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.
Distance - 10.5 miles. Strenuous grade walking to Stackpole Quay with a moderate finish to Bosherston - what these grades mean.
Summary - A day of wild walking between grasslands and gorse above huge sheer limestone cliffs with regular ascents and descents through a roller-coaster of unspoilt sandy beaches
Today a lung busting climb on the Welsh Coast Path from Manorbier snakes along the narrow ridge spine of cliffs at East Moor before circling the back of the huge lost bay at Swanlake with its shingle and sand banks.
A long way from the nearest road or house this is a remote spot that you are likely to have all to yourself ! Beyond it the Pembrokeshire Coast Path has you quickly climbing once again 200ft to open heathland at West Moor before yet another descent through tunnels of Gorse to the half-moon curve of sand at Freshwater East Bay.
If the tide is out follow the waterline in front of the bush lined dunes. Despite the holiday park here this area is a protected Nature Reserve and a haven for wildlife rarities including Adder Snakes and glow worms that have long since disappeared from the more developed areas of the Welsh Coast line.
Staying high now on a line of headlands jutting into the ocean, the climbs and descents are initially through wildflower meadows to Greenala Point where the deep ditches and earth banks of a mighty Iron Age Cliff Fort can be seen bolstered by the steep cliff sides to give a perfect natural defence.
Watch out all along this section for the variety of seabirds that include Guillemots and Oystercatchers as well as rarer inhabitants like Puffin and Chough.
Eventually descend to the abandoned harbour at Stackpole Quay a tiny inlet that harboured only a handful of boats.
Huge slabs of Limestone were loaded here in the 18th Century from a tiny flat stone jetty which is still here today in front of long lost and overgrown quarries.
Rest up at the welcoming National Trust Tearoom in The Old Boathouse for lunch and explore the well preserved limekilns just inland.
The next cove is reached by descending a remarkable old stone staircase through bright yellow gorse bushes to reveal beautiful Barfundle Beach and its Smugglers Cave. Totally unspoilt and idyllic, huge and lonely pine trees cling on to its Southern flanks.
This place regularly gets voted into lists of the top ten UK beaches, its pure golden sands and crystal clear azure water more reminiscent of the Mediterranean than South West Wales - it's certainly one of the best shorelines on the whole Welsh Coastal Path.
Thankfully its remoteness and the lack of road access keeps the crowds away.
From Barfundle you climb through the shady Pines onto the National Trust's Stackpole Warren Nature Reserve. Another contrast this is now a superb high cliff top area, in past times a breeding site for rabbits, whose descendants still roam throughout the wild orchids that mark this headland and its distinct dune system.
There is a real sense of space now where you can roam free through huge flat grasslands that suddenly just vanish to plunge over the sheer cliffs.
All along the cliff tops are little metal pegs as these crags attract the best rock climbers in the UK and you can pause to watch them inch up some of the most dramatic sea climbs in the country.
Look out for the double rock archway known as Griffith Lorts Hole set within black caves, huge crumbling rock stacks and giant pinnacles as you round Stackpole Head.
On the vertical 100ft cliffs you can often spot puffins nesting amongst huge colonies of razorbills, fulmars and guillemots.
Beyond the wild headland the dramatic rock features continue as you are forced inland to cross the dramatic narrow miniature fjord of the "Ramming Hole" and the huge sink hole at Sandy Pit where the adventurous clamber into its depths and out through a sea tunnel to a secret beach.
Beyond, the huge collapsed sea cave at Saddle Point fills with fiery water at high tide exploding in a natural blow hole spectacle for those happy to inch along the outer wall to see it.
The day ends with respite from the ocean's fury at the sheltered sands of Broad Haven beach where you pass into a protected wild dune system picking any one of a maze of paths through mountainous sand dunes, home to wild orchids, ragwort and Marram grass.
Offshore the atmospheric, pointed limestone stack of Church Rock looks just like an oceanic House of God and marks the point to turn sharply inland off The Pembrokeshire Coast Path crossing a little sand lagoon to reach an entirely different inland scene.
Here the National Trust nature reserve of Bosherston Lakes draws you away from the coastline into a series of long narrow freshwater pools that were created by damming the three river valleys that meet here on their run to the coastline. It’s an oasis of tranquillity after the raging ocean, calming water lilies and reed banks, stunning when they flower in June and fringed by shady woodland that is home to over 20 species of Dragonfly. Otters, Moorhen and Heron can be spotted whilst huge pike stalk the waters below the lilies. its an outstanding area of dark, lush vegetation where you follow twisting paths over long and narrow wooden bridges and causeways to emerge at the inland hamlet of Bosherston.
Overnight stops and information about Bosherston on the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path
Map of all
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