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.
We advise you use the Great Western Railway website to book tickets. GWR are the actual train operators for the South West and Wales and its far better to be buying tickets directly from the people running the trains. They also provide tickets and options for rail travel throughout the UK with the same price structure as third party agents.
Get times and prices
Thousands of walkers arrive in the South West every year by train and whilst its easy to arrange your travel, some tips and advice will help you get the best and cheapest ticket options. We have produced a factsheet with the key points and suggest you print it off to refer to when booking but if you prefer to view the information online then you will find it below
Try to book in advance for all long distance journeys – for example from London or Bristol to the South West or Wales – you will save a lot of money AND you can reserve your seat.
For short train journeys in the local areas, for example within Cornwall, there is no real saving by buying in advance. Just check when the trains are running (see below) and buy your ticket at the station on the day of travel.
Great Western Railway (GWR) are the train operators for the South West and Wales so it is best to book directly with them rather than using other train ticket agents
If you are not sure which station name to use, at the end of this factsheet is a table of the station names for all our walking Holiday destinations
You can ONLY buy tickets 12 weeks before travel – see the next section for more on this. To check train times and options just follow the instructions below and you can view all the services and times – you don’t need to actually BOOK the tickets to see options and prices. To book (or view train times) go to the operator's site at www.gwr.com Enter in the journeys you want to make in the box on their home page to see the train times.
Find the best train time for you and click on it to see ticket prices for that service The cheapest options will be “advance purchase” - the most expensive will be “Anytime” tickets.
Look at several train options if you are flexible on time – cheapest tickets may be sold out on one train but on a later train you may find much cheaper options by travelling on the next services.
Work out the best option for travel to your walk and then you can add a return journey if coming back from the same place OR another journey if coming back from a different location.
Once you have the best prices or options selected for both journeys you can buy the tickets with your credit card online. You will get a reservation number and email print these off to bring with you when collecting your tickets.
Reserving seats - When you book online you are usually offered the chance to reserve seats – do this, its free if you do it when you book your tickets and it means your seat number is reserved for you. At busy holiday times trains travelling to the coastal regions can be very full and having a reservation means you are guaranteed a seat all the way.
Collecting your tickets from the station - This works very well - You MUST take the same credit card you used to pay for the tickets AND the booking reference number to the first station you are going to use. For most this will be London Paddington. At the station you put your credit card into a fast collection ticket machine and all the tickets ordered will be printed for you. If you prefer you can do this at the ticket office.
All our overseas customers use the station collection system and it works well once you have found and booked the right trains and cheapest tickets
IF you have problems with a booking online then contact Great Western Railway directly – the link below gives phone numbers and email contact details
You can also call directly to book tickets and reserve seats at GWR by calling +44 (0)3457000125
Note in your diary to book online 12 weeks before your journey OR use this free Ticket Alert Service at www.thetrainline.com/ticketalert/ You receive an email as soon as tickets are available to book – The webpage also lists the dates now available for booking tickets
Tickets are ONLY available 12 weeks before the date of travel so you won’t be able to buy before that point. Remember if you are looking to book travel to and from your walk then this will be 12 weeks before the date of your FINAL train journey.
The cheapest advance purchase tickets are always available at 12 weeks before travel and it gets more and more expensive the later you leave it after that as the cheap tickets are limited and sell out. Paying on the day for long distance train travel is a very expensive way to travel - no one living here does this unless they have to as it can cost twice the price !
There is a confusing range of tickets and passes on offer so use the train operators, website at www.gwr.com . You will be able to access all the options here and you will be offered the cheapest options. The three main ticket types are -
- Advance Purchase Tickets - Must be bought in advance and only valid on the date and train specified. Cheapest and best option as long as you know which train you will take. Tickets are non refundable but can be changed with a £10 admin fee.
- Off Peak Tickets- More flexible tickets BUT you are limited to travel at certain off peak times
- Anytime Tickets - No restriction on travel but the most expensive tickets, still cheaper to buy in advance than on the travel day itself. Only buy if you don’t know what times or services you will use.
- Single or Return Tickets? - You can buy a ticket to one location and then buy a second ticket at the same time to return from a different location – this works well for walkers who are arriving in one place, walking to a new destination and then leaving from it. If you are going to and from the same place you can buy a straight “return” ticket but buying two single tickets to cover your journeys also works.
Rail Passes can be used instead of buying single journey train tickets. Normally they are only worth buying if you are doing a number of different rail journeys around the UK. If you are just taking the train to your walk and then back again then advance purchase tickets are much better as they are easier to get, you can reserve seats when booking and they are usually cheaper than buying a pass for multiple days travel.
However if you are planning on making lots of train journeys then consider the following.
Brit Rail Pass - Overseas Walkers Only – allows unlimited travel on a certain number of days across the UK – will usually only be worth considering if you are making 4 or more journeys and some are outside of the SW and Wales.
Brit Rail SW Pass - Overseas Walkers Only - Allows 3 days travel in any month across the SW to London – currently costs £135. IF you find your tickets to and from your walk are going to cost more than this it may be worth considering if you are travelling between London and the South West. You have to order the pass from your own country in advance of arrival –full details at http://www.britrail.net
Freedom of the SW and Freedom of Devon and Cornwall Passes allow you to travel for a certain number of days within Devon and Cornwall – if you are travelling around to different locations and making 3 or more train journeys within the South West they can be worth considering - You can buy them online and see what they cover at the Great Western Railway Site www.gwr.com
Groupsave - Offers 30% off the cost of travel when there are 3 adults or more travelling together. When you use the Great Western Railway booking site you will be shown these discount tickets as an option for your train journey, marked with a G
Large Group Discounts - GWR will provide special help for groups of 9 or more travelling together you need to call them to arrange this on +44 (0)3457 000 125.
London Heathrow - Heathrow is only 15 miles outside of London. There are several ways to reach the trains to the South West which run from London Paddington. The Heathrow Express option is usually the best
London Gatwick - Take the train via Reading
London Gatwick Airport is located 27 miles south of London and has its own railway station with an hourly service to Reading which connects to the trains for the South West and Wales. There is no need to travel via London Paddington and if you do you will have to cross London by underground or bus as Gatwick trains to London arrive at London Victoria Station
London Stansted - Trains take you directly from the airport to London Liverpool Street Station in 42 minutes. You will then need to take the underground train to London Paddington for trains to the SW and Wales. Stansted Express is the fastest way to and from Stansted Airport, with trains departing on average every 30 minutes. If buying advance train tickets you can choose to include your travel across London in the fare and this is the cheapest way of getting to the South West by train.
London City Airport - Located in London's docklands. The airport operates a regular shuttle bus service to Liverpool St Station in Central London from where Underground connections are available to London Paddington. Buses run every 10 mins.
Bristol Airport - Buses connect to Bristol Temple Meads station every 30 mins, with a journey time of 20-30 minutes. From the station you can take trains to the SW and Wales. You can buy a combined rail and bus ticket from GWR to or from Bristol International Airport
Cardiff Airport - Regular buses will take you to Cardiff Central Train station and the local station, Barry. Buses run hourly to Cardiff Central station taking 30 mins
Newquay Airport (Cornwall) - There are infrequent buses from the airport to Newquay Train Station so most people will take a taxi from the airport (around £20). You are then able to connect to reach destinations in Cornwall by Train (Falmouth, Penzance, St Ives etc) but note that options will depend on your flight arrival time. We can arrange transfers if there are no suitable onward train options.
Exeter Airport (Devon)- Hourly buses will take you to Exeter St Davids Station (around 20 minutes) or you can take a taxi. Exeter St Davids Station is the main regional rail hub and provides connections to all of Cornwall's stations as well as the North Devon Coast Path using the Barnstaple line, Ivybridge for the Two Moors Way route, Taunton for Exmoor and Somerset and Exmouth Station for the Jurassic Coast.
Great Western Railway - www.gwr.com train times and tickets for all rail travel and the main operator of trains to and around the South West and South Wales
Britrail - www.britrail.net
For overseas walkers wanting Britrail Passes and info about train travel in other parts of the UK
Eurostar - For travel between London and Europe by rail www.eurostar.com
Traveline SW - www.travelinesw.com
Very detailed timetables for buses (and trains) across the South West –
Traveline Wales (Cymru) - www.traveline.cymru
Very detailed timetables for buses (and trains) across Wales
Traintaxi www.traintaxi.co.uk Provides contact numbers for taxis at all stations
Use this Station Name
For this location or walking route
For SW and Wales Walking Holidays
For Dorset and Jurassic Coast Walking Holidays
For Gatwick Airport flights
For Heathrow Airport flights
For buses to Padstow (Coast Path and Saints Way)
For buses to Fowey (Coast Path and Saints Way)
For buses to Fowey, Charlestown, Mevagissey
Newquay Coast Path
St Ives Coast Path
Penzance & Marazion Coast Path
Falmouth Coast Path
Looe and Polperro Coast Path
Exeter St Davids (Devon)
For buses to Bude Coast Path
Exeter St Davids
Buses to Bude
Jurassic Coast Path
Buses for Brixham Coast Path
Barnstaple Coast Path and Buses for Westward Ho!
Two Moors Way
Buses to Buckfastleigh (Dartmoor Way)
For Lyme Regis Coast Path
Weymouth Coast Path
Poole Coast Path
Poole Coast Path Alternative
For Minehead & Nether Stowey (Coleridge Way)
For Somerset Coast Path
For Lynmouth (Coast Path, Exmoor, Two Moors Way)
Wales Walking - Pembrokeshire
For Amroth & Tenby Coast Path
Pembroke Coast Path
Milford Haven Coast Path
For Buses to St Davids Coast Path
Fishguard and Goodwick Coast Path
For St Dogmaels & Cardigan Buses
Map of all
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