Walking the South West Coast Path in 2023
The South West Coast Path is like no other route in the UK. This path spans 630 miles starting from Minehead, Somerset and finishing in Poole, Dorset. You will pass through or visit 300 towns or villages, whilst walking the South West Coast Path.
WALKING THE SOUTH WEST COAST PATH
The South West Coast Path (SWCP) was originally a route created by the coastguards to patrol for smugglers. Because the path hugs the coast this was the best way for them to be able to spot any suspicious activity. The path is no longer used for this purpose and is purely used for enjoyment by the public who wish to take in the spectacular views and walk or run the trail. The path is now looked after by volunteers, the National Trust and members from the South West Coast Path Association.
The South West Coast Path offers you the opportunity to explore so many differing landscapes across the counties of Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and Dorset. Described as one of the UK’s best walking routes, it boasts Heritage coastlines and numerous Nature Reserves as well as five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, two World Heritage Sites (the Jurassic Coast and Cornish Mining Heritage), a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and a National Park! Within The South West Coast path are the smaller coast path routes such as, Devon Coast Path, Cornish Coast Path, Jurassic Coast Path, Dorset Coast Path.
You can click here to visit our ‘Ancient Sites’ article page.
What are the hardest and easiest parts when walking the South West Coast Path?
Many people often ask about the hardest and easiest parts of the South West Coast Path, whilst this answer may vary slightly for each individual, we consider the easiest parts of the Coast Path to be between Salcombe and Lyme Regis (6-8 days walking) or Padstow and St Ives (4-7 days walking). And we consider the hardest daily parts of the South West Coast Path to be between Hartland, Clovelly and Bude, or St Ives, Zennor and Pendeen.
- The section around the Hartland Peninsula, Clovelly to Bude, is exposed, and have numerous accents and descents meaning that you’ll be concentrating on your walk all day. However, this area does offer some of the most spectacular scenery of the entire South West Coast Path.
- The section between St Ives, Zennor and Pendeen is often quoted as being tough due to the rocky and boggy ground. This area is known for its granite, which protrudes from the ground across the entire Cornish landscape. Therefore in this area you will spent a lot of time looking at your feet and won’t be walking at the same pace as other sections. But, be assured that you will see some of the most stunning views and turquoise seas in the UK.
“IF YOU CAN FIND A PATH WITH NO OBSTACLES, IT PROBABLY DOESN’T LEAD ANYWHERE.” – Frank A. Clark
When to walk on the South West Coast Path?
Often the most popular time of year to walk the South West Coast Path is during the spring and late summer. However, the path is open all year round, but there are lots of things to consider when walking in the winter and autumn months. Often walking on the Coast Path during the winter can prove to be slippery and muddy making the ground uneven and sometimes unsafe to walk on. During the winter months many of the amenities (cafes, ferries, small shops, public toilets) on the South West Coast Path tend to close down.
Facts about the South West Coast Path –
- When walking the South West Coast Path it is equivalent to walking Mount Everest four times.
- The South West Coast Path is the longest waymarked trail in the UK at 630 miles long.
- You will cross 230 bridges and climb 436 stiles when walking the South West Coast Path.
- The half way point of the 630 mile South West Coast Path is Porthallow on the Lizard Peninsula.
- You can purchase a South West Coast Path Passport from the SWCPA and collect stamps as you walk. There are over 100 stamping points to have your passport stamped when walking the South West Coast Path.
Can I arrange my own walking holiday on the South West Coast Path or should I use a holiday company?
The answer to this is completely personal choice. The booking process is possible either way. If you intend to book your walk on the South West Coast Path yourself there are many things to consider. Click here to view our ‘Booking Yourself vs Holiday Company’ article for more information.
Photo Credit: Antony Bank (more…)