Hike the spectacular national trail along the lofty coastline of the Exmoor National Park.
A self-guided walking tour
2017 dates: mid–April to end-September, start any day.
Duration: 7 nights. Extra nights at any point can be added on. See below for suggestions.
Grade: Moderate hiking. On the coast path (Days 2,3,6,7) there are some steep gradients and long ascents/descents, but routefinding is simple; while inland (Days 4 and 5) the gradients are gentler but with fewer waymarks route finding can be demanding. For an explanation of grades see ‘How we Grade our Tours’.
Tour prices: See “Tour prices” below.
Tour code: E7E.
Accommodation on this route may be booked up well in advance at Bank Holiday weekends (Easter, late May/early June) and during the summer holiday period (late July and August). So better book early for those periods.
E7E: Night 1 Minehead; 2 Porlock; 3, 4, 5 Lynton; 6 Combe Martin; 7 Ilfracombe or Mortehoe/Woolacombe.
Day 2 (Minehead to Porlock): 13km/4.5 hrs;
Day 3 (Porlock to Lynton): 21km/6.5hrs; it is possible to shorten the day by using a local bus service – we provide bus timetables and mark the bus stops on the maps.
Days 4 and 5: a selection of moorland and riverbank walks based in Lynton, ranging from 7km/2hrs up to 19km/6 hrs. Transport (included in tour price) is provided to the starting points of the walks.
Day 6 (Lynton to Combe Martin): 22km/7hrs; it is possible to shorten the walk by booking a local taxi for part of the way.
Day 7 (Combe Martin to Ilfracombe/Mortehoe/Woolacombe) 8km/2.5hrs; we recommend continuing along the coast path from Ilfracombe to the twin villages of Mortehoe and Woolacombe (an additional 12km/3.5hrs) and either returning by bus to Ilfracombe or spending the final night at Mortehoe (an historic village on a hill) or at Woolacombe (a long sandy beach popular with surfers). If you prefer Mortehoe (an ancient village on a hill) or Woolacombe (a surfing centre) rather than Ilfracombe for your final night please let us know in the special requirements box of the booking form.
Accommodation. In specially selected small guest houses (B&Bs); most nights with en-suite or private facilities, which can be guaranteed throughout the tour for a supplement.
Meals included. Breakfast each morning is included. Evening meals can be obtained locally without pre-booking. Packed/picnic lunches are obtainable locally from village shops or from your accommodation.
Baggage transfers. Each day that you walk on to new accommodation your baggage up to 20kg per person is moved on to the next night’s stop (included in tour price).
Maps and route notes. Hikers maps at 1:25,000 scale with route and accommodations marked, route notes (specially researched by and exclusive to The Discerning Traveller), local bus timetables, a copy of the illustrated book National Trail Guide South-west Coast Path Minehead to Padstow.
Extra nights. 3 nights are already spent at Lynton. To recover after a long journey you might spend an extra night at Minehead, from where you can visit Dunster Castle or the historic fishing port of Watchet. For additional opportunities for walks in beautiful surroundings we recommend Porlock. For additional coastal walking – or for surfing and other water sports – Woolacombe or Mortehoe.
Rail stations. Start of tour: Taunton; end of tour: Barnstaple.
Taunton has a frequent direct train service from Exeter St David’s, Bristol Temple Meads, Reading station and London Paddington. Barnstaple is on a branch line with about 1 train per hour connecting to the main line network at Exeter. Exeter has frequent direct trains to Bristol, Reading and London.
Getting from (and back to) the rail stations. From Taunton station to Minehead there is a good bus service during the day, but less frequent in the evenings and on Sundays. From Ilfracombe there is a frequent bus service to Barnstaple (bus and rail stations). The bus service from Woolacombe and Mortehoe to Barnstaple is less frequent. Train, bus and taxi fares are not included in the tour price. We provide bus timetables.
Nearest international airports. Exeter, Bristol, London Heathrow.
Bristol and Exeter airports are near enough to the starting point of the tour at Minehead to make a taxi transfer a reasonable option. Bristol and Exeter also have frequent direct trains to Taunton, as does Reading (shuttle bus or train from Heathrow and Gatwick airports).
Tour code E7E:
7 nights tour, ES or private facilities throughout: £575. SRS*: £125. STS**: £165.
- Extra nights: £50 per person per night; single room £70 per person per night.
- SRS* = single room supplement (applicable when 3 or 5 persons book together).
- STS** = single traveller supplement (applicable when booking is for one person only).
Prices quoted are per person on basis of two people in double or twin-bedded rooms. Included in the price are bed and breakfast each night, with baggage transfers, maps and route directions. ‘ES’ (en suite) facilities means that there is a private bathroom with shower or tub and toilet within the main door of your room. ‘Private facilities’ means that the private bathroom may be outside the main door of your room.
The South-west Coast Path. At around 630 miles/1014km in length the South-west Peninsula Coast Path (or simply South-west Coast Path/SWCP) is Britain’s longest national trail. It extends from Minehead in Somerset to Poole Harbour in Dorset, and includes the entire coast of Devon and Cornwall. This tour includes 48 miles/77km of the coast path between the Somerset town of Minehead and the Devon villages of Mortehoe and Woolacombe.
Exmoor national park. Starting from Minehead, the first 35 miles/56km section of the South-west Coast Path follows the northern edge of the Exmoor National Park. Here the high ground of the park’s interior slopes abruptly and precipitously down to the Bristol Channel. Poet S.T.Coleridge was staying on a farm overlooking this densely wooded and shaded coastline and had started his celebrated work Kublai Khan when he was interrupted by the arrival of ‘a person from Porlock’. Was the poet’s evocative image ‘down to a sunless sea’ inspired by the dramatic landscape of the steep, north-facing Exmoor coastline?
Further inland the rolling moorland plateau, large parts of which are uncultivated and almost uninhabited, is cut by steep-sided and densely wooded valleys drained by clear, fast-flowing salmon streams such as the East Lyn River and the Hoar Oak Water. In R.D. Blackmore’s romantic novel Lorna Doone the long and beautiful valley of the Badgworthy Water upstream from the much-visited but unspoilt hamlet of Malmsmead becomes the sinister Doone Valley, while the long-abandoned site of a mediaeval village overlooking the valley serves as a base for Lorna’s brother, the ruthless outlaw Carver Doone.
Moorland and valleys are criss-crossed by numerous public footpaths and bridleways, including the long-distance Two Moors Way trail. Based for three nights at the little town of Lynton, supported by local taxi service to take you to the starting points of the walks and provided with our detailed and specially researched route notes and carefully annotated maps, you can choose from enough walks of a wide range of difficulty to easily fill two whole days of enjoyable exploration of this wonderful landscape.
More images of this tour…How to Book
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