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.
The holiday was very enjoyable and the accommodation(Dartmouth excepted) and eating probably the best I have had so far.The walk itself is always a discovery because I sometimes think the book is describing something else entirely.What has stuck in my mind is that last section Dartmouth to Brixham which was as good and tough as anything before and the way that Berry Head marks a transition.
All, it was another very good holiday - and I got it just right for the weather with only light rain one morning and a lot of rain the day after I finished which made leaving much easier. Indeed it was quite hot at times.
Some specifics -The first day was very long particularly as the walk across Plymouth takes some time. Over 20 miles including going to the pub at the end. The bridge in the barbican was closed adding to the length. The walk out of Plymouth is rather dull but there is no avoiding it.
Needing to catch the ferry means stopping along the way is always tempered by the need to get there which is a shame but again nothing to be done about this. Without the shortcut on day 2 (i.e. walking round Gara Point the day before) it would have been difficult to keep to the times needed.
The taxi was very well organised and I called him as was a little early. The actual taxi ride is longer than I expected and worth pointing out how long it takes.The second ferry is slightly hard to wave at but it was all well in the end. Unlike the guide I thought this was quite a hard days walking up and down on day 3 particularly on uneven surfaces around Lannacombe Bay
Salcombe was so busy that I could not find anywhere to sit down outside but good overall.
The walk along Slapton sands was confusing as the path does not really switch between the beach and lake side (the direction is obvious) and missing out the memorial. I missed the improvement into Strete perhaps by looking at the guide too much.
Overall it was very good with good mixture of hills/ bays /towns etc
Accommodation - the hotel room at the start was a little odd but fine. I particularly liked the Beesands stop and the Ness Mayo and final B&B's (the first for the quiet - its never quiet in London) ;
Excellent - holiday will be back I hope. Not sure which walk to do next...any suggestions Will send a couple of photos shortly. Thanks Ken
Dear Damon As usual a massive thanks to you for sorting out our walk.
– Rashleigh Arms and TGallants Annexe – Charlestown Area Very nice hotel and a cracking Sunday lunch. Bus driver drops you right outside the hotel if you ask. Although no shop you can buy home made Cornish pasties from the weighbridge tea shop and home made cakes and drinks to go for the walk.
The King Of Prussia - Fowey - Another top draw place to stay. The little extra bits for the room were a nice touch. Walk is more 11.5 to 12 miles having to go through Par. There's an ice cream van in the car park at the end of Par beach. Fowey would be a good place for 2 nights.
Looe - Fieldhead Hotel Very clean but deco is very dated. Breakfast was very average. The diversion is still in place. Look out for the seals at Looe Island. Loved walking through Polperro and seeing the electric trams. Some great places to eat and some good art shops. I prefer it to Looe and it might be a better place to stay the night.
Portwrinkle - The Little Fox a bit of the path but a nice place to stay. Evening meal was very pricey. The Finnygook iInn is closer and they have rooms. This might be a better option.
Plymouth - Sea Bleezes Great welcome from Ann who was lovely. Just off the walk and a great breakfast and comfy room. Ann couldn't do enough for us. You can tell she's had lots of walkers staying with her and was the most welcoming host we've had.
Worswell Barton Farmhouse -Noss Mayo The ferry runs 10-4 this time of year which was good. Nice comfortable room and a hearty breakfast.
River Erme - Ivy Barn a good walk from the path. Average accommodation School Cafe by the beach was great, very quirky. Taxi arrived spot on time. When the tide is out you can walk from Bigbury On Sea to The Ferry along the beach. We did this and it was a lovely walk. The Bay View Cafe was closed but although it doesn't look much the Venus Cafe was spot on and very environmentally friendly. Burgh island's pub the Pilchard On had a very limited menu and a long queue for non locals and hotel residents so we gave that a miss.
The Hope and Anchor Inn – Hope Cove A excellent place, one of a chain. Rashleigh Arms which we loved is in the same chain. Had a stunning view over the sea at Hope Cove. The Bantham ferry ran spot on 3-4. He doesn't do a minute before or after. The beach just after the ferry stop has four seasonal street/beach cafes selling a variety of high end street food. There was too much choice today for a bite to eat. The walk was breath taking.
Salcombe - B&B was very disappointing. The shower was a trickle and the breakfast poor. Last years stay at Salcombe was a really nice B&B and it was a shame it wasn't available. Appreciate that Salcombe is busy but there must have been better options. Looking at the reviews on trip advisor I have to agree with the negative ones.
The luggage transfer service as usual was excellent. The route and the scenery was amazing. Thanks and best wishes - Paul
I broke the Southwest Coast Path up into a total of four trips (work gets in the way of things!), all planned by Encounter. Planning was superb and execution was precise. There was never a lost bag or missed reservation in 60+ nights on the trail. I was able to hike to my heart's content and never worry about the how or where I was going to stay when the day was done. I highly recommend them for price, service, and knowledge of the path.
Our fourth section of the south west coastal path with Encounter. Everything went very well even the weather was kind. The route was easy to follow and all diversions were well marked. The remote section from Plymouth was particularly spectacular with lots of ferry crossings and incredible scenery. All accommodations were good and welcoming. Food was great everywhere and advice on booking in advance was helpful. Luggage transfers perfect. Thanks to all at Encounter Maggie & Peter
All accommodation booked was good, but some was better and staff 'went the extra mile' to make you feel more welcome than others.
All in all well done for choosing those places. Nothing to complain about!!!
A big thank you to you all for again providing excellent advice on the next part of the trail, which we walked from Mevagissey to Dartmouth this year. This has been our forth time on the SWCP organised by Encounter Walking Holidays and we are already planning to continue next year. Everything was well organised, incl. the luggage transfer! Accommodation was well chosen. Having been on the trail before we knew what to expect and despite a few more days of wet weather in comparison to the last three years, it did not stop us enjoying the walk. The views are absolutely stunning. We had no problem following the trail description and except for a short part of the way between Looe and Lansallos where the trail was overgrown, the rest was perfectly fine. Will definitely keep in touch! Thanks again for a perfect holiday!
Hello Encounters: Just to let you know we are back in Florida after our British return the end of June. The walking was fantastic from Lyme Regis to Plymouth.
Everything went so smoothly due to all your planning experience!
Thank you so very much for an amazing adventure. We loved it!
We arrived back safely on Thursday evening having spent a day looking round Exeter before we came home.
The final section of the walk was lovely - no rain again for the whole fortnight and a lovely on-shore breeze most of the time which made for ideal walking conditions. This section was not so urban as I had expected but still contained a lot of ups and downs. The books always say that the North Cornwall section is the hardest but we have found the two sections from Falmouth to Exmouth to be equally challenging!!! Must be getting older.
The coastline was very attractive and the drowned rias were very picturesque in the sunshine with the boats floating on the deep blue water. As always the accommodation was all very good and all different. It was lovely having breakfast at Beesands with the folding doors wide open - just like being on the continent. The Sea Tang B&B have refurbished all their bedrooms this year and they are now very smart. It was also lovely to go back and see Anne in Plymouth for a couple more nights. George insisted on taking the ferry across to Exmouth to make sure we completed the route. We also managed to get some really good photos of a cirl bunting which was a first for us. No problems with the luggage transfer - they even managed to deliver a 'lost ' fleece to another group of walkers that we picked up en-route.
We have thoroughly enjoyed doing the walk - we are quite sad in a way to have finished it but maybe we'll look at the new Somerset walks when you have had more time to sort them out.
Thank you so much for organising all 6 of our trips. Knowing how difficult it can be to get one - night bookings at peak holiday times must make booking accommodation quite time consuming. It's been lovely exploring this part of the country for the first time - in no small part to your help. We will continue to recommend you to anyone who is interested in walking in the South west.
At last a rare free moment (it's raining outside) since our return to answer this.
The walk was excellent thanks. The weather was very kind overall to us, with the heavy rain on arrival and also day 1 soon replaced by sun. The walking was not really demanding (even the last day when the terrain was a bit tougher but mileage low), with quite low daily distances (driven clearly by accommodation locations and ferries).
The accommodation was uniformly very good, with the highlight for us both being Bayards Cove Inn, closely followed by The Fortescue Inn both of which were excellent. We didn't bother with packed lunches due to the short distances, but perhaps should have done on day 1 with hindsight. A few updates for your guide notes:
The two taxi trips on day 1 with Kevin worked very well.
The cafe at Mothecombe is currently closed for renovation (hence my comment above re packed lunch) which made waiting for the taxi in the rain less comfortable than it might have been. And all the places in Bigbury were closed by the time we arrived!
The Sloop Inn only opens at 6pm although we could get earlier access to our room - but no beer until later! They have some renovation work ongoing too impacting the restaurant, but the food in the bar was very good.
No problems getting a table at Cricket Inn either with very good food - and there is the option of the Britannia further along the beach which looked very good (and popular).
The Kings Arms pub in Strete is currently closed and up for sale. The village store there only had limited provisions (including some out of date sandwiches!) - we would have done better to wait until the (very good) Green Dragon in Stoke Fleming.
The ice cream shop in Dartmouth no longer sells packed lunches - but there is an excellent coffee shop called Woodroast in town (other than the Bayards Cove itself) for which we delayed our leaving until their 10am opening time! Bushell's Riverside proved to be a very good choice for dinner.
The best coffee in Brixham is at Port Espresso (we arrived just in time for their 4pm closing time) and we dined well at Beamers.
Hope this is of use.
Hi Damon and others, We have just finished our itinerary today in Dartmouth. We have been going for 16days and have walked almost 200mls on the coast track with several diversions to places where I lived, was evacuated and grew up along the way. The trip has far surpassed my expectations. The weather has been excellent -if somewhat stimulating at times:)Only 1 hour of rain all the time. The scenery is unbelievable...still unspoilt and much of it as I remember it from over 70 years ago. The villages and accommodation were so excellent and interesting and we met some lovely and eccentric locals in all the pubs!
The walk is the best that I have ever done....varied at every turn and historically interesting.
we are now staying a few days with my brother in a beautiful converted church in N Cornwall. We will spend a couple of days on Dartmoor too, using your info supplied to us earlier.
We would not hesitate to recommend this to others. We were most impressed with the help and efficient service that your company supplied...and especially the luggage support service. No problems to report. We had a few diversions which were tricky when the Coast Path gave choices, but did not indicate why (eg tidal routes etc) but nothing major.We would love to return and do another area some time, Thanks for all your help in planning and supporting us ,
We had a successful and enjoyable walk from Plymouth to Torquay, thank you. The itinerary information was fine, and all the B&B accommodation was very good.
The only problem we encountered was with some of the way-marking, where it wasn't obvious which way we needed to go. Two In particular were: over the fields between Strete and Matthew's Point, and from the Torquay Marina to Daddyhole Plain then Cove.
My walk was from Plymouth to Poole. It was for the charity Motor Neurone Disease Association. I needed the help of encounter to plan my walk to suite my abilities. Without their help I could not have completed the 266 mile walk. The location of accomadation was perfect and the planned route worked. I was aware of all diversion on the way, I got lost a few times mainly down to myself. The scenery and views are stunning. It's a perfect way to enjoy a few days away. I finished by walking from Poole to Lymington a 26 mile walk to help the sufferers and families of this terrible disease. With out the help of Encounter Walking Hoildays and their professional approach I could not have finished this walk. Thank you
Thank you for once again organising a glorious walking trip for me. The weather – despite the very inaccurate and gloomy forecasts – was fantastic for walking – even the supposedly awful Wednesday did not materialise. I only had my waterproof trousers on for two brief periods and the wind was kind. Crossing the Erme was quite an adventure but with the advice from the lovely Jackie at Worsall Barton I was armed with walking sandals and a towel and made it. Thank you so much for organising the walk to correspond with the tides – it was fun.
Arrived at Starcross Ferry at 2.50 ferry at 3.10 so pretty perfect. Few worrying moments waiting for the ferry at Bigbury but eventually someone waved from the other side and ferried us across.
The walking was fabulous right up there with the first section despite the urban bits. Badly signed I felt from Torquay and I missed Anstys Cove.All accomodation was up to the usual good standard. I loved Dukes in Sidmouth.
All in all I had a fabulous time.
Yet another excellent holiday. The accommodation was all very good or excellent. The luggage transfer was , as ever, faultless. You even got the weather in good order. Thank you again. We will be back next year
Yes, we made it! 15 sunny walking days, just some showers at the beginning. One day of rest in Plymouth, one in Lyme Regis. We even made it to watch part of the Holland versus Chile football match in the Haven Hotel in Poole, even though we took a sandy path through the heather dunes close to the finish in South Haven Point! We just hadn't seen the coast path signs:-)
Compliments for Damon of Encounter Walkings who organized it for us, the luggage transfers were 100% oke, the B&B's/hotels were good, the owners friendly. Nicest moment of the day was usually the shower in the B&B/hotel:-) We managed to catch all taxi and ferries in time, sometimes just in time:-) Damon warned us. We got what we asked for; 15 miles on average a day, which turned out to be pretty heavy with all the ascending and descending. 15 miles sounded easy to us even though we knew it's 25 km, please take into account the climbing you have to do, because twice I was too tired to go out for diner in the evening. Next time we would surely try to find more time to look for fossils f.e. in Lyme Regis or look for dolphins near Swanage, we didn't sees any dolphins because we hadn't enough time to stand still and watch the sea I guess. I only swam for 1 minute in Weymouth! We used to visit nice things like Drakes' ship 'the Golden Hind' in Brixham, St. Catherines Chapel near Abbotsbury, the evacuated village of Tyneham, the ocean aquarium in Plymouth, the museum in Lyme Regis, etc.
Making 1000 pictures cost some time too. Twice we reached the next B&B/hotel at 7pm, which was rather late, the first time because we visited Drakes' ship and I lost the map on the terrace where we had coffee afterwards (which cost us another 40 minutes delay:-(), the other time was when we arrived in Portland, too tired to notice there was a more quiet footpath some 10 meters from the road along Chesil Beach.
We did the first part of the SWCP in June 2010 from Westward Ho! --> Penzance, Cornwall is more quiet than Devon and Dorset, you probably knew that but we didn't:-), holiday camps and military zones are not just an improvement from a walkers point of view. Besides that heavy rainfall caused some serous damage and erosion to the coast, there were more diversions compared to 2010. You know the Durdle Door picture on the walking guide? Well, when we reached it the beach was pretty crowded on a sunny saturday:-) People swam and canoed through the door, ofcourse I understand people enjoy to be there, it just wasn't the quiet place I expected.
The diversions were clearly marked, plenty of warnings about erosion, diversion, danger here danger there, on the whole the SWCP was clearly marked. We discussed a shortcut to Abbotsbury, somewhere in the fields/meadows you can see a path to the right straight to the village, it was a hot day, afterwards we agreed we should have taken the shortcut but we were not sure at the right moment to take the shortcut. Mostly the path is maintained oke, sometimes long trousers are handy against nettles and thisles.
We had to catch a few ferries and several taxis in time. To make the trip more relaxed (it shouldn't feel like work:-)) we would suggest to give walkers the opportunity to call the taxidriver/company at the moment you reach the location where the driver should pick you up. Advantage: No stress for walkers, disadvantage: waiting for the taxi after the call.
Places to eat: there's always at least 1 good restaurant in the neighbourhood, we recommend the Eastern Eye Indian Cuisine in Plymouth, fish and chips plus peas with minty sauce (I'll try this at home) in the Ship Inn in Noss Mayo, Masala Indian Cuisine in Swanage, sticky toffee pudding in the Ox in Poole. And plenty of carrot cake on the way. All B&B's/hotels served a good breakfast; you can always combine/choose English and/or continental breakfast, that will take You up the hills!
Compared to the Netherlands: the public toilets in Great Britain are good; clean, well maintained and available in most villages/towns!
In short; we had a great time!
Enjoyed our 3-day trip; good weather for most of the time (one very wet and windy morning), good accomodation, especially The Cricket Inn at Beesands, and a varied mix of coastal scenery. We dined on fresh fish every night; the Rockfish restaurant in Dartmouth was excellent! All the planning, logistics, maps and guidance provided by Encounter was perfect, as always.
As always, everything was arranged to fulfil my needs. Very good accommodation and beautiful walking. Diversions were not a problem, neither in number nor length. In many places I had a number of restaurants to choose between, and the food was often more up-scale compared with further west. Maybe because this area also seemed to be popular with the sailing people. I can only recommend this stretch on SWCP. Even the weather was more or less perfect, only two rainy days in 15 days walking.
On the whole, it was a wonderful walk again, and we were lucky to have four almost dry days! After crossing by the ferry or surrounding by taxi the estuaries I now understand what you meant when you said this section was a bit tricky....... We found everything alright, only the B and B Revelstoke Combe in Noss Mayo was difficult to find. My most preferred day was the day from Hope to Salcombe, because it was wonderfully quiet and sunny. The worst day was the next day, because there was heavy rain all the time and we could not walk at all.......On the whole we walking a lot slower than the estimated times!..... The best pub was the SHIP INN Noss Mayo, they have excellent food!..... On the whole the accommodation was ok. The Sea Breezes Guest House and the Queens Court Hotel were very good! The Hope and Anchor was good with nice rooms. So was the Dolphin Inn where the rooms were not only nice, but also well heated! In Revelstoke Combe, which was also good, we had a lovely experience with the landlady. When she understood how exhausted and hungry we were, she drove us down to the Ship Inn, and later back home again. That was very special!....... All the information was very useful. Especially the information about the Bay Cafe in Bigbury helped us a lot. I think everything was well organized. I think we will come back next summer, and then we just walk on! Thank you very much for everything. It was a lovely holiday!
Had no problems finding the routes, the day by day booklets were brilliant, very informative....... Can only say the best walking were the sunny days, Hope Cove, Salcombe & Beesand, only because we saw these places at their best, the rest of the walk probably would have been very pretty, only didn’t really notice it, due to having to concentrate so hard on feet placements...... Worst days were the first two day and last two, purely down to the weather, rain, rain, mud and more mud, making the going hazardous underfoot...... We were walking faster than estimated times, but we do walk fast and the weather encouraged this...... The info you supplied about rest stops & cafes along the route was very helpful. We did find some lovely Restaurants: Barbican Kitchen in Plymouth; the Boatswain in Salcombe; Taylors in Dartmouth & the Poopdeck in Brixham. All excellent for Fish...... All accommodation you provided were excellent, : The CRICKET INN, this was one of our favourites, beautiful accommodation, very clean & the evening meal gorgeous, lovely breakfast too: The only thing we found was that with having two couples walking, one couple always ended up with a small room. I know there's always the problem you are only there for one night, but it can get difficult with the bags. We do appreciate there's not a lot you can do about it. It is not a complaint, just a fact...... Despite the weather it was great...... You did a great job, thankyou very much we will definitely use you again.
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