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.
March 2020: Devon County Council have temporarily closed part of the South West Coast Path for a period of up to 6 months from 16 March to 16 September. This is for public safety reasons whilst utility works are carried out. A diversion is in place.
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 (4 route changes)
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.
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.
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.
June 2020: Devon County Council have temporarily closed part of the South West Coast Path at Dawlish between Boat Cove and the Colonnade underbridge. The footbridge connecting Marine Parade and Boat Cove is also closed. This is for public safety reasons whilst work is carried out on behalf of Network Rail to reconstruct the sea wall and promenade. These closures are in place up until mid-December 2020 or when work is completed.
May 2020: Devon County Council have temporarily closed part of the South West Coast Path between Spray Point and Holcombe from Monday 18th May to Sunday 7th June (inclusive). This is for public safety reasons whilst urgent repair works are carried out to the sea wall by contractors working on behalf of Network Rail.
East Devon & Dorset: Exmouth to Poole Harbour (3 route changes)
Aug 2019: A short section of the South West Coast Path National Trail has been temporarily closed at Sidmouth. This is due to planned works being carried out by Devon County Council to replace Alma Bridge across the Sid. A diversion is in place following adjacent roads and an alternative upstream footbridge (Riverside Road – Mill Street – Milford Road – Beatlands Road).
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.
March 2020: Dorset Council has temporarily closed a short section of the South West Coast Path National Trail at Osmington. This is due to coastal erosion. A diversion is in place.
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).