An Introduction to The South West Coast Path
The South West Coast Path is currently the longest of Britain’s National Trails, measuring a staggering 1014km (630 miles) and is destined to become an integral part of the developing England Coast Path, which will ultimately measure around 4500km (2795 miles)! Find out all you need to know about this astounding experience.
This remarkable coastal trail is based on the paths trodden around cliffs and coves by generations of coastguards. The route starts in Minehead on the Somerset coast and quickly moves along the North Devon coast. After completely encircling the coast of Cornwall, it runs along the South Devon coast.
A final stretch along the Dorset coast leads to a conclusion at South Haven Point on Poole Harbour. No other stretch of British coastline compares for scenic splendour, interest, history, heritage, accessibility and provision of facilities all rolled into one.
Walking the South West Coast Path
National Trail From Minehead to South Haven Point
Guidebook to walking the entire South West Coast Path National Trail. The route stretches 630 miles from Minehead to Poole along the north Devon, Cornish, south Devon and Dorset coastline. Divided into 45 stages, this national trail could be completed within 4 weeks, or walked in sections. Guide includes maps and essential information.More information
Where is it and how far is it?
This epic trail starts in Minehead and finishes in Poole, a total of 1016km or 631 miles. The complete walk takes between six and seven weeks but the current record for running it was set by Kristian Morgan in September 2020, taking 10 days 12 hours 6 minutes.
It is strongly advised that you take on this route at your own pace, as it varies massively day to day.
Why should you walk it?
It's the longest of all the national trails in Britain, until the English Coast Path is completed, and estimations suggest that anyone completing it will have climbed four times the height of Everest. It's a trail of great variety, taking in everything from two world heritage sites, arduous cliff paths, to easy walks along seaside promenades.
When should you go?
This walk is best undertaken during the summer as all facilities will be open. Careful planning is definitely required as tourists flock to the area. However, a short section of the path may be enjoyed at any time of the year if planned correctly.
Ultimately, you can choose to do sections at any time, but very careful planning will be required if you wish to tackle multiple or all stages at once.
All services along the South West Coast Path are in full swing during July and August, but that can be a stressful time to walk. Days can be hot and humid; crowds of people mill around the towns and villages, while accommodation for one night can prove difficult to obtain.
Walking in May and June or September and October can be cooler without being too cold and wet. Crowds will be much reduced, although some areas will be busy. Accommodation is easier to obtain, while most places offering food and drink remain open. However, not everything will be open, and some beach cafés may be closed early or late in the season. Check that the smaller seasonal ferries are going to be operating.
Where should you stay?
There are plenty of options along this route so you can choose according to your budget. The South West Coast Path Association produces an accommodation list.
The South West Coast Path guidebook by Paddy Dillon
The National Trails guidebook by Paddy Dillon
Luggage & Accommodation
Stage Summary - The South West Coast Path
|1||Minehead to Porlock Weir||16 (10)||5hr|
|2||Porlock Weir to Lynmouth||18 (11)||6hr|
|3||Lynmouth to Combe Martin||21.5 (13½)||6hr30|
|4||Combe Martin to Woolacombe||23.5 (14½)||6hr|
|5||Woolacombe to Braunton||23.5 (14½)||6hr|
|6||Braunton to Westward Ho!||37.5 (23¼)||9hr|
|7||Westward Ho! to Clovelly||18.5 (11½)||6hr|
|8||Clovelly to Hartland Quay||16.5 (10¼)||5hr|
|9||Hartland Quay to Bude||24.5 (15¼)||8hr|
|10||Bude to Boscastle||27 (16¾)||8hr30|
|11||Boscastle to Port Isaac||22 (13¾)||7hr|
|12||Port Isaac to Padstow||19 (11¾)||5hr30|
|13||Padstow to Porthcothan||22 (13¾)||6hr|
|14||Porthcothan to Newquay||18 (11¼)||5hr|
|15||Newquay to Perranporth||18 (11¼)||5hr|
|16||Perranporth to Portreath||19.5 (12)||6hr|
|17||Portreath to St Ives||29 (18)||8hr|
|18||St Ives to Pendeen Watch||21.5 (13¼)||7hr|
|19||Pendeen Watch to Porthcurno||25 (15½)||7hr|
|20||Porthcurno to Penzance||18.5 (11½)||5hr45|
|21||Penzance to Porthleven||22 (13¾)||6hr|
|22||Porthleven to Lizard Point||22 (13¾)||6hr30|
|23||Lizard Point to Porthallow||24.5 (15¼)||8hr|
|24||Porthallow to Falmouth||26 (16)||8hr30m|
|25||Falmouth to Portloe||22 (13¾)||6hr30|
|26||Portloe to Mevagissey||19.5 (12)||6hr|
|27||Mevagissey to Polmear||19 (11¾)||6hr|
|28||Polmear to Polperro||21 (13)||6hr30|
|29||Polperro to Portwrinkle||21 (13)||6hr30|
|30||Portwrinkle to Plymouth||20.5 (12¾)||6hr|
|31||Plymouth to Wembury Beach||23 (14¼)||7hr|
|32||Wembury Beach to Bigbury-on-Sea||25 (15½)||8hr|
|33||Bigbury-on-Sea to Salcombe||21.5 (13½)||6hr30|
|34||Salcombe to Stoke Fleming||29.5 (18½)||9hr|
|35||Stoke Fleming to Brixham||25 (15½)||8hr|
|36||Brixham to Shaldon||31 (19¼)||10hr|
|37||Shaldon to Budleigh Salterton||22 (13¾)||7hr|
|38||Budleigh Salterton to Seaton||27.5 (17)||8hr30|
|39||Seaton to Seatown||24.5 (15¼)||8hr|
|40||Seatown to Abbotsbury||19.5 (12)||6hr|
|41||Abbotsbury to Ferrybridge||18 (11¼)||5hr|
|42||Isle of Portland circuit||22 (13¾)||7hr|
|43||Ferrybridge to Lulworth Cove||23.5 (14½)||7hr|
|44||Lulworth Cove to Swanage||33 (20½)||10hr|
|45||Swanage to South Haven Point (end)||12.5 (7¾)||4hr|
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