Minehead to Barnstaple
From the highest rugged cliff tops to Tarka territory
Distance: 70 miles over 6 days. Difficulty: Challenging
This walk begins in Exmoor National Park and travels along the highest coastline in Britain, passing through dense coastal woodlands and rugged cliff tops. It continues along the north Devon coast through the Victorian seaside town of Ilfracombe and past the popular surfing beaches of Woolacombe, Croyde and Saunton with miles of golden sands between them. Much of the Coast Path along this stretch takes in the Tarka Trail, a recreational route so-called as it takes in the coastal landscapes that inspired children’s author Henry Williamson to create Tarka the Otter. It ends as you cross the River Taw over the historic Long Bridge to Barnstaple. The entire route is well served by public transport, including train services at the start and finish points.
It’s fantastic all year round, although Autumn is a particular highlight when the vast swathes of heathland on the Exmoor coast becomes a purple haze of heather and the densely wooded valleys turn golden brown. It’s also the rutting season for the resident red deer and if you don’t see a mighty stag stand off as they compete for a mate, you may hear their distinctive call as it fills the air. The heart of the UNESCO designated North Devon Biosphere reserve at Braunton Burrows is teeming with wildlife, while the birds are in abundance around the estuary of the River Taw.
- Day 1: Minehead to Porlock Weir (9 miles)
- Day 2: Porlock Weir to Lynmouth/ Lynton (12 miles)
- Day 3: Lynmouth/ Lynton to Combe Martin (14 miles)
- Day 4: Combe Martin to Woolacombe (12 miles)
- Day 5: Woolacombe to Saunton (8.6 miles)
- Day 6: Saunton to Barnstaple (11.8 miles)