There is no “wrong” time to walk along the South West Coastal Path! Voted “Britain's Greatest Walk” by Country Walking magazine, it is a wonderful free amenity which can be enjoyed by all ages. It is the longest, and the most arduous of England's National Trails, but you can pick and choose where you want to start and finish, and go as you please. Best of all, wherever you stay in the West Country, your holiday home will never be more than a few miles from an access point to the footpath.
The South West Coastal Path runs for 1013 km, or 630 miles, from Poole in Dorset along the very edge of the south coast of Devon and Cornwall, around the toe of Land's End then back along the more rugged north coast of Cornwall, Devon and Somerset as far as Minehead. If the path is not climbing upwards, it is generally descending, and you can never see far ahead before the next bend in the path takes in another headland.
What to see along the South West Coastal Path
Serious walkers choose to spend several weeks walking the whole length of the South West Coastal Path ‐ and what sights they encounter. Birds of prey, seagulls, sheep and rabbits will be their daily companions. They will pass stately homes and follies, large towns and small harbour villages, stunning beaches and rocky coves, tiny churches and historic pubs, Iron Age hillforts, old engine houses from long-forgotten tin mines and the ruins of King Arthur's Castle in Tintagel along the way.
Some of the highlights worth stopping to explore include the 12th century St Enodoc Church, once buried beneath the Polzeath sand dunes. The grave of Poet Laureate, Sir John Betjeman, can be seen in the small churchyard. The north coast waterfalls between Hartland Point and Bude offer breathtaking beauty and the Granite Coast around Land's End has strange castellated rock formations.
The changing seasons
The warm summer sunshine draws a steady stream of walkers to some stretches of this popular coast, but there are miles along the South West Coastal Path where you will never meet another soul, not with two legs anyway. Best of all, the weather is usually good enough to sit outside an old inn and enjoy some well-earned local refreshment.
Autumn puts its own warm glow on the bracken-festooned fields and the nuisance tangle of blackberry branches are suddenly laden with luscious ripe blackberries, so take a plastic bag in your pocket and pick some for a pie!
A Spring walk will reward you with the shy flowers of primroses appearing on sunny banks, huge swathes of bluebells in shady dells and a riot of other wild flowers ‐ tall foxgloves, bright yellow celandine stars, stems of purple bugle and scented wild garlic.
Whenever you are visit the West Country, make a date with the South West Coastal Path and discover your own piece of paradise, far from the modern day rat race.