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 (1 route change)
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.
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 (2 route changes)
January 2021: Cornwall Council have temporarily closed part of the South West Coast Path between Duporth and 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.
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.
Cliff erosion caused by Storm Emma back in March 2018 resulted in a short diversion at Torcross
Feb 2021: A short section of the South West Coast Path has been diverted due to coastal erosion. An alternative route is available.
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)
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
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).