Coronavirus and the Coast Path

This page is up to date as of Monday 17th May. For the most up-to-date information and guidance please visit the Government website directly. A summary of the latest Government changes are listed at the bottom on this page for your convenience. 

Enjoying the National Trail as restrictions ease:

As of 17th May lockdown restrictions in England have eased further, allowing us to meet indoors in groups of six, and meet in groups of up to 30 when socialising outdoors. Pubs, cafes, and restaurants are also open and overnight domestic stays have the thumbs up. This means more of us will now be able to access the South West Coast Path National Trail, allowing it to support even more people as we carefully move out of lockdown.


Pub garden, Bowgie Inn, Hoxton Watersports Cafe, Housel Bay Hotel. 

These changes come following the Prime Minister's address on 22nd February, which set out a nationwide roadmap for easing the lockdown. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I visit the South West Coast Path?

  • Yes. The South West Coast Path is open and you can now meet outdoors in a group of up to 30 people. You can also meet indoors in groups of up to six people or two households
  • You don’t have to stay 2m apart from friends and family, but consider the risks to you and those you are with.
  • For more detailed guidance about accessing outdoor green spaces, click here.

Can I travel to visit the South West Coast Path?

  • Yes. Domestic overnight stays are allowed, in groups of up to six people or 2 households.
  • When visiting the Path, please plan ahead and avoid the busiest times and routes if you can.
  • Please note, if you are planning to visit West Cornwall during mid-June, please check our G7 Summit webpage for updates about closures and diversions as an when these are announced.
  • Car parks should now be open, but some may be closed or operating at lower capacity during this time. If driving to access the Coast Path, please check car parking before you go. Do not park anywhere that could cause an obstruction for residents or for emergency services requiring access. 

Will businesses and facilities be open?

  • Yes. Hospitality businesses such as pubs, bars, restaurants, and cafes can open. Groups of up to six people or two households are allowed to eat and drink indoors. Groups of up to 30 are allowed outdoors, where businesses have space outdoors to seat this number. Please consider booking ahead if you are a larger group.
  • Yes, all holiday accommodation is allowed to open, including hotels, hostels, B&Bs and campsites. For your own safety and the safety of others, please follow the coronavirus measures businesses have put in place.
  • Entertainment and visitor attractions such as cinemas, zoos and theme parks are also open.
  • Shops and supermarkets selling food and medicine are open. However, we advise you always take sufficient food, water, essentials such as medicine with you on any walks on the Coast Path.
  • Public toilets should now be open, however you may find some have been closed, so please take this in consideration when planning your visit.

PHOTO: Sally Pickles, welcoming visitors again to The Bowgie Inn, Cracktock. Cornwall.

Supporting business and the local economy - Introducing Way Makers

We are delighted to tell you that as of 17th May, many businesses on or near the Path who had been forced to close during full lockdown are now open and ready to welcome visitors to the Coast Path. In fact, over 300 businesses have now joined a new program to connect them to the 9 million walkers that visit the National Trail, ahead of what is set to be a bumper year for walking tourism.

PHOTO: Way Maker George at Biffen's Kitchen in North Devon. 

As the charity that champions, protects and cares for the Coast Path, we have created the new Way Makers program with the aim of supporting local businesses in their recovery from the pandemic. It has been designed to enable businesses such as cafes, campsites, B&Bs, hotels, pubs, restaurants, attractions and activity providers to promote their offering on Coast Path walks within a five-mile radius of their location. The cost-effective scheme, connects walkers to businesses that will help them plan a trip to the Coast Path, giving businesses and walkers an opportunity to support the Coast Path, which is facing increasing challenges due to coastal erosion, climate change and increased footfall. Please use our accommodation, food and drink and experience finder in the EXPLORE section of our website to find supporting businesses.

For local businesses wanting to find out more about joining the South West Coast Path Association as a Way Maker,  visit

Can I come on holiday to the South West or stay at a second home?

Yes. Domestic overnight stays are allowed, in groups of up to six people or 2 households. If however, you are travelling to the Coast Path from abroad, please check the Government website for more guidance on entering England based on red, amber and green listed territories. 

How should I behave whilst enjoying the Cast Path?

Following the first stage of easing on 12th April, you can travel to visit the coast, countryside, and other green spaces to exercise and socialise. This is now permitted in groups of up to 30 people (as of 17th May). As more of us will be sharing outdoor spaces, it is more important than ever to respect other people and protect the natural environment. When visiting the South West Coast Path, please always follow the Countryside Code:

You should:

  • take all of your litter home
  • keep dogs under effective control and on a lead when you are around farm animals - read further guidance for pet owners
  • leave gates as you find them and follow instructions on signs
  • keep to paths and follow signs where they suggest alternative routes
  • check if facilities are open to visitors (for example, car parks and toilets)

Also, please ensure you:

  • Read signs and respect the measures that local authorities and site management have put in place to help ensure social distancing.
  • Consider wildlife, including nesting birds who may have moved into new areas. Land managers may have provided extra protection for wildlife. Be vigilant and comply with these protective measures so that you do not disrupt the local wildlife.
  • All our National Trails remain open including newly opened stretches of England Coast Path, however people must follow the Government’s instructions to maintain social distancing.
  • Make space for people to pass safely wherever possible on the Coast Path. You may need to factor a wider berth with runners (and horse riders and cyclists on the small sections of Path where this is permitted). If you are on a particularly narrow stretch of Path where you cannot leave 2 meters of space, we recommend stopping and turning to face away from the Path until the other person has passed you. 

Please note, landowners do not have the legal right to block or obstruct Public Rights of Way. However, in very limited circumstances where large numbers of people are using such routes, landowners may consider the following measures:

    • Tying gates open if it is safe to do so, so that walkers do not need to touch the gate.
    • Temporarily displaying polite notices that encourage users to respect local residents and workers by following social distancing guidelines and consider using alternative routes that do not pass through gardens, farmyards or schools.
    • Offering an alternative route around gardens and farmyards only where it is safe to do so (you must gain permission from relevant landowners and make sure the route is safe for users and livestock) provided that the original right of way is maintained.

Latest Government advice on accessing green spaces safely can be found here.

Stay connected to the Path

To keep up to date with the South West Coast Path please follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. You can also share your stories about being reunited outdoors with friends and family using the hashtag #southwestcoastpath

Update for Members of the SWCPA

All charity staff are continuing to work from home to help contain the virus and reduce the chances of it spreading within the team and those we work with. Until lockdown restrictions are eased, all activities (such as our Couch to Coast programme and any other outdoor meetings) are postponed. All our activities and meetings are taking place virtually until further notice. We apologise for any disruptions to servicing memberships, donations, fundraising requests or responding to general enquiries during this time.

Mass participation events

Photo: Jurassic Coast Challenge postponed

Mass-participation running and walking events due to take place on the Coast Path in 2021 are most likely postponed or cancelled, this may include those still listed on our Event Calendar, so please check event organisers websites for more details or contact them directly for the latest information.

In the meantime why not put your training to good use and take on a solo challenge to raise money to help look after the Coast Path. Find out more here.

Official Government guidance

STEP 3:  Coronavirus restrictions: what you can and cannot do

17 May: What’s changed

CLICK HERE to access the Government’s Roadmap Poster that summarises the changes in place from 17th May 2021.

You should continue to work from home if you can. When travelling within the UK, you should aim to do so safely and plan your journey in advance.

You should get a test and follow the stay at home guidance if you have COVID-19 symptoms.

  • Gathering limits have been eased. Outdoor gatherings are limited to 30 people and indoor gatherings are limited to 6 people or 2 households (each household can include a support bubble, if eligible).
  • New guidance on meeting friends and family emphasises personal responsibility rather than government rules. Instead of instructing you to stay 2m apart from anyone you don’t live with, you are encouraged to exercise caution and consider the guidance on risks associated with COVID-19 and actions you can take to help keep you and your loved ones safe. Remember that the risks of close contact may be greater for some people than others and in some settings and circumstances, there will be specific guidance that you will need to follow even when you are with friends and family.
  • Indoor entertainment and attractions such as cinemas, theatres, concert halls, bowling alleys, casinos, amusement arcades, museums and children’s indoor play areas are permitted to open with COVID-secure measures in place.
  • People can attend indoor and outdoor events, including live performances, sporting events and business events. Attendance at these events is capped according to venue type, and attendees should follow the COVID-secure measures set out by those venues.
  • Indoor hospitality venues such as restaurants, pubs, bars and cafes can reopen.
  • All holiday accommodation can open, including hotels and B&Bs. This can be used by groups of up to 6 or 2 households (each household can include a support bubble, if eligible).
  • Support groups and parent and child group gathering limits have been increased to 30 people (not including under 5s)
  • There is no longer a legal restriction or permitted reason required to travel internationally. A traffic light system for international travel has been introduced, and you must follow the rules when returning to England depending on whether you return from a red, amber or green list country.

Published on: March 29, 2021