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........
Distance - Between 10 and 16 miles, depending the on tidal crossings at Sandy Haven and The Gann (see below)
Summary - Easy grade start to the Sandy Haven Pill then Moderate walking, (what these grades mean) Mainly above the cliffs, with short climbs and descents in places around cliffs and coves as you exit the Milford Haven Estuary on route back to the Ocean.
Issues - Two Tidal Estuaries to cross today on the Wales Coastal Path that need some planning but we advise all our walkers on the tides and options. Inland diversion routes if the crossings are under high tide will add anything up to 5.5 miles to the total distance today but we can also arrange transfers around the estuaries for those who need or want them.
Information on staying in Milford Haven before your walk on The Pembrokeshire Coastal Path West
The Wales Coastal Path leaves Milford Haven below the imposing 19th Century Fort Hubberstone, that looks out in stark disapproval over the last of the huge oil pipelines stretching into the estuary at the wide bay of Gelliswick. Climbing low cliffs reveals views of a second dramatic 'Alcatraz' style fort on offshore Stack Rock Island, another of Palmerston's Follies named after the Victorian Foreign Secretary, who had them built to protect against invaders, only to find they were never needed.
You now enter the Pembrokeshire National Park at South Hook Point past long forgotten and overgrown World War Two Bunkers and gun batteries that guard the entrance to Sandy Haven Pill. The Wales Coast Path is easy walking here, a warm up romp through grassy hummocks, coastal scrub and bright yellow gorse as you take little circuits in and out of red sandstone bays and crags.
If the tide is low, you can drop straight onto the golden sands and pick you way through a line of twisted teeth like rock sculptures that lead to the dark lush woods at the head of Sandy Haven Pill. A Pill is the Cornish and Welsh word for a creek and this one is a tranquil and enchanting spot where the sight of herons and kingfishers make the ocean feel a long way away.
Around low tide, the receding waters reveal a narrow run of submerged stepping stones and wooden planks used to cross the waters. Passing crumbling ivy clad limekilns and a stretch of rich bluebell woodland, you then head past the mounds of two Iron Age forts at Little and Great Castle Head. Free of the refineries, the Pembrokeshire Coast Path proper now rises over huge cliffs, deep bays and barren headlands some capped with huge Shipping Beacons and radar towers, a sign that the open sea is not far ahead.
The tiny inlet of Monks Haven throws a surprise as you reach its haunting gothic Tower, a crumbling Victorian Folly that stands a lonely guard over a dense wooded creek. Below it a tiny secret beach protected by a huge castle-like wall. In the Age of the Saints this was the landing spot of the Pilgrims heading to St Davids on the inland Welsh Saints Way trail anxious to avoid the dangers of the searoute around Skomer Island.
Beyond the remote waterside hamlet of Musslewick, the path drops right onto the foreshore leaving you to pick your way across a bank of smooth eggshaped red sandstone boulders that have settled here at the entrance to the Gann Estuary. When the tide is right, you cross the rushing waters of The Gann, balancing on a double set of stepping stones linked with wooden plank boardwalks.
Beyond this the narrow Pickleridge Shingle bank is an impressive causeway splitting the deep Dale Roads Bay from a series of tranquil inland lagoons and wetlands. There are fine views over the waters on either side, the inland pools flooded by the high tides provide a home for flocks of migrating and wintering wildfowl. A set of restored barrel like limekilns marks the entrance to the rather charming and laidback coastal village of Dale and the Wales Coastal Path arrives by its sheltered beachfront to complete the section.
Overnight stops and facilities in the village of Dale on the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path South –
CLICK HERE to read on for those walking the full route to St Ann's Head and Marloes today.
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