South West Coast Path: Clovelly to Tintagel

A demanding but rewarding 75km / 47-mile trek, taking in the North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Hartland Peninsula before crossing the county boundary into Cornwall. Walk along dramatic headlands and through picturesque river valleys to the ancient Arthurian Castle of Tintagel on one of the most diverse sections of the South West Coast Path.

This stretch of the South West Coast Path begins in the historic fishing village of Clovelly, nestling among a glorious natural amphitheater carved out of the cliff face with steep, cobbled streets. Negotiating ancient woodland and the contrasting landscapes of the Hartland Peninsula, the Path takes you past the tumbling waterfall at Speke’s Mill Mouth to secluded combes and sandy beaches on the approach to Bude.

Another strenuous day’s walk leads to Crackington Haven, with views across the Bristol Channel to Lundy Island – once the stronghold of the notorious Marisco pirate clan – and back along the coastline towards Hartland Point.

From here, you’ll also get your first glimpse of the imposing coastal fortification at Tintagel where – upon reaching it at the end of another spectacular day’s trek, the ruins of this 13th-century castle certainly will not disappoint. Thought to be the birthplace of King Arthur, Tintagel’s unique ambience echoes to the whispers of ancient myth and legend.

Tour Overview

The icons below highlight the distance, difficulty and theme of this itinerary.

Distance

76km

Number of Days

4

Grade

Challenging

Theme

History / Coastal / Culture

Landscape Type

By Water / Rolling Countryside

South West Coast Path: Clovelly to Tintagel

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Itinerary

This wild stretch of coast includes some very strenuous climbs and descents and arguably the most physically demanding 25km/15.5 mile section from Hartland to Bude. Every day involves several hundred yards of ups and downs, so don’t underestimate the time/effort required and leave plenty of time to explore Tintagel.

Day 1 Clovelly to Hartland Quay

This section of Coast Path leads you through the contrasting landscapes of the Hartland Peninsula. Emerging from the ancient woodland to follow the Path through pastoral land on the open cliff tops, on reaching Hartland Point, the Path swings south, leaving the sheltered valleys and woodland behind and entering a starker, more dramatic landscape along the rocky coast to Hartland Quay. Waterfalls crashing to the secluded rocky beaches of the Atlantic, wild flowers, and seabirds all contribute to the sense of wilderness. 16.6 km / 10.3 miles

Day 2 Hartland Quay to Bude

This long and spectacular section is arguably the toughest day on the entire South West Coast Path and involves some relentless ups and downs. The Coast Path climbs above the rocky shoreline, notorious for shipwrecks (over 150 ships lost on the rocky outcrops between Morwenstow and Bude), past tumbling waterfalls, across secluded combes and crossing ten river valleys before easing on the approach to Bude. There is a real sense of isolation here and the views are stunning – especially from Higher Sharpnose Point and Steeple Point.
The final section is less strenuous, following flat sandy beaches into Bude. 24.5 km / 15.2 miles

Day 3 Bude to Crackington Haven

An easy start on the grassy cliff path along the back of the beaches from Bude to Widemouth Bay should not mislead you into imagining the whole day will be like this. The Path soon becomes rough and narrow in places as it plunges into steep valleys, including Scrade – one of the deepest and steepest valleys on the Cornwall section of the Coast Path. This walk provides wide, open views of the Atlantic from lofty clifftop paths where you are always conscious of the power of the ocean and its capricious moods. 15.8 km  / 9.8 miles

Day 4 Crackington Haven to Tintagel

Stick closely to the Path through valleys and across cliffs with spectacularly sheer drops to the Atlantic below. Look out for nesting seabirds in springtime and you may also spot the herds of Soay sheep and goats whose grazing helps encourage the growth of spectacular wildflowers. Layers of history remain close to the surface here and the final switchback stretch to Tintagel offers some of the most enchanting miles of the entire Path, as whispers of the mysterious legends of King Arthur are whisked away on the breeze or subsumed beneath the crashing waves. 17.9km / 11.1 miles

Accommodation

There are a range of comfortable pubs, inns, hotels, and hostels to lay your head near the South West Coast Path for a well-earned rest. This largely rural section relies on small and personable B&B’s, as well as self-catering options and campsites. There’s reasonable choice in Bude – but popular tourist destinations like Clovelly get very busy between Easter and the end of August – and there are plenty of rural B&Bs just off the route plus a youth hostel at Elmscott.

Travel

AIR/RAIL

Fly to Bristol or Exeter then train and bus to Minehead. Taunton is the nearest mainline railway station. National Express coach number 502 runs from Taunton to Barnstaple and First Great Western trains run regularly from Exeter to Barnstaple. The Stagecoach 319 service runs from Barnstaple to Hartland, via Bideford and Clovelly. For details visit Traveline or phone 0870 6082608.

Advice

This is a relatively short but demanding itinerary that could be tackled at any time of year. The scenery is fantastic all year round, but spring is especially dramatic when the seabirds return to breed on the cliff faces and the meadows are carpeted with fragrant flowers.

Food & Drink

Expect to find fresh seafood at pubs and restaurants in the larger towns and some refreshing local ales from local breweries like Sharps, Atlantic, and Harbour Brewing Co, whose carefully crafted beers evoke the wild spirit of the Cornish Coast. Nathan Outlaw’s sustainable seafood restaurant at Port Isaac is among the best on the English coast.

Maps, Guidebooks and Merchandise

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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