike.
The rollercoaster of high cliffs and hidden coves has its challenges – if you walk the whole South West Coast Path you will need at least 8 weeks and will have climbed the equivalent of Mount Everest.....nearly 4 times !
For those on a shorter weeks holiday getting the right guidance from us you can make sure the section you want matches your ability, fitness and aspirations - that your walking day is the right length - not too strenuous but not without enough challenge !
Our walking advisors help create options for all from the flatter beaches and estuaries to the immense ravine and gorge sliced high cliff peaks.
The chance to walk on the South West Coast Path is something no-one who has the opportunity should let slip – make sure you discover this world class walking route with the support of those who live here, who love it, and who have walked it before you.
Our staff are made up of committed and experienced pilgrims of the path and we are always keen to support walkers with no further commitment from you booking or no booking.
If so now Choose Your South West Coast Path Section(s)
1 - See the location of the different sections on our South West Coast Path Map
2 - Use the Find a Walk Page to read short summaries of each of the 9 sections of The South West Coast Path covering the full 630 miles – Quickly find the highlights, distances and grade of walking along with the options for each section of the path.
3 - Email and Enquiry Form if you already know your Route. Use the links in the box below to get the detailed route descriptions, images and full information and options for each section of path.
4 - Contact us if you need want our help and advice on which section will best suit you.
SW Coast Path 1 Minehead to Westward Ho ! – Exmoor and the North Devon Coast Path
SW Coast Path 2 Westward Ho! To Padstow - The North Cornwall Coast Path
SW Coast Path 3 Padstow to St Ives - The Mid Cornwall Coast Path
SW Coast Path 4 St Ives to Penzance - The Lands End Trail Coast Path
SW Coast Path 5 Penzance to Falmouth - The Lizard Coast Path
SW Coast Path 6 Falmouth to Plymouth – The South Cornwall Coastal Path
SW Coast Path 7 Plymouth to Brixham – The South Devon Coastpath
SW Coast Path 8 Brixham to Lyme Regis – East Devon Coastal Path & Jurassic Coast Path (East)
SW Coast Path 9 Lyme Regis to Poole – Dorset Coastal Path and Jurassic Coast Path (West)
For South West Coast Path Walking Weekends or short breaks - CLICK HERE or see our Classic Cornish Short Break on the SW Coast Path in South Cornwall
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