Coast of Legends

North Devon and Cornwall Atlantic Coast: Clovelly to Tintagel

Whether you want to spend a day or week exploring North Devon and the Cornwall Atlantic Coast, this is the trip for you. With the help of local experts we've pulled together ideas for days out on this wild and rugged coastline. These walks take in the local highlights of the world renowned South West Coast Path National Trail.

This is one of a selection of holiday ideas produced by the South West Coast Path Association - a charity dedicated to protecting and improving the South West Coast Path, and providing information to help people enjoy it.

The historic fishing village of Clovelly and the Iron Coast

Morning

Park at Clovelly (17 miles/27.6km north of Bude) and veer westwards onto the Coast Path for a challenging 5 mile circular walk (8km). Camera ready, capture striking coastal scenery and views to Lundy Island from the Angel’s Wings Shelter, built in 1826 by Sir James Hamlyn Williams of Clovelly Court. Then make your way along the cliffs of the Iron Coast, nicknamed for its countless shipwrecks. Check out the double archway of Blackchurch Rock at Mouthmill Cove, before heading back through the ancient Brownsham Woods.

Afternoon

By now you’ve earned a Devon cream tea back in timeless, traffic-free Clovelly, which was an important herring fishing port in the 1800s. Thatched cottages tumble down cobbled streets to a 13th Century quay, where you can still see a handful of fishermen loading catch onto carts pulled by donkeys. Sample the seafood in an historic inn, then visit Kingsley Cottage, where author Charles Kingsley wrote Westward Ho! and gleaned the inspiration for his children’s classic, The Water Babies. If there’s time, find the waterfall beyond the lifeboat station, where, legend says, King Arthur's magician, Merlin, was born in a cave behind the falls. 

Shipwrecks and smuggling at Hartland Point

Morning

If you’re up for a serious workout, start at Hartland Quay (16.5 miles/26.6km north of Bude) for a 5.8 mile (9.4km) circular walk via Hartland Point. Or, for an easier undertaking, opt for the 1.7mile (2.7km) circuit from Hartland Point. Either way, you’ll clap eyes on jagged cliff scenery, the decommissioned lighthouse, the wreck of the Johanna and the granite hulk of Lundy Island in the distance. Pause for a pasty or a ploughman’s lunch at Hartland Point and look out for grey seals that breed in these treacherous seas where the Atlantic meets the Bristol Channel.

Afternoon

Back at Hartland Quay, dip into the local inn decorated with memorabilia from shipwrecks, and delve into the smuggling and seafaring heritage at the adjoining Hartland Quay Museum. Leaving behind the wave-lashed backdrop that’s starred in numerous films, including Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, hit the road (a taxi is required if you haven’t got a car) past Devon’s second-tallest church tower at St Nectan’s. Finish the afternoon at Hartland Abbey and Gardens – one of North Devon’s finest ancestral country homes. [If you skip Hartland Point and Hartland Quay, you can take the No. 319 bus from Clovelly to Hartland Abbey.]

Marsland Valley Nature Reserve, Morwenna’s Well and Hawker’s Hut

Morning

From the wild Devon beach of Welcombe (12.5 miles/20.1km north of Bude), where rocky ridges streak the sand, cross the border into Cornwall via a short, sharp 2.7-mile loop (4.4km). Look out for dormice, otters and butterflies in the Marsland Valley Nature Reserve (turned into a nature reserve by the chocolate magnate, Christopher Cadbury). Fuel up on hearty pub grub in the retro-styled boozer back in Welcombe.

Afternoon

Next stop is Morwenstow Church, built around a shrine to the 5/6th Century Saint Morwenna. It’s a 7.6-mile (12.2km) drive from Welcombe and only accessible by car or taxi. From here take a 2.2-mile walk (3.5km) past Morwenna’s Well (said to have sprung when the saint stopped to rest here) to the cliff-edge Hawker’s Hut, which is made out of shipwreck timbers by the eccentric poet and clergyman, Robert Hawker. As well as writing here, Hawker also entertained friends such as Tennyson and Charles Kingsley. No doubt you’ll feel inspired as you trace the cliff-tops and track back through woodland to Morwenstow’s 13th Century inn. 

Duckpool to Bude for rockpooling, wildflowers and surfing

Morning

Duckpool – where vast cliffs collapse onto a boulder-strewn beach and only hardy surfers brave the waves – lies 6.1 miles/9.8km north of Bude. There are no trappings except for an ice cream van, but it’s only another mile’s walk (1.6km) south to Sandymouth – another rugged bay with a seasonal café and lifeguards (if you do fancy a dip). The Coast Path between the two, and onto Northcott Mouth, another mile (1.6km) or so, is fringed with wildflowers – pink thrift and yellow bird’s-foot trefoil – while at sea level this stretch of coast is a haven for rockpooling. On the lowest tides you can see the remnants of a Portuguese steamship at Menachurch Point, between Sandymouth and Northcott Mouth.

Afternoon

Either complete a 6.8 mile (11km) circuit back to Duckpool, via Coombe Valley and the country home of the Elizabethan explorer, Sir Richard Grenville, or continue to Bude’s town beaches on foot, another 1.5 miles (2.4km). If you choose the latter and have left your car at Duckpool, hop on the No. 217 bus from Bude to retrieve it later. Meanwhile, in Cornwall’s northern-most surf town of Bude, it’s time for a surf lesson or a bracing swim in the Bude Sea Pool. Then climb to the octagonal tower on Compass Point, before a sundowner and seafood feast in a surfside bistro.

Bude’s wildlife, coastal woodland and dramatic cliffs

Morning

Explore the canal towpath of Bude. Gen up on local flora and fauna via exhibits at the Weir Wildlife Centre and Bistro a couple of miles (3.2km) out of town (accessible via the No. 218 bus), then follow the canal to Bude’s wharf and sea lock (one of only two in the country). This easy 4.5 mile (7.2km) loop walk returns through the Marshes Nature Reserve, where you can spot herons, egrets and if very lucky, otters. 

Afternoon

Now to the secret gem of Millook Haven, 4.6 miles (7.4km) by car or cab, to witness dramatic cliffs folding to a remote and rocky surf spot. Another five minutes’ drive takes you to Dizzard, from where you can explore ancient coastal woodland laden with rare lichens and mosses, and steep stream valleys where butterflies thrive. If you dare to tackle the steep, winding roads into Crackington Haven, 2.5 miles (4km) from Millook by car or taxi, gawp at cliffs zigzagged with veins of quartz before wrapping up the day in a seafront foodie pub.

Boscastle: a trip through Thomas Hardy country and Cornish folklore

Morning

Bring a head for heights to Boscastle, 14.4 miles (23.2km) south of Bude (and accessible via the No. 95/96 bus), for a 5.6 mile walk through Thomas Hardy country. The route doesn’t take you quite as far as the highest cliff in Cornwall, but it brings you out at the equally staggering Beeny Cliff: “In all its chasmal beauty bulks Beeny to the sky,” wrote Thomas Hardy. Spot seals, skirt St Juliot – where Emma Gifford first met Thomas Hardy in 1874 – and experience the power of the landscape at the 120-foot Pentargon Falls.

Afternoon

Back in the ancient town of Boscastle you won’t detect many scars from the devastating floods of 2004. Explore the harbour that was once a busy commercial port and feel the spray from the blowhole beneath Penally Point, which bellows about an hour each side of low tide. Climb to the tower overlooking the harbour at Willapark, then dip into the world of poppets and piskies at the quirky Boscastle Museum of Witchcraft.  

Arthurian legends at Tintagel Castle and St Nectan’s Glen waterfall

Morning

Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife and Cornish piskies as you explore the magical Rocky Valley and St Nectan’s Glen. [If you don't have a car you will need a taxi, except on Saturdays, when the No. 95 bus stops here.] The 3.7-mile (6km) circuit starts 2.7 miles (4.3km) by road from Boscastle and follows the River Trevillet through a breath-taking glen to a 60-foot (20 metre) waterfall thundering through a rock arch. It’s believed that, as part of a ritual to turn them into knights, King Arthur’s squires passed through the rock arch and dropped, cleansed, into the plunge pool of St Nectan's Kieve below.

Afternoon

Nearly two miles (2.7km) further on (five minutes by car or cab, or 25 minutes via the No. 95 bus on Saturdays), finish your tour at a place swathed in Arthurian legend: Tintagel Castle. Cross the footbridge to the mighty ruins atop a sea-lashed promontory, below which waves bellow from the eerie Merlin’s Cave – the alleged place of King Arthur’s magical conception. More accurate evidence proves this majestic site was the Earl of Cornwall’s 13th Century fortress, a major trading port and a prosperous Dark Age settlement. Ponder your own version of history as you fuel up in the swanky sea-view café, pad barefoot on the low-tide beach, and watch the sun go down on this magnificent coast of legends.

Bude is the most convenient base, with a wide range of hotels and B&Bs. Chic and characterful self-catering cottages are scattered along the coastline, as are quirky campsites and a handful of country inns offering comfortable rooms.

The businesses shown below are supporters of the Coast Path and welcome walkers. Additional listings can be found on the Visit Cornwall and Visit Devon websites. If you would like to have your accommodation and luggage transfer arranged, Encounter Walking Holidays and Contours Walking Holidays  can create your perfect package.  

Wyvern Guest House

Only a few hundred metres from Crooklets beach and the beautiful rugged Cornish coastline. For the past 25 years, Wyvern has been offering very comfortable B&B to all its guests.

Tee-side Guesthouse

Lovely B&B accommodation centrally located minutes from the Path, town & restaurants. Free WiFi. Visit England 4 Star Award Winning Full English Breakfast, vegetarian options available.

Sunrise Guesthouse

The Bude Guest House, Sunrise is situated 200m from the South West Coast Path offering opportunity to walk both north and south using us as your base.

Sea Jade Guest House

Sea Jade has 7 en-suite rooms and one other with a private bathroom. Happy to help with travel arrangements.Come as a guest,leave as a friend.

The Grosvenor Guest House

Situated on the Path offering a variety of comfortable rooms, hearty breakfast, local produce, packed lunch, WI-FI, bar & drying facilities

North Shore Bude Backpackers

Comfortable self-catering with free wi-fi in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. Close to beaches,restaurants & bars with seaviews and large garden.

Cerenety Eco Campsite

Old fashioned, peaceful, back to nature farm camping. Indulge in campfires and ball games while having a limited impact on the environment.

Southole Barns,Elmscott,Hartland

A haven of peace and tranquility, the Barns enjoy amazing views amidst the timeless beauty of the North Devon countryside with the Coast Path on the doorstep.  

Elmscott Farm B&B

Excellent farmhouse food and a warm welcome awaits you. Games room & spacious garden.

Elmscott Youth Hostel

Full self-catering facilities, seasonal small shop, 32 Beds. Exclusive hire available. Open all year. Single night stays welcome

Penhalt Farm Holiday Park

Our aim is that you should enjoy a happy carefree holiday using Penhalt Farm as a base to explore this beautiful corner of the South West

Little Barton, Hartland

20 mins walk from the SW Coast Path at Spekes Mill, Little Barton Farmhouse sleeps 10 and the Cottage sleeps up to 6.  The Cottage can be booked for 2, for 2 nights or more. 

Stoke Barton Farm Campsite

Set 1/2 mile from coast path, we offer camping and full facilities incl.Seasonal shop. 2 Pixie Huts with king size sprung beds. 01237441238

Clouds Bed & Breakfast

Clouds at Stoke, 0.7 miles from Clifftop Path. Superking or Twin Beds. Bath and Walk in Drench Shower. Home Baking with warm welcome.

Hartland Caravan Holidays

Nautically themed static caravans. Bed linen & towels provided. 2min walk to shops, cafe & pub. Single night stays welcome.

Cheristow Lavender Organic B&B, Hartland

Traditional low impact beef farm with stunning views.

Ideal for walkers, ½ hour walk from the Path offering pickup/drop off at Hartland Quay. Self-service breakfast with organic homemade bread, jams, pastries, tea & coffee.

West Titchberry Farm, Hartland Point

Welcoming B&B conveniently situated for the Coast Path. Evening meal and packed lunches on request. Pick up/drop off available. 01237 441287.

East Titchberry Farm Cottage

Beautiful 2 bedroom thatched cottage on a National Trust working farm overlooking Lundy Island

Gawlish Farm B&B

B&B and Self Catering. Single Night Stays. Hearty locally sourced breakfast. Tel: 01237 441320. email: [email protected]

The Old Smithy B&B, Clovelly

Situated in the higher part of the olde worlde village of Clovelly, overlooking beautiful Bideford Bay, and North Devon coastline, close to the South West Coast Path.

Pillowery Park, near Clovelly

Pillowery Park is in a quiet lane with uninterrupted views of the countryside. Coast Path walkers welcome with free lifts from the path by arrangement.

Hannah's Cottage

Charming B&B set within an AONB, 10 mins countryside walk to the Coast Path and beach. Variety of accommodation to suit.

Lower Meadows House B&B

Lower Meadows House, a family run Bed and Breakfast in the heart of Boscastle. Within 5 minutes walk from the coast path.

The Wellington Hotel, Boscastle

A 3 Star hotel by the sea in the beautiful village of Boscastle,the Wellington has an amazing location, superb food and a sense of history.

Westacott Farm Camping, Abbotsham

Enjoy the peace and tranquility of the North Devon countryside at our working family farm. Situated within an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the North Devon coast.

Greencliff Farm Campsite, Abbotsham

Small friendly site, path 500m.Tents Easter-Oct. Small camper/caravans Jul-Aug. H&C water, shower. Shop/ Pub/ Bus 1m. Dogs welcome. £7.

Tors Top Bed and Breakfast

Beautiful views offering versatile accommodation and locally sourced breakfast, situated just off the Coast Path. Single night stays welcome.

Beaver Cottages

Self catering cottages close to Tintagel, within ¼ mile of SWCP. 3 bed (max 6) and 1 bed (max 4) with private gardens. Short breaks available low season and dogs welcome.

Culloden House, Westward Ho!

Quiet Victorian residence 5 minutes from the Path and local restaurants, 5 Doubles,2 Singles and a Twin room all en-suite. Single Occupancy available.

Old Keepers Cottage, Bideford

Picturesque rural B&B, perfect for a relaxing break.Located 400 yards from the Tarka Trail with transfers available for bikes & passengers from Bideford.

Honeysuckle Cottage B&B, Westleigh

A small B&B located in the quiet village of Westleigh (near Instow), 500 yds from the Coast Path & 20 yards from the local pub-the Westleigh Inn-serving food 7 days a week.

A couple of herring fishermen still operate out of Clovelly, and the restaurants there serve seafood that’s only travelled metres from the fishing boats to your plate. Bude offers the widest range of seafront restaurants, while most of the region’s eateries focus on local, seasonal ingredients.

The businesses shown below are supporters of the Coast Path and welcome walkers. Additional listings can be found on the Visit Cornwall and Visit Devon websites.

Rectory Farm Tea Rooms

13 Century tearooms are situated just a 5 minute walk from the South West Coast Path. Serving morning coffee, cornish cream teas, homemade cakes and light lunches. Open 11am-5pm daily Easter to October.

Brendon Arms

Bude's best known inn, owned and run by the Brendon family since 1872.Overlooking Bude's inner harbour and 200 yards from the unique sea-lock and Summerleazes Beach.

The [email protected]

Perfect pitstop for walkers, located on the Path. Enjoy a Cream Tea by the sea, with a clear view of Lundy. Packed lunches can be delivered to accommodation.

Bude has the best transport links, but a car is needed for much of this itinerary. The most useful bus services include the No. 519 between Clovelly and Bude; the No. 319 between Barnstaple and Hartland (via Clovelly); the No. 595 between Bude, Crackington Haven and Boscastle; and the No. 95/96 between Bude and Wadebridge, servicing Boscastle and Tintagel. For easy bus and train journey planning and timetable information visit www.travelinesw.comFor Baggage transfers visit...www.lttaxis.co.uk

From Dover it is 299 miles (481km) and approx 5½hrs drive to Bude.  From Harwich it is 342 miles (550km) and a 6 hour drive.