It's easy to reach the South West Coast Path ....
The south west is well served by major trunk roads (M5, A303, A30) and most of the gateway start and finish points along the Coast Path are served by a network of A and B roads. However, they can all become very busy during the main summer season.
Car parks are readily available at all coastal towns. At more remote locations along the Coast Path you will find informal car parks, normally managed by landowners or Parish Councils. Some car parks are free, but there are normally charges (Pay & Display, staffed ticket kiosk, honesty box). Driving directions can be obtained from the Google Map links on each walks page, and where possible we’ve included Postcodes of car parks for use by sat navs.
If you are planning to walk for two days or more, you will need to arrange longer term car parking. The Annual guide produced by the South West Coast Path Association has details of those places that can offer long-term parking, but you are advised to confirm this with the proprietor when booking.
If you arrive in the region at one of the airports, ferry terminals or many of the mainline train stations, you can easily arrange to hire a car.
Catching the train. is a great way to get to the Coast Path, as you don't have to worry about returning to the start of your walk to pick up your car. The world famous Great Western Railway built by Isambard Kingdom Brunels stretches down to Penzance, and branch lines head off to many of the resorts along the Path - and the views out of your window are stunning. To make it easy to plan a walk along the Coast Path using the train, we've created a number of short break ideas.
Both ends of the Path can be reached from London by a combination of train and bus:
To get to the Minehead end of the Path, take a train to Taunton (about 2 hours from London), and then a bus or bus and steam train to Minehead (about 1¼ hours).
To reach the Poole Harbour end of the Path, take a train to Bournemouth (about 1¾ hours from London), and then two buses to South Haven Point via Sandbanks ferry (about 1 hour)
Barnstaple, Newquay, Hayle, St Ives, Penzance, Falmouth, Par, Looe, Plymouth, Paignton, Dawlish, Exmouth, Weymouth and Swanage are towns along the Path with a rail service.
You can find out times, and prices from the Trainline. Train tickets are generally much cheaper if you book them well in advance and travel outside peak times.
The following towns along the route of the Path are served by long distance coach/bus:
Minehead, Ilfracombe, Braunton, Barnstaple, Fremington, Instow, Bideford, Northam, Westward Ho!, Bude, Newquay, Perranporth, St Agnes, Hayle, Carbis Bay, St Ives, Penzance, St Erth, Porthleven, Mullion, Lizard, Falmouth, (St Austell), Plymouth, Brixham, Paignton, Torquay, Teignmouth, Dawlish, Starcross, Sidmouth, Lyme Regis, Charmouth, (Bridport), Weymouth, Swanage.
The main operator of coach services is National Express.
The nearest airports to the Coast Path are:
Exeter: approx 11 miles/18km from the path in South and East Devon. Good bus links from the airport to Exeter city and then bus or train links to many places on the path.
Newquay: 1 mile from the path in North Cornwall. Bus (or walk) into Newquay, from where you can get buses or trains to the towns further along the coast in each direction.
You can reach the continent from our two main ports:
Plymouth (on the Path) - from France and Spain
Poole (5 miles/8km from Poole Harbour end of the Path) - from France
Both of these are served by Brittany ferries.
Local buses - getting around whilst you're here
Local buses run a fairly regular service along most of the coast, meaning that there are many sections of the path that you can do a day’s walk, without having to retrace your steps to the path. To help you find out times, on our walk maps you can find the nearest bus stops, and clicking on these will bring up timetable information. Alternatively visit TravelineSW which has a very useful trip planner.
If you are using the bus, it is better to catch it out a the beginning of the day, rather than the end, as that way, you’ve no worries about missing it if you end up taking longer than you anticipated, or if you are quicker not having to wait for it.