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
Hi Damon Just to say thanks for all the arrangements on this walk. Everything went as planned and I had a really good week of walking and the choice of hotels was excellent. Thanks again Kevin
I am back and all went well. It was a walk of two halves - the first 2 and a bit days were very flat and the rest zero flat almost.
A few specific comments - The accomodation was all very good ; hard to separate any one location out but Surf Haven was a great room with a great view.
Going backwards on day one was slightly odd but worked without any issue and it was a gentle walk.
A couple of minor direction issues -
- coming out of Bideford the path goes uphill after some houses and then right with a very hidden sign and not over a concreate area as the book suggests.
- Beyond Clovelly I went the wrong way at one point in the woods but picked the path back up again fairly soon and later at what I think was East Titchberry cliff the path rather disappears and there is a broken sign post (it was very wet and poor visabilty at the point as well). It also broke the charger on my phone due to the wet. I intend to avoid walking all day in the rain in the future -
It rained on the day from Clovelly to Hartland Quay ; and it rained a lot and was windy had low visabilty. This was not a good day but I got the the hotel by lunchtime. The guide rather gives up after Hartland Point when the going gets rather hard. Clovelly itself was also a little odd ; almost too tourist like I think.
I actually liked the flat walk on the railway track it was sunny and easy.
The day from Appledore to Clovelly was the longest given the walk round the dunes at the start (although Appledore was very nice and Westward Ho appeared less so).
The Hartland Quay to Bude day was very good for the views and not quite as infamously hard as I had expected - although not easy.
The next day I walked all the way to Boscastle as it looked like rain on the last day and caught the bus back to Crackington Haven ; If I had realised how long the 7 miles were I might not have done that but it was fantastic walking and views one of the best on the whole path I think.
This meant I used the last day to avoid the morning rain and then get the bus back to Boscastle and walk up to the Church that Thomas Hardy restored ; which was a nice change and also I was nearly there before when I did the across Cornwall walk so I was pleased to finally make it.
Oddest thing that happened ; I passed a middle aged man in a floppy hat on a remote part of the walk to Bude with a foldup bike ; a large video camera and two kitchin wall clocks (really it felt like Alice in Wonderland) ; there was no way you could cycle and I still have no explanation for it.
Many thanks as always - Ken.
We've been back a while, I just wanted to send you some quick feedback on our walk. It was a lovely experience, we really enjoyed it and plan on continuing the walk next year. The highlight for me was Hartland Quay, which was pretty remote but very lovely. Port Isaac was also a favourite (the really nice hotel certainly helped). The start around Barnstaple was a bit rough (although the Old Rectory was a marvelous accommodation), we do prefer the more remote walks, but interesting nonetheless. I still love the trailblazer guidebook...
We learned a couple of things, among them that launderettes are infinitely preferable to sink washing and that walks over 20 km are much harder (even the easy ones) than the short and strenuous ones. Next year, we will go back to some rest days...
Thank you very much for such a meticulously organised walk - everything went well and I keep recommending your services!
Regards and have a lovely summer,
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