52 day itinerary

The South West Coast Path is perhaps the UK’s ultimate challenge for the long distance hiker - a 630-mile adventure around the coastline of the southwest peninsula.

There is no set way or direction to walk the Path, however most people walk anti-clockwise beginning in Minehead and finishing in Poole. There are lots of towns and villages along the way with fantastic accommodation options, ammenities, visitor attractions and activities to try such as surfing, stand up paddle boarding and kayaking. A fast walker can complete the whole 630 miles in around 30 days, but a more leisurely pace with time to stop to see some of the sights is between 7-8 weeks. To help you easily plan a self-led walk, our Complete Guide book (FREE with membership) and website splits the SWCP into 52 sections as listed below. Each of these cover a typical day’s walk, though you may need to adjust to your particular speed of walking. 

As few people have enough time to be able to walk all 630 miles in one go, most split it between several holidays and complete the Path over several years. If you are looking for holiday ideas, that include walking some stretches of the trail, see our Walking Holiday pages for inspiration and links to trusted walking holiday providers. No matter how long it takes you complete the path it is a stunning achievement, and for most the walk of a lifetime.

The information below is not a guidebook replacement, but instead gives you a flavour of what each section is like, highlights and points of interest along the Path. We still highly recommend purchasing a Guidebook, or siging up as a member to receive a copy for FREE as it is packed full of detailed walking guidance. We also have step-by-step guides available in our shop for each days walking.

If you are new to the Coast Path, don’t plan to walk as far than you would normally. It is a challenging route with, in total, over 115,000 feet (35,000 metres) of up and down, and it is far better to be ahead of schedule and have time to explore than have to rush to reach your planned overnight stop.

 

The 52 day itinerary (most popular)

Week 1. Minehead to Westward Ho!  (Exmoor and North Devon): 7 days, 87 miles

Crossing the rugged high moors and woods of Exmoor National Park before passing the surf beaches of Woolcombe and the around the sheltered Taw and Torridge Estuary.

Week 2. Westward Ho! to Padstow (Hartland and North Cornwall coast): 7 days, 78 miles

Considered by many as the toughest, but one of the most spectacular weeks of the walk. South of Hartland Point the coastline has been shaped by the full force of the Atlantic resulting in dramatic cliffs and a switch back of hills and valleys to cross.

Week 3. Padstow to St Ives (Cornwall’s Atlantic coast): 6 days, 66 miles

Heading west, this section of Coast is a mix of rugged wild cliff tops interspersed with headlands, surf beaches and estuaries.  

Week 4. St Ives to The Lizard (the far west of Cornwall): 6 days, 69 miles

Walking around the tip of Cornwall, passing through the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site this is a week of contrasts. Starting with the beautiful St Ives, you are soon out on to a remote and wild section of coast. After passing Land’s End the south coast sheltered valleys have a semi-tropical feel to them, before you once again come out onto the wilder landscape of the Lizard peninsula.

Week 5. Lizard to Par (South Cornwall): 6 days, 72 miles

Overall, this length of coast is probably less difficult and less strenuous to walk than many other lengths of the Coast Path (although still has some taxing sections). It has numerous intimate little bays, picturesque fishing villages and some quite prominent headlands.

Week 6. Par to Torcross (South East Cornwall, Plymouth and the South Hams): 7 days, 94 miles

This section of coast stands out for the beauty of its estuaries (mostly crossed by ferries), interspersed with a mix of wild and more gentle farmed landscapes, and of course the historic port of Plymouth.

Week 7. Torcross to Seaton (South and East Devon): 6 days, 72 miles

This section runs along easterly facing coasts and has a softer landscape with a mix of farms and seaside resorts. The area is famous for its geology and you pass through the English Riviera Geopark and the start of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.

Week 8. Seaton to South Haven Point (Dorset’s Jurassic Coast): 7 days, 92 miles

A stunning section of path with amazing geology and scenery as you walk along the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. Near Weymouth you have a choice of routes, either stay on the coast or follow the South Dorset Ridgeway through one of the UK’s most significant ancient ceremonial landscapes.

Become a Completer

As few people have enough time to be able to walk all 630 miles in one go, most split it between several holidays and complete the SWCP over several years. See our Short Breaks for ideas about how to split the Path into smaller chunks.

If you are new to the Coast Path, a key tip is not to plan to walk as far as you would normally. It is a challenging route, with in total over 115,000 feet (35,000 metres) of up and down, and it is far better to be ahead of schedule and have time to explore, than having to rush to reach your planned overnight stop.

Walking the South West Coast Path is also very addictive! Many people start off by doing day walks, or a short break and then get hooked, and come back time and again until they complete the entire National Trail. To recognise the achievement of those people who have completed the whole Path, we feature completer stories in our magazine Trailblazing. Please note, this space is reserved for members, who will also receive a FREE pin badge and certificate on completion. We do however accept sumbissions from non-members to our South West Coast Path blog and certificates and badges can be purchased for a small fee from our online shop