Glittering seas, spectacular cliffs, tranquil farmland and huge skies – whether or not you stroll, stroll or hike the South West Coast Path, the surroundings is among the most stunning within the UK. The nation’s longest path stretches for 630 miles from Minehead in Somerset, alongside the Devon and Cornwall coast to Poole Harbour in Dorset. This yr is the fiftieth anniversary of the creation of the South West Coast Path Affiliation, when a bunch of walkers, having tackled the Pennine Method, determined to create one thing comparable within the West Nation.
“It was fairly a job,” says Althea Mays of the SWCPA, “and it took 5 years: linking paths, speaking to landowners about rights of approach, getting the path designated – nearly like placing a large jigsaw collectively.” The path stays one of many UK’s hottest routes, with greater than 600 completely different walks to select from. “We propose a 52-day itinerary if you wish to do the entire thing,” says Mays. “However many individuals come and do a piece annually, making it an annual weekend with buddies or household. Strolling is such a companionable factor, and the pandemic actually strengthened the significance of immersing ourselves in nature and taking time to benefit from the outdoor.”
A lot of the path – 185 miles – runs by Nationwide Belief land, with greater than 1,000 volunteers working beside rangers to assist keep the range of habitats, from sand dunes and mudflats to moorland and heathland, every house to a broad vary of wildlife. From Dorset’s spectacular Jurassic coast to North Devon’s browsing seashores and Cornwall’s sweeping cliffs, there are walks for each stage, and for households, teams of buddies or solo strolling adventurers. Listed below are 5 of essentially the most superb sections, with unimaginable sea views and beautiful West Nation surroundings at each flip.
1. Marazion to Lizard Level, Cornwall, 21 miles
The tiny village of Gunwalloe, famed for smuggling and shipwrecks in westerly gales, is a spectacular base from which to discover the trail from St Michael’s Mount to the underside of the Lizard. The just lately restored Winnianton Farmhouse, itself on the coastal path, set amid 90 acres of farmland, is a superb place to remain (sleeps six, from £1,499 per week, nationaltrust.org.uk). Close by Greenback Cove was named after a Seventeenth-century Spanish shipwreck that scattered its silver treasure onshore. To the north is the Nationwide Belief’s gorgeous Penrose Property, that includes the sandy stretch of Loe Bar that divides the ocean on one aspect from the Loe, Cornwall’s largest freshwater lake. Cease for a drink or a meal (or spend the evening, from £75 per evening) on the Halzephron Inn (Cornish for Cliffs of Hell). To the south, the seashore at Poldhu Cove has a wonderful surf college, nestled beneath the Poldhu Marconi Centre, from the place the Italian inventor despatched his first wi-fi alerts to Newfoundland. Press on, by clifftops dotted with wild carrot, and also you’ll get to the harbour of Mullion Cove, Mullion Cliff and ultimately the Lizard Nationwide Nature Reserve.
2. Abbotsbury to Lulworth, Dorset – Jurassic Coast, 25 miles plus the 13-mile Isle of Portland circuit
This spectacular stretch of the Dorset shoreline combines jagged cliffs and the wildly stunning Isle of Portland, a four-mile-long wedge of land joined to the coast by Chesil Seashore. Following the trail from the historic village of Abbotsbury provides wonderful views of the extraordinary 18-mile spit of sand, with a pleasingly flat stretch alongside the tranquil Fleet lagoon, earlier than the panorama urbanises into Weymouth and Ferrybridge.
To be on the coronary heart of this stretch, e book one of many cosy rooms at Turnstones (doubles from £70, B&B, turnstones.internet), a few minutes’ stroll from Chesil’s gorgeous seashore – ideally suited in case you are planning on doing to the round route across the Isle of Portland. In the event you’re travelling with household, Moonfleet Manor makes an excellent base and presents a busy programme of actions to mix with strolling, and youngsters’s teas and golf equipment to offer dad and mom just a little break day (doubles from £220, B&B, moonfleetmanor.co.uk). Canines are welcome right here, too.
The stretch from Ferrybridge to Lulworth is extra taxing, however the views as you method Lulworth – again to the extraordinary Durdle Door – make the steep ascents and descents price it. Reward your self with a hearty lunch on the Sixteenth-century Fort Inn in Lulworth (butcombe.com) – however do e book forward if you happen to’re planning to go to on the weekend, because it will get busy.
3. Perranporth to St Ives, Cornwall Atlantic Coast, 30 miles
This 30-mile stretch of the path, taking in rugged clifftops, historic mining landscapes in addition to the picturesque city of St Ives, is a superb alternative for wildlife-lovers, with the prospect to see seals, sunfish and basking sharks, together with razorbills and guillemots within the skies overhead.
The primary part of the stroll, from the seaside resort of Perranporth to Portreath, is fairly strenuous, however the Portreath Arms (doubles from £120, B&B, theportreatharms.co.uk) is a comfy, restorative place to remain, with native fish and seafood given an Asian twist within the institution’s charming restaurant. Portreath seashore is a beautiful place on which to cease and watch the surfers, who come at excessive tide for the dependable rollers.
From Portreath, the trail leads deep into smuggling nation; look out for the splendidly named Ralph’s Cabinet, a rocky cove favoured by smugglers as a spot to cover their loot. Cease for a picnic within the rolling sand dunes at Gwithian, spot seals at Navax Level and enter Hayle through the city’s 100-year-old swing bridge.
If the price range stretches, an evening or two on the beautiful Carbis Bay (doubles from £345, B&B, carbisbayhotel.co.uk) is a good way to assuage walk-weary limbs.
St Ives is a straightforward stroll throughout the sands, the place the Porthminster Café, set proper on the sands of Porthminster seashore, does the very best fish curry on the town (porthminstercafe.co.uk).
4. Combe Martin to Braunton, North Devon, 28 miles
The spectacular seashores of the North Devon coast have just lately been designated the UK’s first Nationwide Surf Reserve and there’s no higher method to uncover the beautiful sandy shoreline of Putsborough, Croyde Bay and Saunton Sands than on foot, with widescreen views out throughout the Bristol Channel. There are many different excessive factors, from the extraordinary rock formations round Morte Level to the Braunton Burrows nature reserve, house to an enormous number of flowering crops, butterflies and small mammals.
The stretch from Woolacombe to Braunton has some beautiful and straightforward clifftop strolling, together with round Dishevelled Level, which presents the very best views of Croyde’s vast strand, shielded from growth by the dunes that separate the village from the seashore. Croyde is a beautiful place to remain. For lodging, attempt the Cider Barn, a spacious household home with a separate annex, proper within the coronary heart of the village (sleeps eight, from £1,175 every week, holidaycottages.co.uk), whereas the Thatch (thethatchcroyde.co.uk), presents wonderful pub meals and a laid-back browsing environment.
In the event you fancy one thing extra distant, Gordon’s Cabin, within the tiny village of Mortehoe, is only a stone’s throw from Woolacombe and the SWCP, and makes a tranquil, comfy base (sleeps two, three-night breaks from £599, nationaltrust.org.uk).
From Croyde, the route climbs up and over in the direction of Saunton, and the vast Taw estuary that runs as much as Braunton. Heanton Court docket pub (vintageinn.co.uk), with a terrace and gardens proper on the banks of the estuary, is a superb spot for lunch to gasoline the ultimate push.
5. Torcross to Brixham, South Devon, 21 miles
Mix walks by lush open fields, over rugged headlands and shady woodland with time dipping into Dartmouth’s artwork galleries and boutiques, and tucking into contemporary fish suppers in Brixham, a vibrant small port set round a picturesque harbour. The primary stretch begins comparatively gently, alongside the lengthy shingle seashore at Slapton Sands, earlier than changing into more and more rugged because the cliffs rise as much as type dramatic headlands.
Dartmouth makes an excellent base if you wish to combine strolling with extra city pleasures. Test into Browns, a classy boutique resort with a buzzy brasserie (doubles from £160, B&B, brownshoteldartmouth.co.uk), or spherical up household or buddies and keep on the Spinners Home (sleeps eight, from £838 per week, sykescottages.co.uk).
The stretch from Dartmouth to Brixham is among the path’s most difficult, however there are many rewards: the Fifteenth-century fort at Kingswear, the limestone meadows round Berry Head that blaze with wildflowers from Could to August, and the linnets, skylarks and uncommon cirl buntings, swooping within the skies above Froward Level.
Brixham itself is a improbable place through which to finish a stroll, with wonderful fish eating places dotted by the city; arguably the very best is Rockfish (therockfish.co.uk), located within the well-known fish market, overlooking the boats as they land their catch.
For extra info, downloadable maps and route planners, go to southwestcoastpath.org.uk