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Staying Safe when walking and hiking

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Staying safe when walking and hiking on the South West Coast Path and all other walking routes is extremely important. Many of the paths are rugged, and in some places tough so other than following the Countryside Code, we have added some tips and safety advice for when you’re walking and hiking. Please look after yourself and other members of your group.

Staying safe when walking and hiking


Walking across the beach

Walking across the beach is often idyllic, but you should beware of taking a shortcut across the beaches. When the tide comes in it is often known to isolate parts of the beach cutting them off from the main path. Please click here to view more information regarding the Tides & Ferries.

Swimming on some beaches can be dangerous. We would recommend that if you intend to take a dip during your walk that you choose a lifeguarded beach. Please give cautious consideration to swimming on lonely beaches.

The South West Coast Path, along with other National Trails are well sign posted. Informal or unsigned paths may prove dangerous and are best avoided. Routes may have been altered due to landslides or rock fall, so it is advised that you stick to the path to ensure that you’re staying safe when walking on the South West Coast Path.

Walking surfaces can vary considerably

Changes in weather can mean that the surfaces can become slippery and unstable underfoot. Always wear strong footwear with a good grip and ankle support.

Keep to the path, away from cliff edges and overhangs

Although we all want to see the view or the sea from a little closer, we are sometimes unaware that a cliff edge is an overhang. Overhangs could collapse at any point therefore staying away from the edge is a MUST for your safety. Cliff edges are often unstable underfoot, so you should take your time when walking near the coast.

"The True miracle is not walking on water or walking in air, but simply walking on this earth." - Thich Nhat Hanh

How to know where to walk?

Many of the paths are well sign posted, these posts will let you know where you are, how far until the next place, and which way to go. There are also many maps and guidebooks with informative detail regarding individual routes. These are available for almost every route in the South West of England.

Other tips on staying safe when walking

  • Always carry a mobile phone in case of an emergency
  • Take something to eat and drink, or plan where you will be stopping at lunch time and is there food available
  • Do not disturb farm animals or wildlife – walk around cattle not between them, especially if they have calves
  • Walking at the beginning or end of the year means that there will be less daylight hours. This may mean that you would do less walking miles to ensure you are finished safely before dark.
  • Let someone know where you are going and what time you are likely to be back. Mobile phone reception is patchy on the coast