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4
moderate to challenging
Activities
  • self guided walk
Accommodation
  • 8 nights in hotels, inns and guesthouses
Meals
  • 8 Breakfasts

9 Days£1050GBP

Overview

Trip Code: WMH

South West Coast Path Trip highlights


  • Classic Somerset and Devonian coastal walking
  • Regularly features in lists of the world's best walks
  • Contrasts of moorland, woods, cliffs and beaches
  • The oldest working lighthouse in the UK
  • Views of Porlock from Hurlstone Point
  • Natural harbours and coastal fishing villages
  • Complete the first 89km of the South West Coast Path
  • The Highest Coastline in England & Wales

This walk is the the first 89 mile (144 km) section of Britain's longest official National Trail: The South West Coast Path (SWCP). It runs a whopping 630 miles (1,014 km) from Minehead in Somerset, along the coasts of Devon and Cornwall, to Plymouth and Poole Harbour in Dorset. Starting from the resort town of Minehead to the intriguingly named Westward Ho! it is a walk of two halves, starting with some long tough climbs with a few days of undulations through the woods and moors of the Exmoor National Park, including the highest point of the entire SWCP. During the last few days, you will be relatively easy beach and estuary wandering, passing the surf beaches of Woolacombe and then around the sheltered Taw and Torridge Estuaries. This scenic hike also intertwines with the Tarka Trail, a network of footpaths retracing the route of Tarka (the Otter from Henry Williamson's renowned book). There is a lot of wild beauty over this section, including prevalence of wild flowers and grasses. Some of the views are said to be the best of the whole path.

Countries:

England

Starting Point:

Minehead

Finishing Point:

Westward Ho!


Arrive Minehead, an Edwardian resort in the county of Somerset. This traditional seaside town marks the start of the South West Coast Path, and where Exmoor National Park meets the sea. Conveniently accessible, Minehead is well-connected through regular bus services from Taunton, the closest mainline rail station. Accommodation: Stay in one of the bright rooms of this apprentice-run, small hotel at the centre between Minehead Beach, the esplanade and start of the town centre.

Meals:  Nil

Your journey starts at the official South West Coast Path Monument, from where you can either leisurely amble through open farmland, mingling with the country's livestock, or opt for the more daring route along the rugged coastal path. This is the highest coastline in England, so you may be pleased with the easier option over part of the way across farmland with spectacular views from Selworthy Beacon (308m). From the Beacon you start to descend to Porlock. The shingle 6000-year-old ridge across the bay here was breached in 1996, and now high tide flooding has created a bird rich saltmarsh habitat. At low tide the remains of a submerged forest can be seen on the beach. The village also has the grade 1 listed monument, the Church of St Dubricius (13th century), which has a 15th-century tomb of John Harrington who fought alongside Henry V in France in 1417. The harder option follows a series of undulations, steep climbs to gorse and bracken lined cliff tops and then descent into the little wooded hollows known as 'Combes' usually embracing tiny babbling streams. These valleys provide respite from the sun on hot days and from the wind on rough days. There are some farm tracks to walk on as well as rough trails. Accommodation: Our Inn in the centre of the village dates back to at least the 15th century, and it is believed that even before that date some sort of hostelry existed on the site. It has a long and varied history from ties to smuggling, visits from a Poet Laureate and as an invaluable part in the long and arduous journey by horse drawn coach to and from Lynmouth. Today it offers comfortable rooms and great pub food.

Meals:  B

Climbing out of the quaint harbour village of Portlock Weir, your day starts with a sharp uphill ascent to Yearnor Wood and a more leisurely stroll to Culbone Church. It is renowned as the smallest parish church in England and is dedicated to the Welsh St. Beuno. Here the path then divides into two options, the primary (southern) trail, leading you into farmland and tranquil country roads, occasionally revealing glimpses of the sea. Alternatively, the northern trail winds through ancient woods, steeped in historical significance. Either way, you will pass between the counties of Somerset and Devon. There is much walking over National Trust land, through fields and beautiful wooded combes with seasonal waterfalls and streams. This landscape was almost certainly the inspiration for the descriptions of the wild coastal settings in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s opium-fuelled poems of Kubla Khan and The Ancient Mariner, both written whilst staying on Exmoor. After some strenuous walking, Lynmouth reveals itself in its narrow cove. It straddles the confluence of the West Lyn and East Lyn rivers in a gorge below Lynton. The villages are connected by the Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway, which works two cable-connected cars by gravity, using water tanks. Accommodation: A small B&B situated in a sunny spot close to the East Lyn River in Lynmouth, a 5 minute stroll to the heart of the village and the harbour. There are six en-suite bedrooms set over two floors and a guest lounge.

Meals:  B

Today you hike along the finest section of the North Devon Coast. A leisurely stroll out of Lynmouth leads you to the renowned “Valley of Rocks”, featuring magnificent rock formations running parallel to the sea. From here there are some challenging climbs, including reaching the highest point of the South West Coast Path, reaching the summit of Great Hangman at 1,043 feet (318 m). You will be rewarded with lovely views along beautiful coastal stretches and contrasting moorland passages following the edge of the land, away from civilization. After a long hike you drop down into Combe Martin; a small seaside resort with a sheltered cove on the northwest edge of the Exmoor National Park. Accommodation: Our B&B is a pebble’s throw from the beaches at Combe Martin. It fronts directly onto the South West Costal Path and at low tide a labyrinthine of rock pools, caves and even an old silver mine are ready to be explored.

Meals:  B

Another spectacularly wild and beautiful section of the South West Coast Path, with ever changing landscapes. Today’s walk includes some easy cliff paths across windswept farmland around Ilfracombe and onto Lee Bay. Ifracombe is an interesting Devonian resort with St. Nichola's Chapel dating from the 1300s, which maintained a light to guide ships into the harbour. It is still a working lighthouse today and is said to be the oldest in the UK. Beyond Lee Bay there are the complicated rocky formations around Morte Point, a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its beautiful maritime heathland and grasses. During the spring and summer months you will note the colours of the heather, pink thrift and yellow gorse. Finally descending into Woolacombe there are views of the estuaries and dunes beyond. This Devonian seaside resort has a beautiful 3-mile long beach, often voted the best in the UK. Accommodation: Stay at a small B&B in the village. It is just a few minutes walk from the glorious 3-mile stretch of sandy beach and right in the middle of the village surrounded by all the shops & restaurants to enjoy your stay.

Meals:  B

Today is a long walk, but after several strenuous days, you may welcome the relatively easier stretch. The terrain levels out, offering a much flatter path. This segment is also part of the Tarka Trail, one of the UK’s longest continuous traffic-free walking and cycling paths, inspired by Henry Williamson’s much loved novel ‘Tarka the Otter.' The Way is recognised for both its wildlife and geology. Much of it is managed by the National Trust and it includes some very easy walking along cliff tops with fine views of the route ahead and out to Lundy Island and the Welsh coast. At the end of the walk you have the opportunity to explore Braunton Burrows National Nature Reserve, a rich habitat for flowering plants, small mammals and butterflies. This site is the largest sand dune system (psammosere) in England. It is particularly important ecologically because it includes the complete successional range of dune plant communities. Accommodation: Our homely B&B is situated in the idyllic village of Braunton. Located just 400 metres from the centre, the many restaurants, pubs and bistros are all within easy reach.

Meals:  B

Continuing on the Tarka Trail out of Braunton, you’ve embarked on the longest day of this walking holiday. Much of today is along traffic-free, disused railway tracks and along the estuary of the River Taw towards Barnstaple. Cross The Long Bridge of Barnstaple—an impressive medieval structure, then continue along the other side of the estuary past marshland and Nature Reserves rich with wildlife. Culminate in the lovely small town of Instow, a peaceful and charming place to stay. Accommodation: We use a range of places including B&B’s, guesthouses and Inns.

Meals:  B

As The Tarka Trail heads inland you follow the South West Coast Path along the Taw Estuary. The easy walking continues, allowing you to enjoy the plants and birds inhabiting the grassland and dunes. Continue along the old railway tracks to the preserved station at East-the-Water, where you cross the Torridge and follow it up the other side to Appledore and Northam Burrows Special Site of Scientific Interest. From here it's a gentle stroll across Northam Burrows into Westward Ho! This is the only town in the UK to have an exclamation mark as part of its name, this was a book of the same name by Charles Kingsley, a Victorian bestseller. It brought a new wave of tourism to the area, which led to the creation of the village. The seafront is one of North Devon’s most popular surfing and swimming spots. Accommodation: We have selected a range of welcoming accommodation including B&B’s, guesthouses and Inns.

Meals:  B

Depart Westward Ho! for your onward journey.

Meals:  B


Inclusions

  • 8 breakfasts
  • 8 nights accommodation in Bed& Breakfasts, small hotels, inns and guesthouses on a twin share basis with ensuite facilities where available
  • One piece of luggage per person transferred from Inn to Inn, not exceeding 20kg
  • Information pack including guidebook & route notes
  • Emergency hotline
  • GPS Files

  • Lunch, Dinner and drinks
  • Entrance fees
  • Travel insurance
  • Travel to the start and from the end point of the trip
  • Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
  • Unscheduled transfers required during the trip
  • Excess luggage
  • A supplement will apply if you are travelling solo or book a single room
  • Guide - this is a self guided holiday

Accommodation


Suitability

moderate to challenging

4

Moderate to challenging, some moderate-length days with some tough ascents and descents especially over the first half of the walk. This is a coastal path, so some scrambling may be in place.


Departure dates

Daily from 1 Mar to 19 Oct

Notes

DN1
Please note that minor changes to your 2024 itinerary may apply.
DN2
This section of the SWCP is preceded by trip WMH and can be followed by trip WCN or WNS.

Priceper person from

£1050GBP

Options & Supplements*
  • Single SupplementGBP£440
  • Solo Traveller SupplementGBP£520
*Prices listed are per person

South West Coast Path Trip reviews


Why travel with us

Personal Experience

We've been walking and cycling the planet for over four decades and are passionate about delivering exceptional service. Combined, we’ve travelled to virtually every corner of Europe, and are eager to share the many benefits of travelling on foot or by bike.

Great Value & Quality

Our well priced trips offer great value for money. Included in your package are comprehensive route notes, maps & guide books along with bag transfers and locally run accommodation. We take the stress out of organising your holiday.

Self-Guided Specialists

We have been operating active self guided holidays since 1973. We handle all the necessary logistics so that you can relax and explore your destination at your own pace. Many of our tours depart daily, giving you even greater flexibility.

South West Coast Path Videos

South West Coast Path

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