Walking England’s Longest National Trail

By Mark Wright

The South West Coast Path boasts some of the best coastal walking in Europe. Pretty fishing villages, rocky headlands, lively resorts, woodland estuaries and golden surf-washed beaches combine to create a picture perfect walking holiday. The Devon, Cornwall and Dorset coastline is rich with wildlife, seabirds and wildflowers, and hopefully when you’re there, the skies will be blue and seas emerald green.

At 630 miles the South West Coast Path is also England’s longest waymarked long-distance footpath and National Trail, but don’t worry, we won’t be asking you to walk the entire the path in one visit. Walking anti-clockwise we’ve broken it into five sections, and these too break down into bite size chunks giving you ten incredible holidays in total to choose from. Let’s take a closer look at each of those sections.

North Devon: Minehead to Westward Ho!

Our North Devon holiday, actually begins life in Minehead just over the border in Somerset, and runs for almost 90 miles to the village of Westward Ho! enjoying overnight stays in popular locations such as Lynmouth, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe.

On your journey you’ll pass through coastal woodland and see vast sandy beaches popular with surfers, you’ll walk over some of the highest cliffs in England where the expanse of Exmoor meets the sea, and you’ll enjoy extensive views inland and north across the Bristol Channel with the coast of Wales as the backdrop.

There are Sites of Special Scientific Interest with their delightful heathland and grasses, nature reserves too with sand dunes housing rare snails and lizards, as well as designated areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty where you might be able to spot grey seals, gannets and in the summertime dolphins, sunfish and even basking sharks.

North Cornwall: Westward Ho! to St Ives

Our North Cornwall holidays follow 140 miles of stunning coastline from Westward Ho! to St Ives. Tiny fishing villages with cobbled streets, rocky headlands and sweeping surf-washed beaches combine to ensure an unforgettable experience.

Tintagel, Port Isaac, Padstow and of course St Ives are all visited on our North Cornwall holidays. There’s a whole host of historical sites including Iron Age forts and abandoned engine houses from tin mining days, as well as museums telling the story of North Cornwall’s hidden past.

You’ll walk along some of the wildest and remotest areas on the whole of the South West Coast Path, and in complete contrast, some of Cornwall’s most popular surfer beaches. There’s a wealth of wildlife and wildflowers too. We offer two holidays on the North Cornwall coast. Walk them separately or combine them in one epic adventure.

South & West Cornwall: St Ives to Plymouth

Stretching 175 miles from St Ives to Plymouth, the South and West Cornwall coastline is the longest section of the South West Coast Path, and serves up a mix of idyllic coastal villages and lively resorts.

Highlights on this stretch of the trail include include Gurnard’s Head, Sennen Cove and the Minack Theatre as well as St Michael’s Mount and the magnificent Lizard Point. There’s also a wealth of historical sites along this stretch of coast including scattered tin-mine ruins, old coastguard lookouts and lighthouses, ancient harbours and age old churches.

There’s an array of colourful wildflowers and wealth of birdlife too. Look out for fulmars, kittiwakes, shags, razorbills and even the Cornish chough, once extinct in the county but now making a welcome return.

We offer three holidays on the South and West Cornwall coast. However you choose to complete this stretch of the coastal path, either in a series of short breaks, or in one combined challenge, you are assured of a rich and rewarding experience.

South Devon: Plymouth to Lyme Regis

Our South Devon holidays deliver 125 miles of magnificent coastline, bookended by Plymouth from where the Pilgrim Fathers departed for the New World in 1620, and Lyme Regis renowned for its World Heritage Jurassic Coast.

On this incredible stretch of trail you’ll enjoy idyllic coastal villages, golden surf-washed beaches and rocky headlands. Take time to soak up the atmosphere of the lively resorts on the English Riviera and  savour quiet time as you walk through ancient woodlands and visit peaceful coves.

With its many National Nature Reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest the area is full of fascinating flora and fauna. Wildlife and birdlife are plentiful and you never know, you might spot some dolphins. Our South Devon holidays also let you explore sections of the Jurassic Coast where you can even have a go at fossil hunting. For those with an industrial interest, there are miles of Brunelian railway line, lighthouses, wartime defences and an ill-fated abandoned village.

However you choose to explore the South Devon Coast, either a full on fortnight for the entire route, or nice and steady over several visits, our holidays are sure to reward you with a lifetime of memories.

Dorset: Lyme Regis to Poole

Our Dorset coast holiday is packed with amazing geology and spectacular scenery as it travels the 76 miles from Lyme Regis to Poole along the Jurassic Coast, England’s first Natural World Heritage Site.

Highlights along this stunning stretch of coastline include Charmouth Beach where you can look out for fossils. Nearby is the wonderful viewpoint of Golden Cap, the highest point on the south coast of England. Birdwatchers will relish West Bexington Nature Reserve, a stop off for migrating birds.

Another must see is Thorncombe Beacon, one of a chain of beacons used to warn of the approaching Spanish Armada in 1588. As is the long pebble bay of Chesil Beach, the site of many shipwrecks, and near Lulworth the iconic coastal landmark, Durdle Door.

Whether the Dorset coast is the home straight on an epic South West Coast Path adventure, or perhaps your introduction to this iconic walk, or even something in between, you are guaranteed a truly memorable experience.

Walking on the South West Coast Path is a truly memorable experience. However far you choose to walk, we’re here to help you every step of the way. Simply email us [email protected] or call us on 017687 72335 to speak with one of our walking holiday experts.