England's South West Coast Path Joins IAT
In November 2012, England's South West Coast Path National Trail joined the International Appalachian Trail as England's ultimate challenge for long-distance hikers - a 630 mile (1,008 km) adventure around the scenic coastline of the Southwest Peninsula, from Somerset's Minehead on the edge of Exmoor around to the shores of Poole Harbour in Dorset.
A fast walker can complete the path in approximately 30 days, but a more leisurely sightseeing pace is between 7 & 8 weeks. As few people have enough time to walk it in a single trek, most divide it between several holidays and complete it over a number of years.
There are many great things to discover within the natural and built environment of the South West Coast Path. The underlying geology has helped shape the stunning landscapes you’ll walk through,
Sandy Mouth, North Cornwall
provides the special habitats for the abundant wildlife you’ll see,
and is the reason why the numerous fascinating historical sites you’ll pass on your journey are sited where they are.
St. Michael's Mount, Cornwall
The geology, wildlife, heritage, and scenery along the way are truly inspirational, and every day brings stunning new experiences.
Chapman's Pool, Dorset
Along the Path hikers will also discover evidence from millennia of people living, working and occasionally fighting along the coast.
St Pirans Cross above Perranporth, Cornwall
The coast has always been the front line for repelling invaders. Forts and castles dating from the Iron Age to the Second World War provide some of the most dramatic and obvious man-made structures along the entire length of the Path, as headlands provide excellent vantage points and are comparatively easy to defend. Iron Age forts with earth ramparts and ditches are common.
Pendennis Castle Keep
A number of sites along the Path have Bronze or Iron Age burial features known as barrows or tumuli. Coastal cliffs must have provided a very dramatic setting for prehistoric burials and other rituals – as they still do for the churches and chapels from later periods dotted along the coast.
Even the Path itself has a long history. Much of it follows the route used by coast guards and excise officers until 1913, to watch for smugglers and apprehend lawbreakers. They needed to look down into every bay and cove, and as a result, the path closely hugs the coastline. It provides excellent views, but rarely the most direct path between two points.
The Long Climb Towards Chapman's Pool
To learn more about the South West Coast Path National Trail, visit their website
.... or take a walk along the spectacular cliffs and headlands!