How long is the southwest coast path

The Southwest Coast Path is one of the most spectacular long-distance hiking routes in the United Kingdom. It stretches along the scenic southwest coast of England, providing stunning views of rugged cliffs, sandy beaches, and charming coastal villages.

This iconic path is a haven for nature lovers and hikers, attracting thousands of visitors every year. With its diverse landscape and rich wildlife, it offers a unique experience for anyone seeking adventure and solace in the great outdoors.

But just how long is this famous trail? The Southwest Coast Path spans an impressive distance of approximately 630 miles (1014 kilometers), making it the longest National Trail in England. It starts in Minehead, Somerset, in the northeast, and ends in Poole, Dorset, in the southwest.

Walking the entire path typically takes around 4 to 6 weeks to complete, depending on the pace and individual preferences of the hiker. The trail is well-maintained and clearly signposted, but it is important to be prepared as it can be challenging in certain sections due to steep ascents, unstable cliffs, and potentially unpredictable weather conditions.

About the Southwest Coast Path

The Southwest Coast Path is a scenic long-distance footpath located in southwestern England. It follows the coastline of Cornwall and Devon, providing panoramic views of stunning cliffs, golden beaches, and picturesque fishing villages.

The path stretches for a remarkable 630 miles (1,014 kilometers), making it the longest waymarked trail in the United Kingdom. It starts in the charming town of Minehead in Somerset and winds its way along the coasts of Devon and Cornwall before concluding in the captivating town of Poole in Dorset.

Walking the entire length of the Southwest Coast Path is a truly rewarding experience for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. It offers an array of landscapes, including rugged cliffs, secluded coves, lush valleys, and heathlands. Along the way, hikers can encounter a diverse range of wildlife, including seabirds, dolphins, seals, and maybe even basking sharks during their seasonal migrations.

The path is well-maintained and easily accessible, with signposts guiding walkers throughout the route. It is divided into manageable sections, allowing walkers to plan their trips and select specific areas to explore. Along the path, there are various accommodation options, including campsites, bed and breakfasts, and hotels, ensuring that hikers can rest and recharge amid their coastal adventures.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just looking for a scenic stroll, the Southwest Coast Path offers something for everyone. From rugged cliffs and golden sands to charming villages and stunning sunsets, this coastal trail is a must-visit destination for all nature enthusiasts.

The Path’s Length and Itinerary

The South West Coast Path is one of the most scenic long-distance walking trails in the UK. It stretches along the coastline of South West England, starting at Minehead in Somerset and ending at Poole Harbour in Dorset. The trail is a total of 630 miles long and offers stunning views of the coastline, cliffs, and beaches along the way.


Walking the entire South West Coast Path usually takes around 8 to 10 weeks, depending on your pace and the amount of time you have each day for walking. It is possible to walk shorter sections of the path if you don’t have enough time to complete the whole distance.

Here is a basic itinerary of the South West Coast Path:

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Section Start Point End Point Distance
1 Minehead Porlock Weir 9 miles
2 Porlock Weir Lynmouth 14 miles
3 Lynmouth Combe Martin 13 miles
4 Combe Martin Ilfracombe 11 miles
5 Ilfracombe Woolacombe 14 miles
6 Woolacombe Braunton 13 miles
7 Braunton Croyde 7 miles

This itinerary provides a rough outline of the first section of the South West Coast Path, but you can adjust the distance and duration based on your preferences and fitness level. It’s essential to plan your itinerary ahead of time and make sure to account for accommodation and rest days to enjoy the stunning scenery along the way.

Spectacular Landscapes and Natural Wonders

The Southwest Coast Path not only offers a challenging hike but also takes you through a diverse and breathtaking landscape. Along the path, you will encounter a plethora of natural wonders that will leave you spellbound.

Dramatic Cliffs and Coastal Scenery

One of the most captivating aspects of the Southwest Coast Path is its dramatic cliffs and coastal scenery. As you traverse the path, you will often find yourself hiking on cliff-top paths with stunning views of the sea below. The cliffs range in height, with some towering over 600 feet, offering unparalleled views of the rugged coastline and the waves crashing against them.

The coast path also winds its way through picturesque fishing villages, sandy beaches, quaint harbors, and hidden coves. Each turn presents a new and breathtaking view, making every step along the path an unforgettable experience.

Rich Biodiversity and Protected Areas

The Southwest Coast Path is not just about beautiful landscapes; it is also teeming with rich biodiversity. The path passes through several national nature reserves and protected areas renowned for their flora and fauna. Nature lovers will be delighted to spot various coastal and marine birds, as well as rare plants and wildflowers.

Don’t be surprised if you come across seals basking on the rocks or dolphins leaping out of the water as you make your way along the path. These incredible encounters with wildlife only add to the enchantment of the journey.

To give you an idea of the biodiversity along the coast path, here is a small sample of the species you might encounter: the puffins on Lundy Island, the choughs in Cornwall, and the fulmars in Devon.

Species Location
Puffins Lundy Island
Choughs Cornwall
Fulmars Devon

Be sure to keep your eyes open and your camera ready, as you never know what wonders of nature you might encounter along this magnificent path.

Historical Sites and Cultural Heritage

The Southwest Coast Path is not only known for its stunning natural beauty but also for its rich history and cultural heritage. Along the path, you will encounter several historical sites and landmarks that offer a glimpse into the region’s past.

One of the notable historical sites along the Southwest Coast Path is the Tintagel Castle. This medieval fortification is said to be the birthplace of King Arthur and is surrounded by myths and legends. It offers breathtaking views of the coastline and provides an insight into the Arthurian stories that have shaped the region’s identity.

The path also takes you to the village of Boscastle, which was heavily influenced by its maritime heritage. The village’s picturesque harbor, lined with small boats, reflects its historic ties to the fishing industry. Explore the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic and discover the history of witches and witchcraft, an integral part of the area’s cultural identity.

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Further along the path, you will come across the St. Michael’s Mount, a small tidal island. This iconic landmark is home to a medieval church and castle. Visit the island during low tide to walk across the causeway and immerse yourself in the history and mythology associated with this enchanting place.

For history enthusiasts, the Southwest Coast Path also offers an opportunity to explore World War remnants. From the ancient fortifications of Henry VIII to the remains of wartime pillboxes, these sites provide a tangible connection to the region’s involvement in important historical events.

In addition to the historical sites, the Southwest Coast Path is also a treasure trove of cultural heritage. The path allows you to explore fishing villages, experience traditional local festivals and events, and indulge in the local cuisine. Discover the unique dialects and traditions that have been passed down through generations, making the Southwest Coast Path a fascinating journey into the cultural fabric of the region.

Historical Sites Description
Tintagel Castle A medieval fortification associated with King Arthur and surrounded by myths and legends.
Boscastle A village with a historic harbor, reflecting its maritime heritage and housing the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic.
St. Michael’s Mount A tidal island with a medieval church and castle, steeped in history and mythology.

Benefits and Challenges of Hiking the Path

Hiking the southwest coast path offers a range of benefits, both physical and mental. Here are a few reasons why taking on this challenging adventure can be a rewarding experience:

1. Breath-taking Scenery: As you traverse the coastal cliffs and rugged landscapes, you will be treated to breathtaking views of the sea, golden beaches, dramatic cliffs, and picturesque villages. The constantly changing scenery provides a unique and beautiful backdrop for your hike.

2. Physical Fitness: Hiking the path is a fantastic way to improve your physical fitness. With each step, you will be challenging your body and building strength and endurance. The uneven terrain and inclines will work your leg muscles, while the constant walking will help improve cardiovascular health.

3. Wildlife Encounters: The coastline is teeming with fascinating wildlife. Keep an eye out for seals basking in the sun, dolphins playing in the waves, and various seabirds soaring overhead. It’s a chance to become one with nature and experience its wonders up close.

4. Mental Relaxation: Hiking is known to reduce stress and improve mental well-being. The peaceful surroundings and soothing sounds of crashing waves can have a calming effect on your mind. It’s a chance to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and find inner peace.

5. Sense of Achievement: Completing the southwest coast path is no small feat. With a total distance of 630 miles, it requires determination and perseverance. When you reach the finish line, you will have an overwhelming sense of satisfaction and pride in your accomplishment.

While hiking the southwest coast path is incredibly rewarding, it does come with its fair share of challenges:

1. Physical Demands: The path is renowned for its challenging terrain, including steep ascents and descents. It requires a certain level of physical fitness, as well as proper hiking gear and footwear.

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2. Variable Weather: The weather along the south-west coast can be unpredictable. It’s crucial to be prepared for changing conditions and ensure you have suitable clothing and equipment to protect yourself from the elements.

3. Navigation: The sheer length of the path means it’s essential to have good navigation skills. While the trail is well-marked in most areas, there are sections where signs may be lacking, requiring the use of a map or GPS device.

4. Accommodation and Logistics: Planning a multi-day hike on the path requires careful consideration of accommodation, food, and transportation logistics. The path passes through remote areas, so it’s important to plan ahead and book accommodations in advance.

5. Physical and Mental Resilience: Hiking the entire path is a significant physical and mental challenge. There may be times when you feel tired, sore, or challenged. It’s important to be resilient, embrace the journey, and push through these moments to reap the rewards of completing this extraordinary hike.

Tips and Recommendations for Hikers

If you are considering hiking the Southwest Coast Path, here are some tips and recommendations to help you make the most out of your journey:

Plan Your Route in Advance

Before you embark on your hiking adventure, make sure to plan your route in advance. Study the trail maps, familiarize yourself with the terrain, and research any necessary permits or restrictions. It is always beneficial to know where you are going and what to expect along the way.

Be Prepared

When hiking along the Southwest Coast Path, it is essential to be prepared for the unpredictable weather and terrain. Bring suitable clothing and footwear, as well as a waterproof jacket, extra layers, and a hat. Carry enough water, energy-rich snacks, and a packed lunch. Don’t forget a map, compass, and a first aid kit.

Take It Slow

The Southwest Coast Path is a challenging trail, so it is important to take it slow and enjoy the breathtaking scenery along the way. Pace yourself, especially if you are not an experienced hiker. Take breaks when needed and listen to your body.

Check the Tides

It is crucial to check the tide times before setting out on your hike, as certain sections of the trail may be inaccessible at high tide. Consult the local tide tables or ask for local advice to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey.

Respect Nature and Wildlife

While hiking along the Southwest Coast Path, remember to respect the natural environment and local wildlife. Stay on the designated trails, avoid littering, and do not disturb or feed any animals you encounter.

Carry Cash and Communication Devices

Carry some cash with you, as some parts of the trail may not accept card payments. Additionally, bring a fully charged mobile phone, a portable charger, and a printed list of emergency contact numbers in case you need assistance or encounter any issues.

Leave No Trace

As a responsible hiker, it is crucial to adhere to the principles of “Leave No Trace.” Pack out any waste you generate and dispose of it properly. Respect the natural environment and leave it as you found it for the enjoyment of future hikers.

By following these tips and recommendations, you will have a safe and memorable hiking experience along the Southwest Coast Path. Happy hiking!

Harrison Clayton

Harrison Clayton

Meet Harrison Clayton, a distinguished author and home remodeling enthusiast whose expertise in the realm of renovation is second to none. With a passion for transforming houses into inviting homes, Harrison's writing at brings a breath of fresh inspiration to the world of home improvement. Whether you're looking to revamp a small corner of your abode or embark on a complete home transformation, Harrison's articles provide the essential expertise and creative flair to turn your visions into reality. So, dive into the captivating world of home remodeling with Harrison Clayton and unlock the full potential of your living space with every word he writes.

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