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.
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Just a few words to tell you that we now arrived safely in Norway. We have had a perfect trip with lovely hikings in a beautiful landscape. The hikingtours matched us just perfect!
Thank you and maybe we will come back in the future????
Would you choose Encounter Walking Holidays for future holidays? No
Would you recommend Encounter Walking Holidays to others? Yes
Would you choose Encounter Walking Holidays for future holidays? Yes
Thanks for a wonderful walk. Great choice of accommodation, luggage transfer perfect, scenery breathtaking, etc.
An experience I'd like to share, though, as it might be useful to other walkers : On day five of our trip - from Cadgwith to Porthallow, we found it was easy to get lost - as indeed we did. After a place called Shag Rock, as the acorn path has been mingling for a while with the "coastal path", if you miss the place you are supposed to sway left you find yourself in Loggan Point... and realize too late that you should never have been there.
We tried to resume our itinerary, making our way through a stock of cows reluctant to let us through, looking for an acorn symbol that seemed to have vanished. Found ourselves in the coutyard of a bad tempered holiday maker who grabbed us by the arm to show us the way out...
By then, and according to the map, we deemed to be in Rosenithon. Further up the road the acorn we had been looking for suddenly made an apperance, and we thought we were saved.
Not so. A place calle Porthoustock had yet a few tricks of its own, as the acorn played hide and seek along an unlikely path that finally left us on the road by the "Fat Apple Café". We were almost there.
The trick is not to get mixed up with the coastal path, and stick to the "acorn" at all costs - even if it is sometimes malicious.
Would you recommend Encounter Walking Holidays to others? No
I just wanted to say thank you once again for the superb organisation of our walk this week from Wembury to Morchard Road. All went without a hitch apart from my navigation skills on a couple of occasions when I failed to pick up the Two Moors Way, following other footpath signs instead - but soon corrected. Most importantly my teenage son enjoyed the walk (it can difficult to get teenagers to admit they might enjoy anything that doesn't involve computer games and the internet!) and the fact that we now have completed the Two Moors Way having done the northern half two years ago - again thanks to you.
We will have to think what walking we might do next.
On the second day my husband was having extreme foot pain so we attempted to hire a taxi from Shipham to Cheddar. None of the local services were helpful, and staff at the Penscot Inn explained to us that this is normal - the private taxis do not like to come at short notice for short trips. Eventually we found our way on foot to a 126 bus stop near Winscombe and took the bus to Cheddar. If our experience was typical, then it would be useful to include information about local buses - perhaps draw the bus route on the map in addition to or instead of information about taxis.
All's well that ends well, and we had a great time. Thanks for your help.
Hi All - thanks for your help in planning this walk. A few notes about the route... In several areas it is very poorly marked and quite honestly, someone should go out with an arrow and set the markings right. A good example is the turning on the Lanlivery to Fowey stretch. Just beyond the Woodgate Wood. You do warn walkers to be careful here but had you told us in the notes that the turning is at what appear to be someone's private driveway with a gate, we would not have missed it. It's okay - we found our way, but were surprised that this sort of thing happens repeatedly. We just feel that EWH's should do each walk every year with a Shaprie in hand to mark the trail a bit better.
AND, your ratings! My walk was a first one and at 70 years, I was happy to see the "moderate to easy" rating. It was very difficult in spots and had I not spent some time training for this, it would have been impossible. My husband is EXTREMELY fit and he said he was having a hard time in various places. We spoke with several people who have done this walk and we all agree that a rating of "moderate with some difficult stretches" would be more appropriate
Overall, very positive experience and would highly recommend your company .
Cannot get the I am not a robot link to click in so will be sure to monitor that feedback to get it to you when we have better internet service.
A quick thank you for developing and supporting our recent walk.
I must compliment you & your team on your responsiveness and thoughtfulness of response prior to the walk.
You offered wise counsel which, I think, we partly ignored with regard to the intensity of some of the early sections and length of the walk. I wonder, in retrospect, whether we slightly overestimated our capability for five continuous days of this nature although you did suggest a day off in mid walk (and we didn’t take up the option of course !!). The weather was very kind to us and that certainly made several parts of the trip easier.
The accommodation was fine if somewhat eccentric at times (Cape Cornwall Golf Club, Seaview House), but that all forms part of the journey.
Next time I will take less luggage (... & yes, you warned me about that too).
I got home to a busy week, but just wanted to say thanks so much for the organising you did for our walk in Cornwall. It was efficient and included all the info we needed and everything went very smoothly.
We so loved all the variety of beautiful scenery and also meeting many people along the way, and enjoying the different hosts at our accommodation. One of the things we were all convicted of was that we'd do a max of 10km a day if we did a similar walk one day!!! We didn't want it to be a route march/ rushed, so we though we'd given ourselves plenty of time, but we would've appreciated even more time to stop at places along the path, and also enjoy more time at some of the places we stopped at. Guess one can't always fit in everything one would like!!!
For the most part the signs were great, but just wanted to say we struggled a bit around Porthoustock to Porthallow. Apparently some signs are missing, so you may just want to feed that back to the appropriate SWCP people, so they can check.
Just before Lizzard, one of our group fell (on flat ground!!) and broke her wrist , so we had some adventures as we coped, but we felt v blessed as people helped, and Carol was still able to go by taxi/bus to each overnight stop and meet us there.
I thought that your office was probably not too far from where I was at Epiphany House in Truro (fantastic accommodation in case you could use it sometime!) the week prior to our walk, but there was just no spare time on our program, so I'm sorry I couldn't meet you, but thank you again and many blessings as you continue to help people have wonderful experiences!!
We both spent our youth in West Somerset and know the area covered by the Minehead - Woolacombe stages of the SWCP extremely well. We have walked the first two stages previously. We have also walked in many wonderful places around the world.
We were both agreed that these first four stages of the SWCP (going Westward) taken together rank among the the most scenically beautiful and dramatic walks we have done anywhere.
Anyone who is considering which stages to tackle should seriously consider this stretch. But they should be aware that they are in for some hard walking and should prepare accordingly.
Many thanks for organising our recent walk Westward Ho! to Porthcurno 09th - 23rd June.
We did state a preference for pubs or hotels with baths and wherever possible you didn't let us down. Our accommodation was in the main very good, especially The Hartland Quay Hotel (cottage), the New Inn Hotel, Clovelly, and The Old School Hotel, Port Isaac, which were all excellent. Your efforts very much appreciated. Well done! Neil and I had a good twin room at the Portreath Arms Hotel that was spoilt by a very small cupboard size en-suite toilet and shower with an opaque sliding glass door that gave little privacy and left nothing to the imagination when one of us was on the toilet. We were unlucky as the en-suite twin room allocated to George and Ed was perfectly acceptable. Also the owners of the Portreath Arms Hotel were very friendly and helpful and gave an excellent breakfast.
We were greeted with a tray of tea and biscuits on arrival at both The Surf Haven Guest House, Bude, and ST Johns House, Pendeen, which was a very nice thing to do and although we prefer pubs/hotels both guest houses looked after us very well and we enjoyed our stay.
If all goes to plan I'll contact you in November or December with regard to the 2020 stage of our SWCP walk, commencing Porthcurno.
Until then, Many Thanks,
Dear Prue and Team
I‘d just like to Thankyou for an fantastic Holiday. All the Bed and Breakfasts were lovely, helpful and friendly. Our luggage was transferred without any problems. We had truly a great time. I‘ll recommend this Company without a doubt. I‘ll be Booking with you again.
Thankyou for all your hard work!
Good morning. Steve and I were very impressed with your organisation of this walking holiday. Our trip notes, B&Bs/Inns and luggage transfers were first class. We enjoyed our walk, meeting some lovely people (and their dogs) along the way. The scenery is spectacular and we were blessed with fantastic weather.
Also, special thanks to Bernie from our Crantock B&B for rescuing our forgotten shampoo. He and his wife were not well yet Bernie cooked the most wonderful breakfast. Speedy recovery to them both. Also, special thanks to Bernie from our Crantock B&B for rescuing our forgotten shampoo. He and his wife were not well yet Bernie cooked the most wonderful breakfast. Speedy recovery to them both.
Catherine and Steven
Something that I really wanted to feed back on was the excellent vegan offerings at these restaurant and BnBs.
It was totally unexpected.
I really felt that the owners had gone above and beyond and really created some wonderful dishes for me.
The Locanda even had a whole plant based menu selection, Instow Barton created an exception vegan dish and everywhere was super accommodating.
(I had hoped to trim down and tone up a little on this active holiday.....hmm, I think I ate rather too well!)
Sorry for the delay in responding, just getting back to the real world!
We had a fabulous holiday, loved the walk and all the stops offs, the accommodation was all great, and no problems with any of the transfers. So no complaints from us!
In fact we enjoyed it all so much we would like to go back and do another section as soon as possible so will be in touch after the Bank Holiday!
We had a lovely walking holiday. It was well organized and we had no unpleasant surprises. Encounter did an excellent job and I would recommend your company to anyone. We have used one of your major competitors and you are by far superior.
The diversion at Coverack is over and the coastal path follows the original route. It is however newly opened and very rough. We may have been one of the first to use the trail. One could also take the alternate footpath into Coverack but it would be nowhere as exciting!
I (mostly) solo walked this over 14 days, with a couple of rest days in Penzance, finishing on 31 October.
From an organisation perspective, everything went like clockwork, and I appreciated all the maps and walking notes (not to mention the luggage transfer!). TIP: The digital version of the OS Map on my phone was wonderful, as it included GPS, which helped decide which path to take at times. I also used the Maps.Me app, with the Cornwall maps downloaded. Having GPS navigation that you can use offline is very handy in the back blocks of Cornwall where coverage is not great!
The accommodation was fine, even if my single room was small at times. Although I sometimes had a shared bathroom, I was invariably the only one using it this late in the season. On a couple of occasions, though, I was too tired/footsore to walk anywhere for dinner and went without. Next time on booking, I would pay more attention to how far away my B&B is from dinner (or take up the option to prearrange to have it cooked in-house). Also, I might pay more attention to which B&Bs provide a bath -- a nice bonus when it happened.
The section from St Ives to Mousehole is stunning, but even at the relaxed pace (5 days) I was desperately thankful for my scheduled rest days -- especially as I also walked an extra day on the moors. During the second half (Marazion to Falmouth), the daily distances were further and I made other arrangements for the 4th leg (Cadgwith to Porthallow) to give myself a break. I could probably have quite happily have called it a day once I reached Cadgwith, having rounded the Lizard. But I did have quite a sense of achievement arriving in Falmouth, even taking a few shortcuts (and buses) here and there.
I'm glad I scraped in before the end of October, because many of the services (including the vital Helford ferry) were about to close for the season. Although I had planned to take packed lunches, in the end I ate in many of the cafes along the path. So I definitely wouldn't walk after October.
Overall, it was a wonderful experience, albeit more taxing than I expected. It was not so much the difficulty of a single section, but all the days stacked together and accumulated fatigue. Encounter was awesome with tailoring my itinerary as per my direction, with days before and after, as well as the rest days in the middle. Next time, I would probably schedule some extra rest days or very short days to better meet my physical fitness/ability. But I completely loved the walk, even if people thought I was a bit mad walking on my own. I chatted with a lot of people along the way, while embracing the peace and beauty of the wild and rugged coast. I would love to do another section, or another walk somewhere else, in time -- either solo or with friends.
Thank you, Encounter Walking Holidays, for organising everything so all I needed to do was turn up.
Our first family walk with our boys aged 12 and 14. Luckily the wild autumn storms cleared on the first morning giving us 5 glorious days walking the Cornish coast. Being off-season we had the track mostly to ourselves (except at Lands End and on the final day coming into Penzance,) which added to the beauty of the walk. The accommodation was all excellent, with champion breakfasts for hungry boys. The bag transfer service worked brilliantly. We were the only people in the pub in Porthcurno, but the walk to the next village for dinner was not going to happen with the kids in tow. Well planned, great notes to get us places and something we will definitely do again with the kids. Thank you for organising it.
Walked with dog from Willington, via Luxborough, Porlock and Brendon Cross to Lynmouth. Incredible driving winds and rain on Friday 12th meant we curtailed the 13 mile walk to Porlock (the second part over Exmoor) as 'waterproofs' were in no way 'proofs' against this appalling weather. We were truly drenched through and through. The pub called 'The Rest and Be Thankful' in Wheddon Cross lived up to its name.....And it was great to have the taxi numbers. All accommodation and arrangements were great. And the walk is (would be!) spectacular. Thank you so much.
This was a fantastic walking trip for my wife and I and a friend (in our 70s). The scenery was even more gorgeous than anticipated. The accommodations were all great, but our favorite was the Merrymoor Inn in Mawgan Porth. The luggage transfer went smoothly, and the trail descriptions and map were excellent. We only got slightly disoriented once, in Newquay. I highly recommend this trip!
Well it wasn’t what we expected in general - that was my fault for not researching the path. There are better sections so we were told.
Sea Tang was a great start.
Brixham is nice but Torquay is not. Personal opinion, Paignton- oh dear oh dear. Exmouth -Lyme Regis - Beer- Abbotsbury excellent - Weymouth harbour and the beach are good but not a nice place on a Saturday evening.
The way markers and maps are not brilliant - thank you google maps- and we weren’t expecting the markers in the ground when we were inTorquay.
Going out fromTorquay towards the B and B we went down and up through an uninteresting area with little views to come up about 50 yds further up the road - there were a few of these on our route, not worth the effort.
We have not used your company before and this was our first walk along the route. Very efficient on all points, maybe a question mark on accommodation standard. For instance always finish the holiday on a high not a low.
The accommodation varied from brilliant to ok to well why here?
Our last stop in Weymouth for instance - I will send a different email - Beds /showers and pillows were questionable at some stops.
Storm Callum - stopped raining when we walked - Portland the weather at the Bill was dry warm with dramatic seas. The wind was very difficult the day before but no lashing rain. Good to receive the email warning.
Ferries Teignmouth was great -walked straight onboard -nice people - the one to Exmouth was cancelled and by the sounds of it unreliable.
Luggage transfers - this was excellent - the soya milk was lost in transit but the people were all very helpful. First class.
Well organised as usual. Instructions about each section of the walk and where to eat were excellent as was the OS map of our route. A lovely part of the SW Coast path and well signposted- we only got lost once which was around Caerhays castle where the signposting is poor. Accommodation in Coverack and Falmouth brilliant. B&B in Portloe tired but I guess there isn't much choice there. Luggage transfer excellent too. Well done Encounter Walking
We all enjoyed this walk.
Just a few comments: Baggage transfer: No problems at all, our bags were at the B&Bs when we arrived.
Accommodation: All good, although breakfast was best at the Penscot, Shipham.
Day 1: Weston to Shipham: All our GPSs showed a mile further than on the guide. Highlight was the extensive views from Crook Peak.
Day 2: Shipham to Wells: Again a mile further on GPSs. Disappointed with Cheddar Gorge as we expected to see more stunning scenery, but the tree cover was dense. Went slightly wrong, but soon sorted. Saw slow worm, ponies and the feral goats. As time was getting on, we made a slight diversion near Wookey Hole. Arrived in Wells to see the Cathedral bathed in brilliant evening sunshine.
Day 3: Pilgrim Walk: Wells to Glastonbury Tor. Lovely views from the Tor. One section of the path from East Street farm was overgrown, but no other problems. Caught the bus back to Wells.
Day 4: Wells to Frome: We knew this would be a long day, so left Wells at 8.30am. A bit drizzly to start with, but weather improved as day progressed. A few navigational problems around Shepton Mallet. The only muddy section was in Asham Wood, but the boots had dried off by the time we arrived at The George in Frome at 5.30pm, giving time to soak in the bath before going downstairs for a meal. (Again, a mile further than expected)
An enjoyable walk and many thanks to the Encounter team. The only gripe is with GWR who for some reason changed the rail timetable from Frome to Gloucester. When tickets booked, there was a direct train, but we had to change at Bristol, and then the train went via Newport to Gloucester. As we had booked seats from Gloucester, we had to leave Frome 2 hours earlier than anticipated to get our connection. The George did provide us with bacon butties to take with us, as we had to leave before breakfast.
We very much enjoyed the walk and your arrangements were splendid. Wonderful clifftop scenery and coastal harbours. Baggage transferred seamlessly, lodgings were excellent. We would recommend you without reservation.
Weather sunny every day – almost too good because a few degrees cooler would have been a little more comfortable. However, if there had been three days of rain, we might have a different response.
We brought trekking poles and they were useful, particularly on the strenuous portions of the walk.
Very difficult driving into Mevagissey because the streets were so narrow and crowded with pedestrians and the turns were so tight. We might have been better off just parking in the carpark and rolling our luggage to Buckingham House.
Only place we had any trouble with the trail was in Par, where we were walking on village streets after we skirted the China Clay factory. We did not see any trail marker or sign for the right turn onto the A3082 and – expecting a trail marker – we went wrong for about 1/4 mile. Better map reading on our part would probably have avoided the problem.
The final day was too ambitious, at least for walkers of our age and fitness. The seven or so miles from Fowey to Polperro (although strenuous) was fine but with a fairly leisurely stop at Lansallos Beach and then another stop for tea in Polperro, it was after 3 pm. We decided we were a little too tired and we would arrive in Looe too late to keep walking. However, it was easy enough to take a taxi and very helpful to have your listings .And extraordinarily nice to arrive at Commonwood Manor, where they took very good care of us.
Had excellent meals at Wreckers in Charlestown and Smuggler's Cott in Looe.
Thanks for all your assistance.
Thank you and the walk was amazing! The scenery is stunning and the walk was challenging and very very fun! And everything went so smoothly....... Wales is certainly a hidden jewel.... thank you for your coordination. I know you will send us a survey for us to complete too...
What a glorious walk. I was very lucky with the weather - splendid sunny skies, cool temperatures, perfect for walking. Only a sprinkling of rain on the very last kilometre!
The landscape is stunning. Massive rocky folds curve around secluded coves; broad, dramatic headlands jut into the sea. Almost every day I saw seals basking on rocky beaches, and on one unforgettable afternoon, dolphins cavorting in a cove!
If you're reasonably fit, the 'strenuous' grades are manageable. I took my time on the steepest inclines and descents, pausing every 50 steps or so to catch my breath and take in the views. Walking poles were very helpful. I was a bit apprehensive about the last day from Newport to St. Dogmael's after reading that these 26 kms were "the toughest section of the entire walk." It was strenuous, but not as bad as I expected - in fact, it was exhilarating.
At the impressive "Witch's Cauldron" I stopped for a break, enjoying the lone seal who was swimming languidly in the inner cove's turquoise water. I had planned on 9-10 hours of walking, but cruised into Poppit Sands after 7 hours.
Damon and crew were terrific: I appreciated their responsiveness and flexibility. Guidebook and map were excellent; route notes detailed and accurate. I typically get lost in a shoebox, and so a) was thankful that the trail is well marked and always by the coast; b) found that I had to read the route notes very carefully to get to the accommodation from the trail. When in doubt, I asked people for directions; they were all kind and helpful. As a solo walker, I always felt safe.
Accommodations varied from modest to luxurious; they were all clean and comfortable. Excellent food, in both the pubs and in some very fine restaurants. Recommendation:
If you fly into London, as I did, count on a long day of travel out to Wales, and DO book a train to Wales that leaves before noon in order to make connections. I took the 13:05 from Paddington, and it lost time along the way, with the result that I missed the connection at Cardiff for Haverfordwest and no later trains were available.
Luckily, an angel named Ruth helped me re-route (Cardiff to Swansea to Fishguard) and my taxi driver in Haverfordwest was able to meet me in Fishguard and drive me to the starting point of St. Davids.
All in all, a very satisfying and memorable walk.
We walked from Penzance to Falmouth during the last week of September 2018 and enjoyed it immensely. We were extremely lucky with the weather - sunny and mild most days. We were often walking in short sleeves and shorts, and we only needed the rain jackets while walking around Falmouth on the last day.
We loved the range of scenery, from wild to cultivated, from clifftop to beach, and urban to rural. The transportation, luggage, and lodging accommodations all worked perfectly. So nice to find your luggage waiting at the end of the day, and wonderful to start the day with a full breakfast.
For details and photos of our trip, check out the blog I wrote for friends and family at: spruceknobtravel.wordpress.com We found most days to be well-balanced in terms of distance and difficulty. However, the two 15-mile days were less enjoyable (mainly at the end of the day). It may not look like much extra on paper, but when you have to walk extra miles to get to the inn, they add up. Detours and diversions also add to the day's fatigue, as do the number of ups and downs from cliff to cove and back. Also, depending on location, you may have to walk another mile or two round trip to get dinner at the end of the day. Be cautious when planning the trip. A shorter mileage means more time to stop and enjoy along the way. It was hard to know in advance how difficult the walking would be. We are newly retired and quite fit. In preparation, along with our normal activities we took weekly hikes. Being in Vermont, this typically meant three miles up a mountain and then three miles down! So the altitude changes on the coastal path were not alarming to us, but the long days did wear out our legs and feet. (We are glad to report no blisters!) Overall, we would have called the "moderate" parts easy, and the "strenuous" parts manageable.
It was very important to have both the guidebook and the map. But we were especially grateful to also have a good hiking app on the mobile phone, which saved us from taking the wrong trail many times. The coastal path is well-signed in some places and not in others. There were multiple times when it was easy to lose the trail or follow the wrong trail. They could use some simple blazes at key places! However, dangerous areas were always well-marked.
FYI, a particularly unwelcome diversion from the expected trail was at Gillan, where you have to go a long ways up and then a long ways down simply to avoid a short bit of eroded harbourside trail.
We look forward to more walking holidays in the future!
Our route was from Milford Haven to St. Dogmaels at the end of September/Beginning of October. This is my first visit to Wales and I found the scenery of the country to be stunning, the people so warm and welcoming, and unbelievably we had amazing weather for ten days.
First the trip was impeccably organized. We carried the maps, detailed itinerary and guide book with us daily and found all three informative and for us, and necessary. My friend and I both like to look at maps and know where we are and so appreciated the materials. We also wanted to make sure we saw the highlights so having the materials was helpful. We also followed the advice of making reservations where noted which proved to be important. Everyone we worked with at Encounter Walking was extremely helpful and responsive. You asked about our date choice and warned us about the weather and lack of some transport services which was appreciated. Lucky for us the weather was fantastic and we enjoyed having the path mainly to ourselves... The luggage transfer worked without any issues... and our only comment was we overpacked and would lighten our load the next time. We took a rest day in St. Davids based on your recommendation and it was well needed and enjoyed... we ended up attending an evening Songs and lessons service at the Cathedral that evening, which was beautiful and so enjoyable in the stunning Cathedral. HIghly recommend doing it... We also always did the suggested add-ons/detours and appreciated these options. Sometimes we both did them or just one of us but it gave us exacting instructions.
A shout out to the owner of the Hampton House B&B... my friend’s feet needed a rest and as we were off season there were not taxis available. I hiked the entire route but the B&B owner drove my friend up to the hostel on the coast... cutting her walking time in half. This was incredibly generous.
Highlights of the trip included:
Obviously the seals and seal pups.... we loved watching them in the coves, one afternoon we encountered a mom teaching her pup how to swim.
The scenery became more dramatic and “untamed” each day as we went farther from Milford Haven. We even appreciated the industrial look of Milford Haven as the refineries are a part of the economy of Wales. We also liked the direction we were walking as each day seemed to get progressively harder. We felt prepared for it each day and a walk of 8 to 10 miles became easy!
Some of the hidden gems we ate at... Obviously the Griffin Inn was incredible... we followed your recommendation for reservations and were so glad that we did.. The Clock House bed and breakfast in Marloes had the best breakfast and coffee! Also they packed a great lunch...... This was one of our favorite accommodations. We also enjoyed the sunset bed and breakfast in Broad Haven - as we each had our own spacious room and the accommodation was lovely... In Solva in the harbor is a great coffee shop/cafe called Thirty Five. We did not get lunch from our accommodation but rather from this shop before heading out to walk. They opened at 8am and we were there waiting at the door. Highly recommend their lunch to go... In Goodwick we recommend the Rose and Crown for dinner... modern version of a pub, excellent food!
Fantastic last accommodation the Bethsaida B&B... the owner was great and it was such an unique lodging..... we were the only guests and she went out of her way to make sure we had everything we needed and again, this was also a great breakfast. A great place to finish at!
We can not thank you enough for this amazing trip..... your attention to detail and knowledge of the area is to be highly commended. I am from the United States and my girlfriend from London...... and we both would highly recommend your company to walkers.. All of our questions and concerns were answered prior to departing and changes we asked for our itinerary were made where possible. As my first walking tour vacation I am excited and look forward to doing another one! THank you again....
I am grateful to the team at Encounter who managed the whole schedule and logistics so professionally and yet with a personal friendly approach. Thank you Damon for all your advice and guidance, and assistance with further bookings and travel arrangements beyond the walk.
This was a most memorable "slack-packing" hike, made so much easier and enjoyable having confidence that the best accommodation to our liking was all arranged ahead of us and we were sure to find our luggage waiting for us in our rooms. The rooms were mostly very comfortable with the exception of the size of some of the rooms that did not leave much space to move around in. All of them laid on excellent breakfast preparing us for the day's walk.
The recommended restaurants and pubs for our evening meals were always good. The cool Ale at the end of the day was well earned and particularly refreshing!
The coastal path is well laid out and mostly very clear signage. We seldom lost the path, but the Trailblazer guide book and the OS maps were very helpful in keeping us on the straight or helping us find the correct path when we erred.
The weather? Wow!! is that also arranged by Encounter? Because it was awesome. The previous week having been wet and stormy, we had the perfect one. This meant the views and scenery were spectacular, and there was always a cool breeze to keep the temperature at a steady 20 dogs C.
Our gratitude to Encounter Walking. We will certainly recommend you, and look forward to the next time we book.
Encounterwalking's planning and arrangements were all first class. They were able to tailor our requirements to allow for our age and level of fitness. Baggage transfers were always on time and a taxi was waiting for us at the end of our holiday. Accommodation was good especially Kota Restaurant in Porthleven and The Top House in Lizard Town. I would have no hesitation in recommending Encounterwalking to my friends in South Africa. Well done.
We are a healthy and relatively fit couple in our early 50’s with minimal walking experience. The Saints Way walk was exactly right for us. It was a taste of a walking holiday that we were able to fit into a schedule of travel and other destinations from Australia.
Padstow accommodation at Symply Padstow was a great starting point. We had a lovely room and wonderful hosts. We spent part of the day before our official walk ‘practising’ a quick walk along the Camel Trail from Padstow to Wadebridge. This is a popular trail for pushbike riding also.
We had a challenging first day walking from Padstow to Hustyns due to very inclement weather. We were lucky that the hotel was able to lend us a heater overnight to help dry out our clothing and especially our shoes.
The weather, thankfully, cleared up beautifully for the final two days of our walk. The Crown Inn at Lanlivery was a terrific place to spend the second night of our walk. The room was very comfortable and the food in the Pub was delicious.
We would recommend a detour on day three to Lostwithiel. This town is a little off the walking route and it extends the walk by about an hour, depending how long you spend in the town.
The immediate scenery coming into Fowey is gorgeous. It was such a beautiful place to finish our journey. Our lovely hosts and accommodation in the historic “Well House” were a fitting end to walking the ancient Saints Way.
We would highly recommend Encounter Walking Tours. The thorough planning, baggage transfers and the general support received from them was fantastic. They gave us the confidence to enjoy our three days of amazing experiences through the beautiful Cornish countryside. Please pass on our appreciation to all involved. (Especially Mike - the transfer driver from Padstow to Lanlivery).
We enjoyed the walk enormously. The combination of the Coleridge way and a few days back along the coast path to Minehead gave us a great view of Somerset and Devon. We particularly enjoyed the woodlands. The accomodation was generally good to excellent, and we had some great food. Once again the advice from you guys and the arrangements were excellent. I made a point of asking some of the accommodation providers what they thought of Encounter and they were all full of praise.
To all the Encounters Walking Team,
My great thanks to you all for the planning of Garnets and my walking trip along the Cornish Coast. I just loved this experience in your beautiful country, and the Cornish Coastline is so spectacular !! And none of it is flat ! So, the walks were certainly a challenge, some more than others, but we quickly recovered with a beer/cider at our destinations.
The accommodation was really good, we liked some more than others, namely, Lerryn Hotel in Falmouth, Plume of Feathers in Portscatho, and Rashleigh Arms in Charlestown. But, all in all, the people running the accommodation venues were charming, the breakfasts were delicious and we were warm and comfortable. Our luggage was always waiting for us and the planning was excellent.
It was a real pleasure to briefly meet you, Damon , at the station in Plymouth, sorry we couldn’t spend longer chatting! You seemed concerned that the weather may have put us off, but we actually enjoyed the cool and we were lucky that we had little rain. The one day of torrential rain arrived at a good time for us, the walk from Fowey to Polperro. We took the day off, caught a taxi and had great fun playing backgammon and enjoying the happy vibe at The Blue Peter. Our legs appreciated the rest . We did get very mildly lost a couple of times along the way, but soon realised we were wrong and quickly recovered our route. Actually, we were usually the ones at fault for not reading the directions properly or missing the odd signpost, but it was never an issue.
If I were to do this trip again, I think I would like to take the odd day off, not because the walking was too difficult, but because the beautiful little coastal towns needed more time for us to explore. We have several friends in Cape Town who have been interested in our trip, and I will certainly recommend your company to them.
If you are ever in Cape Town, please look us up. We would love to show off our own beautiful city.
Best wishes to you all, and thank you for the experience.
It was nice to briefly meet you when Christine and I got our luggage at Plymouth station
Just to tell you,the walks you organised were great,and generally our accommodation and breakfasts were totally acceptable.The Plume and Rashleigh were really nice places to stay at-because they had baths??
A few points-the walk I found to be quite taxing,especially the longer days,but we were very lucky to have stormy and overcast days-it would be quite hard if hot—I feel the distances we were able to cope with,even if we missed the odd path or two??Our best meal,and cider/beer was in Polperro at the Blue Peter,lovely atmosphere on a very wet and squally day.
Certainly you are a business I will tell me friends about
Thank you and we are happy to give you our feedback, because we had an absolutely amazing time. We can’t say enough great things about your service, our accommodations, the landscape, and all the incredibly friendly people we encountered. I personally especially loved the old Inns we stayed in - something about that history. But then even the B&B guest houses were cozy, charming and welcoming. We want to let you know that we had especially exceptional service at the Golden Lion Inn in Padstow our last night. One staff persona in particular, I her name was Natalie, went above and beyond to help us arrange a very early departure to catch an early flight out the next morning.
Regarding the walk, we are very happy we made the decision to do the slightly more relaxed itinerary between Heartland and Padstow for two reasons - 1. There were lots of things to see which we might have missed if we had to spend more hours walking.
2. Because we ended up having 4 extra strenuous days of high winds. 2 of those were particularly testing with sustained 30-40 mile hour head wind and even higher gusts. Was I thankful that one of those was our 5 mile day!
We only had one day where we got a bit disoriented on the trail and the guide book was not very helpful. Due to steady rain (and concerns about safety on the really steep sections), we chose to do the shortcut in the first 3 miles of the route from Port Isaac to Padstow. This is a bypass through farmland rather than staying coastal. We found the cut-off ok, but from there, we had trouble staying with the route. We got quite lost in the fields and finally decided to backtrack and get to the coastal path. By chance we ran into our bypass so thankfully didn’t have to start back at the beginning. In this one instance, we didn’t have clear directions and we found the guide book lacking detail. But otherwise, for the main route, we found the guidebook incredibly detailed and helpful.
We absolutely would love to go back and do more of the path some day. Again, we were very very happy with your service. Very responsive and professional. Thank you!
We enjoyed our 6 day walk immensely. The scenery was of constantly changing beauty and all the accommodation was excellent. We would have preferred however more quill direction especially around the half-way mark.
We settled into buying sandwiches and fruit at the beginning of each day and picnicked since we never seemed to pass by pubs or through villages when they were serving food. A served meal would also have held us up and we had the night meal to look forward to.
Woodadvent Farm was the highlight for accommodation but we had trouble finding it - an old one mile sign post to the farm led us to being surrounded by 5 gates with no quill.
Would definitely recommend the walk.
We were very pleased with the service provided by the team at Encounter Walking. All the administration prior to the holiday was handled with efficiency and simplicity. All the accommodation selected by Encounter was excellent as was the material/tips provided by them prior to the walk. The walk was strenuous, particularly the first four days but the views and experience made it all worthwhile. When we next walk part of the South West Coastal Path we will certainly use Encounter Walking.
Apologies for the delay, but I would very much like to provide you with some feedback from our recent walking break, expertly organised by Encounter.
Minehead to Lynmouth
19th- 22nd September.
We had a lovely time. Both my sister and I (and Smith, the dog) thoroughly enjoyed the walk. Second day was definitely tougher than Day 1, but completely manageable. We finished, happily tired but not completely exhausted. We opted to walk out to the Lighthouse at Foreland Point and around The Foreland headland. The guidebook was right to provide a mild warning. The path was a bit exposed but we found it to be stable and not quite as scary as we thought it might be. Overall, the itinerary, maps & information provided by Encounter were detailed (far more so than I expected!) and provided all the information we needed.
The accommodation recommended and booked for us met our needs exactly and was delightful. Was exactly what I ordered!
Staff at the Top Ship, Porlock could not have been more helpful and welcoming – nothing too much trouble. Extremely dog friendly too. Their “home cooked” style menu was excellent, so that we ate in their restaurant both nights of our stay. Good breakfast and pack lunch too. Excellent value.
Accommodation for our final night, was a little more “up market”. A different atmosphere from The Top Ship – but nonetheless very welcoming, very well appointed and we enjoyed a superb meal in their restaurant in the evening – more pricey, but was a real treat and perfectly met my request, which had been for a “special meal to celebrate my sister’s birthday” .
The taxi transfer back to Porlock was on time and our lady driver was very friendly and courteous.
All in all a perfect mini break. I would have no hesitation in using Encounter again (and indeed hope to)– have already recommended you to some of my other walking buddies.
Thank you for all your help and assistance.
Our eight-day hike along the South West Coast Path from Padstow to St. Ives featured icons of Cornwall's rich geography, history, industry and the arts, an astounding portfolio we enjoyed on foot and in mostly good weather (but please don't forget your rain gear).
For the most part we found the path obvious and easy to follow, except in urban areas such as Newquay, where the way-finding Acorn markers were hard to find, and along the sand dunes between St. Agnes and Hayle, where the way-finding markers change from yellow Acorns on wooden poles to hard-to-see Acorns engraved in huge chunks of slate that have been set in the sand like tombstones.
The scenery was absolutely spectacular every step of the way, and far more heart-stopping than we had ever imagined in terms of hiking just feet from cliffs that dropped straight down into the roiling sea hundreds of feet below! Sometimes you just have to look straight ahead at the path and not at the scenery. It was a privilege to find ourselves on beaches and coves of white sand and azure water that were inaccessible except by the trail.
We met friendly walkers along the way, who were always willing to stop for a hello or a call for help (are we still on the right path?)
Our accommodations were easy to find and clean and comfortable with no problems checking in or out. All our hosts were knowledgeable about the path, walkers and our walking company.
Luggage arrived on one day and was picked up the next without a hitch. The breakfasts were fantastic and all we needed for a long day on the path, though we always stopped for tea in places where Encounter suggested we do so. Most places Encounter booked had pubs for dinner or were close to one.
Our weather was accommodating except for two days of rain at the end (prompting us to take a bus from Hayle to St. Ives) and during one day that we were extremely exposed (north of Wheal Coates) and the wind was blowing 35 knots. We consulted with the Coast Guard station above the path and chose to walk off the path and join it a mile or so later, where it was not as treacherous. We would advise rain gear in your day packs, a first aid kit (we had some blisters) and lots of layers, power bars and water, though because the weather was cooler (around 60-63F) we didn't drink that much.
Encounter's written itinerary was excellent, including taxi numbers (which we did use). Highlights of our trip aside from the scenery and walking through Poldark Country while they were filming (though we did not actually see any of the scenes or actors) included: the discovery that Cornwall has a thriving surf culture; our lucky arrival on the last day of the Gannel River Fern Pit ferry's operations (a big rowboat with a motor, captain in bare feet and sleeping dog at the boat's bow); seeing up close along the trail the lighthouse at Godrevy Point made famous by Virginia Woolf; and the huge hot tub -- more like a pond than a tub -- at the Bedruthan Steps Hotel in Mawgan Porth.
Thank you Encounter for a spectacular and memorable trip!
What an excellent walk! Beautiful varied scenery in such an unspoilt area. Sufficiently challenging to be tired and ready for our R&R at the end of each day. On the second day we didn't see anyone else all day!
Signposting is excellent, better than most and route description and notes helped if we were unsure. Diversions to see sights can add to distance and time so factor that in.
Accommodation along the way was friendly and welcoming, sometimes pointing out points of interest for the next day. Couldn't fault any of them and breakfasts without exception lovely. Notley Arms menu in the evening while superb fine dining, may not be quite what you would want at the end of a long walk, but we coped and the Black Rat Perry was a compensation.
We made use of community shops where we could to pick up food supplies to help support them.
We had a "rest day" in Porlock and caught the bus to Minehead and walked back along the Coast Path which is a good day walk option. We also did the last day of the Two Moors Way from Simonsbath to Lynmouth. It was very misty on the moor and the signposting to Exe Head is somewhat misleading. Best to take a compass bearing and walk to that. Also be aware that what is marked on the map as a fence line may be just the remains of an earth bank on the ground. Otherwise we enjoyed the last day especially the views on the different approach to Lynmouth.
Transport information to and from the walk's start and finish were very helpful and also the taxi numbers. Might be worth mentioning that buses from Lynmouth to Barnstaple are quite limited, but there are a few more options leaving from Lynton. However the funicular to take you up the steep hill doesn't start running until 10.00, so plan accordingly. If planning to use public transport back to Barnstaple it may be an option to stay in Lynton instead.
Overall we had a marvellous time and would recommend this walk to anyone. Also without hesitation would recommend Encounter to anyone considering a walking holiday in this part of England. Where to next??
Great service. We much appreciated the efficiency in which you organized the walk without any of the worries booking B&Bs etc etc.
During the last years we booked several holidays through Encounter Walking and once again: everything was perfectly organized. The accomodation were very nice and the additional information given were very helpful. Damon & Team: thanks a lot ! To avoid a loooong walk on tarmac (Tarka Trail from Braunton) we hired a bicycle to cover the stretch from Braunton to Westward Ho! in one day. This gave us also some additional time to visit Barnstaple and enjoy a wonderful cream tea in Fremington. Your hint to use "Biketrail" was perfect, as they deliver and collect the bikes to/from different places. We will certainly come back !
We had a wonderful time- hike went well but be aware that it is not flat walk ( multiple ups and down; total ascension was > 600 metres on 2 different days). It was great to receive info before the trip. So a BIG THANK YOU to Encounter Walking organizers!
Luggage: transfers were done without any problem.
Weather: 40 min of rain during the 4 days- with gorgeous sunshine and wonderful panorama. Not busy and very peaceful walk!
Directions on the ground: not always easy to follow- yes it can be frustrating but thankfully the directions in the book were excellent (maps were not difficult to read). Be prepared to walk a little bit longer distance than mentioned.
Accommodations: no issue- but we liked especially the one in Zennor (Tinner Arms).
Food: just one thing- not that much to eat properly at Porthcurno (supper) (however going to see a play at the outside Theatre was worth it). By the way, little cafe in Zennor served excellent soup.
Overall: a very pleasant walking trip!
First I’d like to say a big thank you.
My planning, your help, your itineraries, documents and especially the customised map, the taxi service, luggage transfers and both places we stayed were just as described and there were no hiccoughs so we had a terrific holiday.
I know I can’t blame you for the mist,drizzle that we had the first day but actually I was really glad it wasn’t very hot. We were very lucky to see some Exmoor wild ponies which more than I had expected.
Feedback on the routes
On the first day near Mansley Coombe (no 95) we ended up on the wrong hill as we followed the main path but actually we needed the other bridleway to the left to go to Dunkers Errish. It might be a good idea to clarify that in the write up.
On the second day at Oare (145). There is now a weather station beyond the small conifer plantation so your instructions should tell people to keep to the left of the conifers alongside the fence to get to a stile that takes you to the path described in 146.
The rest of your instructions were very clear and worked well for us.
Feedback on stopping places
We had a lovely break at Webber’s Post (105) with convenient tree stumps and Day 2 we found some convenient rocks near Broomstreet Farm (142) with a lovely view We recommend the National trust cafe at watersmeet for excellent loos and coffees!
The Ship Inn was fine - adequate beds/breakfast but busy at supper time. Booking a table is advised.
The Millslade Country Hotel was superb. Very comfy rooms, delicious breakfasts, warm welcome and great homemade packed lunches.
Hope this helps - I will certainly recommend you to anyone/everyone.
Brilliant. once again, thank you so much for sorting out such excellent night stops and baggage transfers. I couldn’t find fault with any of them.
I probably could have done some slightly longer days as I was usually finished by 1 or 2 pm, but that was my fault.
The Erme nightmare was easy.. get up at 4..start walking at 4.37 with a ‘Paddington’ breakfast.(.marmalade sandwiches) provided by the farmer’s wife..pitch black..cloud on the deck..could just make out telegraph posts for idea of direction..made it interesting..but got to the Erme at 0615 (low tide 0724)..just light enough to see the causeway on the other side..waded across and away again at 0644 to the dodgy ferry at Bantham..but one wave at ten o’clock and he was there, and I was across and at the pub by 1013..to find my bag was already there!
Not quite so efficiently handled when Mrs G arrived to pick up and drop off (two hours late at the first rendezvous!) but good to walk with the dog..I reached the Exe yesterday (24th). Good weather other than last Saturday when I got soaked to my toes doing 17 miles..but the other days were lovely.
Once again..many many thanks..I would/will recommend you to anyone
Many thanks to Prue, Damon and all the encounter team for another outstanding organisation of our second swc part. We challenged them with an unpredictable 3-day-off and they helped us through by even saving money. Once more their walking informations, the trailblazer and the map helped a lot to plan the tour. Whilst offline app maps me helped for navigation and Komoot for tracking the tours. 13 days of great hiking landscapes and accommodations. First of all Lugger Inn/Portloe: staff, room, shower(!), place, diner(!!!). Also remarkable: Wintara B&B/Bottallack, Houselbay Hotel/Lizard, Lerryn/Falmouth and St. Bernards/Newquay. Most impressive part around Kynance Cove, Bottallack to Porthcurno and around Gillian and Helford River. Several unattended sunburnts prouved: Hiking in september is a good choice.
Only remark in this area: the accommodations and pubs ruled by St. Austell Brewery where a bit disappointing. The places and rooms are perfect, but food (especially diners) quality is worth to look for alternatives.
We’re looking forward 2019 swc with encounter. Thank you ???? “
Once again Damon and the folks at Encounter came through with outstanding service! Our accommodations were lovely (especially the Bayards Cove Inn in Dartmouth) and all went very smoothly.
These three days of walking were listed as strenuous, and I would have to agree - some of the ups and downs were pretty long and very steep, but oh, are they worth it! The scenery was truly stunning. It seemed as though every time we came over a rise or around a corner a new breathtaking vista appeared. Some of the little picturesque coves with their rock pools were so lovely we hated to move on! But move on we did - the walks were quite demanding and on the two longer days we didn't have much time to squander on beachcombing and rest.
I would recommend walking poles for this stretch - we did the first two days without them and then bought some in Dartmouth for the last day, and we were very glad we did. Our weather started out a bit shaky on the first day with a short rain shower as soon as we set out on the Salcombe ferry, but it was soon over, and the rest of the way we were treated to sunny skies and very pleasant temperatures. It was almost hot!
We ended up in Brixham tired but happy, and celebrated with an excellent meal at Beamer's. Get the shellfish platter for two - it is heavenly!! We will definitely be back for the next phase of the path next year - thanks Damon and crew!!
A short note to tell you that the organization was perfect. I had just to enjoy the walk without bothering with practical problems.
Regarding the B&B, they were all satisfying but those I appreciated the most were Zennor chapel guest house and Wellmore end cottage at Portheleven (room, food and welcoming).
Regarding the walk, not surprisingly the first part between St Ives and Mousehole was stunning; the part between Mousehole and Marazion not very exciting and then again I had a quite pleasant walk from Marazion to Poldu Cove. Your advice to stroll through the Loe pool was an excellent one.
I will probably do another stretch of the cornwall coast path next year.
Thank you for your help.
Just wanted you to know: We finished Minehead to Padstow today. We loved it...and we were delighted by your choices for accommodations. Excellent...and all near or on the South West Coast Path. All baggage transfer worked. Thank you.
My wife and I (both mid-60's and experienced long distance walkers) hiked the Coast Path from Exmouth to Lulworth Cove in 10 days, with a rest day in Lyme Regis. We also opted for the circuit of the Isle of Portland. Afterwards, we transferred to Bovey Tracey and four days of walking the Dartmoor Way, which I will review elsewhere.
We couldn't have been more pleased with the pre-trip service provided by the Encounter team. I appreciated their ability to listen to our needs, to provide advice and alternative route options to consider, to offer accommodations at a variety of price points/comfort levels, and to do so promptly and efficiently. We will use them again and will recommend them to friends.
Some highlights...the daily routine of walking to a new destination, of experiencing incredible scenery, of navigating the trails, of finding a new pub upon arrival and sampling the local ales, the diversity of lodgings (small B&B's, small hotels, pubs, etc.), and meeting some tremendous B&B and hotel owners/staff.
We had no trouble navigating the route...the Trailblazer Guide was excellent and the on-ground trail signage made it difficult to get lost...and the OS maps only served as a little-needed backup for us.
Some comments/suggestions: We arrived in Exmouth a day early to help recover from jet lag, but found ourselves wanting to get out and walk. The suggested free day walk that Encounter provided in the notes -- the walk along the River Exe to Starcross and then the ferry back to Exmouth -- was a great way to stretch our legs. We shortened the suggested walk a bit by taking the #57 bus from Exmouth to Countess Wear roundabout, and accessed the trail just over the two bridges nearby. We cut out some of the less interesting bits near Exeter and had a great lunch at Turf Lock along the Exe canal.
After arriving at the Dukes Hotel in Sidmouth without a dinner reservation and having to wait until 8:45pm to eat, we thereafter called ahead to make dinner bookings at a pub or restaurant. This saved a lot of needless worry. Many restaurants in Lyme Regis are closed Monday and Tuesday, so plan accordingly. We loved the free day in Lyme Regis, and had a great tour of the old flour mill in town. Highly recommend!
While walking around the Isle of Portland, we left the path and climbed to the Portland Museum, which is a gem...lots of cultural, geological, and political history here. Lots of info about the quarrying of stone, which we found fascinating. In fact, we spent so much time there that instead of continuing on with the coast path, we caught the bus back down to Chiswell.
The Cove House Inn in Chiswell on Portland is not to be missed for dinner....enjoy a drink overlooking the sea and then feast on their delicious food. If you walked to Portland as we did, don't waste your time walking back across the causeway...take the bus to Ferrybridge, get off and rejoin the path. And do take the penny ferry across the river in Weymouth...saves 20 minutes and it's a fun boat ride.
Loved the West Bay Inn! Great location on the beach, friendly staff, large room, and delicious specials on the board. Some of the lodging choices have very small rooms, low ceilings and door clearances, and footboards on the beds...I'm 6'5" and had a little trouble at Peach's B&B in Abbotsbury and Tewkesbury Cottage in Lulworth. That said, I wouldn't have missed either of them...the owners' personalities and conversation made a little physical discomfort worth tolerating.
My wife and I walked 10 days of the Southwest Coast Path and then transferred to Bovey Tracey for 4 days on the Dartmoor Way -- from Bovey Tracey to Okehampton. We are both experienced long distance walkers in our mid-60's.
We couldn't have been more pleased with the pre-trip service provided by the Encounter team. I appreciated their ability to listen to our needs, to provide advice and alternative route options to consider, to offer accommodations at a variety of price points/comfort levels, and to do so promptly and efficiently.
We were especially grateful for their suggestion that we reconsider the Two Moors walk, given our limited experience with navigating in low visibility conditions, and for suggesting this walk as an alternative. We will use them again and will recommend them to friends.
While a beautiful walk in many places, this segment of the Dartmoor Way is not a moors walk, and we were somewhat disappointed by not having more time on the moor. The High Tors Walk day gave us some flavor of the moors, but due to weather conditions, we were unable to take the higher walk option above Okehampton. So most of our walking was through rolling farmland, woods paths, trust property, etc. Some highlights...
The Southern High Tors Walk out of Bovey Tracey...a beautiful introduction to the moor, with great views, interesting tors and flora, and the amazing granite railway that was used to transport the quarried rock to the canal and then to the coast.
The notes provided by Encounter and the OS map made navigation relatively easy...but care is still required.
The wonderful little village of North Bovey and the warm and welcoming Ring of Bells Inn. Great food and drink...and we were upgraded to a huge room above the dining area. The Inn at Fingle Bridge for lunch...sitting at a table along the river with a beer watching the river flow past was perfection. The river walk after Fingle Bridge to the intersection with the Two Moors Way was one of the most delightful walks of the trip. Easy, but always under trees with the river close by on your right.
A not to be missed lunch stop at the Oxenham Arms pub in Zeal...a monastery before becoming an inn, this is where Dickens wrote much of his Pickwick Papers. We stopped in sopping wet after walking 3 hours in a downpour and were welcomed warmly. The coal fire dried us out, and we enjoyed the best pub lunch of the trip there.
Comments/Suggestions Unlike the coast path, where you practically could walk on auto-pilot most times, the Dartmoor Way requires ongoing attention to the trail notes and following the route carefully on the OS map. The Dartmoor Way is not a signed route...it is a route cobbled together from existing permissive paths, conservation trust lands, etc. The 1:50,000 map included in the Dartmoor Way guide is pretty much useless for on the ground navigation. Our routine each night before the next day's walk was to look at the 1:50,000 map to get a general sense of the route, read through the Dartmoor Way Guide trail description and any supplementary notes provided by Encounter, and then mark up the 1:25,000 AZ Dartmoor map using a highlighter pen. This helped us familiarize ourselves with the place names and route before we set off and made navigating on the ground much quicker and easier...particularly in the wet conditions we encountered at the end of the trip. It also reduced the number of arguments between us while on the trail. :) Take the waymarks that are mentioned in the Dartmoor Way guide with a grain of salt...I don't know when the guide was last updated, but stiles were often gates, gates were often stiles, fingerpost signs were missing, etc. The distances cited in the descriptions are also often incorrect. Here again, following along with the OS map was invaluable, even to paying attention to the field boundary walls and hedge markings to help determine position. Several times, we used our compass to help us determine the general direction of travel. For some reason, cardinal directions (N, S, E,W) are never used in either the guides or Encounter's notes...it would be helpful at times if they were.
There is a trail deviation on the High Tors walk that is worth mentioning. On the Templer Way, just before Lower Down (AZ Dartmoor Map, p. 50 B1), the trail no longer continues east before bearing south to the road; instead the trail now follows the green bridleway bearing southwest and then intersects the road. This means a longer road walk...extreme care should be exercised here, as the road is narrow with encroaching hedgerows and the speed of the traffic is fast. Walk single file facing traffic and be prepared for speeding vehicles.
Leaving Haytor, the Templer Way soon is no longer recognizable by the granite rails as it devolves into an overgrown, unmarked footpath in places. Shortly after Haytor village, we erroneously took a wide path to the left too soon and needed to backtrack down toward the road, where we followed a much narrower path that turned out to be the correct one. Our advice is to stay on the paths closest to the road, ignoring any path to the left...after the quarry (disused) the Templer Way signs will soon reappear, along with remnants of the granite rails.
The only place we ever had great difficulty was a segment of the Water to Moretonhamstead section just beyond Horsham (AZ Dartmoor map, p. 37, D3). After the cottages mentioned in the guidebook, p.6 first paragraph, we followed the concrete track uphill but could not find where we were to bear right "over the waymarked stile" or where to "follow the fence to another stile into woodland." After conferring with the map and then encountering a local woman who provided us excellent advice, we were able to get back on track. My advice for this section is: "Continue uphill on the concrete track until you reach a cattle grid. To your right, hidden among the trees, you will see a weathered sign reading "Path" and pointing diagonally across the field to your right and heading downhill. Follow that path across the field, pass through a gate and after about 20 meters, pass through another gate. Continue downhill and then through another gate into the woods, bearing downhill the entire way." Soon you will see the fingerpost sign "Lane to Foxworthy." This route is very clear on the AZ OS map, and we should have trusted it rather than the guide description.
Our greatest disappointment with the Bovey Tracey to Okehampton section of the Dartmoor Way was the amount of road walking involved in places. While the paved lanes were often quiet and restful, the hard surfaces were tough on the feet. But still...a great walk!
Thank You so much for once again arranging a great SWCP itinerary, accommodations, and schedule. As in my previous two SWCP sections, your arrangements for the Falmouth to Salcombe section were nearly flawless.
Your day-to-day distances and scheduling were fine and your knowledge and expertise in negotiating the various ferry crossings (particularly the "double-whammy" day between Noss Mayo and Bantham) was invaluable. Even with walking the extra 2-1/2 mile "long way" to the Worswell Barton Farmhouse at Noss Mayo to shorten the distance to Bantham, I still had to rush all of the next day to get the last ferry across to Bantham. Without your guidance, I would have been literally "up-the-creek".
All of the accommodations were fine. Most were very, very welcoming and hospitable and all of the locations were interesting, some fascinating, nice and historic locations. (only one, the Honeycombe House in Mevagissey, had a private bathroom that was separate and down the hall from the bedroom which was inconvenient for me - otherwise, the Honeycombe House was a great place with a great locat