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.
Oct 11th - We are now taking enquiries and bookings on all our routes for 2024 so please get in touch
Would you choose Encounter Walking Holidays for future holidays? Yes
Would you recommend Encounter Walking Holidays to others? Yes
we had a wonderful walk in very nice weather. Walking over the Moor, along the coast and through the fields gave a nice change in scenery so we could enjoyed al the beauty of Cornwall in one walk. Most enjoyable was looking over Cornwall from the top of Brown Willy and Helman Tor and the nice harbour villages as Looe, Boscastle and Port Isaac. All hotels, inns and B&B where very nice to stay, easy to find and close to the route, pubs and restaurants.
So thank you for organizing this perfectly.
I tracked all our walking using WikiLoc, so you can refer other walkers to the links so they can follow in our foot steps us using the WikiLoc app:
The Smugglers Way was easy to find using the OS Map and the OS Maps App on which I plotted the route you marked on the maps. We had wonderful weather all week so that makes navigating also very easy. We only had problem finding our way in a field next Halwill Barton, but using gps and the OS Maps App this was solved. And we could escape the bull protecting his girls and his field against us.
The flooded road between Withiel and Retire was no problem (see photo) thanks to the weather.
I will advise all friends who want to go walking in Cornwall to use your services and walk this route.
Excellent planning, maps, notes and luggage transfer by Encounter. Most of the B&Bs were first-class, though one or two were a wee bit “tired”. After two days of great weather, the cool and rain set in, but did not diminish the walking at all. Under Damon’s advice we taxied around a long Bodmin Moor day due to very thick fog and rain - dangerous to continue under those conditions. The coast paths - Atlantic and Channel - were as challenging as Encountered warned us, but completely “do-able” and overall were in excellent condition. This was not a stroll in the woods, but a real challenge.
The Saints Way - Padstow to Fowey - was quite muddy and, as warned, flooded in two areas but not insurmountable. Two farmers obviously resented having National Trust paths cross their fields, as they sprayed liquid manure and left uncut crops in the way. Apart from those blips, it was a wonderful challenge which we thoroughly enjoyed. Hats off to Damon, Ellie and their team, all our B&B hosts (especially Jim and Shirley in Love and Rob and Dave in St. Neots), and Southwest Luggage Transfers for making this a fun and memorable 10 walking days. Would do it again in a heartbeat ,
A challenge indeed! Very well organised by Encounter with great notes provided and all transfers and accommodation as anticipated. If you are considering doing this, we thought that the average daily distance in benign weather was fine for the first five days (but we wouldn't have wanted it to be any further!), but any extreme weather, as we had on one day, makes it a bit of a route march - we found ourselves walking from 9 til 4 minimum every day with few and only short stops and we don't consider ourselves slow walkers.
The length of the last two days (20 & 17 miles respectively with the spot on navigation required on an 'artificial' route) would have been more than was enjoyable for us , so with a poor weather forecast for the last day we adapted this to a one day circuit of Bodmin Moor, which made for a nice end to a good walk. We added in a rest day in Fowey which we were very glad to have done.
Route comments - SWCP Boscastle to Port Issac - strenuous first day but worth it - the path is quite loose and footing tricky at times, especially in the wind and rain . You spend much of your time looking down, not looking at the great views.
Saints Way - a nice contrast to SWCP . Route notes - After crossing the A39, a Saints Way sign is missing at the kink in the path halfway up the stretch towards the top of St Breoch Downs. You should bear right but a farmer told us many people end up going straight on until they realise that after a mile of downhill they have gone wrong and have to double back. The footpath outside Withiel is still badly flooded and impassable after a good period of dry weather. The diversion to Retire is no longer and perfectly good. Make that the route?
The second Saints Way day, Lanivet to Fowey was particularly scenic and enjoyable - our favourite. Overall we enjoyed ourselves tremendously. Service was excellent and people very friendly almost without exception. Thanks to all at Encounter for the great service too.
The walk was a wonderful week of fabulous views both inland and coastal, interesting history, old green lanes, good food and wine and sunshine all week!
Boscastle to Port Isaac – very hard walking! – great views but the last 6 miles were brutal!
We ate at the Mote(?) restaurant – excellent food – best meal of the week
Port Isaac to Padstow – lovely walking (more gentle up and down!) we swam in the sea at Polzeath – which was a highlight – fun ferry ride
Supper was at Rick’s fish and chip café – an experience – great puddings! (tartare sauce - £1.30!)
Padstow to Lanivet – (my favourite day!) – lovely day
Hotel – great place – very comfortable and very convivial host with after dinner drinks in the hotel bar with 3 other guests from Canada – very nice breakfast
Eat at the pub in the village – very friendly but quite slow – but they were very busy
Lanivet to Fowey – again lovely day
Ate in a very nice Italian restaurant just across from the hotel after a very welcome drink sitting looking over the harbour – pizzas were massive and delicous
Fowey to Looe – quite a hard day – more ups and downs – again lovely views
Ate at a basic pub in East Looe – couldn’t really find anywhere to eat - Looe was the place we liked the least
Looe to Jamaica Inn – long and hard day – quite boring – road walking – our least favourite day
Hotel was great – the rooms were the best of the whole week –
Jamaica Inn to Boscastle – again a lovely day walking
We had a great week – helped by all the sunshine – the transfers worked perfectly and we all very much enjoyed the Cornish countryside and coast – 100 miles is a long way – we didn’t seem to have time for a cream tea!
Thank you for all your help - a great week was had by us all
Our walking-tour started at Looe. We walked over the Bodmin Moor to Bodcastle and along the coast path down to Padstow. Highlights were the moor sections from Minions to Jamaica Inn passing Cheesewring Stone, Sharp Tor, Kilmar Tor and Trewortha Tor. From Jamaica Inn we walked to Brown Willy and Rough Tor and reached Bodcastle in a good time. For the walks over the moor we had marked the tors with crosses and drawn lines between them. In this way we could lay down our compass along the lines during the walk and determine the right directions. With the authority of the compass in the background we were more able to enjoy the amazing landscape of the Bodmin Moor. Back at home I am wondering about the different beauties of the coast and moor walks in South-West England. The Bodmin Moor has given me the same feeling as walking in our Swiss mountains. On the coast you walk along the sea, but in the moor you are going into the power of nature. If you are getting into something powerful, you have to be respectful towards the beauty, because it can be although deceptive and dangerous. Holding this in mind you will be rewarded with the peace of your heart, as in my case. Thanks to the people of Encounterwalking who made this precious experience possible.
The holiday was a success. The weather was mostly OK if rather cold at times. The last day however I did not manage as it was very wet and foggy and it is a holiday not a competition. The accommodation was all good (with the exception of the meal in Boscastle in the hotel in the evening). Probably the best was the old school in Port Issac.
I only got lost once although there were a couple of other points that might be of interest.
Day 1 - Where the insert is in the Smugglers way it was slightly confusing as it said go west (rather than left) and there is no sign. Then it says go left uphill and there are two turns left one straightaway and one later neither of which is correct.
Day 2 - It might be worth mentioning to stay further left than the compass guidance (follow the dim sort of path with the fence visible on the left) as you set out onto the moor after Jamaica Inn if you follow the compass you end up in some very long reeds as I did briefly.
Day 4 - Near the church before Padstow the path to the beach has been re-routed as it is crumpling away which is slightly confusing, The detour to the church is worthwhile at this point anyway. Also at low tide you can walk right round to Rock on the beach if you want to.
Day 5 - I got lost trying to get out of Padstow - the sign has been put back up just before the campsite but appears to point to someones driveway or if not then to the path that leads to the bridge - finally I went into the campsite and round a field before coming back and going past reception and left (not into the field) and slightly up by what I think are some toilets and hence to the path.
Day 5 - The part with the field and going across one too early is actually I think caused by the sign on the gate and the map being wrong and showing the diagonal rather then straightdown and then right (and the sign the other way points straight up . The actual way is fairly obvious however.
Day 6 - At some point when the path leaves the road into a wood (I need to check where) the OS Map shows a path on the left and on the right where the correct path is. However I did not see the left path and turned right off the actual path which I think is to someones wood shed - its only about 50m so not a big deal. (took the east route by the way)
This does not mean that I spent most of the time lost - only about 10 min in a field full of campers near Padstow. Very pleased with the mixed sea/countryside route , it was a shame about the last day but I think I will be back to look at more of the coast at some point.
Thanks for all the arrangements.
one week at home today. Time to give you a personal feedback. Our time in Cornwall really was one of the best holidays in our life. We enjoyed the walk, allthough it was rather straneous, especially for my wife, but she enjoyed too. We loved the variety of the walk, the marvellous coast path on one hand, but also the moor, the fields, the woods and little villages and cottages on the other. This gave us very good impressions from all sides of Cornwall.
The organisation of the tour was perfect, the accomodations were very well chosen.
But above all, we met a lot of wonderful, friendly people and perfect hosts.
Thank you very much for your personal help in planning the tour and during the walk, this was very essential for the success of it. Next time, I am sure there will be one, we would immedately start the walk after the arrival and schedule some days of rest instead, also to stay longer at fantastic places like Fowey or Padstow.
I'm glad to have found the number one provider for invidual travelling in Cornwall, it was often confirmed during the walk. The last days in St. Ives were a good finish, Debbie and Carl were perfect hosts in Seaforth. But now it's all over and new dreams can begin. On the walk we met someone, who told us about the beauty of Southern Wales. Perhaps this is one....
First of all many thanks for the excellent organisation (B&B's, luggage transfer, material). The accomodations were perfect with the exception of Jamaica Inn. That was okay but very commercialised and as a result not very client minded. At lesat that is what we felt. Except for one rainy day and some local showers the weather held quite good. Our first stage was the Smugglers' Way from Looe to Boscastle. Thanks to decent weather conditions crossing Bodmin Moor was not too difficult but I can understand that when foggy this bleak place can be very dangerous. The area around Davidstow is ugly and is best passed through quickly. Closing in on Boscastle the walk along the river Valency is beautiful. The second stage was the south west coast path between Boscastle and Padstow. The coastline is astounding. It being the most strenuous part of our walking trip it did not deter us from admiring the surroundings and the unexpected beauty of the small villages along the route. The third stage was the Saints' Way. Till Withiel there is not much to be seen or admired. Beyond Withiel the Way becomes more exciting. A visit to Lostwithiel is worth the detour. Especially when you return to the Way by the footpath along the railtrack (actually between two railtracks). Fowey is a nice little place with an excellent B&B (the Well House). Terrific breakfast and very nice owners (including Frank the Labrador, when he's awake that is). The last stage was the coast path from Fowey to Looe. Not as rough as the Atlantic coast but also very beautiful. All in all, this was a great experience. The variety is surroundings makes it a surprising and very enjoyable tour. Some stages were tough going but the whole route was doable. Minor issue: we think the booklet on the Smugglers' Way needs a complete new and updated version. Encounter Walking Note - Sadly Frank Squibb the local creator of the Smugglers Way and the Guidebook passed away a couple of years ago - we are looking into options to keep his vision and work on that route going and the information from his guidebook up to date - so just ask for an update on this -
Thank you very much for the detailed notes and organising everything so perfectly well.
All our hosts were informed that we are coming and our luggage was always there when we arrived. Also were your notes regarding refreshment facilities very helpful.
We are very happy to let you know that we made the 100 Mile Challenge Our girls are almost fitter than we are, so we made all sections right in the time you indicated on your notes. The weather was wonderful, almost no rain, just two or three hours in total during our 10 days walking holiday which is probably hardly surpassable.
The only thing that we would think about next time when we will be planning walking holidays is taking a day or two off during the walk for example at a "beach" town (e.g. Padstow), so that the kids could go swimming and we could relax and read a book or so.All in all the 100 Mile challenge was a success and we enjoyed it very much.
Two German people (Ralf 51, Karin 47) decided to walk around Cornwall. The routes of "encounterwalking" were very interesting for us. The consultation and booking at "encounterwalking" was very good and uncomplicated. Our round trip started in Liskeard, along the smugglers way to Boscastle. We walked along the north coast. Then on the Saints Way back down to the south coast of Cornwall to Fowey, Looe and then back to Liskeard. We have taken the middle price group with the accommodations. The guest houses or hotels were very good. We met on our way very lovely people. It was a wonderful holiday. We thank the employees of "encounterwalking". Everything was great.
The walk along the north coast was undoubtedly the best couple of days due to excellent weather and stunning scenery...... All the accommodation was up to standard but we rated the food at the Riverside at Boscastle as the best and well worth sampling........ The information was all OK with nothing to add all very comprehensive including directions to Willowbrook for those, like us, who don’t read ahead!..... Couple of points to add (1) Paths generally good but getting overgrown in places but this is to be expected at the end of the growing season and we hope they’ll be cut back over the winter. (2) The path from Sowden’s bridge to Tremadart Wood needs attention- they are many fallen trees/branches across the row, it’s very muddy and badly overgrown. (3) For a number of reasons, weather, time, cumulative wear and tear, we decided to stop at Dobwalls and get a taxi to Jamaica Inn. The walk from Looe to Dobwalls was not spectacular and was messy so we think we would have enjoyed doing the moorland walk from Dobwalls to Jamaica Inn more....... We all really enjoyed the holiday and appreciated the care you took in planning it for us. We’re now thinking about next year but probably in another area.
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