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 (1 route change)
October 25th 2016: The Coast Path is temporarily diverted on Horsey Island south of Braunton due to the sea eroding a large hole in the path making it unsafe.
North Cornwall: Devon border to Newquay (2 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.
Nov 2019: Cornwall Council has had to close a short section of the South West Coast Path National Trail between Mawgan Porth and Beacon Cove. This is due to instability of the cliff. A diversion is in place following the B3276 and a public footpath.
West Cornwall: Newquay to Falmouth (5 route changes)
November 2018: The South West Coast Path has been diverted at Carvannel Clifff (near Portreath) due to cliff erosion. A short diversion is in place.
Oct 2015: As part of the renovation of North Quay on the outskirts of Hayle, a new riverside walkway has been constructed along which the Coast Path now runs (previously it ran along a track about 30 metres away).
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.
South East Cornwall: Falmouth to Plymouth (2 route changes)
Jan 2013: Due to a cliff fall, a section of the Coast Path at Porthpean has been diverted slightly inland.
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 (4 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.
Jan 2020: Devon County Council has temporarily closed a short section of the South West Coast Path National Trail at Dawlish between Monday 13 January and Friday 17 January. This is to enable maintenance works to be safely carried out by Network Rail. A diversion is in place.
East Devon & Dorset: Exmouth to Poole Harbour (7 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).
Update April 2016: Following a landslip the Coast Path has been diverted at the western end of the Undercliff National Nature Reserve. The new route is a similar length to the old route.
July 2015: Recent coastal defence works on the east side of Lyme Regis has enabled the Coast Path to moved onto a more attractive route. The route is fully sign-posted so is easy and straightforward to follow.
October 2018: 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.
Sept 2019: A short section of the South West Coast Path National Trail is to be temporarily closed at Custom House Quay, Weymouth. This is due to planned works being carried out by Dorset Council to replace a section of harbour wall. A diversion is in place using Pilgrims Way - The Esplanade.
April 2014: The section of Coast Path leading from Lulworth Cove eastwards up Bindon Hill has been severed by a cliff fall. At most states of the tide, walkers can instead walk across the beach, and rejoin the Coast Path on the other side of the bay. However at high tide, you'll need to walk inland to Bindon Road towards West Lulworth, and at the end of the row of houses, a path leads back to the Coast Path.
October 29th 2015: A substantial cliff fall has damaged the steps leading down from the Coast Path onto the rock shelf area containing the Fossil Forest. As a result access down to the fossilised trees is currently closed, although some of the trees can still be viewed from the Coast Path along the cliff top. The Coast Path is unaffected and you can still walk this section.
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).