About the National Trail
With 19th century origins as a coastguard patrol route to restrict smuggling, the modern day South West Coast Path is England’s longest waymarked footpath. It runs for 630 miles, from Minehead on the edge of Exmoor to the shores of Poole Harbour and offers the ultimate challenge for the long distance walker.
But the path is not solely the domain of the endurance walker. Its various segments are enjoyed by many millions of visitors throughout the year, who come to marvel at the natural scenery on offer. This is the true wonder of the South West Coast Path; this single trail connects visitors with some of the finest coastal landscapes to be found anywhere in the world.
Its truly special nature is reflected in the array of official designations it has collected over the years. As it threads its way around the coastline, the Coast Path passes through a number of National Nature Reserves and Heritage Coasts, five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, two World Heritage Sites, a UNESCO designated Biosphere reserve and a Geopark, as well as one National Park.
No wonder it’s regularly described as one of the world’s greatest walks and has been listed as the UK’s best walking route by the likes of Walk magazine, Coast magazine and Country Walking among others. What’s most fascinating about our coastline are the stories that can be revealed within the landscape, from its heritage and geological features to the wildlife and natural scenery.
Artists and writers have been inspired to interpret these stories in their work for generations with JMW Turner and Agatha Christie to name but two well known figures associated with this stretch of coast. It regularly provides the backdrop to TV and film productions, while the ever changing nature, where land meets the sea, is captured on camera by the millions of people that walk the Coast Path every year.