Our favourite sections & walks along the South West Coast Path
As the UK’s longest Natural Trail, the South West Coast Path provides stunning scenery and an opportunity like no other to stretch your legs.
Encompassing the world-famous unspoiled coastline of Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and Dorset, the SW Coast Path’s 630-miles of track passes imposing clifftops, shady glades, glorious sand dunes and good old surfing beaches.
So, given it offers such an incredible array of routes and scenery, it can be difficult to know where to start!
On any smartphone navigation, the ‘SW Coast Path’ is usually clearly marked. This should help as you’re on your journey.
Our mini guide starts in North Devon (at the most northern section of the path) and heads west, looping around the Cornish coast and finishing at the Jurassic Coast in the South. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of the best sections of the South West Coast Path — just a selection of a few favourites.
The best bits, sections & walks along the South West Coast Path
The SW Coast Path offers up an unmissable, unforgettable array of scenery: England’s ‘Little Switzerland’, the largest sand dune system, the seaside serenity of Sandymouth Bay, Fowey’s breathtaking estuary, mediaeval fortifications and the geological wonders of the Jurassic Coast.
Truth to be told, there are too many ‘best bits’ of the SW Coast Path to mention — you can hardly go wrong by simply pointing to a section of the coast and heading out to adventure!
The Valley of the Rocks — for jaw-dropping coastal panoramas, the tranquillity of England’s ‘Little Switzerland’ & the walking capital of Exmoor
The SW Coast Path ‘starts’ in Somerset at Minehead. Heading westwards, one of the undoubted highlights of this northern section is the Valley of the Rocks, a breathtaking stretch of coastline featuring stunning rock formations and incredible sea views — the highest sea cliffs in England.
One great way to take in all it has to offer (as well as soak up the picturesque tranquillity of a nearby village) is on the 3-mile (4.7km) Lynton & Valley of the Rocks circular walk.
The coast path starting from Lynton to the Valley is tarmaced, flat and provides one of the most picturesque possible routes along the SW Coast Path. Famed not only for its mesmerising landscapes and geology, the Valley of the Rocks is also a much-frequented landmark for its herd of feral goats!
Situated within the sprawling Exmoor National Park, nearby Lynton is well worth a visit itself. Perched 500 feet above its twin village, Lynmouth, the two are connected by the aptly-named Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway. It first opened in 1890 and is one of only three water-powered railways left in the world — the only one in the UK.
Given its distinctly Alpine appearance, narrow lanes and independent shops, this part of the world is dubbed ‘Little Switzerland’, a moniker first popularised by poet Robert Southey. The villages of Lynton and Lynmouth have another well-earned reputation as the ‘walking capital of Exmoor’ — unsurprising, given the South West Coast Path and the Tarka Trail pass through.
Braunton Burrows — discover the largest sand dune system in England (and some fascinating WWII history)
Heading westwards again, the stretch of the South West Coast Path covering North Devon features a host of sights, perhaps none as spectacular or noteworthy as the Braunton Burrows — the largest and most ecologically important sand dune system in England.
This area sit at the heart of the North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Although privately owned, the public are welcome to explore its fantastic array of rolling dunes, flora, fauna and wildlife.
Braunton Burrow is home to hundreds of rare and unique plants and animals — it’s a UNESCO Designated Biosphere Reserve. Keep your eyes peeled for the Devon ‘ruby red’ cattle, introduced as part of a land management scheme.
You might like to start your adventure at Sandy Lane Car Park (EX33 2NX), following the SW Coast Path north up Saunton. Depending on how much time (and energy!) you have, you might just enjoy exploring the burrows; the area is completely dog friendly, so a great place to lead Fido off the lead.
Just beware of occasional military training exercises if he’s not a fan of big noises — the burrows are also known to contain native adders (obvious with their yellow and black colouring, but never usually a problem unless provoked).
To diverge slightly from the path, you could loop back and walk along Saunton Sands down to Crow Point — a lovely section of coast. A short walk up American Road is the Sandy Lane Car Park, making for a fine circular stroll if that’s where you started.
Did you know that the sand dunes of Braunton Burrow were used as a training ground for the American army ahead of the D-Day landings? You might spot some practice landing craft mockups along your way, with the assault training centre at the south end of American Road, near Crow Point.
Sandymouth Bay — for unspoiled coastline and at-one-with-nature walking
Moving along the SW Coast Path westwards from Devon, North Cornwall is home to incredible sights, scenery and warm, welcoming villages.
There’s so many glorious, unspoiled and mind boggling beautiful sections of North Cornwall that can be discovered along the SW Coast Path. Trust us, we could be here all day, but special mention must go to Sandymouth Bay and its pristine natural beach, backed up against incredible cliffs and rock formations.
There is a car park nearby to the SW Coast Path at Sandymouth Bay (EX23 9EG), from where you can either head northwards, soaking up the coastal panoramas on the way to quaint Duckpool, passing by Warren Point — great for an at-one-with-nature walk or hike.
Head southwards from Sandymouth Bay along the SW Coast Path to discover the dog-friendly sands, rock pools and lovely tea rooms of Northcott Mouth beach.
Sandymouth is renowned as a surfing hotspot, too — if that’s something you love. Those wanting to hang ten in this incredible part of the world should also check out our guide to the best surf beaches in North Cornwall.
Tintagel — for history, nature-filled coastal adventure & traditional village vibes
Tintagel’s dramatic 13th-century castle — the site of a number of Arthurian legends — is well worth a visit just for its incredible sea views and history, not to mention the excellent walking and hiking opportunities along the SW Coast Path in the area!
There are a number of car parks in the area, including at PL34 0DD, from which your adventure can start.
Head northwards along the SW Coast Path from the castle to see Barras Nose, the North Tintagel Boulders and eventually the coves of Bossiney and Benoath. Southwards on the path and you’ll discover St Materiana's Church and then Bagalow, a very popular hiking spot offering similarly stunning natural scenery.
The quintessentially Cornish villages nearby provide ample opportunity for some post-walk relaxation and refreshment — try the Bossiney Tea Room or Ye Olde Malthouse Inn in Tintagel.
Mawgan Porth — for dog-friendly, unspoiled Blue Flag beach & the dramatic Bedruthan Steps
The quaint-but-lively coastal village of Mawgan Porth and the SW Coast Path routes in the vicinity offer a great opportunity to stretch your legs surrounded by unspoiled coastal beauty — particularly if you have four-legged friends in tow.
Starting in Mawgan Porth (near to our Sun Haven Holiday Park), head north along the South West Coast Path to discover the incredible, world-famous Carnewas at Bedruthan, offering dramatic views over imposing rock stacks.
Back in Mawgan Porth, perhaps grab a post-walk ice cream and soak up the sea breeze on the village’s immaculate, dog-friendly Blue Flag beach. Blue Flag is an award status acknowledging a beach’s superior water quality, cleanliness and facilities.
The Merrymoor Inn in the village is also worth a visit for its beer garden, not to mention the home cooked food and perhaps a local ale.
Godrevy— for unspoiled beach, heathland and sand dunes
Slightly westwards from Mawgan Porth and just up the road from our Parbola park is Godrevy and its stunning, surfer-friendly sands. You might like to start your adventure here by following the SW Coast Path from Godrevy car park (TR27 5ED).
A northerly amble takes you past Godrevy Point (with views of the lighthouse), Cliff View, the North Cliffs and eventually Red Head Cove. No place like for filling the lungs with sea breeze and feasting the eyes with coastal panoramas. It’s a superb landscape rich in fauna and flora — try to spot skylarks, fulmars and grey seals along the path in the area.
Head in the southern direction for Gwithian Towans, Upton Towans and Mexico Towans, together forming the three-mile expanse of stunning golden sand — ‘Towans’ is Cornish for ‘dune’. The exposed nature of this stretch of golden coast makes it particularly popular for surfing (or just sandcastle building!).
Continue to follow the SW Coast Path south to find Hayle, a popular port town with no shortage of independent shops and eateries.
Falmouth— for maritime heritage & the third-largest natural harbour on Earth
One of the finest sights of South Cornwall is the massive Fal River estuary, also known as Carrick Roads. The banks of the estuary are important wildlife habitats for creatures such as deer and peregrine falcons, and local boat and ferry tours provide for an amazing scenic journey through the estuary.
Your adventures along the SW Coast Path in and around Falmouth can start at Gyllyngvase Beach, where you’ll head past Sunny Cove before arriving at Maenporth — a great stop for a quick refreshment. Continue to follow the path and you’ll eventually discover Trebah Garden, whose 26-acre sub-tropical gardens are a real gem.
Over on the other side of the Fal River estuary is St. Mawes, whose eponymous castle is an impressive 16th-century artillery fortress. You may also like to head into Falmouth for some town centre fun, perhaps nipping to Pendennis Castle.
Fowey — for the ultimate picture-postcard panorama
Moving further along Cornwall’s South Coast, sections of the SW Coast Path around Fowey are an afternoon very well spent.
Your adventures can start at Readymoney Cove car park (PL23 1JD). The SW Coast Path begins at the end of Readymoney Road, taking you past the 16th-century ruins of St. Catherine’s Castle, along towering cliff tops — punctuated by incredible sea views — and eventually to Gribbin Head, marked by a huge navigation tower.
Once you’re back in Fowey, you’ll discover a treasure trove of independent shops, dog-friendly pubs and opportunities to sample locally-caught seafood. A superb day out, leaving aside the picturesque walks along the SW Coast Path.
From Fowey Quay Landing, you can take the ferry over to Bodinnick (nearby to our Penmarlam Holiday Park). Once in Bodinnick, the ‘Hall walk’ is not strictly part of the SW Coast Path, but gives one of the most iconic, breathtaking views of Fowey’s estuary.
If you’re looking eastwards, you can start your walk at Polruan car park (PL23 1PZ). A stroll along the SW Coast Path takes you to the sprawling, unspoiled peace of Lantic Bay, followed by Lansallos Beach.
Bantham — a South Devon gem boasting coastal views and historic gardens
Moving into Devon, Bantham is one of the UK’s best surfing beaches and boasts a lovely picturesque walking route along the SW Coast Path that runs nearby. It’s also a great spot for dogs to stretch their legs and dip their noses in the waves.
Start your day at Bantham beach car park (TQ7 3AN). The adjoining SW Coast Path route takes you through to South Milton Sands, then onwards to the stunning rocky outcrops of Bolt Tail, Bolberry Down and Soar Mill Cove.
Keep on walking along the path and you’ll eventually discover Overbeck’s Museum and Gardens. The former estate of inventor Otto Overbeck, there’s over seven hectares of curated and managed gardens, as well as a historic house museum, preserved the way it was when Overbeck donated it to the National Trust.
Beware, heading all the way to Overbeck’s is quite the walk from Bantham — over 2.5 hours at a decent pace — so be sure to plan your day; perhaps head to a more nearby car park if you’re wanting to head this way.
Durdle Door & Man o' War Cove — an iconic coastal landmark with ample opportunity for exploration
The final stretch of the path, along the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site in Dorset, is home to a number of sights well worth your time. Perhaps chief among them are the world-famous sea arch and circular cove, Durdle Door and Man o’ War Cove.
Durdle Door is a natural archway that has stood proudly for the last 10,000 years and remains an absolute must-see, created by the sea piercing through Portland limestone. If you’re looking for places to enjoy a relaxing beachside sunset, Durdle Door is one of the most iconic views around, although it can understandably sometimes be a bit crowded.
The area has a decently-sized car park (BH20 5PU) from which you can head west to Durdle Door and Man o’ War Cove. Continue along the path to find Butter Rock and eventually Ringstead Bay. Eastwards along the SW Coast Path is Lulworth Cove, followed by no shortage of incredible geological sights — including Pepler’s Point Monument Stone and Mupe Bay.
Stay a while longer in the South West…
Get away to the stunning surroundings of South West England by booking a holiday home, luxury lodge or spacious camping and touring slot at one of our four luxury holiday parks in Cornwall.
Just over in the New Forest is Green Hill Farm Holiday Village — only a short drive from everything the SW Coast Path has to offer — where we also offer holiday homes, lodges, camping, touring as well as glamping!
If you’re wanting to make the ultimate commitment to the South West — and who can blame you, given its undeniable beauty? — we also offer holiday home ownership in Cornwall and in the New Forest.
As well as a range of incredible on-park amenities and facilities, our holiday parks are handpicked for their picture-postcard locations. The ideal launchpad for coastal adventure in Cornwall, Devon and Somerset.