The South West Coast Path

A Walker’s Journal by Anthony Linick

Between Boscastle and Tintagel, a descent to North Cornwall’s Rocky Valley

Between Boscastle and Tintagel, a descent to North Cornwall’s Rocky Valley


At some 630 miles the South West Coast Path (also known at one time as the Southwest Peninsula Coast Path or the South West Way) is unquestionably Britain’s longest footpath – twice as long as the Pennine Way, for instance. It took us 61 days to complete this venture – this is almost three times as long as it took me to complete the PW itself. It will not take most people as long today – but we had many short days, doing some walking on days in which we were just arriving from or departing for London. We broke the project into a dozen distinct expeditions in the years from 1987 to 1999. But with a total like 61 it is no wonder that there are so many references to this route, and our experiences in conquering it, in my A Walker’s Alphabet: Adventures on the long-distance footpaths of Great Britian, published in 2010 and available from the publisher at or from or from or from

The accounts that follow will perhaps help you to plan your own stages over this challenging and rewarding terrain; they appear in order for those beginning in Minehead and concluding at South Haven Point – with one exception. On our first trip I overestimated our energies and we had to break off, at the end of our third day, at Hunter’s Inn. This meant that we had a gap from this point to Combe Martin, one remedied the next year. This also means that if you are following these accounts in the order provided by nature rather than by this author then you need to break off your reading after day three, jump to day six, and then resume with days four and five. (We also reversed two stages at Newquay.) The natural order of things is reflected in the stages I have listed below. I can also add that the route has had some additions and some alterations since we walked it.

There are many more resources available to the walker of the South West Coast Path today than we had available to us when we were first undertaking this route almost 25 years ago. Today a search of the Internet will reveal the names of companies who can book your accommodation and arrange for the transfer of your luggage as well. (One great thing about this route is that you are never very far from accommodation or refreshment.) There are also a number of guidebooks available including National Trail Guides – in four volumes (Minehead to Padstow, Padstow to Falmouth, Falmouth to Exmouth and Exmouth to Poole). One virtue of this series is that it also includes relevant excerpts of the Ordnance Survey maps – though if you plan to venture off-route you may want the sheets on which these excerpts are based. In the two and a half inch to the mile format, however, this would involve the purchase of 17 sheets – and that is just one measure of the length of the path in question.

In addition, this route is supported by an active band of supporters, the South West Coast Path Association. The Association publishes its own series of route finding texts, each covering individual sections, and it offers its own annual guide. This extremely useful publication has a great deal of useful information: accommodation, tide tables, information about trains, buses and ferries. The guide is one of the dividends of membership and I urge those of who want to take part in this venture to join first. This can be accomplished through the association’s website:

In a way I envy those of you who still have this unique experience before you. You can let me know how you got on by leaving word on the Contact Page.

Our stages:

Day 1: Minehead to Porlock Weir – 8.5 miles

Day 2: Porlock Weir to Lynmouth – 13 miles

Day 3: Lynton to Hunters Inn – 6.5 miles

Day 6: Hunters Inn to Combe Martin – 8 miles

Day 4: Combe Martin to Ilfacombe – 7 miles

Day 5: Ilfracombe to Croyde – 10 miles

Day 7: Croyde to Barnstaple – 11.5 miles

Day 8: Barnstaple to Instow – 7.5 miles

Day 9: Instow to Westward Ho! – 10 miles

Day 10: Westward Ho! To Clovelly – 11 miles

Day 11: Clovelly to Stoke – 10 miles

Day 12: Stoke to Bude – 15 miles

Day 13: Bude to Crackington Haven – 9 miles

Day 14: Crackington Haven to Bosinney – 10 miles

Day 15: Bosinney to Port Isaac – 10 miles

Day 16: Port Isaac to Rock – 10 miles

Day 17: Padstow to Treyarnon Bay – 11 miles

Day 18: Treyarnon Bay to Watergate Bay – 9 miles

Day 20: Watergate Bay to Newquay – 5 miles

Day 19: Newquay to Perranporth – 11 miles

Day 21: Perranporth to Portreath – 12 miles

Day 22: Portreath to Hayle – 12 miles

Day 23: Hayle to St. Ives – 6 miles

Day 24: St. Ives to Morvah – 11 miles

Day 25: Morvah to Sennen Cove – 11 miles

Day 26: Sennen Cove to Lamorna – 11.5 miles

Day 27: Lamorna to Penzance – 6.5 miles

Day 28: Penzance to Praa Sands – 8 miles

Day 29: Praa Sands to Mullion Cove – 11 miles

Day 30: Mullion Cove to Cadgwith – 9.5 miles

Day 31: Cadgwith to Porthallow – 10.5 miles

Day 32: Porthallow to Falmouth – 12 miles

Day 33: Falmouth to Rosevine – 7 miles

Day 34: Rosevine to Gorran Haven­ – 13 miles

Day 35: Gorran Haven to Par – 13 miles

Day 36: Par to Fowey – 6 miles

Day 37: Polruan to Polperro – 7 miles

Day 38: Polperro to Looe – 5 miles

Day 39: Looe to Crafthole – 8.5 miles

Day 40: Crafthole to Plymouth – 13.5 miles

Day 41: Plymouth to Noss Mayo – 10.5 miles

Day 42: Noss Mayo to Bigbury-On-Sea – 11.5 miles

Day 43: Bigbury-On-Sea to Salcombe – 13 miles

Day 44: Salcombe to Hallsands – 10.5 miles

Day 45: Hallsands to Dartmouth – 12 miles

Day 46: Dartmouth to Brixham – 11 miles

Day 47: Brixham to Torquay – 9 miles

Day 48: Torquay to Shaldon – 10.5 miles

Day 49: Shaldon to Starcross – 8 miles

Day 50: Exmouth to Budleigh Salterton – 6.5 miles

Day 51: Budleigh Salterton to Sidmouth – 7 miles

Day 52: Sidmouth to Seaton ­– 10.5 miles

Day 53: Seaton to Lyme Regis – 9 miles

Day 54: Lyme Regis to Bridport – 9.5 miles

Day 55: Bridport to Abbotsbury – 9.5 miles

Day 56: Abbotsbury to Upwey – 10 miles

Day 57: Upwey to Lulworth Cove via Weymouth – 14 miles

Day 58: Lulworth Cove to Kimmeridge – 8 miles

Day 59: Kimmeridge to Worth Matravers – 8 miles

Day 60: Worth Matravers to Swanage – 8 miles

Day 61: Swanage to South Haven Point – 8 miles