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.
12th September 2023- We are sorry but we are now fully booked until October on all our routes - please contact us for Autumn and 2024 dates
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
Would you choose Encounter Walking Holidays for future holidays? No
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.
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!
Hi Damon & Dean.
Thanks for the opportunity for some feedback.
Just want to say we enjoyed the walk tremendously.
Information from Encounter was spot on and thorough, bags picked up and dropped off as per itinerary.
We had to cancel our first one taxi trip and varied the drop off for the 2nd - Sue from Excel taxis (based in Corfe Castle from memory) was excellent and she even took us on a scenic route.
Accommodation was perfect - from the welcoming West Bay pub to really lovely B&Bs ie Cove House, Abbey House and No98 - were we felt quite spoilt.
Only had one small issue that we were able to rectify - the Poole accom Cafe Guest House 34 was already locked up when we arrived to check in at around 4.30pm - Fortunately the nice lady in the e-cigarettte shop next door knew the code and was able to let us in after checking our credentials! So we didn't have to use the after hours contact numbers, which we later found out where already thoughtfully provided by Encounter in the itinarary. A friend of the owner (who was overseas) was on deck in the morning for breakfast - so all good.
Thankyou again and we are already planning our next walk!
My daughter Judith and I recently completed the final leg of the South West Coast Path (booked through yourselves) and we just want to thank you very much for all of the help which you have given us over the last six years.
We have thoroughly enjoyed every stage of the Path and the final leg through Dorset was absolutely beautiful.
Your arrangements were (as always) meticulous and the accommodations which you chose were (without exception) excellent.
We have really appreciated everything that you have done for us and would particularly like to thank Damon for his constant helpfulness and being able to deal with every query that we have thrown at him!
It has been a wonderful experience and one which we will never forget.
Now...time to start planning our next adventure!
Hello Damon and team! Wanted to write longer review and feel free to edit or copy for website
I loved this experience so much. To be able to do the entire walk was a dream and I am so thankful that we decided to do the pace we did. I feel that 8-10 miles most days is a perfect comfortable pace that allowed us to not only sleep in but to really just stop wherever we wanted. I thought that following a coastline for so long might be repetitive but it really wasn’t. Every section was so different and waking up each day was so exciting. My level of fitness was not great but I think most people really can do this walk as long as they are honest about what they can really do each day. In north America we calculate the distance totally and not just where the bird flies and so I think some people would be surprised that the incline and elevation is not calculated.
I have to say that a big warning for day 2 Porlock to Lynmouth is needed. I still think that was the hardest day of the whole walk. I will be honest, on that day I was really thinking “what have I gotten myself into?!”. Overall I think the first two weeks of the walk and the last two were the hardest with Cornwall for the most part being very pleasant. I think the hardest part of Cornwall for me mentally was the st Ives and the few days after. Scrambling the rocks and having to decide where to put each foot was really zapping my energy. I loved the mining area (especially after getting into poldark). If I had to pick my favorite section it was north Cornwall.
I would encourage no matter what fitness level to get hiking poles. They were absolute lifesaver for me. The bag service was impeccable with zero problems the whole way.
The B&B were all great appearance wise . The difference between some of them was the host themselves. The ones who have been doing it for so long seem to be burned out and almost despise the guests for being there in general. Maybe we picked up on this more since we work in hospitality and hotels. We are so pleased to have done this walk and will recommend it to anyone who will listen.
Thank you so much for all you have done
Thank you to Damon and the team for a great trip. Everything ran smoothly and even the weather cooperated. The only very minor hiccup was at the Smugglers Inn (Osmington Mills) where they suggested we should pay for our accommodation. However, when I pointed out that Encounter had made the booking and gave them your telephone number I think they realised their mistake.
Luggage Transfer was excellent with no problems at all.
Accommodation was very good. On some of the longer days it would have been useful to have breakfast earlier than 8:30 am but we always made our destination in time.
A few specific comments:
The Old Vicarage at Mullion was good but, given it was a short day, a 4:00 pm check in was a nuisance. Possibly the Mullion Cove Hotel might be a better option especially given it is on the path.
Given that we arrived in Porthallow on a Saturday we needed to be advised that we should have booked for dinner either at the Guest House or the Five Pilchards Pub. As it was we made do with very indifferent pizzas in the pub’s courtyard.
Durham House in Beer was unusual in that we never saw or met the host. The breakfast hamper was okay but possibly not best suited to walkers.
The walking note, guides, and maps were good although some of the on the ground signs were confusing. Ironically there were often signs when there was only one possible path but none when there were options! Given the acorn does not always uniquely identify the SW Coast Path it might be useful to mark the path with a different colour. Several times we had to double check the maps and GPS on the phone to verify where we were going – and assist others who were going the wrong way.
The diversion at Durgan (Porthallow to Mawnan Smith) is still in place. Unfortunately the sign taking one back to the coast path merely indicates it is the path to the beach and not part of the diversion. We finished up walking along the road for a while before getting on the paths by the fields.
We walked along the beach from Lyme Regis to West Bay and missed any diversion notices. We walked along the path on the cliff and met many locals doing the same. It seemed quite safe but, if you are concerned, you might need to cover the situation where walkers approach West Bay from the beach in your notes.
The path after the holiday camp near Tidmoor Cove (Abbotsbury to Portland) was very overgrown – almost to the extent that we wondered whether we were on the correct path. Not a problem but a bit disconcerting at the time.
Given the wind we walked the Portland Circle anti-clockwise. The path branches left just past Yeolands Quarry with a sign pointing to The Grove (I think) with no indication the main path eventually comes to a dead end at a fence. Looking at the map afterwards it was relatively obvious but an easy mistake to make.
We would also suggest that walking poles are essential for the more mature walker on some of the slopes – we certainly found them useful!
All in all an excellent walk that was well organised. We would happily recommend encounterwalking to any other walker. (I guess the fact that this is our second walk with you speaks for itself)
Thank you for organizing this great trip! Everything was as we agreed and your suggestions made our trip perfect.
Thank you very much for a perfect walking holiday.
It was the third time, we walked a part of the coast path - and it was marvellous again.
Unfortunately my English is not good enough to anwer officially and online. But I'll try to give a feedback via your website.
We enjoyed everything, especially the red cliffs on our first day, the Undercliffs Nattional Nature Reserve and the cliffs between Weymouth and Lulworth. We just missed the blooming heather and gorse of North Devon and Cornwall. But all the impressive views more than compensated for it.
The B&Bs, hotels, pubs were clean and nice (Weymouth a bit shabby, but clean) and everyone (!) was friendly and helpful.
And the weather was almost ideal as well.
The Path was perfectly signed.
We just want to suggest one alteration:
In our opinion it's so much nicer to walk the Inland Route from West Brexington to Abbotsbury than the Beach Route. The Path is beautifull there and the view from Wears Hill down to the village is quaint. If nothing else, one spares (is this the right word?) to walk on the long pebble beach.
Thank you very much again. I hope, we'll be back soon.
All the best
Our walk was splendid and everything was organised perfectly. With all our documentation we didn't have any bigger problems in finding our path. Walking time indicated in the booklet is rather short. We are good walkers but wouldn't like this speed to go. The way from Ferrybridge to Portland Island is tiresome. On the way back after the circle of portland Island we took the bus Nr. 1 into Wymouth The B&B in Fortuneswell called '77' is fantastic but not indicated from outside as a B&B. It took us some time to understand that 77 is just the number of the house.
Quick note to let you know everything went well. transfers and accommodations were all very good. Marcia at Peaches and folks here at Gloucester House were especially nice.
Lulworth was worth the extra effort.
Doug and Mary Ellen
Hello everyone at encounter!
It just occurred to me that we have been enjoying our walking vacation but have not even told you that! Or thanked you for putting it all together for us.
Thank you! It’s all worked seamlessly so far with no reason to believe that our last four days will be any different.
We truly appreciate your work and are also extremely appreciative of the weather you’ve arranged for us! AMAZING!
Cynthia & all
Greetings — I cannot say enough about how much we loved our hike — we have worked with two other companies in the UK — and Encounter, far and away, is our favorite.
The walking instructions were fantastic. And the good news is we discovered Pimms at one of the oceanside restaurants — the bar attendant convinced one of us that a jug was cheaper than two glasses — my husband made it up the next hill, Pimms powered!
This was a truly remarkable hike – one of our best in the UK. Working with the team at Encounter was simply a delight [DE-M was lead trip planner this time]. My sense is that you research and know the innkeepers well – and it is evident.
One general comment from us. In five inns, one or both of our rooms were on the third floor. We annotate below. This prompted us to think about our next trip and inquiring about first or second floor rooms and the differential cost – if reasonable, we are willing to upgrade.
The notes associated with our hike were wonderful and very explicit. We appreciated the highlights and found delicious Pimms and beer for mid-day breaks. Thanks. Luggage transfers were perfect.
Toby and Nikki were delightful and excellent hosts. The back yard of the Inn was most enjoyable. Breakfast delicious and great location to the harbor. Would stay again in a heartbeat.
Eypes Mouth Country Hotel
A little less personal than the other B and Bs on our route. Rooms were moderate but absolutely clean. Nice pub at hotel and very good food. The opportunity to watch the fox hunt rabbits on the hillside across the road from the hotel was great.
Fun B&B. One of our rooms was on the 3rd floor. This would have been a good one to swap for a second floor room. Breakfast was excellent. Jonathan was charming and had a good sense of humor.
77a Fortuneswell - Portland
Mark and Jo were awesome. They even set the dining room table so we could bring in dinner. Excellent location. We had a third floor room here that was perfectly acceptable. Wide stairs ascending, lots of windows, just lovely.
Upon reflection, here is where we could have stayed two nights in lieu of staying Weymouth. We hiked around the Is. of Portland and could have easily gone back to 77a Fortuneswell. Yes, the hike from Portland to Lulworth the next day would have been longer, but we stayed in Lulworth for two nights so we could recover. The walk from Portland to Weymouth is flat.
Cunard Guest House - Weymouth
Sam greeted us warmly and was efficient in helping us get settled. The third floor rooms were meticulous – but I worried about quickly leaving if necessary. Here we would have swapped for 2nd floor rooms, if possible. We had a lovely dinner in Weymouth and breakfast was fine (ranked lowest among our B&Bs).
Cove House in Lulworth
I must admit, we compared every inn to this one! Justin and Mandy set the highest standard and achieve it! I remember Damen remarking about the Cove House when we were planning the trip. We had two third floor rooms here that were perfectly acceptable. Enjoyed two nights. On a side note, one of us had to leave early due to a death in his immediate family, and Justin and Mandy were most helpful in arranging his transport to Windsor. We really enjoyed the local pub – food was delicious.
Mariners Guest House in Poole
Poole is a big town! After we got off the ferry we took a bus the Mariners Guest House. Yvonne was special. One of our rooms was up the steep stair case – and hauling the luggage down was challenging. She was having problems with one of the showers in a room, so we figured out an alternative room arrangement. She served breakfast early to accommodate our travel plans. When the taxi did not arrive on schedule, Yvonne drove me to the train station.
All warm wishes to you and everyone with whom we interacted — we look forward to next year’s hike.
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