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.
Had an absolutely brilliant time - the route was for the most part beautiful ( with the exception of the holiday parks), the accomodations were perfect for our needs, and the luggage transfers and hotel bookings all went seamlessly. A word of caution if you are doing this route in wet weather as we were - the path through the Axmouth to Lyme Regis Undercliffs is very muddy and EXTREMELY slippery in places, so use care. That said, it was like entering another world after the windswept cliffs of the previous days walks - quite enchanting!
Hi Damon, firstly thanks once again for organising another fabulous walking holiday for us. Our time walking the South Devon Coast walk was tremendous and as with our previous excursion with you and the team at Encounter Walking Holidays, this trip was faultless. Given that we only booked four weeks prior to starting our walk, I recognise that this possibly put you all under pressure to ensure a quality outcome, I am not sure how you did it but you pulled it off brilliantly.
The quality of all our accommodation, whilst varied was spot on, with no disappointments at all. In fact two of our seven stays had pools, a real bonus, especially after a hard days walking. With a detailed itinerary, accompanying maps and luggage on arrival it was just down to us to ensure we enjoyed our walk and arrive safely. There is no doubt that Jane and I will use you again. Thank you so much, everyone, who was involved in making our vacation a memorable one.
Andrew and Jane
Hi Encounter, Just responding to say that our walk was fabulous. I think other walkers should know how varied the terrain of the South West Coast Path is, both in terms of landscape and difficulty, on any given day. We totally embraced that, and could totally relax since you took care of all of the details for us. With our detailed itineraries, the mostly good signage, and the OS smartphone app with incredible GPS mapping, we never lost our way. If that's a help, by all means post it on your website. Looking forward to walking in England again soon! Emily
Walk number 5 with Encounter Walking and once again 5 stars for the planning and execution of our trip! The ease of booking, the pleasant accommodations we were greeted with at the end of each day and the tips and suggestions built into the day to day itinerary we received were all perfect and exactly what we have come to expect from the Encounter team.
This year's stretch was by far the easiest one we've done however that doesn't mean it was without any challenge or interest. Route finding was a breeze and in fact, this is the first time we've not gotten sidetracked or waylaid by wrong choices. We were a little leery of the urban stretches but they were charming in their own way with a bit of willingness to humor on our part and we found plenty of wild miles to cheer us up. Serious wilderness walkers might be disappointed with this section but for a family that includes one person who still would prefer to just drive between locations but 'suffers' the walks for family bonding, it was a good mix of quiet coast and bustling towns. We also got a kick from finally seeing from the ground stretches that we've only ever viewed from the window of the trains we've been on making our way further West/South.
The ability to have our lunch breaks each day in a town or country pub was a big plus. A couple highlighted places for lunch stops were the Thatched Inn between Torquay and Teignmouth and Slice of Lyme in Budleigh Salterton. We actually enjoyed Torquay more than we anticipated but this might have been helped along by the wonderful hosts at Marstan Hotel and a great dinner at On the Rocks in town (I noticed they have a branch in Brixham now too).
We were lucky enough to be in Sidmouth for the Folk Festival - actually, we planned our walk to do so. Enjoyed some good music and the street fair atmosphere. Highly recommend the Pea Green Boat for dinner in Sidmouth. We also were thrilled to have time to spend pretty much a whole day with the donkeys at the sanctuary just outside of town.
The free summer Sidmouth Hopper Bus was a godsend to enjoying the area so we didn't have to walk up and down the hills to get places! Truth be told we cheated on our way out of town and took the bus to the sanctuary for a second goodbye to the donkeys and walked through the sanctuary down to the coast path from there.
Highly encourage double-checking tide timetables too as you walk into Exmouth. I thought we had done so but discovered we arrived in Starcross at low tide so no ferry; but fortunately realized in time to catch the train. For extra fun, we had reservations that night at the River Exe Cafe so ferried out to it with the tide roaring back in.
Beer was a pleasant surprise - the beach was a nice picturesque stroll after dinner. Ending in Lyme Regis and finally getting to walk the Undercliff (It had been closed when we tried to do it a couple years ago) was a wonderful end. Lyme is one of our favorite spots on the coast for the chance to hunt fossils on the beach. Our dinner find there is Poco Pizza down by the Cobb. The smallest pizza place we've ever seen but by far the best pizza we've ever had - so much so we had dinner there two nights of our 3 in Lyme.
We've clocked in about 43% of the coast path now I figured - only something like 360 more miles to finish it. Funny - only 7 years ago it wasn't even a glimmer of a goal - but it gets under your skin once you start and it's hard to imagine not finishing it all. And it definitely is hard to imagine not having the excellent help and support of Encounter to do so! Looking forward to that on our next go.
Everything went very well, except for some smaller injuries. It rained a couple of days, but we were rather well equipped for all kind of weather . The sceneries were amazing. We felt very welcome at all B&B and with a nice full English breakfast or excellent porridge we could walk several hours before enjoying a cider or an ale. The luggage were smoothly transfered from place to place. So, thanks for a well arranged walk! It is a pity that you will leave the EU, but that will not keep us from returning again!
First of all, I just want to thank you for arranging everything so nicely. We had a great adventure and everything went very smoothly. All the luggage transfers and accommodations did exactly what they were supposed to do, so we didn't have to worry about anything other than our own feet!
We definitely found hiking poles useful. There are enough steep places where using your arms to help pull up or catch yourself coming down was a good idea. Also in slippery or uneven spots we saved ourselves from falling many times.
For 60-year-old Americans, who don't take regular long walks, the estimated times were too short. We were happy knowing that the daylight would last until 10pm, and we never needed that long, but every section took longer than expected. The first day, Exmouth to Sidmouth, which was supposed to be the longest, ended up being fairly easy, perhaps because the weather was perfect, but also because the path was so varied in addition to being well marked. There were a few places where we were uncertain about which way to go. There are so many public footpaths and in the foggy places it's hard to see a landmark to help locate yourself.
Americans don't know that breakfast is always included, so you might say that, just so no one has to wonder. It was wonderful trying the various versions of the Full English Breakfast and feeling well fortified for the day.
Exmouth was a fun and easy place to walk around, find something to eat, buy snacks and get ready for our adventure. We loved the little place for coffee and sandwiches on the beach at Budleigh Salterton. Excellent lattes. Also, Sidmouth has a lot of nice shops. I had to replace my hat which had blown over a cliff and there was a very nice outdoor adventure store. The walk to Sidmouth was, indeed, severe at times, with many flights of steep stairs cut into the hillsides. And we had a drizzly day with many low-lying clouds that we walked through on the tops of the cliffs. So we didn't have the full benefit of the views from the altitudes we had reached. But the farmland and natural areas were lovely and we enjoyed seeing cows and horses.
If there is any way to clarify how to get on the public path to Branscombe before you get down to the beach, We ended up at the fine old mill in the National Trust area. The very helpful man directed us to the old bakery for wonderful crab sandwiches and Devon Cream Tea.
Beer is absolutely delightful and the Dolphin Hotel was a good choice, as we were able to stay out of the rain and get a good dinner and local beer. There are many bakeries and shops where you can get a lunch, in addition to asking the very helpful staff to pack a lunch. We opted for pasties and fresh fruit from the shop next door.
Interestingly, the newly reopened Undercliff Path was our least favorite bit. It's too much like our lush, tangled American woods to feel very special, and the path was so slippery and wet that we had a hard time staying on our feet. It seemed like a place that would never dry out and we felt like we would never see the end of it. Lyme Regis was a great reward, and the sky had cleared by the time we got there. The first thing we did was wash off our boots and trouser legs in the sea.
We loved poking around Lyme Regis the next day and would recommend that people build a day into their schedule to enjoy it. The cab to the train station in Axminster was only 14 pounds and well worth it.
Overall, it was a delightful trip and we are grateful for everything you did for us.
Thanks again. Rebecca
We found the terrain and distances fine, although by the end of the 13 mile and the 11 mile days (day 4, Sidmouth to Exmouth and Day 6 Teignmouth to Torquay) we had definitely had enough, especially as we live in Berkshire and aren’t used to the very steep climbs on the Coast Path. We didn’t have time to look at any of the interesting attractions which were mentioned. We just walked with breaks for refreshments etc. (which was fine)
All the hotels were friendly and welcoming The instructions re how to find the hotels were really good (we loved the plastic swans in the directions to the Royal Beacon Hotel.)
Every day we came upon somewhere to have coffee/snacks/afternoon tea etc (obviously only one of these per day as otherwise we’d never have arrived)There was somewhere to buy the day's lunch every morning, and the sandwiches & pasties that we bought were of a really high standard.
All the ferries were working as planned.The Luggage Transfer worked perfectly.The taxi back to Lyme Regis to collect our car was very good - punctual and a very comfortable journey. The long term car parking worked well (Martin will probably comment on this). We did it daily and when the system was not undergoing maintenance it was very quick. You do need to be friends with modern technology though to make it work easily
Day 2 Lyme Regis to Beer
The Undercliff was quite muddy slippery and narrow in places; in fact just as we were starting it we met 4 people coming back who said it was dangerous and they’d turned back. Honestly though it wasn’t that bad for anyone who is a regular walker and you did flag up in your itinerary that it can be like that.
Exceptionally nice afternoon tea at the cafe on the seafront in Seaton (sorry, can’t remember name)
Day 3 Beer to Sidmouth
No walking problems except that just as we arrived at the streets of Sidmouth we lost the route, i.e. there weren’t any signs that we could see. Obviously we found our way down to the sea so that was fine.
Day 5 Exmouth to Teignmouth
The Thatched Tavern en route at Maidencombe was brilliant. An exceptional pub.
We went out for a fantastic meal at ‘Fresco’ - an Italian Restaurant very near the hotel. One of our star evenings of the holiday.
Day 6 Teignmouth to Torquay
Nothing special to note re walking
The Torcroft Hotel was a lovely hotel. It was more like a very up market guest-house in that Phil and Sharon were very hands-on and always around to offer help and advice. When we arrived we were invited down to the terrace for a complimentary glass of Prosecco - which obviously made a great start to our stay
Day 7 Torquay to Brixham
Ferry trip was very enjoyable.I took the ferry back, but the other 3 walked and I think the route maybe wasn’t very well marked on that section?
We all thought that the holiday was superbly organised, and had an all-round great time. Thank you Encounter Walking.
As usual, everything worked like clockwork. Accommodation all expecting me, bags always transferred and in my room on arrival. First long day completed in overcast but warm conditions, followed by two rainy days. Missed (mist!) out on Golden Cap section, will go back and do it again when it's visible! Rest of days mix of overcast and sun, and walked the final three mile beach in glorious sunshine to catch the ferry at South Haven point - the finish! Quality of accommodation was fine and I enjoyed this section very much even though some days the hills (mountains!) seemed endless! I did the whole SWCP with Damon and Encounter and each section was organised to perfection. I intend to re-walk a few particularly nice sections and I would not look further than Encounter for their great organisational ability and local knowledge.
Thanks for the superb assistance you gave me so I could complete my walk of the SWCP. The accommodation you booked for me was far better than I could have booked for myself. And you couldn't have ordered better weather!
Also the timing you gave me in the route notes about the timings for crossing the Erme (knee deep at 12:30) and the "ferry" at the Avon (this is the only place my boots got wet - getting out of the boat).
There were a couple of spots that could use some clarification. One was getting out of Torquay. I followed the guidebook carefully, found the markers in the pavement, then nothing. I finally found a gap in the wall with steps leading off to the left (not marked) and further on the acorn signs. Finally ending at an unmarked (from the west) cliff fall in process of repair. Others had climbed over it, as I did, as it was dry. I was a little rattled by this and did not mark it on my map, so I can't really tell you where it is. The same day at Oddicombe Beach, the cliff fall was not passable to get to the path to Petit Tor Road. You have to take the steps by the Cliff Railway (or the railway itself) to get past that section of path.
The seawall at Dawlish is mostly open, with a signed diversion around the section that is still being worked on. It is quite small.
I think the Old Mill Cafe in Branscombe is well worth the extra walk, only I would suggest going to Branscombe Mouth and taking the river path to the village rather than the turnoff to Branscombe Church. Your knees will thank you!
I loved the Ridgeway walk. I wonder why more don't do it. It was like having a time machine. And the views ... ! Just watch the map carefully - the signing can be confusing, after-the-fact or non-existent.
I could write pages on the accommodation. Marvelous. The proprietors' suggestions as to where to eat (The Swan, in Sidmouth), or a footpath instead of a road, or the "spoiling" (Annette at Kimmeridge Farm brought me a bottle of cider and some ice cream in the evening in addition to all the luxury)!
Even though there is much development on the coast, so much of the walk was open vistas taking your breath away (literally and figuratively). I felt as if all should "whisper" as the coast is such a special place. Now that I'm back in Colorado, I'm still dreaming of the lovely three weeks you made possible for me. Thanks again.
It was a nice and long walk. Everything was very good thanks to Encounter Walking Holidays. They planned our trip, gave advice and were very helpful.
Afterwards I can say it was quite a walk! These were four wonderful weeks and four wonderful walks. I was more strenuous than I thought but I was a great (also mentally) experience walking alone! I've seen several beautiful landscapes, met nice people and I was lucky with the weather. Most of the time it was cloudy or sunny and mild. Thank you and your team for the super-planning. The descriptions and information I received from you were very precise and guided my way well. Best wishes and have a good time!
Our holiday was a great success and I would like to take the opportunity to thank you and your colleagues for the great organisation.
Everything worked just perfect. A big thank you also to the multiple number of hosts, to the company who did the luggage transport, and the pick-up service in Lulworth Cove.
We had gorgeous weather, no drop of rain for the whole time, and the landscape and views are absolutely stunning.
It is difficult to point out just one thing which was the best. I think it was the great combination of all of it: the beautiful region with its well maintained walking paths, good mix of different accomodations, friendly people, great food, especially sea food, good weather, perfect organisation, good company.
Our least favorite walking day was the last 3 miles on the beach to Poole. It is rather strange to walk around people in swimming suits. We moved over to the san dune path, but that was difficult walking on the sand.
All of us would recommend the walk to others especially if they choose Encounter walking for the organisation.
If we come back to England for another hike, we would definitely use your company again.
Thank you again and all the best.
It surely must be extremely difficult to get lost. The route descriptions were very good and I make full use of the Harvey’s maps. I find them just about as detailed as you need for a walk which is so simple to navigate. They give a sense of where you are in the scheme of things without too much irrelevant detail......
Best Day's Walk: Bantham to Salcombe must get my vote, the scenery is stunning – in fact you run out of words to describe the beauty of your surroundings after a while. The entrance into Salcombe was brilliant. Must be the best way to come into a seaside town. It’s not the being there that stays with you but the route you travelled to get there!.....Worst days walk - Beesands to Dartmouth was our only wet day (and I mean WET!) We didn’t mind the walk along Slapton sands which we were expecting to be boring, but the road near Strete and Stoke Fleming wasn’t very pleasant! The wet sticky conditions underfoot made the walk around Shinglehill Cove and Compass Cove through a cattle field very tiring (and smelly!) But the walk into Dartmouth made up for it. Excellent place to spend a day off. Noss Mayo to Bantham was constrained by the need to cross two estuaries...... We were walking slower as usual - mostly because we kept stopping to admire views, read information boards, eat ice-cream, drink coffee.......! The organic cafe at Blackpool Sands was brilliant! We arrived there like a couple of drowned rats and they didn’t bat an eyelid! I wish I could say that for some of the places round here! Browns restaurant in Dartmouth was excellent - on the pricey side but well worth it! Noss Mayo was-both accommodation and breakfast (and the bit of cake Jane wrapped up for us for the following day!) We had a fabulous time despite the weather. Looking forward to next year. I’ve decided to do Minehead to Bude next year and leave the final bit between Sidmouth and Poole until the following year.
I enjoyed the first day, especially the first part from Brixham to Paington. But the best day must be day 5, Exmouth to Sidmouth. A very nice blend of exciting coastline and seaside culture. I enjoyed Budleigh Salterton but my absolute favourite was Sidmouth, a town to which I will return....... Worst day was Babbacombe to Exmouth. You had to catch the last ferry from Starcross to Exmouth and it was impossible to know how long time the walk would take...... Roundham gardens between Paignton and Torquay, a perfect place to rest and have your packed lunch. Accommodation was mostly good and always a friendly face to greet you...... Your organisation seems very efficient and I do like your informal and friendly attitude. Everything worked fine and I would not hesitate to use your services again (which I very well might do).
Thanks for your organisation of our walk on the South West Coast Path last month. Your organisation was excellent with one exception. You couldn’t have organised a wetter two weeks if you tried. Despite this we enjoyed our two weeks and were very impressed with the variety of coastline along this section of the coast. Maybe we will have to repeat some of it to see the bits that were hidden by fog, mist and heavy rain cloud....... The hosts at Brixham House were fantastic. They immediately offered to wash and dry all of our wet clothes and even suggested we add any other dirty clothes to make up the load. They also put our saturated shoes in the drying room. We had to walk through about 40m of shin deep water so they were totally soaked, but by the morning all of our clothes and shoes were totally dry and ready to wear for our next day’s walking....... Sidmouth: Another very wet day and more good hosts at the Hotel. They allowed us to use the hotel’s tumble dryer which is reserved for staff use. Beer is a beautiful town with good accommodation and was one of our very few dry days walking. Abbotsbury: Same again but this time it was Lyn at the Abbotsbury - the rooms were excellent and the complimentary cup of coffee in the tea rooms was much appreciated. Weymouth: The Gloucester Hotel in Weymouth was a great place to spend our last three nights. Chris and Geoff are wonderful hosts. Geoff even drove us to the Lulworth Cove (as part of his luggage run) so that we could walk back to Weymouth. All our accommodation was of a very high standard. All of the hosts were expecting us and made us feel very welcome. Especially the hosts where we rocked up on their doorsteps like drowned rats. They couldn’t have been more helpful with drying clothes and shoes. It was this assistance that enabled us to start each day dry and enthusiastic.. Thank you for your organisation and when we return to England for some more walking we will certainly start with a quote from Encounter Walking knowing that everything will be well organised and of a very high quality. I must make mention of your extremely prompt and detailed responses from Damon to our queries when we started our planning. This was a significant factor in us choosing your company to help with our accommodation and luggage transfer, so glad we did.
We had no trouble with finding the routes and we didn’t get lost...... We enjoyed all three days. Each day was different, challenging in their own way, and beautiful all along the way......We were faster than the estimated times......The accommodation was perfect, we enjoyed all three......
Best Days Walk : Day 2,3......Variety of scenery and terrain.......Worst Days Walk : Day 4 following severe overnight weather, very wet,muddy and slippery and as such had to exercise a lot of caution and take time.
Useful Information: Shortly after leaving Seaton, The Axe Cliff Golf Club welcomes walkers for refreshments. On approaching a sign highlights this......the last refreshment stop before Lyme......and they were welcoming. Can recommend The Anchor at Sidmouth and Beer for great food......All hotels at least very satisfactory with Dukes being good and the Mariners Hotel v. Good. All staff very helpful and friendly. Baggage transfers efficient. SW coast path book very interesting and necessary but perhaps not easy to refer to whilst walking.......I photocopied the relevant pages and referred to them whilst on the move!!!
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