How better to celebrate 50 years of the stunning West Country network than walking one of these Cornwall, Devon or Dorset sections
Glittering seas, spectacular cliffs, tranquil farmland and vast skies – whether you stroll, walk or hike the South West Coast Path, the scenery is some of the most beautiful in the UK. The country’s longest trail stretches for 630 miles from Minehead in Somerset, along the Devon and Cornwall coast to Poole Harbour in Dorset. This year is the 50th anniversary of the creation of the South West Coast Path Association, when a group of walkers, having tackled the Pennine Way, decided to create something similar in the West Country.
“It was quite a task,” says Althea Mays of the SWCPA, “and it took five years: linking paths, talking to landowners about rights of way, getting the trail designated – almost like putting a giant jigsaw together.” The trail remains one of the UK’s most popular routes, with more than 600 different walks to choose from. “We suggest a 52-day itinerary if you want to do the whole thing,” says Mays. “But many people come and do a section each year, making it an annual weekend with friends or family. Walking is such a companionable thing, and the pandemic really reinforced the importance of immersing ourselves in nature and taking time to enjoy the outdoors.”