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 13.5 miles - Moderate to Strenuous Grade walking in the St David's Head area with a severe climb around Carn Penberry. Then Moderate Grade onto Trefin. - What these grades mean
Summary - A strenuous walk through the prehistoric age at St David's Head with its burial chambers, warriors dyke and mountainous Celtic landscapes before reaching the Industrial Heritage of The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park at Aberiddey and Porthgain.
The Wales Coast Path leaves the "Space Age" looking Lifeboat Station at St Justinian's on a trail of great springy turf towards the glorious remote sands of Whitesands Bay or 'Porth Mawr' (big bay) A fabulously remote beach the walker enjoys a section of high Sand Dunes and Marram Grass know as The Burrows, the spot where St Patrick left Wales to discover Ireland on route to becoming its patron saint.
From here the Wales Coast Path reaches magical St David's Head a mini wilderness of scattered boulders and heather clad slopes a where herds of semi wild horses roam free adding a “land that time forgot” atmosphere to the route.
Everyone should take the opportunity to climb the western face of the nearby peak of Carn Llidi. The craggy cone shaped dolerite peak is visible from many miles in every direction and dominates the skyline of the coast and the heavens above the city of St Davids itself. At around 600ft this is the highest point of the St David's Peninsula and the first of three immense igneous Rock Peaks that you will pass today.
The walk up its rocky flank is straightforward to its lower peak past two lonely prehistoric burial chambers, home now to wild ponies.
Those pushing on to its higher summit take in more of a scramble, the last 10m a full on free climb yet safe enough in good conditions.
The views however, fully justify the effort - you can see The Wicklow Hills in Ireland from up here whilst beneath your feet the whole St David's Peninsula and a weeks worth of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path is mapped out below you in miniature from as far back as Skomer Island to as far ahead as the winking lights of Strumble Head Lighthouse.
Back on the Wales Coast Path the prehistoric heather drenched landscape continues and as you pick your way through the volcanic rock piles you can divert to find Coetan Arthur, an ancient single slab Neolithic burial chamber, its huge 4 metre capstone still in place.
The Headland itself was an impressive cliff fort dating to 100AD with two ramparts clearly visible in front of a huge stone bank known as the Warriors Dyke, 70m long, 25 metres wide and in its heyday over 4m high.
Wander inside the fort to find the hut circles from this Iron Age settlement and at the very edge of the headland this is a great place to spot passing porpoises or seals beached on the rocks.
After the natural arch and waterfall at Porth y Dwft you begin the long toiling ascent up the towering flank of the final Coastal Peak at Carn Penberry marking the end of the St David's area and the entrance to the old Industrial Coast of The Pembrokeshire National Park.
At Aberieddy you get a fascinating glimpse into the Slate and Brick industry that flourished at the turn of the century. Slate was originally exported using low keel boats that were driven right up the beach here at high tide and you pass the ruins of the Quarryman's Houses, abandoned after devastating floods washed part of the village away.
The Blue Lagoon, surrounded by the old Engine House workings is a chasm like flooded quarry breached by the sea today. Its shimmering waters a beautiful shade of blue and green.
Reborn in the last few years as the staging post for high diving events the depths are over 100 feet deep.
The Wales Coast Path follows the old horse drawn tramway from Aberieddy and passes through an area of eerie long lost mining buildings and embankments used for moving stone and slate. Next stop is Porthgain a place drenched in its Industrial past with its thick harbour walls flanked by the towering remains of an old Victorian era brickworks where huge hoppers, stores and chutes hang over the inner harbour .
Today it’s a peaceful spot with just a handful of fishing boats that head out from here The old warehouses are now converted into craft workshops, art galleries and home to the walker friendly Sloop Inn. You leave the ghosts of Porthgain via a huge conical whitewashed tower that was built high on the cliffs above the harbour entrance to guide in the boats.
The final section today passes the huge island of Ynys Fach an improbable brick shaped slab that is holed right through with a seacave big enough for a two storey house. Beyond an appealing cliffside waterfall you then descend through fields to the inlet below the village of Trefin (pronounced Treveen) overlooked by a cliff side stone circle (though this one created by local farmers!). Right on the shore you cross the old mill race and can enter the roofless ruins of Trefin Water Mill with its huge pair of millstones lying idle inside - a poignant final reminder of a 500 year old industry long gone from this area of the Welsh Coast Path
Facilities and overnight stays at Trefin on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.
Map of all
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