Walk the South West Coast Path 630 mile trail

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Want to walk the South West Coast Path 630 mile trail?

The South West Coast Path brings a huge amount of benefits to the county and draws many hundreds of long distance walkers who want to take on the challenge of walking the whole route, all 630 miles of it, as well as other visitors who simply want to enjoy a pleasant shorter walk stopping regularly to enjoy the spectacular coastal scenery. 

The South West Coast Path is a jewel in Devon’s crown.

The path was designated as a National Trail way back in 1973 and starts in Minehead in Somerset and runs along the coastline of Exmoor and on to North Devon and further on again into Cornwall. It follows the entire Cornish coastline, back along the south coast of Devon and finally ends at Poole Harbour in Dorset and is England’s longest waymarked footpath. 

The trail is often described as one of the world’s greatest walks and has had many naturalists, artists and authors who are inspired to draw, paint, talk or write about it, including the best-selling book The Salt Path by Raynor Winn. 

As it winds its way through the four different counties it passes through several National Nature Reserves, Heritage Coasts and five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty as well as two World Heritage Sites, a UNESCO designated Biosphere Reserve and a Geopark, plus a National Park! 

What places of interest are along the South West Coast Path?

Along many sections of the path you will find places nearby to stay over, places to visit and great cafes, takeaways or restaurants to enjoy well-earned refreshments. Stepping out on North Devon’s 90 miles of track you will pass through Ilfracombe, Woolacombe and Croyde which are meccas for sailors, surfers and bodyboarders and the towns are well prepared for hungry active holidaymakers. The South Devon section from Plymouth to Starcross is 104 miles long and on leaving Plymouth, Britain’s Ocean City, the path has many quiet, peaceful stretches of trail with stunning scenery including the Yealm and Erme estuaries. There is much wildlife to enjoy as you walk the route so keep your binoculars handy and don’t forget to pause, take a deep breath and savour the unrivalled views. 

Some long distance walkers explore the trail carrying all their gear including tent, sleeping bag and cooking utensils so they can put up their tent in a quiet spot at the end of the day and wild camp. However, although the south west coast path mainly follows public rights of way much of the land on the route is owned by landowners and is managed carefully for farming or wildlife. Therefore although you can walk the trail, in order to camp you need consent from the landowner otherwise it would be deemed as trespassing. If you do your research before the start of your journey you will find there are many campsites and different types of accommodation along the route. 

Whether you are planning a big challenge, a short break or a day walk with your dog you will find all the information you need on the website www.southwestcoastpath.org.uk. You can get involved and donate to the charity Every Mile Matters which the South West Coast Path Association (SWCPA) has set up to help protect the trail which is heavily affected by climate change and erosion as well helping over 9 million people every year access the coast as a place to be active, relax or spend quality time. 

If you love the coast path and want to help protect it you can get involved fundraising. There are many events held along its length whether its trail running or sponsored endurance walks which you can take part in. 

Back in 2018 Devon’s Top Attractions ‘Walked for Devon’ for a South West Coast Path fundraiser, read about it here

Pennywell farm take on the swcp challenge

Devon Tourism take on the south west coast path challenge 1

walk for devon by team world of country life

Can you take your dog along the South West Coast Path?

The path can be steep, off camber and tricky in sections and dogs must always be kept on a lead as sometimes the cliff edge near the path drops vertically down to rocks and the ocean below. 

If you’ve decided to visit Devon to enjoy the fine walking offered by the South West Coast Path you may also want to visit one of Devon’s Top Attractions for a different Devon day out whilst you’re staying in the county. Many sites are close to the path including Visit Plymouth, Watermouth Castle, the Big Sheep and The Milky Way Adventure Park in North Devon, Blackpool Sands in South Devon, Kents Cavern, Babbacombe Model Village and Bygones in Torbay, as well as Powdertham Castle near Dawlish and the World of Country Life, Seaton Tramway and Pecorama who are all located along the East Devon stretch. 

Whatever your plans. a Devon short break is likely to provide some fantastic, happy memories, so get planning so you can lace up your walking boots and explore this special county. 

Beaches In Devon Blackpool Sands

South West Coast Path most asked questions

How long will it take to walk the south West Coast Path? – Between 7-8 weeks but a faster walker can complete the trail in around 30 days.

How difficult is the South West Coast Path? – It is a challenging route with in total over 115,000 feet (35,000 metres) of up and down.

Where does the South west Coast Path start and finish? – It starts at Minehead in Somerset and runs along the coastline of Exmoor, along the coast of North Devon and into Cornwall. Across the mouth of the River Tamar and into Devon following the coast into Dorset and finishes in Poole Dorset

Can you wild camp on the South West Coast Path? – No, wild camping is prohibited but there are campsites along the route.

Take a look at more things to do in Devon here