There is nothing more relaxing than a coastal walk. The gentle roar of the sea and the salt air are enough to leave you feeling fully refreshed even after a short journey. Some of the most beautiful walks in Britain are by the sea, and they have so much to offer. That is why we have put together some of the best coastal path walks in the south west of England, helping you to plan your next family (or solo) adventure. Take a look and see if any of these appeals to you.
Preparing for Your Walk
Before you embark on a walk of any kind, you should first make sure that you have adequate footwear. A standard pair of casual trainers will leave your feet sore and blistering after one of these treks, so make sure you purchase a good and sturdy pair of boots that was made to withstand a long walk.
If you are planning on going for a long walk, then it is important that you pack a few snacks to keep your energy levels up, but also that you bring plenty of water so that you stay hydrated. Keep your phone charged in case of an emergency and always follow the trail rules where there are some in place.
Places to Walk
Below, you will find a selection of the best coastal walks in the south west of the country. Each walking guide lets you know if it is dog friendly and/or wheelchair/pushchair accessible.
#1 The South West Coast Path
The Route: The entire walk is 630 miles, stretching right along the coast without interruption. It was originally created by coastguards who were patrolling while on the lookout for smugglers, as well as by fisherman who were checking sea conditions and looking for shoals of fish.
The path is the longest national trail in the country, starting from Somerset and running all the way along to Cornwall. Most people walk it in an anti-clockwise direction, but it can be walked in the opposite way, and both routes are clearly signposted. It’s perfect for cream teas, seal spotting, and local history.
Things to See: Bronze Age burial mounds. Forts and castles from the Iron Age to WWII. Stunning views of the coast. Religious and spiritual sites, as well as wildlife and areas of geological interest.
Places to Visit: Numerous cafes and pubs along different parts of the trail.
Dog Friendly: Yes. Can be let off the lead, but there are many on-lead areas.
Wheelchair Friendly: Yes. There are specific walks that are easy access.
#2 Knoll Beach, Studland, to Lulworth Cove, Dorset
The Route: This route is around 23 miles long and does encompass some of the South West Coast Path. The Dorset coast offers a great deal of beauty and variety, with sandy beaches and plunging cliff paths that are sure to amaze everyone who sees them.
They say that walking 93 miles through this area will take you through 180 million years of history, and this is no surprise considering it was the first World Heritage Site in England. There are a variety of different terrains to walk across should you choose this route, giving you a diverse adventure through the area.
Things to See: The rare Nightjar, ladybird spider, and sand lizard. Bottlenose Dolphins, and Old Harry.
Places to Visit: St. Aldhelm’s Norman Chapel.
Dog Friendly: Yes. On and off lead is seasonal, check with the Studland Bay website.
Wheelchair Friendly: Only for some sections.
#3 Lynton to Croyde, North Devon
The Route: This route spans across 31.5 miles, and is part of the South West Coast Path. It is home to the highest point on the route, Great Hangman, where you can receive a spectacular view of the coast and surrounding area.
There are so many different places to explore on this walk, from pockets of lush woodland, to numerous bays and coves that are just waiting to be discovered by you. This coastal path can be steep at points, which is sure to make good work for your legs, but the views you will receive are worth every moment that your calves burn.
Things to See: The Valley of Rocks, the jagged tors, cliffs, fields of free-roaming goats.
Places to Visit: Ilfracombe seaside resort, Lynton town, Gower peninsula.
Dog Friendly: Yes, but with restrictions.
Wheelchair Friendly: No
#4 Brownsea Island, Dorset
The Route: This short route is only about a mile in total, with generally gentle terrain, even though it can be a little uneven at times. While it may be short, it does make the perfect family trail, allowing you and your children to enjoy a walk through nature without the exhaustion.
There is so much beauty and nature on this coastal walk, with a huge variety of natural areas to visit and explore. From the stunning coastal views, to wetlands and forests, you will not end up disappointed by this walk. Plus, there are some great places to stop at and visit when you get a little peckish.
Things to See: Brownsea Church. Local wildlife, such as the rare and elusive water vole and red squirrel. Varied habitats, from forests to wetlands.
Places to Visit: Tractor trails. Family trail and activities. Tea room and gift shop.
Dog Friendly: Yes.
Wheelchair Friendly: Yes.
#5 Old Harry Rocks, Dorset
The Route: This is a medium-length walk at around 3.5 miles, so it will only take you a couple of hours to complete the trail. It’s a good trial for those that need something accessible, and dogs are allowed as long as they are kept close and under tight control.
The route is very well signposted, so you are unlikely to get lost on your travels. Old Harry and the remains of his wife are the main attraction, and their location offers some of the best sea views you can get from the southern coastline. Studland also has a number of beaches that are easy to access, including a naturist beach, so there is something for everyone.
Things to See: Old Harry, the remains of Old Harry’s Wife, Celtic fields.
Places to Visit: Bankes Arms Pub
Dog Friendly: Yes, but with restrictions.
Wheelchair Friendly: Yes.
#6 Prawle Point, Devon
The Route: This is another medium-length walk at 3 miles, so it should take you less than two hours to complete when walking at a normal pace. There is an abundance of scenery on this gorgeous route, from the beautiful sea views, to the wildflowers and grasses, there is a great variety for you to discover.
Should you decide to visit the peaceful and secluded Maceley Cove, the summer months are the perfect time to step into the water for a quick swim, offering you a relaxing experience in true silence. Plus, it makes the perfect location for an afternoon picnic after a long day of walking in the sun.
In the winter months, or during rainy weather, the trail can become uneven and potentially slippery. If you decide to take the route during poor weather conditions, it is important that you take the potential hazards into account before you go.
Things to See: Wildflowers, geological wonders, rich wildlife.
Places to Visit: Maceley Cove, a beautiful and secluded beach on the trail.
Dog Friendly: Yes, but only on the lead.
Wheelchair Friendly: No.
Hopefully, you have found a coastal walk here that appeals to you. There are so many fantastic trails to choose from, and some great places to stop and visit on your way around. From pet friendly routes to those with access for wheelchairs and pushchairs, we have something here to suit everyone.
What did you think of our coastal walking guide? Are there any routes that you would have added to the list? We love hearing from you, so make sure you leave us a message in the comments below.