About the path
An Introduction to the South West Coast Path
The South West Coast Path was originally created by coastguards, patrolling the south west peninsula looking out for smugglers. They literally had to check in every inlet so their cliff top walk was well used and gives us the amazing Path we use today. The Path has also been used by fishermen looking for shoals of fish and checking the sea conditions.
As well as the views, you will can also see the coastguards' old stone stiles and walls in many places. Also a series of coastguard cottages was built with many of them still standing today although their use has of course changed.
The South West Coast Path itself is 630 miles long and is the longest National Trail in the country. Starting at Minehead in Somerset it runs along the coastline of Exmoor, continuing along the coast of North Devon into Cornwall. It follows the entire coastline of Cornwall, goes across the mouth of the River Tamar and continues into Devon. After running along the south coast of Devon it then follows the Dorset coastline before finally ending at Poole Harbour.
Although the Coast Path is usually described in this anti-clockwise direction, from Minehead to Poole, this is purely convention and there is no reason why it cannot be walked in the opposite direction. It is well signed in both directions.
Whether you are having an afternoon stroll or you want to challenge yourself to walking the whole 630 miles, you have come to the right place to start your journey. You might enjoy cream teas or seal spotting. You might simply enjoy walking or local history. The South West Coast Path is there for us all to enjoy and we hope you love it as much as we do.