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The South West Coast Path

AuthorPaddy Dillon
PublisherCicerone Press
ISBNISBN-13: 978 1 85284 379 3 (First Edition)
ISBN-13: 978 1 85284 757 9 (Second Edition)
ISBN-13: 978 1 7863 1068 2 (Third Edition)
Also available in eBook and Kindle formats
Stormy seas batter the mouth of the Rocky Valley on the North Cornwall coast.

Stormy seas batter the mouth of the Rocky Valley on the North Cornwall coast.

Rock stacks fill the sea at Kynance Cove near Lizard Point in South Cornwall.

Rock stacks fill the sea at Kynance Cove near Lizard Point in South Cornwall.

The rock arch of Durdle Door on the Dorset Coast is a popular visitor attraction.

The rock arch of Durdle Door on the Dorset Coast is a popular visitor attraction.

The South West Coast Path is Britain's longest National Trail, stretching along the coast of Somerset, North Devon, Cornwall, South Devon and Dorset. It measures a staggering 1014km (630 miles) and takes in rugged cliff coasts, rocky coves, sandy beaches, fishing ports and smuggling havens.

The route starts in the Exmoor National Park and for much of the distance it runs through designated AONBs. Many parts are also designated Heritage Coast and towards the end comes the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. With all this interest and protection, it has to be good!

This route was walked in a four-week period while researching The National Trails of Britain & Ireland. It was walked again over a six-week period to complete all the route research for this book. Cicerone originally covered the route in a two-volume guide, and the task on this occasion was to fit the entire route into one volume.

Walkers approach the coast path in a variety of ways. Some are content to chip away for years, completing the distance in a series of half-day and one-day walks. Others take a week or a fortnight to cover long stretches of the coast, returning over a period of years to cover the distance. A few aim to tackle the South West Coast Path in a single journey, which requires careful planning and a measure of dedication.

The route is best covered in the summer months, when all the ferries are running across the many tidal inlets, particularly on the south coast. However, that can be a difficult time to secure accommodation for one-night stopovers. In the guidebook, the route is split into 45 one-day walks (plus the 'South Dorset Ridgeway' avoiding Weymouth and the Isle of Portland). Given a couple of rest days, the route fits nicely into a seven-week period.

The establishment of a continuous coastal path has taken decades to achieve and ongoing work and negotiation ensure that the route is continually improved. The publication of this book coincided with the 25th Anniversary of the South West Coast Path, and the book includes OS Landranger mapping, with the route highlighted from start to finish. It has proved to be a remarkably successful book, being reprinted with updates on average every year.

For the second edition, the route was completely re-walked, with the route description overhauled, facilities checked, and the mapping fine-tuned using GPS tracks. For the third edition, despite the Covid pandemic, the route was completely re-walked, with route alterations taken into account, and all the facilities were checked all over again.

In addition, three detailed map booklets are available to accompany the guidebook. These all contain 1:25,000 Ordance Survey maps, covering the route as follows: Volume 1 Minehead to St Ives, Volume 2 St Ives to Plymouth and Volume 3 Plymouth to Poole.

GPX tracks are available for this route. They can be downloaded from the Cicerone website.

Walk Contents

Somerset & North Devon Coast

Day 1 Minehead to Porlock Weir
Day 2 Porlock Weir to Lynmouth
Day 3 Lynmouth to Combe Martin
Day 4 Combe Martin to Woolacombe
Day 5 Woolacombe to Braunton
Day 6 Braunton to Westward Ho!
Day 7 Westward Ho! to Clovelly
Day 8 Clovelly to Hartland Quay

North Cornwall Coast

Day 9 Hartland Quay to Bude
Day 10 Bude to Boscastle
Day 11 Boscastle to Port Isaac
Day 12 Port Isaac to Padstow
Day 13 Padstow to Porthcothan
Day 14 Porthcothan Newquay
Day 15 Newquay to Perranporth
Day 16 Perranporth to Portreath
Day 17 Portreath to St Ives
Day 18 St Ives to Pendeen Watch
Day 19 Pendeen Watch to Porthcurno
Day 20 Porthcurno to Penzance

South Cornwall Coast

Day 21 Penzance to Porthleven
Day 22 Porthleven to Lizard
Day 23 Lizard to Porthallow
Day 24 Porthallow to Falmouth
Day 25 Falmouth to Portloe
Day 26 Portloe to Mevagissey
Day 27 Mevagissey to Polmear
Day 28 Polmear to Polperro
Day 29 Polperro to Portwrinkle
Day 30 Portwrinkle to Plymouth

South Devon Coast

Day 31 Plymouth to Wembury Beach
Day 32 Wembury Beach to Bigbury-on-Sea
Day 33 Bigbury-on-Sea to Salcombe
Day 34 Salcombe to Stoke Fleming
Day 35 Stoke Fleming to Brixham
Day 36 Brixham to Shaldon
Day 37 Shaldon to Budleigh Salterton
Day 38 Budleigh Salterton to Seaton
Day 39 Seaton to Seatown

Dorset Coast

Day 40 Seatown to Abbotsbury
Day 41 Abbotsbury to Ferrybridge
Day 42 Isle of Portland Circuit
Day 43 Ferrybridge to Lulworth Cove
Day 44 Lulworth Cove to Swanage
Day 45 Swanage to South Haven Point