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.
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Distance - 18 miles to Goodwick - but can be split into two days walking after 12.5 miles at Strumble Head
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Summary - Moderate to strenuous grade walking throughout (what these grades mean), with superb Coastal Scenery including a classic ridge climb to the huge cliffs at Pwll Deri After the remote island lighthouse at Strumble Head a section of hidden valleys onto Goodwick.
Issues - This is a long walk in probably the most remote area of The Pembrokeshire Coast Path – apart for a very basic Youth Hostel half way there is no accommodation or facilities at all. Fit and strong walkers should aim to make the section in a long day of around 6-8 hours. For those that can’t manage this we can provide options for you to split the walk half way at Strumble Head using the Coastal Walkers bus link or a taxi transfer.
It’s a high level coastal cliff rollercoster this morning switching from headland to cove and back again before reaching the last habitation at the tiny fishing hamlet of Abercastle, Welsh for the “Bay of Boats”.
On your way down the cliffs divert to see the best preserved Cromlech (Burial Chamber) in the area at Carreg Sampson where the huge capstone is over 18ft in length, somehow still sitting above six uprights after a mere 5000 years.
Little fishing boats lie in the channel as you round the harbour, below a cluster of tiny cottages and jumble of old lime kilns. Note the pair of upended cannons planted and used as bollards, recognition that this was a feared pirate and smugglers outpost in past times.
It’s all wild walking now past “The Bay of the Pig” and the Castle Coch fort earthworks to the twin bays at Abermawr and Aberbach . A steep descent on an ancient rutted trackway through some rare coastal woodlands brings you to the first beach with its huge pebble backed shingle bar and not a house in site.
At Pwllcrochan in the shadow of the mountainous peaks rising in front of you there is a steep diversion into a deep canyon known as “the cauldron pool”.
A racing waterfall cascades onto the beach and the brave can get down to a secret bathing spot here by clambering down the cliffs on a rope placed there to assist you – if you take one wild swim on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path this is the place to do it backed by an amazing triangular wall of folded rock strata.
Deep ravines follow with steep climbs and tumbling streams cutting between volcanic rock outcrops and cairns as you scramble up the exposed and treeless ridge over the Penbwchdy (Goats Nose) headland. Now savour a classic mile long ridge climb an exhilarating high cliff walk in the clouds with probably the best views of the whole Pembrokeshire Coast Path.
Breathtakingly exposed in front of you is the immense bowl of cliffs below Pwll Deri whose sheer walls climb from an almost bottomless chasm to over 400ft. There the solitary Youth Hostel precariously hangs, whilst above this the mountainside of Gawn Fawr stretches up to the sky a further 300ft into the heavens.
It’s a formidable scene and the cliffs are so huge it feels like something more than the sea must have bitten this amphitheatre out of the peak.
As you reach the top a memorial to Dewi Emrys the Welsh Poet, simply states “These… are the thoughts that will come to you when you sit at Pwll Deri.”
The path now drops past the huge Elephant Head rock at Dinas Mawr “The great Fortress” another Iron Age Fort swathed in carpets of bright yellow gorse and pink thrift.
Eventually the squat white lighthouse of Strumble Head appears at distance sat guarding a trio of hump backed offshore islands and you pick your way over little crags of volcanic rock and marshy valleys to reach it.
A remote area with rare breeding Choughs as well as seals and basking sharks at the right time of year.
At the wrong time it’s a wild savage spot, the closest point on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path to Ireland!
Beyond Strumble at Carrage Wastad (Flat Topped Rock) Point you find a Memorial commemorating the last invasion of Britain.
This took place at the cliffs here in 1797 where one of the worst invasion plans in world history arrived in the form of Colonel Tate, an Anglo American heading a French Revolutionary Invasion Force.
His appropriately named 'Legion Noire' numbered 1400, over half of which were disinterested convicts and conscripts who having been blown off course were less happier still at landing in this “godforsaken” spot.
The loose plan was that the group would link up with Welsh rebels and create chaos and anarchy in the UK – unfortunately they found little of either.
The marauding “army” looted a few isolated farms on the headland which, it just so happened, were all stocked full of liquor “liberated” from a recent shipwreck… drunk and disorganised several hundred of the “invaders” absconded at the first opportunity.
A local force of farm workers armed with little more than sticks rounded up the rest who were already in mass retreat having mistaken a distant group of Welsh Women in tall hats to be a crack force of advancing troops. Now wet, cold and sobered up, the hapless French invaders hurriedly surrendered on the beach and Britain was saved (!) Commemorated in nearby Fishguard the local heroine in all this was one Jemima Nichols a local farmers wife who single handedly captured 12 of the hapless soldiers armed only with her pitchfork.
Back on The Pembrokeshire Coast Path and you descend into a delightful thick wooded valley at Cwm Falin where a tumbling joyful stream creates a lovely shady spot full of songbirds and woodland flowers that appear to have no place in these wild parts.
Beyond the final headland you meet the wide arc of Fishguard Bay where the huge Ferries for Ireland emerge into the open sea and as you descend to the harbour on an ancient green trackway you will at last feel the satisfaction in having completed the longest and most difficult day of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path
Information on Facilities and Overnight Stops at Goodwick and Fishguard.
Map of all
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