The South West Coast Path owes its unique character to natural processes. Our coastline would not look so beautiful and dramatic if it wasn't for cliff and beach erosion. The downside is that sometimes cliff falls or landslips close sections of the Coast Path resulting in temporary inland diversions, which can occasionally be quite lengthy, being needed. In these instances, always follow signing and information on the ground.
We are also constantly looking for opportunities to improve the route in the few places where it is not as good as it could be.
If you have recently seen a route change in our magazine or Complete Guide which isn't listed below, please assume that this is because the route is now open once again. This page is kept up to date to the best of our ability.
Exmoor and North Devon: Minehead to the Cornwall border (2 route changes)
June 2021: A short section of the SWCP will be closed at Larkstone / Marine Drive, Ilfracombe to facilitate building of a community watersports centre. An alternative route is available.
A short section of the coast path at the southern end of Croyde Sands will be diverted till the 14th February 2023.
North Cornwall: Devon border to Newquay (3 route changes)
Dec 2019: Cornwall Council has closed a short section of the South West Coast Path National Trail at Upton, located between Bude and Widemouth Bay. This is due to instability of the cliff. A new route is in place following a public bridleway and a pavement alongside Marine Drive.
January 2021: Cornwall Council has temporarily closed a short section of the South West Coast Path near Bedruthan Steps. This is due to coastal erosion. A diversion is in place.
April 2021: Cornwall Council has temporarily closed part of the South West Coast Path between Whipsiderry Beach and Porth Beach near Newquay. This is for public safety reasons due to cliff instability. An alternative route is available.
West Cornwall: Newquay to Falmouth (5 route changes)
April 2022 - SWCP Diversion from just East of Pennare House to Gillan creek on footpath 65 in the Parish of St Keverne between grid references SW7953224917 and SW7959524881. An alternative route is provided.
August 2018: Further to an initial temporary closure, a section of the coast path remains closed at Marazion due to an unstable cliff. A diversion of approximately 1km is in place.
Due to a cliff fall severing the Coast Path, a 250 metre section of Coast Path has been re-routed onto a roughly parallel footpath about 50 - 100 metres further up the coastal slope.
March 2016: Due to a cliff fall on the southern approach to Durgan the Coast Path has been diverted inland. The diversion adds about 300 yards / metres to the walk.
Cornwall Council have had to close a short section of the South West Coast Path due to storm damage and a land slip in Spring 2019. A local diversion is in place.
South East Cornwall: Falmouth to Plymouth (1 route change)
Nov 2013: Following a landslip, in the woods below the Monkey sanctuary much of the path between Millendreath and Seaton has been diverted inland.
South Devon: Plymouth to Exmouth (6 route changes)
Improved route at Neptune Park, Plymouth.
January 2021: A short section of the South West Coast Path National Trail has been diverted for public safety reasons. An alternative route is available to bypass this closed section of path.
15th December 2023 - A diversion has been put in place due to a path blockage on the Coast Path at Beacon Lane, Kingswear.
Feb 2021: A short section of the South West Coast Path has been diverted due to coastal erosion. An alternative route is available.
Temporary diversion of the SWCP from Lea Mount Park down to Marine Parade Dawlish from Monday 4th September till Wednesday 31st January.
Friday 15th December 2023 - A diversion has been put in place because of the likelihood of danger to the public following storm damage to the surface of the footpaths along the sea wall.
East Devon & Dorset: Exmouth to Poole Harbour (7 route changes)
Feb 2024 - There is a closure of the SWCP between Stepps Lane and Pinhay. There is no diversion available. If you wish to travel from Axmouth to Lyme Regis you are advised to catch a bus.
9th August 2023 - Emergency Temporary Closure of footpaths W1/25 AND W7/18 including South West Coast Path due to landslip
July 2023 - The trail alongside the Fleet at Ferrybridge is diverted due to erosion. Please follow the diversion as shown on the map below marked by the red line. Please do not walk along the Fleet foreshore as this is a tidal area and very important for Wildlife.
Due to coastal erosion an inland diversion has been put in place with the path now running through Tout Quarry.
June 2022 - Since Major cliff falls back in 2001 this part of the walk had been shown as a 'diversion' in the expectation that the Path could be reinstated along the cliff top. However, the ongoing instability of the cliffs has meant that this has not been possible, and so the Path has been routed inland and across the golf course. In 2022 a route was established with the permission of the golf course which allows walkers to follow a stone surfaced waymarked route avoiding the A3052.
Oct 2013: Following cliff erosion on the west side of the Isle of Portland, 2 short sections of the Coast Path have been diverted inland
20th November 2023. A 3mile inland diversion following existing Public Rights of Way has been put in place due to a coastal landslip which has affected the coast path. Please follow the diversion signs on site. The route of the diversion is shown by the purple line on the map below. The red line marks the closed section of the coast path.
When a cliff fall affecting the path is reported, the County Council or National Trust rangers will immediately inspect it, and if it looks dangerous they will close off the affected section. They will then start to work on setting up a diversion, which initially will be on the nearest paths and roads around the closure. If this diversion isn’t as good as possible, once the cliff has stabilised, they will then liaise with neighbouring landowners to try and negotiate a new route close (but leaving a safe distance) to the ‘new’ cliff edge. Sometimes this is a simple, quick process, but can get complicated and protracted if there are limitations in terms of terrain (and thus amount of construction required), wildlife habitats (e.g. you can’t cut a new path through scrub during the nesting season) or impacts on someone’s garden.
Funding these repairs and construction of new paths places even more strain on an already stretched Coast Path budget, so donations towards this work are always most welcome.
If you are out and spot a recent cliff fall or other hazard that presents an imminent risk to walkers, please either contact the Coastguard on 999, or the relevant County Council (Cornwall: 0300 1234 202, Devon: 0345 155 1004, Dorset: 01305 224463).