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Wild Sea, Rugged Moor & Secret Coves – The South West Coast Path

Somerset & Devon Walking Ideas

 

Sunset over Porlock BayPhoto: Sunset over Porlock Bay, Somerset. 

 

So how about it? Fancy walking 630 miles?

Of all the coast paths in England, the South West Coast Path (SWCP) is the longest and possibly hilliest.

But that’s Devon, up hill down dale. And, because it’s Devon whenever you get to the top there’s a wonderful view to take in – if there be no sea fog. Witticisms aside, walking all or a section of the path is a fine way to spend a little (or a lot) of time.

Rather than get all Ordnance Survey, here’s a digestible slice of the path with some walking ideas.

From Minehead to Woolacombe.

Minehead to Porlock (9 miles)

Minehead in Somerset is a gateway to Exmoor National Park, and the start of the SWCP or finish if you trek from Dorset.

Popular with holidaymakers from around the UK, Minehead has a long, silky sand beach, and excellent views of Wales.

It’s also the home of the West Somerset Railway, near a grand castle and a whisker from the Quantock Hills. The path begins, taking you through gnarled woods, and up to the heather hugged bluffs of Exmoor. 

Porlock WeirPhoto: Porlock Weir, Somerset.

 

Porlock rhymes with “warlock”. Coincidence?

Probably.

Anyway. What it is, is a place to grab a box of one of the best tea experiences available – Smugglers’ Gold. A product of Miles Tea & Coffee Merchants, whose factory shop is nestled in Porlock. A strong, yet refreshing brew infused with salty smuggling legends.

Hankering for history? Try a petrified forest and the bones of extinct cattle varieties. Porlock has this. Plus, possibly the tiniest church in England.

The SWCP climbs from here over moor and farmland for 14 miles before dropping into Lynmouth.

Lynmouth/ Lynton to Combe Martin (13 miles)

Wild Sea, Rugged Moor & Secret Coves – The South West Coast PathPhoto: View of Lynton & Lynmouth cliff railway, Devon. 

 

Lynmouth – “the most delightful place for a landscape painter this country can boast”. This is what famous 18th Century painter Thomas Gainsborough thought.

It’s a fair description, because it’s truly lovely – and still a haven for nimble fingered artists, and creatives.

Lynmouth & Lynton are sister/ brother towns, divided by a precipice and connected via a late Victorian era cliff railway.

Like rambler’s lay lines, Lynmouth is a convergence of three spectacular journeys – The Tarka Trail, Two Moors Way and, clearly, The South West Coast Path. The path goes on through “Woody Bay” where one may (may!) see a red deer and reaches Great Hangman – a 1034 ft cliff. The highest on the path.

Combe Martin BayPhoto: Combe Martin Bay, Devon. 

 

Combe Martin has the Guinness World Record for the world’s longest street party.

It began after WW2 finished and is only just winding down. Sorry, a complete fib. It’s length, not time. Combe Martin has a particularly long village street.

It isn’t an unhappening place though. If you’ve walked 13 miles, you’ll likely want to raise a cold drink to your lips. Combe Martin has many lively, traditional pubs – including The Pack O’ Cards – built to visually represent…well, a pack of cards.

Aesthetically, Combe Martin is a pretty town and part of the North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Combe Martin to Woolacombe (13 miles)

After Combe Martin and beyond Ilfracombe, the SWCP becomes mellower, passing a string of secluded and peaceful coves – before reaching Woolacombe.  

Woolacombe Beach DevonPhoto: Woolacombe Beach, Devon. 

 

For UK holidays, Woolacombe is up there with the best. Its vast sandy beach was voted as no.1 for UK beaches in the Trip Advisor Traveller’s Choice Awards (2015, and 2016).

This accolade alone makes it worthy of a visit, but there’s more.

Woolacombe is an eclectic mecca – each summer attracting families, surfers, ramblers and anyone after some coastal relaxation. The town radiates a warm atmosphere, offering visitors tasty food, bustling bars, waters sports and beautiful cycling/ walking trails.

Summer in Style

If you’re looking for a stylish hotel, a smidge from the beach – with lovely accommodation, there’s one contender. The Woolacombe Bay Hotel.

Whether you’re travelling solo, on a romantic break or have an entourage of excited children – it’s the ideal place to stay.

For room booking and seasonal offers please click here to visit the main website.

Thanks for reading!