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South West Coast Path National Trail

This is by far the longest National Trail. It was opened in stages and the north and south Cornish paths were the first to be established. Very few walkers would consider tackling the complete route, and in this way it is different from the other National Trails. Its popularity is due to its accessibility, wherever you are in Devon or Cornwall; virtually all holidaymakers with an interest in walking will sample a small section of it during their stay. There are so many stretches where the dramatic coastline offers stunning views that you are unlikely to be disappointed with any section.

On the north coast the section from Tintagel, legendary home of King Arthur, to the Camel estuary and Padstow, then on to Newquay is memorable. There are a number of up's and down's where streams have cut steep valleys through the cliffs. The picturesque fishing villages of Port Isaac and Portgaverne nestle in such coombs. The fairly remote section from St. Ives to Land’s End has dramatic granite cliffs pounded by the Atlantic.

On the south coast the stretch from the Lizard to Falmouth which includes the Helford estuary is attractive and varied. Other highlights on the southern coast include the area around Lyme Regis with its fossil rich cliffs and The Cobb, famous for its literary associations; Bolt Head near Salcombe and the sweeping arc of Chesil Beach. Indeed, there are so many attractions and such a variety of coastal scenery along the whole Trail that, with few exceptions, it is all worth exploring. If only we had more time for walking.

If you are planning to walk the entire Trail, or a significant section of it we do not recommend purchasing the appropriate OS 1:25000 Explorer maps since a large number of sheets would be required. We recommend, on the grounds of both cost and navigation needs, that you use the Natural England official guide books or AZ Adventure Maps, both of which contain the necessary OS 1:25000 mapping and are available from our bookshop. Several other guide books also contain adequate mapping. However, rather than proposing to tackle all, or even half, of this trail, you are more likely to be planning to walk a short section, in which case it may be worth purchasing the relevant paper map.


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Start: Minehead

Grid Ref: SS 973462

End: Poole

Grid Ref: SZ 035865

Distance: 982 km

Walking Time: 50 days

Counties Traversed

Explorer™ Maps
OL9; OL15; 102; 103; 104; 105; 106; 107; 108; 109; 110; 111; 115; 116; 126; 139

SW Coast1

Cornwall Coast Path

SW Coast Cicerone

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