The 630 mile path (1013km) takes in the entire length of the Devon and Cornish coasts, stretching from Minehead in Somerset to Poole in Dorset including walks for all ages and levels of ability, including easy access. Many Brits choose to walk different sections at a time, returning year after year; seasoned hikers can do it in 30 days but a more leisurely eight weeks is recommended for the entire trip to take time to stop and look around. Walking the path is free but of course your choice of accommodation will set the budget.
Combine a family walk on the South West Coast Path with a host of other pleasures, from crabbing in rockpools and exploring hidden coves, to following in the footsteps of giants.
Bagging the views in North Devon
Ideal for families, the coastline of North Devon follows the Tarka Trail, a 180-mile cycle route along the old railway line which flanks the south side of the Taw Estuary. So-called because it takes in the coastal landscapes that inspired children’s author Henry Williamson to create his classic nature tale Tarka the Otter, the trail is completely flat and well-surfaced, making it ideal for pushchairs. A short circular route begins in Croyde and takes in the headland of Baggy Point with spectacular views towards Hartland Point and Lundy Island on the seaward horizon.
Dartmouth and Little Dartmouth Devon
Catch crabs on the embankment, join in the annual Crab Festival and take a walk from Little Dartmouth to Dartmouth Castle – a circuit full of character and interest with lovely views from the cliffs, the tang of the sea close up on the rocky shore, the rich history of the castle and the beautiful River Dart. Plus, there are regular shore walks led by marine biologists from resident diver and TV presenter’s new Dartmouth based business Monty Halls Great Escapes.
Follow in giants’ footsteps along Mount’s Bay, Cornwall
An easy walk from Penzance along surfaced paths that are suitable for pushchair and mobility aids offers great views across Mount’s Bay and out towards the Lizard and Mousehole. At low tide, take a ten-minute stroll across the causeway from Marazion to St Michael’s Mount, which according to legend was home to a giant who was lured to his death by a brave local boy. Children will love hunting for the giant’s stone heart etched in the pathway.
Tintagel – King Arthur and the Slate Coast
Tintagel is a firm family favourite with a choice of short circular walks to bring the legendary birthplace of King Arthur to life in the imaginations of children and adults. Here, you can explore the ruins of the 13th century castle and at low tide, venture into Merlin’s Cave where if you look closely you may be able to find a hidden seam where smugglers used to hide. The Battle of Camlann, Arthur’s last battle, is re-enacted every year in August and a great tourist attraction. A magical 5-mile route suitable for older children, takes in the castle, Tintagel Church and the cove of Trebarwith Strand.
===> Explore more local itineraries via the RELATED links below.
The Hangmen Hills, Exmoor (4.7 miles)
A challenging but inspiring walk on the highest point on the Exmoor coast that amply rewards the effort involved, with far-reaching views over coast and hills, through an area rich in history.
Sennen to Coverack, Cornwall (56 miles)
A stunning five-day itinerary along wild and windswept Cornish cliff-tops. This walk passes spectacular granite rock formations around Land’s End, the most westerly point in England, and Lizard Point, the most southerly.
Heddon’s Mouth, Somerset (2.1 miles)
A challenge for those with limited mobility – made easier with a Tramper all-terrain mobility scooter which can be hired from the National Trust at Heddon Valley and used to explore many of the paths in the area.
The South West Coast Path is perhaps the UK’s ultimate challenge for the long-distance hiker. A fast walker can complete the 630 miles from Minehead in Somerset to Poole in Dorset in around 30 days, but a more leisurely pace is between seven and eight weeks. No matter how long it takes, it is a stunning achievement.
While much of the Coast Path is quite strenuous there are many sections that are much gentler, and are suitable for people with mobility problems, pushchairs, wheelchairs and mobility scooters. Through the website’s Walk finder tool you can select easy access walks which all have a worthwhile length along fairly flat paths that are at least 850mm (2’6″) wide, have a minimal cross camber, and no steps or stiles. You’ll can also find these split into areas by expanding the navigation menu on the right.
To judge whether a particular walk is suitable, each easy going walk has a ‘Terrain’ description with a link to more information about the accessibility of the route. Clicking on this will bring up a fresh page with a more detailed map and photos showing the path gradients, surfaces and any gates.
Through the Countryside Mobility project, at an increasing number of locations (currently over 30 sites in the South West), you can also hire a ‘Tramper’ rugged mobility scooter, that will go smoothly and comfortable across uneven paths.
For more walks and information see the Southwest Coast Path.