The South West Coast Path


The South West Coast Path is Britain's longest national trail. It stretches for 630 miles (1014 km), running from Minehead in Somerset, along the coasts of Devon and Cornwall, to Poole in Dorset. Since it rises and falls with every river mouth, it is also one of the more challenging trails.

The path has been a complete National Trail since 1978.

Ilfracombe, North Devon

History of the path

South West Coast PathThe path originated as a route for the Coastguard to walk from lighthouse to lighthouse patrolling for smugglers. As a result, the path closely hugs the coast providing excellent views but rarely the most direct path between two points. Britain has unique right-of-way laws that keep historic foot paths open to the public even when they pass through private property. The South West Coast Path is no longer used by the Coastguard but it has been transformed from a practical defence system into a resource for recreation walkers. Sections of the path are maintained by the National Trust.


Special landscapes

Many of the landscapes which the South West Coast Path crosses have special status, either as a National Park or one of the Heritage Coasts (Click a place to search for relevant websites):

Somerset & North Devon


  • Exmoor Heritage Coast and Exmoor National Park
  • North Devon Heritage Coast
  • Braunton Burrows - UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
  • Taw and Torridge Estuary
  • Hartland Heritage Coast


North Cornwall


  • Pentire Point - Widemouth Heritage Coast
  • Trevose Head Heritage Coast
  • Godrevy - Portreath Heritage Coast
  • Penwith Heritage Coast


South Cornwall


  • Lizard Heritage Coast
  • Roseland Heritage Coast
  • Gribbin Head — Polperro Heritage Coast
  • Rame Head Heritage Coast


South Devon and Dorset


  • South Devon Heritage Coast
  • East Devon Heritage Coast
  • The Jurassic Coast, a 95 mile (155km) long World
  • Heritage Site
  • Dorset Heritage Coast

Official South West Coast Path web site.


The above 'South West Coast Path' article is from Wikipedia, under GNU licence. Source. Archived 2006.


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