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.
Recent changes that may not be in your guidebook or shown on your map are listed below. Whilst this page is kept up to date, if you want to be alerted to any updates, please follow our Route Changes page on Facebook.
Exmoor and North Devon: Minehead to the Cornwall border (2 route changes)
October 25th 2016: The Coast Path is diverted on Horsey Island south of Braunton due to the sea eroding a large hole in the path making it unsafe.
A short section of the South West Coast Path that follows part of the Tarka Trail will be temporarily closed for 5 days from 12 October 2020. This is so that surfacing works can be carried out between Sticklepath and Fremington in North Devon.
North Cornwall: Devon border to Newquay (1 route change)
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.
West Cornwall: Newquay to Falmouth (6 route changes)
Oct 2020: Cornwall Council are temporarily closing a section of the South West Coast Path between Penzance and Marazion to enable surface improvement works to be carried out. A diversion is in place following nearby roads.
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.
Cornwall Council have closed a short section of the South West Coast Path whilst repairs are carried out to a boardwalk.
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 (2 route changes)
March 2020: Cornwall Council have temporarily closed part of the South West Coast Path south west of Charlestown. This is for public safety reasons and cliff erosion. A diversion is in place.
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 (5 route changes)
Improved route at Neptune Park, Plymouth.
December 2018: A short section of the South West Coast Path National Trail has been temporarily closed near to Jennycliff, Plymouth. This is due to debris from a landslide. A diversion is in place following the adjacent road.
A short section of the South West Coast Path to the south of Salcombe has had to be temporarily closed.
March 2018: Cliff erosion has resulted in two small diversions at Hallsands and Torcross and as part of the rebuilding of the A379 at Slapton the Coast Path will be moved onto the seaward side of the road.
A short section of the South West Coast Path that follows the sea wall at Dawlish will be temporarily closed to enable Network Rail to carry out construction work for the railway line. The closure is in place for up to six months from Monday 7th September.
East Devon & Dorset: Exmouth to Poole Harbour (1 route change)
April 2020: Dorset County Council has temporarily closed a short section of the Coast Path at Ferrybridge due to cliff erosion. An alternative route is in place. This updates information first published in October 2018.
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).