Steeped in England’s rich naval and maritime history, this stimulating 100km route links the biggest city on the trail to one of the most elegant old ports on the route via a wild and exposed stretch of sparsely populated coastline. Expect to encounter all manner of heroes and villains along the way and learn how the atmospheric old ports of Devon and Cornwall shaped our island’s history.
Explore the unique landscape of Exmoor’s coastline – much of which has remained largely unchanged since smugglers plied the lonely shores and romantic poets strode out across the moors in search of their muse. All along this walk there are some fantastic views across the Bristol Channel to the Welsh coast and Lundy Island. The first day’s walk takes you to Selworthy Beacon with spectacular views over the moor and on to Hurlstone Point overlooking the magnificent Porlock Bay. On day two, the route takes you past Hollow Brook – one of the highest waterfalls in Britain, dropping 200 metres to the sea. It then leads you to the twin villages of Lynmouth and Lynton, connected via a water-powered cliff railway that’s been operating since 1890. There are more rewarding views on day three after a steep climb to the highest point on the Coast Path at Great Hangman: 1043 feet above sea level. After many ups and downs, you’ll feel a great sense of achievement on reaching Combe Martin.
History / Coastal
By Water / Rolling Countryside / City
This undeveloped stretch of coast provides a mixture of easy, high, open walking and some fairly strenuous climbs up and down steep slopes and steps to reach beautiful coves. The daily distances vary considerably and some involve several hundred metres of ascent and descent, so don’t underestimate the time/effort required.
There are a range of comfortable pubs, inns, hotel and hostels to lay your head near the Coast Path for a well-earned rest. From large and luxurious hotels, to small and personable B&B’s, as well as self-catering options and campsites. There’s ample choice in Plymouth, Salcombe and Dartmouth, but options are more restricted on the less populated sections through South Devon.
Air / Rail
Fly to Bristol or Exeter then train or bus to Plymouth. Plymouth is easily reached as it has a mainline train station and a large bus station serving much of Devon and Cornwall and regular buses to Wembury. For timetable information, visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33.
There are several rivers to cross on this itinerary; the River Yealm (ferry), River Erme (ford at low tide) and River Avon (ferry). You can find details of these on the South West Coast Path Association’s estuaries and ferries page, and timetable information is also posted at Wembury Beach car park, and at each river crossing. The amount of ascent/descent on some sections make them quite demanding. Best times of year are May and September.
Expect to find fresh seafood at pubs and restaurants in the larger towns and some refreshing local ales from local breweries like St Austell and – of course – traditional West Country cider, which can be extremely potent!
The official guidebook and map for the Trail are available from the National Trails Shop along with a wide range of gifts and other merchandise.
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