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 Jurassic Coast, running from Budleigh Salterton to Poole.
Getting to Budleigh Salterton:
By Rail: Travel to Budleigh Salterton is relatively easy. Nearby railway stations include Honiton [12 miles] and Exmouth [5 miles] and give access to the Waterloo to Exeter and Paddington to Penzance lines respectively.
By Car: From Honiton, take the A30 then follow signs from Budleigh Salterton and the A3052.
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 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.
- Budleigh Salterton (or Exmouth)
- South Haven Point
Daily Distance Range
- Minimum: 11.25 miles / 18.5 km per day
- Maximum: 20.5 miles / 33 km per day
This tour runs for 9 days, 8 nights and 7 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 Budleigh Salterton or Exmouth and stay overnight
Budleigh Salterton sits with the Jurassic Coastline World Heritage Site and has a two-mile pebble beach. It is known for its unspoilt charm and has plenty of shops and attractions to keep you busy. Alternatively, you can start the trip in Exmouth which is a larger city and has better transport links. Arriving in Exmouth also allows you to enjoy the ‘Geoneedle’ marking the start of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, but it does extend the walking on the first day.
A: Budleigh Salterton to Seaton (17 miles / 27.5 km)
Assuming you opt for the traditional start of Budleigh Salterton for this stretch, the route is long, with an easy start and end but a more arduous middle section, but you are afforded exceptional views the whole way. For those not accustomed to long trips, you can opt to taxi or take public transport to Sidmouth (payable locally), but in doing so miss out on some terrific coastline. Leaving Budleigh Salterton, the path heads immediately inland to cross the nearby marsh at the mouth of the River Otter, before returning to the coastline down the other side. The path climbs gradually from this point although it remains fairly easy and runs along the cliffs to Ladram Bay and then goes past High Peak which reaches 156m, but the path itself does not reach the summit. Continuing all the way to Sidmouth with several stretches in woodland, Sidmouth offers a good option to stop for refreshments. From Sidmouth, it is a straight stretch along the coast with a couple of minor detours inland and plenty of undulation, before reaching Branscombe. Branscombe has what is believed to be one of the oldest forges in the country and is also a very attractive little village too. Leaving Branscombe behind, zig zag to the top of the cliff and around Beer Head where you will get views of Beer and Seaton. Seaton is your stop for the night and offers plenty of amenities.
Stay overnight in Seaton. Luggage will be transferred.
B: Seaton to Seatown (15.25 miles / 24.5 km)
The route between Seaton and Lyme Regis on this section is one of the only areas of extensive woodland along the South West Coast Path. Leaving Seaton, cross the River Axe via the bridge and walk out of the town to rejoin the cliff line at Haven Cliff. This part of the route is quite tough although still manageable and it can take a few hours to reach Lyme Regis. Look out for ‘Undercliff’ which was formed when 8 million tonnes of soill and rock slid towards the sea and opened a chasm In1839. The path and terrain remains much the same all the way to Lyme Regis, so enjoy its beauty and uncultivated wildness which is so engaging. Lyme Regis received a Royal Charter in 1284 and is famous for its fossil density and there are also plenty of old buildings. From Lyme Regis, the path heads inland for quite a while, skirting The Spittles and heading into Charmouth where there are refreshments. Sticking inland, the path heads on through wooded areas and over little streams, turning back to the cliff line to run all the way to Seatown. Seatown is relatively small but unspoiled and a pleasant place to stay.
Stay overnight at Seatown. Luggage will be transferred.
C: Seatown to Abbotsbury (12 miles / 19.5 km)
Today’s walking is much more gentle for those in need of a rest day and although it starts with a couple of cliff ascents and descents it gives way to field and beach walking that are level and easy.Leaving Seatown via the cliff path, the route follows the coast past Eype’s Mouth and West Bay which was a harbour until trade was lost to nearby Bridport when it got the railway. From here, the route becomes more leisurely, dropping onto Burton Beach and passing close to the Iron Age ‘Bind Barrow’. Continuing along Cogden Beach and then Chesil Beach which is a famous local attraction, the route then diverts back inland past Chapel Hill and on to Abbotsbury – your stop for the night. At Abbotsbury, only a fragment of the original abbey remains, dating back to 1400, but it is lovely and the Abbotsbury Sub Tropical Gardens are worth a detour a little further inland.
Stay overnight in Abbotsbury. Luggage will be transferred.
D: Abbotsbury to Ferrybridge (11.25 miles / 18 km)
Detouring away from the coast a bit more, today’s route is typified by more inland and countryside routes than coastal although there is still much coast path. It is also much easier walking that previous days which is a bonus. Departing from Abbotsbury, the route turns inland working its way to the crest of Linton Hill, and on across farmland and through woodland. It’s a very pleasant vista and not long after passing Wyke Wood, the route turns back towards the coastline, skirting the edge of the large natural lagoon of West Fleet. West Fleet is a large tidal lagoon which hides behind the world-famous Chesil Beach which is a shingle barrier beach that runs 29km from West Bay to Isle of Portland. Continuing to follow the bank of the lagoon, you can detour inland to the village of Langton Herring for refreshments or continue past East Fleet and Charlestown a bit further on. At Charlestown, the route can sometimes have a diversion in land to avoid the rifle range, but the walk continues all the way to the end of the lagoon at Ferrybridge – your stop for the night. When you arrive at Ferrywick, you will be next to the major promontory of the Isle of Portland and for those who want to, the coast path has been extended to do a circuit of the headland. You can walk some of it if you wish, or there is the option to extend your trip for an extra night in Ferrybridge to do the circuit the following day. Otherwise, this circuit is skipped and the journey continues from Ferrybridge to Lulworth Cove.
Stay overnight in Ferrybridge. Luggage will be transferred.
E: Ferrybridge to Lulworth Cove (14.5 miles / 23.5 km)
One of the most famous features on the South West Coast Path, Lulworth Cove is a definite highlight for today’s walking, which starts off easy and becomes slightly more challenging as the day progresses. Commencing with a walk through Weymouth, your first landmark is the ruins of the 16th century Sandsfoot Castle on the coastline of the town. From there, your walk along the town’s edge brings you to Nothe Fort and the Tower opposite and you have the choice of a very short ferry or the option to cross the bridge which only takes a few more minutes. Continuing along the Esplanade, the town gives way to Lodmoor Country Park which spreads inland while you continue along the coastline past Osmington Mills, Ringstead Bay and Holworth House. It’s not long from here before the world-famous Durdle Door appears beyond the cliffs, swiftly followed by Dungy Head, Stair Hole and Lulworth Cove which are worth admiring. You’ll stay at Lulworth for the night so no rush to leave it behind as this is one of the most scenic and unusual spots on the whole length of the South West Coast Path.
Stay overnight in Lulworth Cove. Luggage will be transferred.
F: Lulworth Cove to Swanage (20.5 miles / 33 km)
The longest stretch of the whole trip, this route is also the penultimate section of the South West Coast Path and tomorrow is much shorter. Immediately leaving Lulworth Cove you enter the active tank and rifle ranges, which are open for large chunks of the year, but which obviously cannot be walked when practice is ongoing. This is an interesting region of the coastline so is worth the walk if you can, but some opt to start their day with a taxi or public transport (payable locally) to take them beyond the ranges. There are few in the way of major landmarks today, nor refreshments along the route, so bear this in mind when deciding when to leave. Following the coastline closely all day, much of the terrain includes ascents and descents around Mupe Bay, Worbarrow Way, before reaching Clavell Tower. Clavell Tower was originally built too near to the cliff edge in 1830 and coastal erosion put it under threat; it was then dismantled and reassembled between 2006 and 2008, much further inland. From here, much a good section runs along Kimmeridge Ledges which are lovely, before heading a little way inland at Houns-tout Cliff. From there, the path continues around St Alban’s Head (also known as St Aldhelm’s Head) before running all the way to Durleston Head and nearby Swanage. Swanage is your stop for the night and you’ll see evidence of the town’s heritage as a Purbeck ‘Marble’ producer.
Stay overnight in Swanage. Luggage will be transferred.
G: Swanage to South Haven Point (Poole) - (7.75 miles / 12.5 km)
After yesterday’s lengthy hike, this day is the shortest of the trip offering a more leisurely pace. It starts on the Promenade of Swanage and ends with a beach walk or a heathery dune walk. The route makes it way up the white chalk cliffs and offers a great view of Old Harry Rocks and you can also see Bournemouth and the Isle of White in the distance across Poole Bay. Descending the slope to Studland you have the option of walking along the beach at Studland Bay, or you can cross the heathery dunes at the back of the beach instead. As you reach the end of the beach you are at South Haven Point and from here you can grab the ferry into Poole – your final stop of the trip. Poole has the largest natural harbour in Europe as well as a beautiful wide beach. There is plenty to see and do and enjoy at the end of your trip.
Stay overnight in Poole. Luggage will be transferred.
The routing is subject to accommodation availability and will run from A-G as above. Extra nights can be added in Budleigh Salterton and South Haven Point if desired.
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.