Walk of the Week: South West Coast Path
The South West Coast Path (SWCP), one of the most beloved UK walks, is a 630 mile long walk stretching from Minehead in Somerset to Poole in Dorset. The Telegraph recently discussed the physical and mental benefits of long-distance walking; however, for those that find the whole trail to be a bit too daunting, the route can be done in sections as well. It is a pure delight for the walker, offering spectacular coastal views, a variety of flora and fauna and rich local culture.
The South West Coast Path in a Nutshell
Distance: 630 miles / 1,014 km, but sections from 40 miles / 64 km are also possible.
Grading: Easy to strenuous, depending on the section. There are plenty of ups and downs on this walk; however, if you prefer easier walking, the North Devon section is recommended.
Where is it?
As the name suggests, the SWCP takes you around the south-western tip of England and covers parts of Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and Dorset.
Why walk it?
The SWCP is on many people’s bucket list; it is the longest way-marked foot path in England and is generally considered one of the world’s most beautiful walks. All in all, it would take up to 8 weeks to complete the whole path; many choose to do this over several years, completing one section at a time. The trail is extremely varied, offering interesting views throughout the entire route. You get to experience dramatic cliff tops, sandy beaches, quaint fishing villages and gorgeous national parks. The path also takes you to Land’s End, the most westerly point of mainland England. Perhaps it is this feature that makes Cornwall the most popular part of the trail; it could also be the rugged coastline, setting off your imagination and leaving you with vivid images of the region’s smuggler past. The Cornish section takes you past both castles and caves, and this part of the UK is a hot spot for wildlife, allowing you to see plenty of birds, seals and even dolphins. However, the SWCP isn’t all about walking; treat yourself to cream tea, a must for any walker in need of energy.
This English treat involves tea (of course!), scones, jam and clotted cream – delicious! However, focusing solely on Cornwall does the rest of the path injustice. The end of the trail, along the Devon coast line, takes you through a part of the country known as the ‘English Riviera’. Here you’ll find some of the busiest fishing ports in the country, and subsequently, the local seafood leaves you with a mouth-watering dining experience. Further along is the Jurassic Coast of Dorset, a World Heritage Site. Or why not discover the first section of the trail, taking you through Somerset and North Devon and featuring the highest coast line in England?
Planning to Walk SWCP
There are plenty of options if you would like a walking holiday following this trail. The sections vary in length and difficulty; Macs Adventure offers walks from 3 to 8 days and allows you to find a route that suits your time frame and fitness level. The walks are available from March to October but bear in mind that during the summer, these highly popular routes get busy and availability can be limited.