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.
Now taking bookings for all dates in 2023........
Not everyone has the time to walk a full week on the trail, you may want to fit in a short section of walking within a longer sightseeing holiday or if it’s your first time on a walking break you may want to play it safe and try a taster trip over 2 or 3 days.
The main consideration is to make the most of your time if its limited, to walk the best bits of the trail, see the most variety and have the quickest entry and exit to the trail from your car or public transport and of course with only a few nights away you want to get the best accommodation you can for your break.
Encounter Walking can provide this for you. We can operate a short section on any part of the South West Coast Path so if you are particularly interested in one area just contact us and tell us where you want to be and we will come up with the options.
The following route is a great example of a shorter section that works well giving you a great section of Coast Path, lots of variety and stunning walking without having to travel all the way to West Cornwall. It’s our favourite and ideal for not only on first time walking breaks but also where you are short on time but wanting the best mix of variety of trail along with absorbing and charismatic overnight harbour stops.
More Information and examples of these Walking Grades
This is the classic short break. Cliffs, coves, stunning untouched beaches - a real escape but with reasonable daily distances. All in all a taste of the Coast Path that will see you back for more !
Its bonus is the overnight stops in enchanting fishing villages and historic harbours each night with great facilities and accommodation available at the fishing village of Mevagissey, the tall ships harbour of Charlestown, at Fowey – one of Cornwall’s best and lesser known ports finishing by the beach at Looe. The walking includes sections through inspiring Daphne du Mauriers coastline, golden untouched beaches at Great and Little Lantic Bay, towering cliffs and hidden coves around commanding Gribbin Head and for those taking the last day onto Looe the best days walking between Falmouth and Plymouth on the Coast Path including a great last day lunch stop at the Medieval Harbour of Polperro.
Options you can fit in include a visit The Lost Gardens of Heligan, The Eden Project or take an unforgettable gentle canoe trip up the mysterious River Fowey. Transport in and out is easy with options for long stay parking and easy access to the rail network all the way along the route.
To read about the walking route itself and your overnight stops follow the links below for the South West Coast Path pages and then contact us for advice on how to set up the walk on a two or three day schedule based on your level of fitness.
Day 1 - South West Coast Path - Mevagissey to Charlestown
Day 2 - South West Coast Path - Charlestown to Fowey
Day 3 - South West Coast Path - Fowey to Looe
Map of all
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