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The South West Coast Path is a fantastic way to explore and appreciate this area of the country and take in the breath-taking views. It’s also great for any long-distance hikers looking for a new challenge! In this article, we’ll explore what the South West Coast Path is and advice on how to walk the trail, as well as the highlights you can expect along the way.
What is the South West Coast Path?
The South West Coast Path is the UK’s longest National Trail around the coast head of England’s south west peninsula. The path starts at Minehead in Somerset and then runs along the coastline of Exmoor, before continuing along the North Devon coast and into Cornwall. The South West Coast Path then follows the entire coastline of Cornwall, going across the mouth of the River Tamar and into Devon. It runs along the south coast of Devon, following the Dorset coastline before finally coming to an end at Poole Harbour.
Walking the Trail
One of the longest coastal paths in the world, the South West Coast Path is 630 miles in length and is signposted all the way around by acorn marker posts. There are also regular marker posts detailing how far along the trail you are, as well as markers at the start, end and mid-point.
The South West Coast Path is broken down into seven different sections. These are:
• Somerset and Exmoor (35 miles)
• North Devon (90 miles)
• North Cornwall (66 miles)
• West Cornwall (144 miles)
• South Cornwall (76 miles)
• South Devon (104 miles)
• Jurassic Coast (115 miles)
On average, it takes most people around seven to eight weeks to complete the South West Coast Path. Obviously, some people can walk it much quicker and others need a bit longer. The South West Coast Path Association has a recommended 52-day itinerary, that they suggest for most people.
If you’re considering a walking holiday this summer, why not choose the South West Coast Path? For a real challenge, you could even walk the full 630 miles!
Highlights of the Trail
Named by Lonely Planet as one of England’s best coastal walks, the South West Coast Path has some truly spectacular highlights to enjoy. Here are some suggestions of places you might like to stop off along the way.
Port Isaac is a small coastal village in North Cornwall. If you’re following the 52-day itinerary, you’ll come across this beautiful village during your second week of walking and it’s well worth taking a break from the dramatic landscape to spend a day exploring Port Isaac. It’s here that the British drama Doc Martin was filmed and it’s also famous for its incredible fish restaurants.
Padstow is a picturesque Cornish fishing port and from here you can take a boat trip out to spot seals and puffins and during the summer months, you may even see Basking sharks!
Famous for its beaches and its art gallery, St Ives is the perfect place to stop off during your trip. Whether you fancy a go at paddle boarding or surfing or you’d prefer to sample the delicious cuisine or enjoy a drink in one of the local pubs, the town has something to offer everyone.
Situated in an Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty in Devon, Salcombe has beautiful beaches, a maritime museum, an award-winning gin distillery and a lighthouse, as well as boutique shops, seafood restaurants and delicious ice cream from its own dairy.