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.
Would you choose Encounter Walking Holidays for future holidays? Yes
Would you recommend Encounter Walking Holidays to others? Yes
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.
Rich and Damon
Many thanks for your excellent organisation of a great trip for us.
All went very well.
The walk from West Bay to Abbotsbury encounters some very unpleasant walking in the last mile or so before West Bexington. Having to walk on the pebble paths is very uncomfortable walking and there was no alternative. I think that you should highlight this pebble walking more as it was very difficult for those of us with uncertain knees. It made us review things and we cut inland at West Bexington to the West Dorset Ridge walk but, happily, this was a blessing in disguise, as this section of the route to Abbotsbury was one of the highlights of the trip.
I hope that this will be helpful.
Many thanks again.
We can't thank Encounter enough for the efficient organisation, amazing places to stay and accurate guidance on the route. We completed the South West Coast Path in June 2018 and Encounter were by far the best company we used on the trail, we only wish we had booked with them from the start of the path in Minehead. Excellent Service! Thank you Keith and Linda
Recent walk from Lyme Regis to Portland over 3 days.
Allowed to park the car in the Heights Hotel in Portland (saved on parking fees - thank you Heights Hotel) and got a taxi with Lyme Regis recommended cab firm to Lyme Started from the Albany B&B. Lovely place, nice walk along the new path into town. Very welcoming hosts. Superb toiletries and apparently you can have massages etc if you have time (runs a clinic from home).
Day 1 - Lyme Regis to West Bay - included the Golden Cap. Fantastic views when you get to the top, but don't think the hard work is over after that - other peaks are almost as high! We had gorgeous weather so were extra lucky. Retired people everywhere beating us up the Cap but we didn't feel so bad when we realised that they all park in the car park half way up, while we'd already walked miles before we got there! If you plan a stop at Seatown, the only pub is the Anchor - very expensive for a lunch and quite slow service, so best bring some food with you. Couldn't find any other shops etc. Lovely night's stay in the West Bay Hotel - superb position right opposite the beach. Gorgeous rooms - food in the bar a bit expensive.
Day 2 - West Bay to Abbotsbury - Hands and knees climb (my slight fear of heights!) up to the cliff leaving West Bay but otherwise fine. More hills than I'd realised, but we managed. Hardest walk was across the shingle towards West Bexington - nightmare - so hard on the legs. A man in the restaurant there told us it goes on all the way to Portland! Had enough of that so went up onto the Ridgeway and walked in to Abbotsbury that way. Slightly longer but fantastic views of Chesil Beach and a lovely rural walk. Stayed at Peaches B&B. Lovely quaint little cottage. Smallish rooms, but very welcoming hosts and lovely breakfast. We were the only guests that night.
Day 3 - Slight cheat here and caught a bus to Chickerell then back on to the Coastal path. Much easier walking, but not as interesting. Walked around the Army range/premises - mmm... not attractive but not far. Walked into Portland - the Heights Hotel - and sense of achievement once we got right up there as Portland is very steep in places. Typical corporate hotel but very nice and with excellent staff.
Luggage transfers were all faultless - still find it amazing that you leave your case in one place and it appears in the next. Thanks to everyone at Encounter for another superb holiday. Have recommended you to friends who are thinking of similar holiday
Damon & team
So we finally finished the 630 miles today although I rather suspect we might have covered over 650 miles in total! Many thanks to you all for all your hard work in making it so special for us.
David & Danielle
Please excuse my late reply/feedback—after returning from my trip, I had a bad case of the flu and also had to move house.
First of all, I would like to thank you for the brilliant organisation of my holiday. Everything worked out perfectly. Additionally, several of my hosts talked positively about you, which I wanted to pass on. The only negative for me is that the milages you gave me were often too short—Abbotsbury to Portland ended up being 16 miles rather than 13, and my long day Osmington to Worth Matravers was 20 miles rather than 17. I'd be happy to send you the exact milage my phone tracked.
Regarding signage along the trail: I found this less than ideal. We Swiss are spoilt with trail signs wherever the slightest doubt can arise, so I'm hardly objective in this aspect, but I got lost several times even after looking at the map, most notably out of West Bay (where I ended up taking the undiverted route over east cliff unknowingly) and in the marsh right before Osmington (where I lost the path completely and went over the meadows).
Food-wise, I really enjoyed Riverside in West Bay, the Hive Beach Café and Moonfleet Manor. Of the accomodations, Seventy Seven Portland really stood out while Haddon House was a bit of a letdown.
My highlights were the Undercliff path, the army range section between Osmington and Worth Matravers, and my extended lunch on Hive beach.
Please feel free to use any of this on your website, and again thank you very much!
First I want say, that we enjoyed our walk really- it was great and a wonderful experience- though weather was sometimes not fine and the path was extremely muddy and slippery!
At the end of our walking days we felt like dirty but happy pigs!
Second: You chose nice accommodation, nearly each of the hotels was perfect, and we would recommend it.
There is only one exception: The B& B in Weymouth was nice and perfectly situated near the station, very friendly hosts -but it was rather noisy:
People in the streets who made noise nearly the whole night and another really disturbing rumour in the house itself which we could not identify.
The best place among all the others (I liked very much the Mariners in Lyme Regis, also because of the excellent diner!) was the Abbey Hotel in Abbotsbury.
Also the luggage-transport worked very well!
So I want to emphasize that we were really glad with Your preparation of our walk und we want to say: Thanks a lot!
We hope that we will be able to continue our walk on the Coast Path maybe next year. In that case we would again like to hire you.
Last but not least: I want to mention that I liked the way You reacted immediately when there were any questions or concerns: Friendly and understanding.
With warm regards from me and the whole group!
Hi - Just a short feedback this time: We thoroughly enjoyed walking this stretch and as we allowed more time we could enjoy the views. All except one day the weather was good despite the forecast (they always get it wrong!).
The paths were all in good condition and even the slight detours were well marked. We loved the Undercliff section, Beer to Lyme, (very very muddy) but it was good the next day to do Golden Cap in glorious sunshine after being under the shade hidden from all to see the previous day.
Anyway the accommodation worked out well although we must ask you to upgrade on the next section when the rooms are small. It adds an extra pressure with kit all over the place and no time to unpack when rooms are small.
Of particular note:
Dukes in Sidmouth - fantastic room overlooking the sea with lovely bay window
Eype's Mouth Country Hotel - great after the Golden Cap
Abbey House in Abbotsbury where we were upgraded to a very grand room overlooking theTythe Barn
77 Portland where we were greeted with a G and T - so much better than a cup of tea!!
A great few days, thank you. Hopefully we will go back and complete the section between Plymouth and Exmouth next Easter so until then Happy walking
A great walk, with very varied scenery, terrain - and weather, of course. The accommodation was very nice, and the luggage transfers worked perfectly. The Undercliff section west of Lyme Regis is well worth including, as is the circuit of the Isle of Portland.
Another walking holiday superbly organized by Encounter Walking. We didn’t have a single hitch relating to the paperwork/luggage transfers or accommodation. It is a shame that the luggage has to be ready for collection by 9am at the latest as we were usually only in the middle of breakfast by then, but I can see that for B & B hosts who may be working it’s no good having the luggage collected in the middle of the day.
The accommodation and food this year were excellent. We specially liked the Smugglers Inn at Osmington Mills, the B & B at Fortuneswell on the Isle of Portland and Eypes Mouth Country Hotel. We arrived at the Smugglers in cold, rain and wind, but when we went into our room and turned the radiator on straightaway we had heat – it was great. Mark and Jo, our hosts on the Isle of Portland were super. The rooms and breakfast were excellent and they were both incredibly welcoming and helpful, which makes a massive difference to a holiday.
The only disappointment we had with respect to accommodation/meals was that although we wanted to use our discount at the Hix Oyster and Fish House in Lyme Regis, we were not able to book a table at any time during our stay. It seemed a shame to have made much of the valuable discount when it can’t actually be used.
I guess that every long distance path walking holiday has its less than scenic - or even somewhat unenjoyable bits. Last year for us it was the Undercliff section of the path near Lyme Regis, This year it was the causeway onto the Isle of Portland (we crossed it on a windy rainy afternoon) along with the stretch of shingle coast path near Chesil Beach. However the circular day walk on the Isle of Portland itself was really good.
The daily distances were just right for us, ie approx 10 miles per day. The 4 of us are all enthusiastic regular walkers, but 3 of the 4 of us are 70+ and we definitely didn’t have any walking problems. Needless to say the scenery was absolutely stunning.
We would emphasise what you say about always following marked diversions and furthermore not trying to invent any independent routes without really accurate up-to-date information. We were very tempted to walk along the beach from Charmouth to Lyme Regis, but common sense prevailed and we took the inland route. The next day we saw walkers who had tried it being caught out by the tide coming in. They were up to their knees, or above, in seawater.
We found that our GPS devices, and even Google or Apple Maps on the phones were absolutely invaluable for working out where the next habitation/café/hotel was – or also of course exactly where we were on the route. On that note we would especially recommend the Hive Beach Café at Burton Bradstock near West Bay; an upmarket café serving great seafood (and cream teas). We did find though that mobile signals were often a bit flaky and wireless too wasn’t that brilliant at many of the overnight stays. Luckily, between the four of us someone could usually get a reasonable signal.
Thank you Encounter Walking (especially as you had planned the route in reverse for our convenience)
Thanks, it was perfectly organised, the baggage tfr worked well and all the accommodation was excellent. We did find some of the diversions tricky to follow as they weren't that well signposted and several of out days were wet and windy which made some of the terrain a bit scary. Full credit to you though for your part, which was greatly managed.
Our 10-day hike at the Jurassic coast was a great success. The length of the sections was balanced, the chosen accommodations (ranging from simple to luxury) were all on or near the trail and near restaurants. We received a full english breakfast or equivalent every day. In two accommodations breakfast was not served untill 8.30 am, which we found a little late. Our suitcases were transported smoothly every day to our next stay. When we arrived they were usually already in the room.
The communication with the travel organization was pleasant and to the point. The day-to-day description excellent. In addition, we used a gps device with the latest gps tracks of the South West Coast Path from OpenStreetMap, which was really helpful. The walk was fantastic and exceeded our expectations. The variety was great. Initially we were a little sceptic that it would be the same landscape for ten days, but that was not the case at all.
Every day had its own atmosphere. Green hills, red cliffs, golden cliffs, white cliffs, pebble beaches, the undercliffs, a lagoon, big seaside resorts, tiny villages, holiday parks, chapels, castles, lighthouses, sheep, cows, grain fields etc. It all came along. And there were possibilities for refreshments during the day almost every day (villages, beach cafes).
We cannot point out one special highlight as there were so many. To name a few: The red cliffs near Sidmouth, historic Branscombe, Axmouth to Lyme Regis Undercliffs, Golden Cap, Abbotsbury, Portland Bill Lighthouse, Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove, The Lulworth Ranges and Tyneham, Old Harry Rocks (in stormy weather). The least part of the hike was Ferry Bridge (to Portland Island) in grey weather and rain. Just as variable as the environment was the weather. We had sunny days, cloudy days and a few rain showers. Only the last day of our hike the weather was really bad. Pouring rain all day and stormy wind gusts. The wind blew us from the trail (inland). But in a way, the force of nature was also very exciting. We thoroughly enjoyed this walk and the organization was flawless.
A note to thank you for organising the walking trip for me. Impressive customer service. I would not hesitate to recommend Encounter Walking Holidays to anyone who likes expert support in organising a walking trip along the South West Coastal Path - as I have already done to several walkers encountered on my trip."
I had a fantastic time, and never got lost (but see below). Was very, very lucky with the weather too. Even the presence of wind and rain up the ridge outside Abbotsbury added to the atmosphere . And I had all the hills to myself. Then it was perfect or near perfect sunshine for all the other days while negotiating steep paths from time to time often on cliff edge.
The accommodation was great.
All the (few) fellow walkers I encountered were utterly charming. And wonderfully international too (English, Welsh, Dutch, German, Austrian ...).
BTW, the small path diversion advice given below and the annotated version on site was pretty useless if not misleading. Obviously designed by somebody who is clueless about walking. Also there were zero diversion signs for that section. Luckily, GPS came to rescue, and there were fellow walkers to follow.
I am now hooked onto the coastal path and would like to do the whole thing, section by section. Next one to tackle: Brixham to Lyme Regis.
Second year with Encounter and everything went smoothly this year as well! Luggage transfers worked nicely, accommodations were OK to excellent, path was easy to follow. Weymouth to Lulworth Cove was a very scenic walk, however the weather was not good. A bit strenous as we got closer to Lulworth.
Recommend staying an extra day in Lulworth as it was a really nice village. And do stay at Cove House! Corfe Castle to Swanage; excellent walk along Nine Barrows Down to Ulwell with a break at the pub then up to the ridge again an towards Ballard Point and back to Swanage. Swanage to Studland. Easy walk to Old Harry Rocks and towards Studland, then we took the bus to Bournemouth. Encounter Walking did everything perfectly for us once more! Thanks!.
The holiday was a terrific success. It is a spectacular section of coast and it is hard to imagine that there is a better way to appreciate it than to walk it.
We all enjoyed the mix of accommodation, whether it was traditional B&B, country hotel or a blend of the two.
The luggage transfers worked flawlessly - what a great service.
We are now thinking about our next walk - perhaps Minehead to Westward Ho! - and shall certainly be using Encounter Walking Holidays when we come to book this.
Thanks to all at Encounter.
The weather during our 11 days was beautiful. Sun all over! only in Weymouth a rainy day. The scenery was great . Most days we could easily find our way thanks to the signs and the good maps you provided. Only: Leaving Lime Regis there were problems on the original route. The path was gone of unsafe and we had to walk a long stretch along the A3052 to Charmouth. The path to Portland was - in the neighbourhood of 'the military areas' much overgrown and there was a lack of signs. We enjoyed all accomodation. In Lyme Regis, Abottsbury and Portland were the best and most welcoming B&B 's. We appreciated the route Undercliff: a cool path on a very warm day! Last but not least: Luggage transport without any trouble. Well organised, thank you!
Please pass on our thanks to the team for all their hard work in choosing such varied and interesting accommodation for our holiday and also for providing such useful and comprehensive notes. The walk went seamlessly all thanks to you even though the first few days we suffered very bad weather.
All of the accommodation was good and on many occasions staff went more than the extra mile to make our stay pleasurable. We will be posting good reviews for each individual accommodation on Tripadviser.
The only slight hiccup we had was in finding the route to Worth Mattravers from the coast for the last two or three miles. The first diversion from Lyme Regis was also a bit tricky to follow. We wonder if that was just us though.
We had a great time and will certainly contact you again when we are ready to do another section of the walk.
We really enjoyed our 3 day tailored walking holiday Lyme Regis to Weymouth in May. Lovely walks. Travel advice and arrangements worked really well. All the accommodation was fine - especially liked Peaches in Abbotsbury. Luggage transfer went very well- the B and B hosts were great at ensuring it left/arrived in the right place.
Very happy with the break and would definitely recommend to others. Even the weather was well coordinated- we had no rain at all until 20 mins after we reached our last hotel on the route!! - Thankyou.
A few days ago we returned from our walk at the Jurassic Coast.
We had the most wonderful holiday. The landscape is beautiful and although we had to go up and down the cliffs we never regretted walking there. The preparation for this walk was perfect. The accommodation was selected with good knowledge. We liked each hotel and b&b, much so as they were so different in style but alike in the friendliness of the hosts. The transportation of the luggage was precise and the taxi for the detour to Corfe Castle was in time and with an excellent and friendly driver. Thank you very much for all you did for us. The maps and descriptions of our route were absolutely accurate.
We are sure to visit the South of England again, the path is not completed yet since it continues to the West. We will happily contact you again when we are ready for a new adventure. Thank you again for assuring us a holiday with no worry about luggage and accommodation. We enjoyed it very much.
Just one thing: You prepared us for some rainy days, but we only had sunshine – not one day with rain or fog or lightning. ;-)
Only a few overall comments really.
Everyone spoke highly of the company and the way you dealt with them.
Everywhere had the booking ready for me, only twice did I get an accommodation bill and both times I think it was the operator unfamiliar with the system not a genuine request.
Only one place offered to do washing - I could have asked but an offer would have been nicer, especially on such a long trip.
Everyone cheerfully gave me fresh milk to use instead of the UHT cartons.
Make sure they are not allergic to dogs - they were EVERYWHERE.
I was very lucky with weather but a much wetter trip may have caused problems getting stuff dried - especially footwear, not all seemed clued up about walkers.
Advise to carry some cash - Lyme Regis, for example, had no bank and the cash machine was broken - only source was cash back.
There is no escape on many parts of the path and usually no phone contact either.
Kevin the taxi man was lovely - he told me of the late walkers in case I couldn't get over to the Sloop, to save me looking for my own taxi.
We were blessed with excellent weather apart from a cloudburst on Saturday morning. Just as well as the severe ascents and descents would have been much trickier if slippery. The only time we had to resort to GPS was when we left the Path to go to Worth Maltravers on the Sunday. Also there have been a couple of small cliff falls at Lulworth Cove, but there are sufficient alternative paths.
We had three days of excellent and enjoyable walking. Thanks and regards,
Very varied walking on this section - farmland, clifftop, beach - and with some tough descents in places. SWCP not as clearly signed within the Lulworth ranges as elsewhere and easy to miss a sign (as I did!). Enjoyed the Portland circuit more than I expected to. Sculptures at Tout Quarry particularly fascinating and excellent accommodation at Fortuneswell, possibly the best of any I encountered this time though Lulworth ran it close. Pleased that all accommodation was close to the Path and of high standard; not everyone I met was so fortunate. The benefit of booking with Encounter Walking.
The trip was all that I hoped for and more -- especially in terms of the scenery. The walks along the cliffs were amazing. I love the rolling and rural landscape. At 70 years old, the lengths of the walks were a bit ambitious for us. Twice we took a bus to avoid the city of Weymouth and the causeway in and out of Portland Island. The only day we had rain was when we were on Portland Island and we were able to just explore without circumnavigating the whole island. Encounter Walking was incredibly good with their support for the trip and thorough information. The book was invaluable. We got lost twice but were able to figure it out with the book. The accommodations were excellent and the luggage transfer perfect. I definitely would recommend this walk and this tour company.
Thank you very much for your support during our walking along the Jurassic Coast. It was a wonderful path and very interesting from the geology point of view. The lugagge transfer was absolutely perfect as well. We want to point out that our revers directions was successful for us because of the itinerary up and downs were in favour and also Lyme Regis was a splendid end.
* First day, between Poole and Worth Matravers, as the weather was foggy, windy and rainy, when we arrived to Swanage we decided to give up and finish the stage by taxi. Oops!
The accomodation at Ann and Dave's home was perfect and they prepared dinner quite good.
* The second day dawned foggy and rainy and Dave recommended us an alternative way taking us to the start of that way by car.
* The rest of the days were sunny and brilliants and we had no problem to do the stages.
* As for the accommodations, except the one in West Bay, that was a bit far from the village centre, they were well located and in well conditions, except the one of Lulworth Cove which we think it needs some improvement and changes.
* The whole of the hosts were really kind and friendly.
* To finish say that the explanation about the itinerary, diversions, highlights and so on were very helpful as well as the book and maps. Great!
We are very pleased to have known you, pity not in person, and be ready for the queue of walkers you'll receive from either Catalunya or Basque Country!
Great walk and very well organised by your team. It was more strenuous than we anticipated and we wont be underestimating English hills again. Abbotsbury is an absolute gem!
I went 'off piste' with this walk to try and get the whole Jurassic Coast completed in the six walking days at my disposal. Encounter Walking were happy to oblige and sorted all the accommodation at each of the locations I'd selected along my route. I knew the area quite well already but it was great to have the accommodation sorted and bags transferred. Everything worked without a hitch so all I had to do was walk each day.
I stayed in a mixture of private guest houses, B&Bs and hotels and all were fine and met my needs. Worth Matravers is a lovely village but with limited facilities so I followed Damon's advice and ate at the guest house and also reserved a packed lunch for my next day. At every other stage there were options en route for lunch and in the evenings. I enjoyed staying at The Manor Hotel in West Bexington and at Duke's in Sidmouth. I got soaked a couple of times and it was hard to get kit dry as most places did not have drying facilities. As I had plenty of spare clothes my focus was drying out my boots by any means possible.
I knew what I had let myself in for with long daily distances - over 95 miles in six walking days. I found the estimated walking times accurate to plan my days. I completed most walks between 30 mins to an hour quicker than suggested. I am relatively fit and walked a steady pace with no long breaks or lunches. I think the important advice here would be to know your capabilities and limits. The full coast is doable in a week and is a great walk to complete but it is challenging when there is no rest day built in.
Having your itinerary planned, bags transferred and accommodation sorted makes a huge difference. The SW Coast Path in Dorset and Devon is very well trodden and signposted. On a clear day you can see your route for miles. That said, I read each section's daily itinerary carefully and was always in contact with my map. I would advise anyone to make sure they can read one. One day I walked in total disorientating fog (even in June) and at times the sign posts can be hidden by vegetation. Knowing what you are looking for and where you are on a map, how to read contours and other features, etc. means you don't make mistakes and add unnecessary distance to you walk.
Other advice to walkers would be to always wear long trousers. Vegetation is often overgrown with lots of nettle and bramble. In addition, the horse flies were out in force along certain sections. I saw lots of people walking in fashion trainers and even flip flops. I wore sturdy boots and needed them on certain sections. The terrain can be rough and the Undercliffs between Lyme Regis and Seaton a real quagmire in some sections. In all this was a great walk and a wonderful experience. I'm pleased I chose Encounter Walking to help plan and arrange it for me and would heartily recommend their services.
Overall we enjoyed our 3 days of walking although only on one day did we escape the rain - the last day Abbotsbury to Weymouth was the least fun as the scenery is ordinary - The Fleet & Chesil Beach are interesting but not particularly scenic, especially in the rain, and much of the coast path here is through fields away from the coast. This was compensated by the scenery & walking on the first two days from Lyme Regis to West Bay & W.B. to Abbotsbury. We were very happy with the B&Bs chosen by Encounter, although the " industrial scale " B&B in Weymouth was a surprise - fortunately this was our last night so we didn't need help drying out gear for the next day ( which the other more homely B&Bs were happy to help with) The maps provided by Encounter also worked out well, although we found the timings given for the stages were pretty optimistic - perhaps we were unusually slow but we added at least 1 hour extra for walking + another hour for stops ( Thus a 4 hour stage ended up as 6 hours). In terms of evening meals we found the small " Pizza & Steak" restaurant in Lyme Regis, tasty, good value,& friendly. In Abbotsbury we chose The Swan Inn over the more pricey Illchester Arms and were not disappointed. In Weymouth we chose The Ship , a shortish walk from the B&B and again were pleased with the simple pub grub, good bottle of wine and friendly service. Thanks to Encounter for helpful and friendly communication while arranging our walk.
Thanks for an excellent experience! Everything worked perfectly. The guide and maps were great and we had no difficulty finding our way. The accommodations were perfect, and baggage transfer went without a hitch. You did a great job organizing this for us. I would recommend your service to anyone. Just try to improve the weather a bit next time!
Well we did it !
And I need to thank you do very much . Everything went so well, our bags we waiting for us at every stop . The path was well marked - well, outside of towns . We did struggle in towns , especially Weymouth. Your written instructions gave us the impression that the hotel was a stones through from the road joining Weymouth to Portland, but I fact it was about 2.5 hours more of walking ! This was partly our fault, because when we got there we then looked at our map and it was quite a distance . Thanks Carol useful feedback we could see the confusion was around the comments on "crossing the harbour into Weymouth" (we meant the harbour at Weymouth and you took it to be the Causeway to the Isle of Portland) - we've added something to the direction notes now to clarify that for everyone - EW
How we worked the paper side of things was : the night before we read from the book, so we had an idea of what to expect . Then we used your information sheet to guide us out and in to our hotel, but during the actual walk we used the map . I appreciate there was lots of information to hand, but when using walking poles you need your hands free .
The accommodation you selected for us were super , thank you . Just the very first one in Lyme Regis wasn't there despite your information saying arrive after 4 pm. But I phoned her and she arrived in 5 mins.
We enjoyed the different varieties of resting places, b&b / pubs . All were perfectly adequate.
So all in all a very enjoyable trip . Would definitely recommend you to anyone .
Thank you so much once again Carol and Kaye
The first thing to say is that all aspects of administration and organisation were excellent, faultless. Response times to any emails were quick and replies always helpful. The notes, guide book and map were all really helpful too.
Simlarly, all the accommodation - everywhere we stayed seemed to be run by 'people people' - helpful, friendly and welcoming. It all added hugely to the enjoyment of the walk.
The route was all we'd hoped and just as described. The only part that we felt was a in need of some upgrade was Abbotsbury to Isle of Portland. Some signage was badly weathered and some of the stiles could do with maintenance. There is one specific part where signage could definitely be improved. As you leave Littlesea Holiday Park at Lynch Cove, there is a large grass area. On the map, it is clear that you should take the upper path but the entrance to the lower path (which is pretty well impassable) is actually quite far up on that grassy slope. The entrance to the upper path is only a few metres above it but is not immediately obvious. On the day we passed there was actually a large family having a picnic at the entrance to the upper path which hid the entrance and didn't help! But a clearer sign would definitely have been useful.
As you point out, eating places are a bit off track on this section but it might be worth emphasing that the Crab House Cafe towards the end of the walk is bookings only - or was the day we arrived! However, just over the bridge and just before the causeway Billy Winters Diner is a quirky but excellent place to get a light meal, snack, drink - plus great views of all the water- based activities going on outside. The next day we found the cafe in Portland Castle a great place for lunch and very handily placed at the end of the walk round Portland Island.
All in all, it was a great week. If we decide to head down to this area again to do anothe part of the coastal trail, we won't look beyond Encounter Walking for the booking.
This was the most wonderful holiday I have had. The trail is beautiful, well-marked and varied. The only stretch that wasn't so pleasant was Abbotsbury to Weymouth, round Fleet Lagoon. It was very hot, humid and misty so the flies were a problem, not helped by the path being in a terrible condition around the (many) campsites. However, this did not detract from what was a fantastic 4 days walking and the maps, notes, accommodation and luxury of having my bag transferred each day were perfect. I cannot recommend this holiday highly enough.
Just back from another memorable walk on the SWCP – do I get a certificate!
Weather was very kind and last four days spent in glorious sunshine even the days which started a bit drizzly soon brightened up and waterproofs off. Only got caught once in some fairly heavy rain and even that didn’t last for long.
The whole path was just fantastic and I cant thank you enough all your encouragement and meticulous planning. I found all waymarking to be good and realised pretty quickly if I had gone wrong – as you had told me I would.
As I already wrote, we were very contend with your organisation! Your description at the everydays schedule was very useful and our setbook every evening, or morning. You really thougt at everything which could happen and gave us manny telefonnumbers to help ourself, just in case! This gave us a secure feeling!
The hotels were very fancy and cosy and the host were so hospitable and gentel! These nice old houses we loved very much!!!
Althought the weather on the first two days was a bit cold and windy, even rainy one afternoon, we enjoyed the amazing landscape and rejoiced ourselfs as the sun came througt all the next days! We were really lucky and happy with that! Sometimes we surched a bit for the way, when there were more possibilities, and for example the old way at the beginning of the jungle seemed to be more attractiv than the totally new made path. But at least we got not lost! In the beginning, every day had his own different character, and we were astonished about it!
Sole exception was the part of the West Bexington Nature Reserve. It was a boring path, difficult to walk because of the rolling stones, and the enviroment was so dirty like nowhere else! We were happy about the possibility to change to the South Dorset Ridgway Diversion!
The track on the last two days wasn´t really worth the way. It was too long, and my friends had big problems to find the right way out of Abbotsbury, because they had not expected to pass the swanery so near. This would perhaps be a good note. The last day was to much, so they desided to take the bus for visiting the lighthouse!
+ very good organisation (everything was prepared when we arrived)
+ good support for our special wishes (taxi, businformations...)
+ very nice accomodations
+ absolut amazing landscape!
- to long and boring tracks for the last 2,5 days
- not clear Indication of the way in Abbotsbury
- BnB signature in Fortuneswell
Thank you very much for all your support! I already passed your name to some friends, some are very interested...
Another great walking weekend organised by Encounter. We walked over 3 days, 9 miles the first, 13 the 2nd and another 10 on the final day with a range of difficulty from gentle paths towards the end to near vertical (well it felt like it!) climbs in the middle. The second day was the most spectacular, from East Lulworth to Worth Maltravers across beautiful cliffs. Several parts of this stretch were classed as severe, which felt fairly accurate, but the views made every step worthwhile. In addition to superb walking we ate extremely well, at the Bishops in East Lulworth, The Canteen in Swanage and also the newly opened Java cafe in Swanage (we were the first customers!). Although it was cold there was no rain and it wasn't windy, which could have been scary on those cliffs! A very enjoyable weekend overall, made all the better by the smooth arrangements.
all good, no problems, luggage arrived on time, accomodmation all ok.
All nicely organised: fairly decent distance each day, good accommodation. Whilst the OS maps were (as they should be) exceedingly easy to read / navigate, the holiday narrative describing detours throughout the walk was a welcome icing on the top and made life just that little bit easier. Would definitely walk in this area again.
We thoroughly enjoyed the walking holiday. From the coastal views to the lovely villages we passed through. The people we met at the accommodation places and the taxi lady were all helpful and friendly. Everything worked just fine as per the itinerary and the weather was on our side. We will seriously consider another section in the future and recommend Encounter to friends etc.
Not a huge amount to feedback this time. All the accommodation was really good, particularly liked Kimmeridge Farmhouse and Queen Anne House.
Couple of things around Portland. The Blue Fish Restaurant at Fortuneswell has closed, though it looks like they still open the occasional weekend. Refreshments are scarce apart from Portland Bill. However we did find another place at Fancy's Family Farm which is just after the prison on the way back to Fortuneswell. It is free entry and they have a shop which sells drinks and snacks. There are picnic tables and you can look at the animals too! Couldn't work out how they make their money, but we were glad of the break.
At South Haven Point you can get the 50 bus before the ferry (bus stop outside Shell Bay Café) and thus avoid the separate ferry fare!
Just a minor point on directions at Kimmeridge, you don't need to go down to the Marine Reserve buildings before turning left up to the village. Would suggest the directions say turn left on the minor road after the public toilets, saves a few yards.
Excellent walk, weather was kind and probably best waymarked section of all.
Thanks for all your help in getting us around. We have loved it and will be back next year for Pembrokeshire (you don't get rid of us that easily!!)
Congratulations Maggie and Pat from us all at Encounter Walking for finishing all 630 miles of the full path over the last few years - well done !
Sadly back home. Each trip we make gets harder and harder to say goodbye to.
We had a WONDERFUL walk this year.
Accommodations were all on target and all solidly excellent – not an issue to be found anywhere; great hosts/hostesses; lovely rooms; good locations; good food; nice service from the commercial establishments we stayed in. Kimmeridge with the shared room was just fine – it was a nice big room and so comfortable it didn’t matter we were all together. And as always we like the mix of B&B/guest houses and Inns.
In terms of our ability to route-find and the walking pace I think it was our best walk yet. Of course it being a coast path that definitely helped the route-finding; but it just was a really good pace for us too; with all the ups and downs 7-9 miles was more than plenty each day!
Walking notes were spot on and were helpful to make sure we didn’t miss any worthwhile diversions. Clueless Americans – it wasn’t until we got to Tyneham and read some of the information posted there that we realized we were seeing our two countries shared history by walking through the Ranges and their association with WW2 and D-day training.
Lyme Regis as a starting base was super fun. We got over the disappointment of the Undercliff Path being closed by spending that day fossil hunting between L.R. and Charmouth. Found a few treasures at least from our view.
Lunch at Hive Beach Café at Burton Bradstock was a very tasty spot – although it was very very busy when we showed up at right before noon but well worth the wait.
The number of holiday parks along that whole stretch was amusing-annoying to us – from our point of view they spoiled the scenery although we get that people want to be in the midst of the scenery…. I just don’t recall them being so much a part of the view when we walked the coast between Boscastle and Padstow on our first walk – maybe in Cornwall they are just hidden better – or not allowed to flourish as much.
Hope the rest of the summer is good to you all! As always – I am so very happy to have found Encounter so early on in our cycle of walking!
Hi all at EncounterwalkingHolidays - First of all we want to thank you for the well organized Walking holidays we passend. We had only one day with a bit rain when we left Abbotsbury and in the evening my shoes were allready dry again. So we enjoyed these days a lot.
But now to our comments on the walking days, which is more interesting for you:
No problems in Lyme Regis (beautiful place by the way) and Eypes mouth. Also in Abbotsbury, where the Abbey House is very charming with a great hospitality and very kind people. The Queen Anne House in Fortuneswell we also enjoyed a lot. For dinner we took the bus to Easton, where we ate at the New Inn, which we can recommend to everybody! The CheckIn time at Queen Anne House is from 5 p.m. after our experience.
Again in Lulworth Cove we had a very nice room with the very friendly host family Justin and Amanda. So it was perfect for our rest day. From Lulworth Cove to Worth Matravers it was a yery strong but beautiful day. Unfortunately we missed the Taxi at 5 p.m. because we are slow walkers and were not able to phone him when we recognised that we will be late. But there is a phone in the pub and they have a lot of Taxi phone numbers there so we easely could get another one for the transfer to Swanage. So this is a good hint for other walkers if they have some coins (20p. or 40p.).
The Pines Hotel is well kept with good food and even local ales so we passed two good nights there.
As the last times we walked with you, we can say that we will recommend EncounterWalkingHolidays to everybody asking us for advice in walking holidays! Thank you very much for your help and we are looking forward to our next walking holidays with you.
Thank you for organizing a great vacation. We had amazing weather -- thanks for arranging that, too! The hiking lengths were perfect and the routes easy to find using the guide. All accommodations were better than anticipated. We especially liked the Queen Anne House in Portland. The folks at The Gloucester House in Weymouth were super -- they gave us a view room upgrade at no cost because the weekend was slow. The luggage transfers were perfect. Thanks for arranging a last minute change to our taxi pickup from Weymouth. Everything meshed smoothly.
We had a really enjoyable 4 days walking. The weather was fantastic and the scenery just breathtaking in places. The accommodation was variable but finished on a high in Lulworth Cove which was very comfortable and clean, with great attention to detail. The B&B in Lyme Regis was a bit 'tired'. For lunch along the way the Anchor pub was excellent as was the Hive Beach Cafe. We definitely recommend those.
We did have a few issues with the distances quoted which seem to be shorter than our various gps gadgets indicated, even taking into account the various detours and we found the steepness of the final few miles into Lulworth quite challenging as there is not much purchase or grip underfoot on those slopes. However we did have a great sense of satisfaction and achievement on finishing unscathed!
We had the good fortune to meet a Coastal Path Ranger called Dave as we were leaving the Smugglers at Osmington Mills and he accompanied us along the path to Whitenothe. He pointed out lots of interesting features and historical information along the way and added greatly to our enjoyment of the day.
So thank you to your team for a successful trip!
I had a wonderful time, great weather and great places to stay. The only direction problem I had was finding Worth Matraverrs off the path. I am guessing I left the trail too early and missed the appropriate signs. The ratings of the day's walks were very helpful. The rating of the Lulworth range section was probably too severe but that just made it seem a bit easier
First time for a walking holiday with friend and it was fantastic organised to perfection. All instructions and recommendations given did not fail from luggage transfers to transport information and all the accommodation was perfect and chosen well, not forgetting the coastal walk which was wonderful. I have already recommended Encounter Walking to others and can't wait to do again. Thank you Nichola Hammett & Janet Ling - Wiltshire
Did the whole SWCP over a two month period including a week and half break at falmouth on my own The organisation was faultless with luggage transfer every day from luggage transfer south west always at your accommodation with out fail The tour notes were detailed and full of useful information and more importantly bang up to date with latest path issues I stayed in a total of 48 different accommodation over the walk and with out exception all were as a minimum of good standard. Bearing in mind that in certain areas the accommodation is limited and I was walking in the school holidays. There were some in my opinion really great places either because of its location, the staff or just the way the place was set up and i feel they need a mention - the cottage porlock a lovely small b&B really we'll done out and friendly owners - heartland quay hotel just for its brilliant location and remoteness when every one else has gone but if you want an early start you need to get your pack lunch the night b4 they will give you a fridge to keep in your room - Wellington hotel Boscastle for its character - driftwood spa near st Agnes brill location and very good fish restaurant - honeycombe house mevagissey b&B really nice room with views and good breakfast - worswell Barton farmhouse noss mayo farm b&B but probably best breakfast on route with virtually everything locally made on site -the tower inn slapton what a brill pub room was great with great evening food and breakfast Mariners hotel Lyme Regis really nice room Manor hotel west bexington lovely set up with a great room and good food Lulworth mill house Lulworth cove arrived soaked through and early but could not be more helpful to get my gear dry again good evening meal Over all I could not fault the logistics of this tour and a big thanks must go to encounter for organising even down to getting you across 5 rivers crossings in three days with tidal gate issues This is the 3rd time I have used encounter with out a single issue On the walk it self it is with out doubt one of the best it is tough in places especially the section up near bude to port Isaac were you have tough days consecutive but a lot of the time you have easier days following tough sections
First a big thank you to you and your staff for all your help and arrangements that enabled us to finish the SWCP on Sunday. As last year we were blessed with great weather (not that we hold you accountable for that!)
The arrangements were excellent and the accommodation of a high standard throughout. The Abbey House at Abbotsbury and Eypesmouth Hotel were outstanding. The latter really deserved to be a lot busier - it was quite quiet when we were there.
Your directions were accurate and helpful throughout. If you’re directing people to the Royale Best Western in Bournemouth again, note there is a bus stop for the 50 bus immediately on the left as you come off the Poole Harbour ferry, and that the Belvedere Hotel is now closed and, at the moment, empty and boarded up.
Joe and I had a super time on the Dorset Coast Path last week, thanks to your sound advice and impeccable organisation. The map, guidebook and route instructions were first-class, easy to follow and intelligently informative; the accommodation was very good; and our bags arrived effortlessly and safely each evening at our destination. We did not know this part of the coast previously (although we climbed Golden Cap last November when en route for a rugby match at Exeter) and very much enjoyed the area’s variety of geology and landscape, from sandstone cliffs to the mysterious Fleet and limestone Portland. We would like to do more of the South West Coast Path in the future and will be in touch with you when we can identify an opportunity.
Thank you for an excellent itinerary, support service and accommodation. All staff were tremendously helpful and welcoming. We had great weather that undoubtedley helped but we were all greatly impressed with the organisation and service we received.
We took a detour from the route suggested and would strongly recommend it for future walks.i.e. on the Abbotsbury to Osmington mills - the longest walk - we detoured to a pub (the old ship inn) in Upwey. Although this was suggested , we didn't return to the ridge as suggested (FAR TOO TOUGH) but walked down the high street and rejoined the ridge at Bincombe. This detour was relatively easy with little climbing. (We had lost a lot of height dropping down to Upwey and by rejoining later on we met the original path as it came down!) The refreshment at the pub was definately needed on such a long walk. Hope this helps others! Thanks again Kind regards Peter
Thank you for a wonderful end to my walk around the South West Coast Path. The walk along Studland Bay beach to the ferry at Poole was idyllic and certainly something I will never forget! The weather was certainly in our favour and it was magical! Big blue skies, white sandy beaches and warm sunshine! Strangely, although I felt a certain amount of self satisfaction that I had completed the walk, the overwhelming emotion was one of sadness that it was over! I just wanted to keep going - day after day of great walking, glorious scenery, good food and drink! We had supper in The Haven hotel overlooking the entrance to Poole Harbour. What a fitting way to celebrate my first completion of the South West Coast Path!
We loved the walk around Portland - as you say it's all part of the region. If it was all pretty fishing villages and dramatic scenery it would end up being a bit boring! It would be a strange sort of path if you avoided all the bits that weren't picture postcard. And in actual fact although the west coast of the island was a bit stark, the east coast was stunning. We met an old man there who used to work for Portland Stone. He had been to a garden party at the palace as a representative of the company and had met the queen. (Parts of Buckingham Palace were built using Portland Stone) He was from the North East originally and he proudly told us in a Geordie accent, the story of his day at the palace and his conversation with Her Majesty with a twinkle in his eye! Memories are made of such chance meetings and cement the 'feeling' of a place in your heart.
We arrived home safely yesterday after a superb walk along the coast. As you are well aware the scenery was absolutely spectacular. We had one wet day on Easter Sunday and a bit cloudy on the last two days with the odd shower but the first week was wall- to - wall sunshine with us walking in shorts and tee-shirts it was so warm.
Many , many thanks for arranging the trip for us - everything went very smoothly and the bags were always there before us each day. The accommodation was excellent and it was a good job we walked quite a bit given the amount we ate!!!
As you indicated the section around Kimmeridge is now open with no problems at all. The only bit we made a slight modification to was between West Bexington and Abbotsbury. Chesil Beach has clearly been remodelling itself and the path is now buried under a pile of small pebbles. After walking about a mile or so on this which was hard work to say the least!!! we decided to head inland and followed the ridgeway to Abbotsbury. The views from the top were spectacular including a superb hill fort on the top so it was a very pleasant diversion and better than plodding along the pebbly beach.
Anyhow many thanks again for all your help - it has certainly whetted out appetite to do other sections of the SW path. If we do then we will certainly be in touch with you again and we will also recommend you to anyone else who wants to do this walk if the opportunity arises.
It was quite a short break, only 2 days walking, because my partner still has a demanding job and our free days are limited and it was a bit of a taster. We were very lucky with the weather, wet on the drive down and atrocious on the way home but very good for the walking. The first day the sting was in the tail with some steep bits before reaching Durdle Door. The B&B at Lulworth (Bindon Bottom) was wonderful, Lisa and Clive could not have been more hospitable. The following day the walk through the ranges was magnificent, blue sky, sun, light SW breeze. Bindon Hill was a steep hill but steps made it pleasant. The views were amazing and it is a walk I shall never forget. The B&B at Kimmeridge was also excellent, even driving us to the pub for dinner. Encounter did a first class job and we will be back and I wouldn't use any other company. Thank you for a magnificent break!
An easy if lengthy walk on the first day. We stayed at the fantastically comfortable Manor Hotel West Bexington, drove 3 miles down the road to Abbotsbury and parked on Rodden Row. The reason for this was that we wanted to walk almost to the tip of Portland in one day - approx. 15 miles and the light would not have allowed for such a lengthy walk if we had started from Bexington. The walk is very well signposted along the back of the Fleet Lagoon, next to Chesil beach. As one nears Portland the walk takes on a less rural feel but nevertheless interesting, walking around an MOD facility where soldiers learn to make bridges. Just before Portland we stopped at the wonderful Crab House Café where they cooked us up some food despite the kitchen being technically closed. The walk along the main road to Portland beside Weymouth Harbour is noisy as one is walking along the road, but once onto Portland one climbs a steep hill out of Fortuneswell and onto the western side of Portland for the final 5 km down to the Ocean Spa Hotel which deserves a special mention. Built as an MOD facility, from the outside it looks austere and unprepossessing, but having been bought by Verna a couple of years ago, she has transformed the hotel. It is spotlessly clean and the service was excellent as was the food. The following day we continued the walk by walking down to Portland Bill and then up the eastern side of the island past Verne prison, where one can have lunch courtesy of the prisoners and through various old quarries until we arrived back at Fortuneswell where we chose to stop our walk and take a cab through Weyline for £36 all the way back to our start point at Abbotsbury. The walking of the Fleet lagoon at the back of Chesil beach is very interesting as this is such a fascinating natural wonder.
We arranged a walk on the Dorset Coast path with Encounter to cover a full day with a half-day either side, the first day covering the Undercliff from Seaton to Lyme Regis, the second the coast path from Lyme to West Bexington, and the third a circular walk to Abbotsbury. Firstly, we thoroughly recommend the walk - we all enjoyed it and, although the middle section was 16 miles of up and down cliffs, found it comfortably within our abilities. The Undercliff wasn't quite as jungle-like as the descriptions we'd read had led us to believe, but was still a good walk, with occasional glimpses of the sea. Quite up and down and slippery in places but classed as a moderate walk, which seems fair.
Stayed the night in Lyme Regis (dinner at the excellent Tierra Kitchen) and the next morning set off in the fog for the main stretch of the walk. More than we'd realised of the first part was on road (probably should have checked the map more carefully) due to coastal erosion but after Charmouth started up Golden Cap. The fog didn't lift all day so not much in the way of views but the walk was very enjoyable, although quite tough in parts. Got to West Bay around 3pm but decided we'd rather wait an extra hour for refreshments away from the smell of stale chip fat and walked on to the Hive Beach Cafe, which I can't recommend enough (a slice of cake has never been so welcome!). The final stretch was fairly straightforward (and flat), along the edge of the beach and nature reserve to West Bexington.
The Manor hotel was excellent - they knew all our plans and really looked after us. We had booked to eat there that evening as well, which was a good move. The final day we decided to relax a bit and just walked to Abbotsbury for lunch, rather than the full circular walk, so that we weren't so pressed for time.
A couple of comments are that the directions would have been even better if the distances were broken down a bit more (eg: distance from Lyme to Charmouth etc) as it would have made it easier to plan. There were parts of the coast path which were badly sign-posted so the OS map was essential - we should have taken a compass as well considering the fog made finding landmarks difficult! The arrangements were flawless, however, and there were no hitches at all - it was lovely not having to think about that side of it! We'd definitely use Encounter again, as both the arrangements during the trip and the wealth of information when planning were fantastic.
What a fantastic walk, with brilliant and varied scenery, fascinating geology, lovely wild flowers and umpteen different species of butterfly. We were glad we took the South Dorset Ridgeway option from West Bexington to Osmington Mills as this added variety to coastal walking with great views, much historical interest and avoided the flat lands around Chesil Beach. Encounter's organisation of accommodation, luggage transfers and taxi pick-ups was faultless. The walk notes were up-to-date and most helpful but we did feel that the stated mileage and estimated time for completion were understated. Thank you very much to the staff at Encounter for organising a wonderful holiday for us.
Enjoyed this walk very much. Accommodation arranged for us was superb and transfers all great. Just one problem was that on the first day we had to detour which added on mileage. We also walked straight past our hotel as we were lead to believe it was in West Bay which was where we were finishing the walk when in fact it was in Eypes. This meant another mile walking back. Apart from that a very well arranged holiday thanks. Will certainly use Encounter again.
Tips or useful information for other walkers ? - Eypes Mouth Hotel,Abbotsbury Abbey House Guest House and Lulworth Cove Inn were all wonderful places to stay with marvelous hosts. RiverHouse Upwey does amazing lamb, food was brilliant Bakehouse in Abbotsbury did really good pasty, dorset homity pie and cake for packed lunch over Ridgeway. Agree with previous comments re the Ilchester Arms overpriced for what you get.
Comments about the organisation of the trip by Encounter Walking Holidays ? Fantastic to have luggage in room when we arrived or brought up when we arrived (Lulworth Cove Inn)-such good organisation Walking notes excellent. Really good to have Damons expertise when we booked and he sorted it out all last minute.(thank you) When our dinner bookings didn't happen, one phone call to Cathy and she sorted it straight out,she was so friendly and helpful ( thank you)
Would you recommend the walk to others ?-Definately!
What was the best thing about your walk? The sheer variety of the terrain, not all cliffs are the same!.Seeing flowers and butterflies and those amazing vistas. Seeing Lyme Regis disapear into the far distance and knowing we walked it ourselves. Huge sense of achievement.
Had a lovely walk. Well organised. Good accommodation and food. No problems with transfers. One very minor problem was making use of the guide book which assumes you are travelling west to east. More than happy to recommend.
A very well organised holiday. The planning, paperwork and information provided by Encounter Walking was excellent. Additionally, the selection of the B&Bs was varied and very good indeed. From the very personal approach of Peaches in Abbotsbury to the smooth efficiency and presentation of the Haven Hotel on Sandbanks (which by the way is an excellent ending for a long and challenging walk). In all, the food was excellent and more than enough to keep you going for what ever walk lay ahead.
The places we chose for evening meals were also very good and the welcome and friendliness of the local people/businesses was impressive. The only exemption to this would be the Ilchester Arms in Abbotsbury where we were charged £6.00 for two Sparkling Waters with Lime and the food was very poor. I also think, that the company who moved the luggage were outstanding. We have had walking holidays before but this is the first time that our cases have always been delivered to the rooms - this makes a huge difference after a long walk! If we had to choose our favourite B&Bs, and remember they were all good, then we would definitely choose the Old Barn at Lulworth Cove and the Queen Anne on Portland. Both were outstanding and provided accommodation and services we haven't found at some 4 star hotels we have stayed in! All in all a really great holiday and we would definitely use Encounter walking again.
The route was generally very well signposted and easy to follow. The directions to accomodation were clear. I did have a slight problem with the signs into Portland after crossing the bridge.....
All of the days were interesting. The walk round Portland was good but the treck from Portland to Weymouth was dreary. The deciding factor was the weather.....
Generally I was in keeping with the estimated times, except for Lulworth to Worth Matravers. This took 8 hours of walking and although very strenuous I think it was more than 11 miles.
The accommodation was all very good, as were the breakfasts. Abbotsbury Tea Rooms was possibly just top of the list.......All very welcoming. All clean. Bedrooms varied but all acceptable.
You made clear that meals were not available at Worth Matravers without booking well in advance. However, it might have been helpful to have had this highlighted at the beginning of the notes - for those like me who read a day at a time.
No problems. Everything was in good order. Thank you for your attention to detail in the notes.
The diversion Lyme to Charmouth is easy to find but probably best avoided- some of it is on roads and the rest is not very interesting. Same goes for diversion after Charmouth. Would suggest to walkers that they pick up path at National Trust car park at the top of the hill on diversion after Charmouth-sorry don’t have notes with me...... Best day was the Ridgway part because the views were fantastic. This isn’t coastal walking. But the change of view is worth the effort to get up there!..... Timing about right...... The Dandelion bistro in Lulworth...... Eypesmouth hotel was excellent and would suit those who want a quiet place to stay- full of oldies and we’re getting that way ourselves! Evening meal very good...... Abbotsbury abbey house breakfast was fab! The people running were v good too...... Your organisation is as always excellent all the way down to the details. We think you’re wonderful! We’ll be back for more.
Best day was Weymouth to Lulworth Cove and from Kimmeridge to Lulworth Cove because of the breathtaking views and unique rock shelves. Although we also quite enjoyed St. Catherine’s Chapel looking over Chesil Beach and the Fleet Lagoon...... We did not pressurize ourselves, but I think the estimated times are right...... We just loved MOONFLEET MANOR Hotel. We arrived there for Sunday Lunch. First we sat on their terrace outside. They were very friendly , very relaxed place and obliging-we can only recommend it even if it “quite upmarket” as you called it...... Sorry only criticism here, but in terms of standards we know from the Continent we found the accommodation rather poor. But we don’t want to generalize: we got almost everywhere a warm welcome and everybody was very friendly......we read everything and felt very well informed...... Thank you again; the organisation was perfect. All taxis arrived in time, our luggage was transferred- even in Weymouth with all the streets being closed-we wondered how this would be done- but when we arrived out suitcase was in the room.
Generally we walked a little bit slower!...... on the fields the way could not be found easily. General comments on the accommodation: good situated and very nice choices! Very good organisation at all!!
Lyme Regis to Eypes and Weymouth to Lulworth were the best days. Best views......Crab House at Ferry Bridge which you mentioned outstanding
Accommodation all different but very good, . Folk at Old Barn charming and made us sandwiches when we arrived lunchless in the rain. Also good marmalade!......Another time I would go for waterproof maps rather than descriptions......The organisation gets 5 stars (out of 5), great to know you were so detailed. Have already recommend you. Very Impressed. Would def use you again if we risk walking in England rather than France!
We had a great time with you and would you believe that the weather was kind to us...we missed the rain mostly. Into Weymouth was the wettest but only in the afternoon and it wasn’t a problem more like showers, I can’t believe we were so lucky. Thankyou for arranging it at such short notice......Got a little lost at the beginning with the diversions from Lyme Regis to Charmouth, so floundered at Charmouth (my inability to comprehend the written word. Missed the path at Abbotsbury so ended above St Catherines Chapel but we got where we were supposed to be in the end......The first day even though we got a little lost it was a great feeling to achieve/finish the day in the right place (I have not done this kind of walk on my own before so feeling very proud of myself) also it was more interesting/challenging...but not hard!......Everything went smoothly, our luggage was collected/delivered. It was so nice to have someone do all the work and we just enjoyed ourselves......You did a very good job at short notice, thankyou.......The Eypes Mouth Country Hotel was absolutely BRILLIANT. The rooms were clean, fresh and the hotel personnel were certainly keen to please. It was a lovely hotel, one I would be certainly keen to go back to...... The Gloucester Hotel, Weymouth was lovely and I can only praise Chris and Geoff for their efforts to please and hospitality. Lovely people, good rooms, great location, good breakfast, so definitely a positive experience here. On the whole, I must say that it was very well planned, organised trip and we appreciate you worked very hard to put this package together at short notice for us, thank you.
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