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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Would you choose Encounter Walking Holidays for future holidays? Yes
Would you recommend Encounter Walking Holidays to others? Yes
Would you recommend Encounter Walking Holidays to others? No
Hi Damon Just to say thanks for all the arrangements on this walk. Everything went as planned and I had a really good week of walking and the choice of hotels was excellent. Thanks again Kevin
We are now home from a very wet trip and recovering from the buffeting the wind gave us. However even in those conditions we had a great time.
We found the Dartmouth to Brixham section quite tough, you think you are at Brixham and then find there is an additional three miles around the headland.A special thanks for your assistance getting us across the numerous rivers where we couldn't wade or the ferry wasn't working due to the wind. Couldn't have done it without you.
All the accommodation was great but need to call out the Cricket Inn, we arrived soaked, but got a fabulous welcome, the staff, rooms and food really were excellent. Looking forward to the next sector in September. Regards Steve & Toni
We had a really good time. It was a little windy but added a bit more interest to the walk. Cornwall at it bleakest but still beautiful. Accomo was very good and we had good breakfasts and meals out. Our hosts were very welcoming.
The distances were just right for us, as the wind slowed us up a bit and the terrain more demanding than previously but we were still able to arrive in our destinations in good time,early enough and importantly fit enough to enjoy a look around and our evening meal.
All in all another good do organised by you.
Amazing company. Too many good things to say so I'll just some up with this....you have to use these guys if you love to hike properly with experts, and love a proper British village in proper British terrain. Outstanding
Hi Damon - We have just returned from our walk from Padstow to St Ives and we wish to thank you for organising it. All went smoothly and we hope to conquer another section in the future. Being unfit 60+adults we did find the days over 10 miles (moderate or above) to be quite gruelling but the scenery was worth it. The accommodation was good to excellent. It proved worthwhile booking restaurants in advance, using trip advisor as a guide.
Hi Damon and team at Encounters, We had a marvellous walk through Dartmoor and across Exmoor last week. Everything went well and the accommodation was excellent. We particularly enjoyed our nights stay at Partridge Arms Farm in Yeo Mill. We learned that 10 to 12 miles a day is our limit with a 15 Kg pack; the long first day ( 15 miles ) completely exhausted us although given the geography of mid-Devon it would have been difficult to do anything else.
We found a few places in mid Devon approaching Morchard Road and Witheridge where the path was blocked by electric cattle fences and in one case completely ploughed over. We confirmed this with other walkers who had found the same. The area around Pascoe House Hotel seemed particularly unwelcoming to two moors way walkers; some of the route posts had been torn down and thrown aside. - Thanks Steve we will forward this info to the Two Moors Way Assocation who can take a look - EW
Overall we enjoyed the walk enormously; Thank You!
It was a fabulous week and we are grateful for such a relaxing holiday in this crazy times. The Imperial B&B in Woolacombe especially was a lot of fun, because of Roger ( ? ) the host , and his daughter . Also everybody in every hotel was really friendly with our dog and it was so easy going .Really sad to leave Cornwall and Devon. So , thats why we definitely book again for next year. Best regards and take care
Much as I'd love to wax lyrical about two great weeks in Cornwall, I'll spare you! Suffice to say we had a really fantastic holiday. The South West Coast Path is very special, isn't it? We were blessed by the weather (basically two sunny weeks with no rain!) and the experience of those 11 days on the trail will live long in the memory.
Thanks to you and all your colleagues for putting it together for us...we couldn't be more grateful. Once again, many thanks. Andrew
Damon,yes it was another successful holiday thank you. Given the circumstances having a holiday at all was a relief.
The weather and covid did have an effect as it was harder to stop on the way each day without booking ahead. It was actually quite cold at times and one day was lost to rain but it improved towards the end. This lead to a lot of looking at clouds and pressing on rather than lingering. I missed the section over Dunkery Hill and changed the order slightly in the middle but did complete the coast path elements. The contrast of woods, coastal hills and beaches was refreshing.
The accommodation was all good with Porlock Weir and Croyde being my favourites. I stuck to the coast path rather than the Coleridge Way once I got to the coast. A couple of comments on the walking - Minehead to Porlock Weir was very hard work not only as the first hill is really steep but the wind that day was extreme and I could barely walk at all on the exposed sections (I did not take the "alternative Path"). The alternative path in the guide from Culbone Church to Sugarloaf Hill is now marked as the main route. Combe Martin to Woolacombe I found just as hard as the previous stage although the guide seemed to think it was much less so. At Woolacombe the route has changed and now goes over the main road and up the other side before coming down a valley (rather than just down the road) which neither my map or the guide showed. it is about an extra 1/2 mile and a slightly nicer end to the day. The last day was short but it was the sunniest so that was fine.
Thank you for all your help with organising everything.
Dear Damon and colleagues,
Damon - such a pleasure to meet you in person and twice! Really great, after these years of corresponding.
First of all, thank you all SO much for making my walk this year possible. It really was the most wonderful break, especially after all the months of being restricted to staring more or less all the time at four walls.
Just viewing the sea, the open horizon and hearing the sound of the waves constantly in the background - all really did me a world of good. Very happy too to see lots of bird life. On one of my last days, I spent a fair bit of time with a young kestrel just meters away, sitting on a post. It was staring at me, as I was staring back! I also had the company of a trio of peregrine falcons overhead most of an afternoon. Such great memories to take back to the city.
I do realise and appreciate hugely how you had to organise everything twice, what with the necessary cancellation in the spring. I also understand that it must have been very challenging for your team as well as all the b&b’s, what with having to start up again after many months in lock-down and organise things quickly. Everything went really well and everyone was incredibly welcoming and helpful.
I hope the rest of the season goes smoothly for all of you and can provide your company with the necessary resources for the future. You are all doing an amazing job, providing a fantastic personal service.
Warmest regards, Carl
Helford Passage to Brixham.
Given how difficult it must have been to try and organise the walk so soon after “lockdown” - you did a fantastic job. As before, a good range of nighttime accommodation - and all the more so as I am aware how difficult it is to get accommodation for 'one night only' in August.
The baggage transfer again worked like a treat - and extra thanks to you for going the extra mile to get us, and out bags round all the Estuaries on the day between Wembury and Bantham….not made any easier by the first ferry man loosing his propeller on his way to the jetty!
Thank you again - it made the whole thing a lot easier and much more relaxing knowing we were in safe hands.
Dear Ellie - We had a wonderful time and really embraced what the weather threw at us! It was an adventure that we will treasure for many years to come.
Thank you so much for arranging everything and it was a real pleasure to book with yourself and your colleagues at Encounter Walking Holidays.
Kind Regards, Ian and Lauren
Would you choose Encounter Walking Holidays for future holidays? No
The Pembrokeshire Coast Path lived up to all our expectations. What a stunning route, very varied terrain, unspoilt, very few other people on it, felt very remote at times.
We used National Express coaches to Swansea - have "wrinkly" coach cards so it's very cheap travel. Travelodge for 1 night. Train to Kilgetty, this is a "request" stop only, then short walk - made slightly longer by route finding errors, not a good start! - in heavy drizzle to Amroth. Walked to the official start of the path to save time the next day. Had a pint in the Amroth Arms, they do Doom Bar!, and booked a table for the evening meal.
Started walking properly on Thursday 12th September, again in drizzle. Very windy at times too but what wonderful scenery. This is going to be good! Really pleased to have Choughs for company as we did every day except one. It was always a lovely moment to hear and see the Choughs for the first time each day. Towards the end of the route there were seals and their beautiful white pups in virtually every cove, could only hear them sometimes when the edge of the cliff was too dodgy to get too close.
Having never done any of the route before it was quite exciting starting out each morning wondering what we would see. We were never disappointed! Even the "industrial" sections were good. The Valero oil refinery is very well hidden although you can hear the "flare" for miles. There was an environmental protest there a couple of days after we passed with people chained to concrete blocks and tankers being directed across fields.
We were amused when passing the LPG refinery to see the "no fires or barbecues" signs as we passed under the huge pipelines. Had no trouble following the route once we started. There was a notice before The Gan crossing saying the bridge had been destroyed and it was only possible to wade at low spring tide. It's actually only the middle section gone, this is a shingle bank, so with a bit of stone rearranging we crossed with dry feet.
We were SO lucky with the weather, the heatwave was okay for us as it was also very windy. Only one very wet day from Trefin to Goodwick and it improved again after with some showers, forecast was always far worse than the actual weather luckily. As we travelled home again having completed the route the weather deteriorated seriously, Don't think we would have been able to do the last day safely as it was so windy.
As with the SWCP last year our accommodation providers all spoke very highly of you, you have a very good name, well done! Accommodation was, as last year, varied. We liked some more than others but they all provided what we required in the right place, you must have to do a lot of research.
The stand out ones were Jim Lowe at Manorbier, but unfortunately he is moving so that will be a great loss to you. The truly delightful Elizabeth and John (a Cornishman!) with their beautiful house and garden at Dale, Anchor Guest House at Broad Haven and their lovely Italian food and Cranog at Trefin.
We took no camera with us again, pictures in heads quite adequate. We did - again like last year - keep a daily diary which will jog our memories in the future.
Basically we had a wonderful holiday again, many thanks to you for organising it so efficiently again.
Best wishes, David & Anne
I keep meaning to write to say we had a great walking holiday with your company and everything was organised really well, thank you.
We stayed in 7 guest houses and hotels nearly all were very good but particularly wanted to say that 2 really stood out as excellent. Myrtles cottage in Porlock village and Yeodale hotel in Barnstable were outstanding.
We plan on doing the whole pathway in the next few years so hopefully we’ll start planning the next section in the spring.
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????
Dear Damon - Tom and I just returned home from our spectacular walking holiday around Land’s End. It was way more wonderful than we ever dreamed it would be, in that we were fit enough for the “strenuous” bits and navigated the tricky intersections with the OS map that we downloaded on our phones at your recommendation. We followed the plan except that the final day we walked to the Mount back from St Ives rather than the reverse, because it was raining on the planned for day. The OS map came in especially handy for that, as we made our way from The Queens Hotel in St Ives thru the streets and paths to find St Michael’s Way. Although the scenery wasn’t as dramatic as the coastal routes, we loved traversing the farmer’s fields and cow pies, and catching glimpses of the Mount as we got nearer. We don’t live near the country so it was a treat to enjoy the green hills and smells.
Another thing we did was take photos on our phones of our paper itinerary and guide book for easy access along the way.
Over the fortnight we loved meeting up at various points with the same walkers as we progressed along the route. No other Americans but Canadians, Germans and one Flemish woman with her dog Billie. She was camping along the way and we were so pleased that we were staying at the B&Bs and hotels you arranged for us. My favorite was the Gurnard Head Inn, but they were all great in special ways. It was fun to talk with Vivian, Tim, Shelley, Pauline and Pippa. My husband loved their Coca-cola breakfast room. We got upgraded at two places: the Old Success Inn, and the room that fronted on the sea, and at the Beachfield, where we got the penthouse suite. Three times we rode part way on the bus when it rained. And due to rain, we spent a morning touring the Telegraph Museum, which is excellent. Although disappointed that the Minnack had no production the night we were in Porthcurno, that afternoon we happened on a full dress-rehearsal for Orpheo; this was perfect because I doubt that we would have had the energy to attend an evening performance and hike on the next day.
I could go on, but just wanted to tell you what a grand trip it was when it so fresh in my mind. We had many opportunities along the way to recommend Encounter Walking to others we talked to.
Many Thank Yous to you and your team!
First of all the information, route and preparation by Encounter were, as always spot on. We have a couple of suggestions and feedback on 2 of the B&Bs which we stayed at.
General route feedback and suggestion
1. The walk from Charlestown to Parr Sands was fairly dismal. If those walking were not absolutely set on completing every inch of the specified route and it was feasible from a practical perspective it may be worth adding an optional extra of the bus from Charlestown to Par and then walking on that day to Polkerris staying overnight there meaning a slightly shorter day to Polperro.
2. The signage into Charlestown seemed to indicate that we needed to take the diversion still and we ended up travelling inland on the road. Having done that we still weren't sure we had followed the correct path!
1. Buckingham House B&B at Mevagissy was very pleasant and we were thrilled to find they did a laundry service. The info said 24 hours but they took our bag of laundry that morning and it was back in our room at the end of the day clean, dry and neatly folded. It may be worth including that info if other walkers are having a day off there for the Lost Gardens.
2. The Royal Inn at Par Sands has a new manager. Whilst the rooms are very spacious the food was the worst of the whole trip. Rather than the menu that had been in use (and was still in the room info folders) these had been changed and we suspect involved the removal of an actual chef with the equivalent of brought in and reheated "Break Brothers" type food. The breakfast although freshly cooked wasn’t a lot better. It may be something worth checking out?
Thank you once again for your excellent service and I have recommended Encounter to several other people who are interested in this type of walking and who have expressed an interest in the area you cover.
Our walking holiday was very much a success. Our hotels and B and Bs were always clean and the hosts welcoming. As far as our dinners, the White House, Valiant Soldier and the Bath Hotel were the standouts.
Overall, the walking was more steep than we expected (we had last walked in the Cotswolds four years ago) but we managed quite well. I should note that there was a stretch of the route above Deddy Combe on the way to Oare that involved a very narrow path above a steep drop. We were happy to be past it. Having the OS maps downloaded to my phone was very helpful since I could use the GPS function to ensure we stayed on the right path.
I am back and all went well. It was a walk of two halves - the first 2 and a bit days were very flat and the rest zero flat almost.
A few specific comments - The accomodation was all very good ; hard to separate any one location out but Surf Haven was a great room with a great view.
Going backwards on day one was slightly odd but worked without any issue and it was a gentle walk.
A couple of minor direction issues -
- coming out of Bideford the path goes uphill after some houses and then right with a very hidden sign and not over a concreate area as the book suggests.
- Beyond Clovelly I went the wrong way at one point in the woods but picked the path back up again fairly soon and later at what I think was East Titchberry cliff the path rather disappears and there is a broken sign post (it was very wet and poor visabilty at the point as well). It also broke the charger on my phone due to the wet. I intend to avoid walking all day in the rain in the future -
It rained on the day from Clovelly to Hartland Quay ; and it rained a lot and was windy had low visabilty. This was not a good day but I got the the hotel by lunchtime. The guide rather gives up after Hartland Point when the going gets rather hard. Clovelly itself was also a little odd ; almost too tourist like I think.
I actually liked the flat walk on the railway track it was sunny and easy.
The day from Appledore to Clovelly was the longest given the walk round the dunes at the start (although Appledore was very nice and Westward Ho appeared less so).
The Hartland Quay to Bude day was very good for the views and not quite as infamously hard as I had expected - although not easy.
The next day I walked all the way to Boscastle as it looked like rain on the last day and caught the bus back to Crackington Haven ; If I had realised how long the 7 miles were I might not have done that but it was fantastic walking and views one of the best on the whole path I think.
This meant I used the last day to avoid the morning rain and then get the bus back to Boscastle and walk up to the Church that Thomas Hardy restored ; which was a nice change and also I was nearly there before when I did the across Cornwall walk so I was pleased to finally make it.
Oddest thing that happened ; I passed a middle aged man in a floppy hat on a remote part of the walk to Bude with a foldup bike ; a large video camera and two kitchin wall clocks (really it felt like Alice in Wonderland) ; there was no way you could cycle and I still have no explanation for it.
Many thanks as always - Ken.
We really enjoyed our recent walking holiday. Everything went very smoothly - accommodation was good and luggage transfers were efficient. The guidebook and notes sheets were extremely helpful. We really liked having the choice of accommodation were available. We will be booking to walk the next stage with you next year!
Hope this is helpful.
Company feedback - it would be nice to have the option to upgrade rooms when booking as we would have loved a bath sometimes and also a larger room - would have been happy to pay an upgrade.
Encounter Walking - Thanks Ann its fine look at differnt rooms when you ask for a quote just let us know and we can include rooms with baths and larger/seaview rooms as options to consider
we had a wonderful holiday and enjoyed our walk along the Jurassic Coast very much. We were lucky with the weather: 55 minutes of rain in ten days and a little bit of storm on our last day. We loved the views and managed every cliff despite their heights. It was a very good decision to split the long walk and to stay a night in Kimmeridge. All of our accommodations were really very, very good. We loved especially „The Albany“, Lyme Regis, „Cove House“, Lulworth, „Farmhouse“, Kimmeridge and „77 Portland“ in Fortuneswell. The 77 was really the most enjoyable stay ever. Only the hotel in Bournemouth, Best Western Royale, is not worth the money. I would delete this from your list.
Our luggage had been in place every day and it waited for us in our room.
Thank you for planning and managing our holiday so well; I have already recommend you to our friends.
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.
We walked this from 23rd - 30th July and it was superb - the weather was stunning, the views spectacular and the instructions faultless. The accommodation was of a consistently high standard throughout.
Your itinerary worked for us - although Megan at The Old Rectory did not need 2 weeks notice to provide us with an evening meal (although doubtless she would have preferred that!) as we forgot - but she provided a superb meal anyway.
We just followed your itinerary to the letter. There were no hiccups. Thank you - a superb holiday
Tim, Barbara and Deborah
Just a quick note to tell you that we loved every minute of our fabulous Dorset walk from Weymouth to Poole. So utterly spectacular!
We very much look forward to booking with you again, so please keep us on your email list for updates, specials, whatever!
Sarah and I had a great time doing the Two Moors Way. It was challenging but fun, and a great achievement to complete it. We were quite lucky with the weather; not much rain and comfortable walking temperature most days with only 1 or 2 days being very hot.
All the accommodation and luggage transfers worked smoothly. The accommodation was all good, a nice variety of pubs, hotels and a farm, but no complaints, they were all friendly and accommodating some of them especially so. We did get a packed lunch from all of them, some had a lot more content than others but they were all OK, but we were a bit fed up with cheese sandwiches and ham sandwiches by the end of the week - would have been nice if they'd had some other choices (to be fair, a couple offered egg mayonnaise too, but that's not something that travels well especially on warmer days!). And some of them had homemade brownies/cakes etc on their dinner/lunch menus, but only the farm put anything homemade in their pack lunch - the farm was definitely the best pack lunch of the week!
The walking instructions combined with the book and frequent referrals to ordnance survey maps on our mobiles kept us on track. I think it was just once where we got slightly lost. It was on day 1, on Dartmoor, we had to get to a cross and then look out for a "settlement" and bear left. But we didn't even notice a "settlement" and just instinctively followed the only prominent path not realising we were even at a decision point. So we had to back track there, but there was still no other path that we could make out (or a settlement) so we just headed up a hill in the generally correct direction until a path became apparent.
Thanks for all you arrangements, organisation and support. It made for a great adventurous and challenging holiday.