The South West Coast Path
The South West Coast Path is one of the UK’s greatest and most famous walks; 630 miles in total, running from Somerset around Devon, Cornwall and on to Dorset. It links the myriad footpaths that follow the coastline of Cornwall and adjacent counties, along the wonderful beaches and headlands that form the most popular coastline in Britain.
It meanders through the countryside but all the while remains in sight of the sea. Punctuated by towns and villages, it’s easy to pick a route of the length and difficulty that suits you. Some people set out to complete a section of the path each day. Others will return year on year, slowly finishing the whole circumnavigation.
Although not really the South West Coast Path as such, Kernow afficionados can head inland near Mead or Morwenstow, and seek the source of the River Tamar which rises near Youlstone, still quite close to the north coast. From there the Tamar, forming the border of Devon and Cornwall, increases in size until it becomes a tidal estuary thirty-five miles south at Gunnislake. Then to Saltash, where the coast path wanders west Cremyll (ferry to Plymouth) towards Portwrinkle.
The official South West Coast Path website has excellent tools and guidance for selecting your start/finish point or route. There’s a day walks list with a number of walks that are mostly less than five miles in length. Routes are also organised into handy categories such as discovery walks, seasonal wanders, easy walks, cafés and teashops, pub trails, treasure hunts, train journeys and family friendly. It offers advice on how to photograph the things you’ll find along the way as well as information on the geology, history, culture, and flora and fauna. With their Walkfinder tool, you can find a route based upon interest, difficulty and location.
Dog owners love the fact that their four legged friends are welcome on all of the South West Coast Path at any time of the year. Walkers must take care to look after their dogs responsibly, to ensure that they don’t harass livestock or wildlife and that they don’t cause a nuisance of any kind. The South West Coast Path website has a special page aimed at helping dog-walkers to manage their pets correctly while using the coast path.
It’s pretty useful to know about the river crossings on the path, as some of the ferries are time dependent or seasonal.
There are holiday cottages available all year round throughout the county with Cornish Traditional Cottages, providing the perfect base to explore the South West Coast Path.