Coronavirus and the Coast Path

This page is up to date as of Monday 29th March. For the most up-to-date information and guidance please visit the Government website.

Accessing the National Trail as restrictions ease:

As of 29th March, lockdown restrictions in England are easing and the first changes to be made allow greater freedom when it comes to socialising outdoors. 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 cautiously move out of lockdown.

The Government has introduced a new ‘Rule of Six’ meaning you can now meet outdoors either in a group of 6 (from any number of households) or in a group of any size from up to 2 households (including an existing support bubble). These changes come following the Prime Minister's address on 22nd February, which set out a nationwide roadmap for cautiously easing the lockdown. 

When accessing the South West Coast Path, we ask that you follow our advice below for your own safety and for the safety of others. You can also find relevant links to further Government advice below. Thank you for your co-operation, by following this guidance we can all continue to enjoy the countryside safely.

Can I visit the South West Coast Path?

  • Yes, you can now meet outdoors in a group of 6 or a larger group of any size from up to 2 households (including their support bubbles) outdoors.
  • However, please take into consideration the nature of the Coast Path, which can be narrow in some sections making it difficult to socially distance. You should stay 2 metres apart from anyone who is not in your household or support bubble where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings) if you cannot stay 2 metres apart.
  • For more detailed guidance about accessing outdoor public places, click here.

Can I travel to exercise on the South West Coast Path?

  • Yes. However, the Government is advising to avoid travelling further than is reasonably necessary to access a green space, so please consider visiting sections of the Coast Path that are reasonably local to you and your friends & family.
  • If you are travelling to visit a section of the Coast Path, it is important to plan ahead by checking that facilities such as car parks and toilets are open.

Will businesses and facilities be open?

  • Hospitality businesses such as bars, restaurants and cafes remain closed except for those offering click-and-collects, drive through or delivery service. Accommodation remains closed with limited exemptions.
  • Whilst essential shops selling food and medicine are permitted to stay open, we advise that you take sufficient food, water, and any other essentials (as required) when undertaking exercise on the Coast Path. 
  • Ferry services that are not essential for people to travel to work will not be running. Many ferry services also only operate on a summer timetable, so will not be running.
  • Public toilets are permitted to stay open, however you may find some have been closed, so please take this in consideration when planning your visit.
  • Car parks are permitted to stay 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. 

Can I come on holiday to the south west or stay at a second home?

No. Overnight stays and holidays away from your home are not allowed. This includes holidays abroad and in the UK. In England, overnight stays in self-contained accommodation within the country will be allowed from 12th April. This also means you cannot stay in a second home, if you own one, or stay with anyone you do not live with or are in a support bubble with.

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

Official Government guidance

STEP 1:  Coronavirus restrictions: what you can and cannot do

29 March: What’s changed

CLICK HERE to access the Government’s Roadmap Poster that summarises the changes in place from 29th March.

Some of the rules on what you can and cannot do changed on 29 March. However, many restrictions remain in place. You must not socialise indoors with anyone you do not live with or have formed a support bubble with. You should continue to work from home if you can and minimise the number of journeys you make where possible. You should get a test and follow the stay at home guidance if you have COVID-19 symptoms.

You can read the ‘COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021 (roadmap)’ for more information on roadmap out of lockdown in England. It is underpinned by law.

From 29 March:

  • you can meet outdoors either in a group of 6 (from any number of households), or in a group of any size from up to 2 households (a household can include an existing support bubble, if eligible)
  • you can take part in formally organised outdoor sports with any number of people (outdoor sports venues and facilities will be able to reopen)
  • childcare and supervised activities are allowed outdoors for all children
  • formally organised parent and child groups can take place outdoors for up to 15 attendees. Children under 5 will not be counted in this number

Protecting people more at risk from coronavirus

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable, you should continue to follow the guidance for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable. From 1 April, you will no longer be advised to shield. However, you should continue to take precautions to protect yourself.

Access to Nature and Footpaths


More of us than ever before will be relying on the outdoors to provide a safe space to socialise with our friends and family. In order to protect each other, and the natural spaces we are visiting please follow this advice:

  • Latest Government advice on accessing green spaces safely
  • Protect yourself, others and the environment by using the Countryside Code 
  • Wherever possible, make space for people to pass safely 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. 
  • Where possible, avoid using footpaths that may take you through a farmstead or other rural business where social distancing may be difficult. The risk of the coronavirus being passed on to others from people using Public Rights of Way and other paths and trails is considered to be very low as long as people follow the Government’s instructions to maintain social distancing. 
  • Farmers, land managers and rural businesses all have an essential role in ensuring a healthy natural environment.  Government advice and support is outlined here
  • 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.

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.

Supporting business and the local economy - Introducing Way Makers

Businesses located on or near the South West Coast Path are being drastically affected by the pandemic. As a charity we wanted to do our bit to support them on the path to recovery, so have launched a brand-new business programme called Way Makers. 

Way Makers is designed to celebrate the role businesses play in making the way along the South West Coast Path such an amazing experience for the 9 million visitors each year who use it all year round. 

If you run a business in the south west such as a B&B, hotel, campsite, restaurant, café, visitor attraction or activity – please check this section of our website to find out how to get involved.

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.

Published on: March 29, 2021