Exploring the Trail
How long is the Trail?
It’s long … really long. It’ll be around 2,795 miles long when it is complete.
Who looks after the England Coast Path?
The England Coast Path is being created by dedicated Coastal Access teams within Natural England working closely with the local authorities. Once sections are open responsibility passes to the local highway authority. This is usually the county council, or unitary authority.
Are there any major diversions on the route?
Diversion between Watchet and Blue Anchor – please look at the Interactive Map for details.
Top Tips for Enjoying the Trail
Remember to follow the Countryside Code and to check tide times before setting out.
How do I get to the England Coast Path?
It’s easy to reach the South West Coast using public transport.
The world famous Great Western Railway built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel stretches down to Penzance and branch lines head off to many of the resorts along the path – with stunning views from the train it’s a great way to get to the Coast Path.
Many of the towns along the Trail are served by long distance National Express coaches. Local buses run a fairly regular service along most of the coast meaning that there are many sections of the Trail that you can walk in a day without having to retrace your steps.
The nearest airports to the Trail are Exeter and Newquay. Overseas visitors can also reach the Trail by ferry. Brittany Ferries serve Plymouth and Poole.
For public transport information and journey planning visit the Traveline website or call them on 0871 200 22 33.
Is the Trail open all year?
The England Coast Path is open all year but at times there may be restrictions and diversions. Some sections of the England Coast Path pass through areas that are very important for wildlife. In these places there may be restrictions such as requirements that dogs are on the lead or even diversions to avoid particularly sensitive sites for periods of time.
The England Coast Path passes through private land; in some places land management activities or safety concerns may affect the path.
Please check the website before you set off. All significant diversions are shown on the interactive map, and will be signed on the ground. Significant restrictions will also be shown on the interactive map and all restrictions can be found here.
Is there access for all on the England Coast Path?
The England Coast Path has been designed to be as accessible as possible with minimal use of barriers such as stiles. However the nature of the coast means that there are steps in places, often long flights of steep steps. In other places the England Coast Path may follow paved promenades or other land suitable for wheelchair users, including people using most types of mobility vehicles or people with reduced mobility. Other motor vehicles are not permitted.
Your local authority should be able to advise on which stretches are barrier and step-free.
Can I ride or cycle on the England Coast Path?
The England Coast Path is being created for walkers. Some sections do follow existing public rights of way and some of these may have bridleway rights. These will be shown as public bridleway on the OS maps. You can ride a horse or a bike on a bridleway. Some sections may also have existing access for horses and cycles, where these rights exist they will be signposted.
Can I drive a motor vehicle on the England Coast Path?
No – the England Coast Path is a walking route. In some places it may follow quiet country lanes, roads or private tracks for short distances, but it is not designed for use by motor vehicles.
Can I take my dog?
Yes, you are welcome to take your dog. Dogs on the England Coast Path must be under effective control. This means the dog must be on a lead or kept within sight and you should be aware of its actions and be confident that the dog will return reliably and promptly when called. Dogs must be on a short lead in the vicinity of livestock.
At some times of year in some locations, there may be additional restrictions on where dogs can go. Please obey any signs on the ground. Restrictions on where dogs can go are usually there to protect sensitive wildlife or reduce problems around cattle, and are only in place when absolutely necessary.
Where can I stay on the Trail?
There is a good choice of accommodation close to the Trail and it can be viewed on the Interactive Map below or on the Create Your Own Trip page here.
Download and print a list of accommodation for each section of the Trail.
In some areas accommodation fills up very quickly in summer. If you are planning on walking sections of the England Coast Path in summer make sure you book your accommodation in advance.
Can I camp along the Trail?
There are plenty of campsites along the Trail and they can be viewed on the Interactive Map. If you plan to camp please note it is not legal to wild camp in England or Wales – you will need to stay on official campsites.
Can I get my bags carried or my accommodation booked?
There are several companies that will arrange to move your bags for you, help you plan your trip, or arrange a full package.
View a list of these companies here.
What should I take with me?
We recommend that you take a map and/or guidebook with you, or a copy of the walk leaflet if you are doing a shorter walk. You may also find a compass useful.
If you are walking solo you may want to tell somewhere where you are going as there can be mobile black spots along the Trail. Ensure your phone is fully charged before setting off.
Weather in the UK can be changeable so it’s wise to be prepared. You’ll need good footwear, waterproofs and warm layers. Take plenty of water and just in case, pack a few plasters for your feet. In the summer you may need sun cream.
Will I have mobile phone and internet access?
Phone reception can be patchy along the Trail, don’t rely on being able to use your phone to help you navigate. Wi-Fi is available at some accommodation and pubs/cafés along the route.
Is there signage on the England Coast Path?
The England Coast Path is well signed. Look for the National Trail Acorn logo, and/or signs for the England Coast Path.
Some sections follow long established coastal walks, and may be signed for these walks. In these areas you will usually be following local signs, but will also see signs telling you that the route is part of the England Coast Path.
Do I have to stick to the path?
In most places you don’t have to stick to the path. Land to the seaward side of the trail, shaded pink on Ordnance Survey Maps is Coastal Margin. Much of this land has public access. However, within the Coastal Margin there is land where access rights don’t apply, for example:
- cropped land, buildings and their curtilage (the land immediately surrounding them), and gardens. This land is called ‘excepted land’. You don’t have the right to walk on excepted land. You can see a full list of excepted land here.
- land that is subject to local restrictions including many areas of saltmarsh and mud flats that are not suitable for public access.
Although you have the right to explore away from the path please use common sense – the England Coast Path includes land that is steep, unstable and not readily accessible. Just because the maps says you can go there doesn’t mean it is safe to do so.
Saltmarsh and mudflats can be unsuitable to walk on. Where this is the case they will be restricted and have no coastal access rights. You are responsible for your own safety.
What happens if the coast erodes?
The English coast doesn’t stay still, some sections change very fast. If part of the England Coast Path erodes the local authorities may need to put temporary diversions in place for safety reasons – but they will reinstate the path.
One of the unique features of the legislation that has created the England Coast Path is the way it handles coastal erosion. Unlike a public right of way that is lost if the land it is on erodes, the England Coast Path will be able to ‘roll back’ to a new position negotiated with land owners.
There may be periods when eroded sections are closed until a new path can be put in place. If that happens diversions will be in place and will be shown on the interactive map.
Can I download a GPX file?
Visit our Walking Holidays Page for holiday inspiration for the England Coast Path – South West.
Leaflets, Maps, Guidebooks and Merchandise
Are there any useful Trail Leaflets?
Can I get a guidebook and map for the Trail?
The official guidebook and map for the Trail are available from the The Trails Shop along with a wide range of gifts and other merchandise.
Which Ordnance Survey maps cover the South West section of the Trail?
You can find a list of Ordnance Survey maps for the Trail here.
Circular and Linear Walks
There are some great walks that take in parts of the England Coast Path in the South West. If you are not looking for a long distance walk but would still like to enjoy parts of the Trail we have a variety of shorter linear and circular walks. Find the perfect walk for you here.