Cymraeg

Trail Information

The South West Coast Path is a 630 mile (1,014 km) journey along the coastline of England’s southwest peninsula. Running from Minehead in Somerset to Poole in Dorset, the longest of England’s National Trails has a wealth of stunning natural scenery, sea views, pretty ports and historic county towns. The Path has won numerous awards and offers a truly unique experience: this is walking at its most challenging and most rewarding.

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About the Trail

How long does it take to complete the Trail?

The Trail is 630 mile (1,014 km) long.

In terms of walking days, a fast walker can complete the whole Trail in around 30 days, but a more leisurely pace with time to stop to see some of the sights just off the path is between 7 and 8 weeks.

As few people have enough time to be able to walk it in one go, most split it between several holidays and complete the path over several years.

How hard is it?

If you are new to the Coast Path, a key tip is don’t plan to walk as far as you would normally. It is a challenging route, with in total over 115,000 feet (35,000 metres) of up and down, and it is far better to be ahead of schedule and have time to explore, than having to rush to reach your planned overnight stop.

Exploring the Trail

How do I get to the South West Coast Path?

The nearest airports to the Trail are Exeter (approx 11 miles/18 km from the Trail), and Newquay (1 mile from the Trail) in North Cornwall. You can also fly to Bournemouth Airport for easy access to the Dorset section of the Path, and Bristol Airport is a good place to fly to if you’re looking to walk any of the Somerset or North Devon stretch.

Visitors can also reach the Trail by ferry, Brittany Ferries serve Plymouth and Poole.

Both ends of the Path can be reached from London by a combination of train and bus and many of the towns along the Trail are served by coach services. Local buses run a fairly regular service along most of the coast.

For detailed rail information please see www.nationalrail.co.uk

You can find up-to-date public transport information including a journey planner at www.traveline.info

The south-west is well served by major trunk roads (M5, A303, A30) and most of the gateway start and finish points along the South West Coast Path are served by a network of A and B roads.

Car parks are available at all coastal towns along the route. At more remote locations, you will find informal car parks, normally managed by landowners or Parish Councils. If you are planning to walk for two days or more, you will need to arrange longer-term car parking.

The Annual guide produced by the South West Coast Path Association (free to members) has details of those places that can offer long-term parking.

Where can I stay on the Trail?

There is a good choice of accommodation close to the Trail and it can be viewed on the Interactive Map below or on the Create Your Own Trip page here.

Download and print a list of accommodation for each section of the Trail.

Many places fill up quickly, we recommend that you book in advance.

Can I camp along the Trail?

There are plenty of campsites along the Trail and they can be viewed on the Interactive Map. If you plan to camp please note it is not legal to wild camp in England or Wales – you will need to stay on official campsites.

Can I get my bags carried or my accommodation booked?

There are several companies that will arrange to move your bags for you, help you plan your trip, or arrange a full package.

View a list of these companies here.

What is the best time of year to walk on the Trail?

Whilst the spring and late summer are the best times to walk the path, summer and winter can also be great. Here are our highlights of each season:

Spring is the start of nature’s year. Lambs are in the fields, trees come into leaf, wild flowers are appearing and migrant birds and basking sharks are returning from warmer climes. The fresh weather is great for walking, and the occasional shower merely sharpens the view.

Summer brings warmer temperatures, meaning you can often walk in a T-shirt and shorts, and stop off at beaches for a cooling dip. Flowers are in full bloom, and the sunshine brings out drifts of butterflies. In late summer, much of the north coast turns purple and yellow and smells wonderful, thanks to the heather and gorse coming into bloom.

Autumn means the crowds have gone home, but the weather and sea temperature often remain warm enough for swimming. At this time of year headlands are great spots to see migrating birds making their back south. As the weather terms chillier, trees take on their lovely red and gold Autumn colours.

Winter means you have to choose your days to go walking with more care to make the most of the shorter days and more unsettled weather. However there is nothing like wrapping up warm on a blustery winter’s day and walking along the Coast Path to watch (from a safe distance) storm waves pound the cliffs.

Which direction should I walk it in?

Most people walk start at the Minehead end and head towards Poole, but that is mainly because that is the direction most of the guidebooks are written.

What should I take with me?

We recommend that you take a map and/or guidebook with you, or a copy of the walk leaflet if you are doing a shorter walk. You may also find a compass useful.

If you are walking solo you may want to tell someone where you are going as there can be mobile black spots along the Trail. Ensure your phone is fully charged before setting off.

Weather in the UK can be changeable so it’s wise to be prepared. You’ll need good footwear, waterproofs and warm layers. Take plenty of water and just in case, pack a few plasters for your feet. In the summer you may need sun cream.

Will I have mobile phone and internet access?

Mobile phone coverage along the coast is patchy with no signal in many of the valleys but generally OK on headlands and in towns and villages. Mobile data is available in most places with mobile signal.

Many accommodation providers, pubs and cafes offer Wi-Fi.

Is there signage on the South West Coast Path?

The UK is unique in having a network of paths that the public can use, this is the Public Rights of Way network. You can see these paths on Ordnance Survey maps.

National Trails are signed with an acorn symbol and/or the Trail name which you will see on stiles, gates and signposts. This is the symbol used by all the English and Welsh National Trails.

As you are walking along the Trail you will also see waymarkers pointing to other paths. You can use the public rights of way network to leave the Trail to explore places of interest, reach your accommodation and find places to eat and drink.

You will often find a coloured arrow on signs which indicates the status of that section of path. The most common are yellow arrows which are footpaths and blue which are bridleways.

Can I download a GPX file?

A GPX file can be downloaded from the Create Your Own Trip page (the button is below the map).

Maps, Guidebooks and Merchandise

Can I get a guidebook and map for the Trail?

The official guidebook and map for the Trail are available from the The Trails Shop along with a wide range of gifts and other merchandise.

Which Ordnance Survey maps cover the Trail?

You can find a list of Ordnance Survey maps for the Trail here.

Can I get a certificate if I complete the Trail?

Certificates are available from the The Trails Shop.

Interactive Map

Use the Map Filter to see places to visit and where to stay along the South West Coast Path. View information on the map by ticking the boxes in the Map Filter.

(c) Crown Copyright 2020. Ordnance Survey 100022021

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Popular itineraries

Find inspiration for your walking adventure using our suggested itineraries, or select one of our bookable itineraries which are highlighted with a star.

Create your own trip

Feeling inspired? Build a bespoke itinerary and start planning your visit to this great National Trail here.

Contact the Trail Officer

If you have feedback or a question about the South West Coast Path, please contact the Trail Manager.

Contact Richard Walton