At 630 miles long, the South West Coast Path is England’s longest and most challenging footpath. Starting in Minehead, Somerset, it follows the coast westwards to Land’s End and then back eastwards, all the way to Poole, Dorset.
Climb it Range’s Richard Langley completed the 630 mile path (and 115,000 feet of climbing) last summer.
You can also read about his walk in more detail in his section by section account.
Part one; Minehead to Hartland Point .
Part two; Hartland Point to St Ives. .
Below, though, he selects his top ten highlights.
1. Favourite Section:
Without doubt my favourite section was the one between St Ives and Sennen.
The boulder strewn low path just before Morvah, the beautiful old school and Wesleyan chapel at Morvah, the late evening sunset walk from Cape Cornwall to Sennen Cove. Fledgling little Kestrels, young Peregrines, the wild coast and heather in full bloom with the sun going down over the heaving sea in a force eight gale made this long 20 mile stretch one of the most memorable memories of the summer.
Hartland Quay to Bude.
For good reason, this section is graded as severe. It was really rough especially as the temperature was almost 80 degrees centigrade. With over 4000 feet of ascent and with a backpack of 25kg, this section is not for the fainthearted. It really was hardcore SWCP!
3. Best Swim:
Penberth Cove,near Porthcurno.
The tide was full and the sea was turquoise. As it was late evening most of the visitors had already left leaving me virtually alone to enjoy just a quick dip for ten minutes. It was incredibly refreshing and soothed away the aching limbs and sore blisters. On drying out there was the wonderful sight of the Scillonian ferry returning on its way back from St Mary on the Isle of Scilly to Penzance.
4. Best Pub:
The Blue Anchor in Helston.
Although not on the coast, Helston town was a good fulcrum point with bus connections to the start and finish of sections around the Lizard. The main bus stop was directly outside the Blue Anchor Pub. This is a 15th century public house with its own brewery and outstanding Spingow Ales. I was recommended to try Middle ale, and just managed a pint or two before jumping on the bus to my campsite at Kennack. Definitely a pub to return to one day.
5. Best Woodland Section:
The Undercliff is a National Nature Reserve between Axemouth and Lyme Regis and had just been reopened again after along closure due to landslip.
Overtime the landslips have created an environment for the generation of unique woodlands which colonise the areas after landslides. It’s created the most amazing wilderness…a real privilege to walk through. In mid summer it offers eight miles of uninterrupted wild nature without seeing another soul. This is a definitely a section to return to in the early spring when the low first sun lights up the green wilderness.
6. Best wildlife moment:
It must be seeing a young Peregrine Falcon sunning himself on a cliff edge, near Sennen. The bird was completely unaware of me even though I was only 20 yards away. For five minutes I just stood and watched. Unbelievable and unforgettable.
7.Best Beach café:
Shabbikabooka Cafe, Roseland Peninsular,Pendower Beach.
This is a great stopping point. I was there for a fabulous green tea which I enjoyed with my feet up for half an hour admiring the great views. I then had a swim on the secluded beach before setting off for the last session of a long ten hour walking day.
8. Best Hospitality Moment:
Approaching Slapton and Beesands there were signs along the way encouraging walkers to call in a the Beesands Chapel for a welcome cup of tea with donations to the church charity as the cost. It was on a Sunday and the Chapel was open until 5 pm. I just made it just in time and found the chapel full of walkers and volunteers. The tea and cakes were served by a wonderful group all donated and homemade. I did contribute to the church funds but my donation was matched by visitors and walkers thereafter donating very generously to my charity, Prostate Cancer UK. The group there also recommended a campsite on the hill where payment was made through an honesty box. This encounter was one of the highlights of the walk…warmth, kindness and generosity from strangers: England a its very best.
9. Best Village:
Hartland and nearby Stoke in the remote corner of the North Devon coast wins my vote for best village on the route.
The church at Stoke has an incredible tower which landmarks the route for many miles both South and East as you approach. Also the farm campsite on the clifftop was one of the best on the Path. Nearby, Hartland has two amazing pottery studios where you can view some of the best studio ceramics anywhere to be seen in the UK. In fact there was a display of Hartland ceramics in the church for all to see and admire. The church, St Nectans has its origins around 1050 with a restoration in the 15th century. The interior is stunning and the timbered roof an amazing ancient structure.
10.Best Camp Site:
Fat Apple Cafe, Porthallow near Helston.
The Orchard Wild Camp site is tucked behind the café. It is not widely advertised and there’s just a few tents in a beautiful riverside orchard field for a few tents. Just ask at the café if you can pitch up. The owners do allow camping for a small number of tents.
Climb it range produce a fabulous selection of South West Coast Path T shirts, hoodies and sweatshirts. Click here to view our range.