The South West Coast Path



An Introduction to the South West Coast Path

The South West Coast Path was originally created by coastguards, patrolling the south west peninsula looking out for smugglers. They literally had to check in every inlet so their cliff top walk was well used and gives us the amazing Path we use today.  The Path has also been used by fishermen looking for shoals of fish and checking the sea conditions. 

As well as the views, you will can also see the coastguards’ old stone stiles and walls in many places. Also a series of coastguard cottages was built with many of them still standing today although their use has of course changed. 

The South West Coast Path itself is 630 miles long and is the longest National Trail in the country. Starting at Minehead in Somerset it runs along the coastline of Exmoor, continuing along the coast of North Devon into Cornwall. It follows the entire coastline of Cornwall, goes across the mouth of the River Tamar and continues into Devon. After running along the south coast of Devon it then follows the Dorset coastline before finally ending at Poole Harbour. 

Although the Coast Path is usually described in this anti-clockwise direction, from Minehead to Poole, this is purely convention and there is no reason why it cannot be walked in the opposite direction. It is well signed in both directions. 

Whether you are having an afternoon stroll or you want to challenge yourself to walking the whole 630 miles, you have come to the right place to start your journey , with the wilds of the coastline, rugged ridges hugged by heather, crashing waves, salty spray, the snoozy fishing villages waiting to be explored, the invigorating cliffs and everything else that makes this spectacular Path so incredible. You might enjoy cream teas or a spot of seal spotting on route.   The South West Coast Path is there for us all to enjoy and we hope you love it as much as we do. 

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South West Coast Path

About the South West Coast Path Association

Welcome to the South West Coast Path Association.  The Association is a registered charity working to protect and conserve the Coast Path to give us all the opportunity to improve our health in the great outdoors.  We work to ensure the path is one of the best walks in the world and protect it for all to enjoy. Supporting the charity and adding a voice as a member helps the Association to improve the Path and keep the way open to beautiful coastal places.

We try to ensure as many people as possible know about, and have information to enjoy, the Coast Path. We also fund vital improvement projects to protect the Path for future generations.  All 630 miles from Somerset’s Minehead around to the shores of Poole Harbour in Dorset costs at least £1,000 for every mile to keep it open, in good shape and clearly signed.

There is lots of useful information on this website to help you plan and enjoy your Coast Path experience, we also have useful maps, guides and merchandise in our shop. If you would like to read our latest newsletter, please click here.

We hope you might want to join with us as a member or make a donation to support our work. If you have a business you may wish to become a business member or sponsor.

See our events page if you would like to join in with our Challenge and help us set the record for the number of times we can walk the South West Coast Path in one month.

Our registered Charity number is 1163422.