The Environment of the Path

Botallack Engine House

The coastline of England's South West Peninsula is justly recognised as being of high scenic quality, probably the most scenic coastline in the country. Areas of high conservation, cultural and geological importance are also found along the coastline and all these features form part of the environment of the South West Coast Path.

This outstanding environment is recognised by the large number of formal designations throughout its length. These include both international and national designations.

International Designations

(i) North Devon Biosphere Reserve

Biosphere Reserves are places with world-class environments designated by UNESCO to promote and demonstrate a balanced relationship between nature and people. They are places where conservation and sustainable development will go hand in hand. The area of North Devon based on and spreading out of the dune system of Braunton Burrows is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve because of its blend of special landscapes and wildlife areas, rich cultural heritage and communities that care about it and want to sustain it into the future. For details see

(ii) Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site

World Heritage Sites are designated by UNESCO for their "Outstanding Universal Value". This World Heritage Site is defined by the mining landscape which was formed by the cultural tradition of non-ferrous hard-rock mining that contributed to the development of the Industrial Revolution in Britain and pioneered its transfer overseas. The distinctive coastal mining landscapes of parts of West and South Cornwall are characteristic of this World Heritage Site. For further information see

(iii) Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site

This was England's first World Heritage Site to be designated for its natural properties. It is designated as it clearly depicts a geological "walk through time" of 185 million years of Earth's history in 95 miles/152km. Geological history of the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods are successively exposed and are accessible over the length of the Site, which stretches between Exmouth and Swanage, through East Devon and Dorset. More information is at

National Designations

The vast majority of the length of the South West Coast Path is covered by the national landscape designations of National Park or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). In landscape terms these two designations are regarded as equal, representing the country's finest landscapes. For information on these designated areas go to the relevant address:-