The South West Coast Path is one of the UK’s managed National Trail footpaths, running 630 miles from Minehead in Somerset, round the South West tip of England all the way to Bournemouth in Dorset. This itinerary focusses on the trail starting at its point of origin in Minehead, Somerset, crossing the county border into Devon past Hartland point before stopping at Bude in Cornwall for departure. Contrary to its name, this part of the coast path is not entirely coastal and drifts inland across Exmoor and the gorgeous moorland landscape.
Getting to Minehead:
By Car: Exit the M5 at Junction 24 (Bridgewater) or Junction 25 (Taunton) then follow signs along the A39 to Minehead.
By train and bus: Catch the train to Taunton station, then use connecting bus services to reach Minehead.
B&Bs, Hotels and Inns (3*) or Luxury Hotels (5*). Please note the Luxury version includes some taxi transfers at the beginning or end of some days.
The tour includes transfer of luggage as stated. The tour information pack provided to the clients contains luggage tags from Compass Holidays. The clients name and the hotels used throughout the stay will be on these tags. They should be fixed to the luggage. In the morning the luggage should be left at the reception for collection. Luggage is collected after 9.30am and delivered to the next hotel before 4.30pm.
This grade of this tour is moderate.
Daily Distance Range
- Minimum: 10 miles / 16km per day
- Maximum:23.25 miles / 37.5 km per day
This tour runs for 11 days, 10 nights and 9 days walking but can be extended or decreased by changing the daily distance.
This tour is available from January until December.
What is included in the tour
- Accommodation at the stated category with breakfast
- Luggage Transfers
- Full Tour Pack
- Smartphone App with GPS routes
- 24-hr emergency helpline
What is NOT included in the tour
- Lunch, Dinner & Drinks
- Entrance to attractions
- Buses and/or Ferries unless otherwise stated
- Tourist Taxes where applicable
Arrive in Minehead and stay overnight
Minehead is a popular holiday destination in the UK now, but was once a thriving harbour for ships with sailings as far away as America in the 18th century. The original harbour wall from the era still survives and there is plenty going on to entertain you before you begin your walk. Try and visit St Michael’s Church which sits high above the town and dates from the 14th century.
A: Minehead to Porlock Weir (10 miles / 16 km)
Starting out at the very apt monument of gigantic hands holding a map, which marks the start of The South West Coast Path, walk along The Promenade to reach the coastal path, passing the picturesque harbour and the lifeboat station on your way. Initially, the route follows the coastline above the pebbly beach, but it begins to drift inland through a wooded section at Greenaleigh Farm. The plant life here is traditionally heather and gorse offering bright yellows, pinks and purples as you walk and there is the option to take the ‘Alternative Rugged Coast Path’ from Bossington to Porlock, along the pebble beach and rocky coastline should you prefer. Highlights include the views at Selworthy Beacon and the lighthouse at Hurlstone Point, both a very short detour off the main route. The route passes through the village of Bossington and features many gorgeous thatched properties and cosy cottages managed by the National Trust, along with a tea garden for refreshments. Finally, the day’s route approaches Porlock Weir (and you can drop onto the pebble beach if you prefer) where you will stay for the night. Keep an eye out for the stumps of ancient trees – a submarine forest that is only visible when the tide is out. Porlock Weir itself is a small village, but there are several traditional craft shops which are worth a visit.
Stay overnight in Porlock Weir. Luggage will be transferred.
B: Porlock Weir to Lynmouth (11 miles / 18 km)
The path leaves Porlock Weir and climbs immediately away from the village close to the beach, passing the ‘toll houses’ at Worthy on the way. There are two options here; stick to the main coast path through the woodland at the coast with limited views or climb the alternative route between Culbone and Sugarloaf Hill with views of the sea. The alternative route is longer but takes no more time to walk. Most ascents and descents on this section are gentle between 50m and 150m. Here you will cross county lines from Somerset into Devon, near to the Sisters’ fountain which is marked by a stout stone cross. The route follows the Headland at Foreland Point and into the village of Lynton and Lynmouth, your stop for the night. Lynmouth sits at the mouth of the River Lyn while Lynton sits above it, but the two towns are connected by buildings all the way up the wooded slope. The two parts are connected by a cliff railway so you don’t need to climb the slopes. You can also visit the Exmoor National Park Visitor Centre while you are here.
Stay overnight in Lynmouth. Luggage will be transferred.
C: Lynmouth to Combe Martin (13.5 miles / 21.5 km)
Leaving Lynmouth via the coast path at the Harbour, the path hugs the coast initially, before moving inland at The Valley of Rocks and continuing to Mother Meldrum’s Cave. There is a path down onto the beach here if you wish to make a small detour. You will pass Lee Abbey which has refreshments if you wish and on to Crock Point with outstanding views, with the coast path continuing to hug the cliff and beachline all the way to Highveer Point. Here the path turns inland again, climbing a wooded slope to Heddon’s Mouth where it turns and travels back into the valley to the coast again. The path continues, sticking roughly with the lie of the coastline, passing various viewpoints all the way to the Great Hangman, a cairn which marks the highest point of the South West Coast Path. Enjoy sea views across to the coastline of Wales on a clear day, and the Island of Lundy, as well as views inland across Exmoor where you might spot the ponies. Your day ends in the village of Combe Martin.
Stay overnight in Combe Martin. Luggage will be transferred.
D: Combe Martin to Woolacombe (14 miles / 22.5 km)
Exiting Combe Martin via the aptly named Seaside Hill, the path climbs away from the beach all the way to Watermouth. At Watermouth, you can walk along the shore to continue on the path but at high tide you will need to follow the path marked on the main road. Leaving Watermouth you will reach the fantastic viewpoint at Widmouth across Samson Bay before continuing to Hele Bay where you can stop for refreshments or continuing to Ilfracombe, entering the town by the harbour. Ilfracombe is built around a natural harbour and has a restored 14th Century chapel plus plenty to stop and enjoy. Leaving Ilfracombe via Capstone Point, the path follows the cliff line, passing several headlands all the way to Lee Bay and on to the lighthouse at Bull Point. The path follows the cliffs all the way around Morte Point before turning back to Woolacombe, your stop for the night. Woolacombe is a popular holiday destination with outstanding beaches and great surf.
Stay overnight in Woolacombe. Luggage will be transferred.
E: Woolacombe to Braunton (15.25 miles / 24.5 km)
Today’s route is the easiest so far. Leaving Woolacombe, walkers have the option to continue on the coast path at the top of the cliff or walk across the sandy beach; the beach is fine, but beware what time you leave as high tide will mean walking near the base of the cliffs where the sand is soft and can prove heavy going. The route hugs the cliffs for most of the day, starting with a circuitous route past Baggy Point, turning back to enter the village of Croyde where the sands of Croyde Bay beckon enticingly. Following the dunes and then the cliffs, the path continues to Saunton before continuing across Saunton Down. Here, the path takes you close to a military training area so it is essential to stick to the marked path, before reaching the mouth of the River Caen as you skirt Horsey Island. Here you can enjoy Braunton Burrows, a National Nature Reserve which is one of the largest sand dune systems in Britain. From here, it is a short walk to Braunton; your stop for the night.
Stay overnight in Braunton. Luggage will be transferred.
F: Braunton to Westward Ho! (23.25 miles / 37.5 km)
Following the line of the river, today’s route is the longest so you can opt to start or end your walk with a taxi or bus transfer if preferred. You will miss some stunning landscapes, but not everyone wants to walk the distance. Following the route of the River Caen / River Taw, the cliff path continues out of Braunton all the way to Barnstaple where the river is crossed. Barnstaple was a Saxon stronghold and was originally surrounded by a wall to keep Danish invaders at bay. Returning the other side of the river, walkers pass through Fremington, and Bideford returning to the sea and round to Westward Ho!, your stop for the night. Westward Ho! Was a 19th century seaside resort and always includes the exclamation mark in its name.
If you do not wish to walk from Braunton to Westward Ho! In a day, but do wish to do the whole route, an overnight stay can be arranged in Barnstaple.
Stay overnight in Westward Ho! Luggage will be transferred.
G: Westward Ho! To Clovelly (11.5 miles / 18.5 km)
Leaving Westward Ho! It is here that the South West Coast Path begins its rollercoaster landscape in earnest. Rising and falling all the way along the cliffs, today’s route is fairly rural, running across farmland all the way to Clovelly. It is known for great sea views and rural landscape, but there aren’t many well-known landmarks on today’s route. Ending in Clovelly where you will say overnight, the route down into the village is very steep along the cobbled High Street. The Quay here dates back to the 14th Century and visitors love the little alleyways between houses on the way to the Harbour.
Stay overnight in Clovelly. Luggage will be transferred.
H: Clovelly to Hartland Quay (10.25 miles / 16.5 km)
Leaving Clovelly, the path is initially narrow but widens and improves as it enters the local woodland. Look out for the “Angels’ Wings” Shelter which was built in 1826 as a memorial and has more recently been restored. The path continues, passing mapped points including Mouth Mill, Exansworthy Cliff and Gawlish Cliff before rising above Shipload Bay. Next you’ll spot the Radar Tower which was originally a military site but is now used for local air traffic control. At Hartland Point there is a beautiful white lighthouse built in 1874 and the point is so remote it was historically known as the point in England “furthest from the railways”. Continue past the memorial for ‘Glenart Castle’ - a U-boat torpedoed in 1918 – where you can also get good views back to the lighthouse. The path next crosses Upright Cliff, past a small waterfall and out of the valley behind Damehole Point. The scenery is particularly spectacular here geologically with incredible cliff faces, continuing along the coast to Hartland Quay, your stop for the night. Hartland Quay is a very small place with limited amenities, but there is food and drink and a small museum.
Stay overnight in Hartland Quay. Luggage will be transferred.
I: Hartland Quay to Bude (15.25 miles / 24.5 km)
Your final route is along one of the most dramatic parts of the South West Coast Path, but also perhaps one of the toughest. This stretch is known locally for plenty of waterfalls spilling onto the beaches and it is best to start early allowing plenty of time for breaks. Shortly after beginning today’s route you will reach the first waterfall at Speke’s Mill Mouth before continuing along the gorse-lined path to Sandhole Cliff. Watch out for the historic sites including the earthen ramparts of Embury Beacon and the old mill at Marshland Mouth. It is here that you cross into the County of Cornwall, marked with a signpost of the local name “Kernow”. The Cornish path is immediately hilly, climbing quickly to the top of Marsland Cliff. From here, the path continues to hug the cliff line, each named individually on the map, all the way to Bude. There are several small bays and beaches with access along the route if you wish to stop. Bude was a little port which enjoyed its trading heyday in the late 19th century, served by a canal and railway for transportation of goods, going on to become a popular English seaside resort.
Stay overnight in Bude. Luggage will be transferred.
The correct clothes are important to ensure comfort during each walk. We suggest avoid anything with seams and buttons in sensitive areas. Clothing should take moisture from the body to the outside. Sweatshirts, thin pullovers and breathable jackets are ideal companions during the cooler days. Take light, waterproof jackets and trousers in case there is rain. On hot days we suggest a cap or hat and sunglasses to protect from the sun.