Top Walks in the West Country
Beaches, coves, moors, estuaries, clifftops – with so much variety throughout the South West, you’re spoilt for choice. So we’ve put together a range of walking ideas for wherever you are down here. And don’t forget to bring your best friend with a tail.
Cornwall is unique in its climate and geography, so much so when you cross the border into ‘pasty land’ it feels like another country altogether.
If you’re travelling all the way to the end of the country, go in almost any direction and you’ll end up at the sea, and invariably a path along the clifftops. Coastal path routes we favour are around the Lizard, or Cape Cornwall.
If that’s too far west for you, you can head inland from Padstow on the north coast to the source of the Camel River, by following The Camel Trail. Or, over towards the south coast more, a five star woodland valley walk through the Luxulyan Valley World Heritage Site provides historical interest as well as beautiful scenery.
And just before you get into Devon, a ‘wow of a walk’ is found of the edge of Bodmin Moor around The Hurlers and The Cheesewring. The name alone warrants exploration!
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Devon is blessed with the largest land mass of the South West counties, being the fourth largest in England. With seaside resorts, masses of moorland and lush valleys there are plenty of places to hike over.
Starting inland, the obvious place for great walking is Dartmoor, being the largest open space in southern England, with some of the best archaeological sites in western Europe. Sir Francis Drake, a famous Devonian, has an entire trail named after him through moorland, valley and river with Drake’s Trail.
At the heart of Dartmoor, lies an ‘eery yet fascinating’ gnarly old forest named Wistman’s Wood. It’s described by many as ‘other-worldly’ so must be worth a walk.
Drop down to the south coast of Devon and ferry across the water to Burgh Island for a walk around the island and a wonderful view back to the Devon mainland. Plus there is plenty to do other than walk.
On the opposite coast is a route along the highest of the sea cliffs in Exmoor National Park which takes in amazing panoramic views across Combe Martin Bay.
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Heading into Somerset you can climb straight to the highest point of the county at Dunkery Beacon. Explore south of Exmoor and around the Quantocks and Brendon Hills where the poet Coleridge found inspiration along The Coleridge Way.
For a riverside coast-to-coast experience, take each of the six different sections of the Parrett River Trail for a week’s worth of walking holiday.
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Dorset’s only coastline has the prestige of being the World Heritage Site Jurassic Coast that includes such wonders as Lulworth Cove, the Isle of Portland, Chesil Beach and Durdle Door, and every inch is known for being fossil-rich.
Get away from the seaside and ascend Pilsden Pen, for far reaching views across the county, with ancient ramparts to explore to boot. Or else the second highest point in Dorset has the furthest views atop Bulbarrow Hill.
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For more walks and other activities in the West Country, visit our Classic Guide.