Dreaming Of: Walking England’s South West Coast Path
I like to call this trip My English Walk or ….. “Is That a Pasty in Your Pocket?”
Sometimes I find travel inspiration in the most unlikely places. This trip is a case in point. During Covid, when I couldn’t travel, I joined a Facebook hiking group and “friended” an Englishman. He too wasn’t able to leave his country, but boy oh boy did he make the best out of being “stuck in England.” His posts and photos of his “local” hikes really inspired me to explore an area of England long overlooked by me.
So with great admiration and thanks to David – I will be following in his footsteps – with a twist.
I’ve booked a month-long walking tour along England’s famed, South West Coast Path for August/September 2022.
I’ll be walking in Devon and Cornwall chasing the sun, surf, and scones. I was supposed to do this trip in 2021, but COVID. Now that the Brits have opened up – I’m going to boot up!
I’m excited to see some of the most stunning landscapes in the country but this won’t be a walk in the park.
Clinging close to England’s southwest coastline the SWCP takes a rollercoaster route, rearing up and over imposing peaks and then plunging right down to sea level. Those who tackle it entirely schlep some 115,000ft of ascent and descent between the two trailheads —- that’s the equivalent of walking up and down Mount Everest four times!!!!!
Not the England you normally think of, huh?
I won’t be doing the entire 630 miles – I’ll only tackle about 350 …. So let’s say I’m doing Everest twice.
But it’s not just the scenery and the physical challenge I’m thrilled about – I’m so excited to be walking a route that is known for its gourmet offerings. (Again, not the England you normally think of?!) I hope to visit at least three Michelin star restaurants during my jaunt. I’m a huge fan of British star chef Rick Stein and plan to eat at least two of his restaurants.
My research for this trip consists of bingeing on Rick Stein’s TV shows, “Poldark,” and “Doc Martin.”
Question: Can I wear my Doc Martens to visit the land that made Doc Martin famous?
I’ve booked my walking holiday through Absolute Escapes out of Edinburgh. They’ve taken care of all the inns (mostly B&Bs) and will provide logistic back-up, and a sherpa service.
I’m hoping to bring this in between $10-$12,000 – including air from Denver to London. That’s about $285/day – I think that’s a fair budget considering I’m doing all the legwork.
The trip itself is the “splurge.” All the lodging and breakfasts along the walk are paid for. I’ll only have to pay for lunch and dinners, and, ummm wine.
I’ve tagged on some sightseeing in London, and I got tickets to see one of my favorite groups, “Simply Red,” who are performing in concert two days before my walk begins … Hey, no judgment, I’ll be “Holding Back the Years.”
I guess the three dinner reservations I’ve made at famed restaurants also count as “splurges” – but I consider them quality calories!
Luckily, I still have a lot of my hiking gear from when I walked 500 miles doing the Camino de Santiago (2017). I did recently buy a new backpack (Osprey TEMPEST PRO 28) and new boots (La Sportiva) for my trip to Iceland (2021). So I’m pretty much set on gear. Plus, who am I kidding, I’m hiking inn to inn and there’s a sherpa service that will be taking care of my luggage.
Despite the luxury of having someone handle my luggage between inns, I won’t be packing a heavy load, but I will have a load of stuff.
Here’s My Packing List:
- Credit Cards & Cash
- Emergency Contact List
- Paper Map
- Guide Book
- iPhone, Earbuds (extra)
- iPhone Charger & Cords
- iWatch & Charger
- Power Adapter w/ USB port
- Sunscreen & Lip balm
- Eyeglasses & Sunglasses
- Poles and extra “feet”
- Day pack & Fanny pack
- Water Bottle
- Waterproof pants/coat
- 4 Bottoms (3 long, 1 short,)
- 5 Shirts (3 long sleeves & 2 short) All quick dry
- 1 dress (lightweight, quick-drying)
- 5 pairs of SmartWool/Merino socks
- 5 pairs of underwear & 3 sports bras
- Birks for evenings
- Buff & Headband
- Hat & Beanie
- Toothpaste, brush
- Towel – Quick-dry
- Compeed (1 small & 1 medium – for blisters)
- 6 bandaids
- First aid tape
- First aid needle for blisters
- Nuun electrolyte tablets
- Safety pins
- Vaseline for toes and feet/heels
- Wet/Face wipes
- Hand Sanitizer
- Face Masks
- Sea to Summit Dry bags
- Swiss army knife
- S-Hooks to hold wet stuff, use in showers, etc
- Scrubba w/ laundry sheets
- Line and pins for laundry
- Small roll of duct tape
- Emergency blanket
On the Trail and in my Day Pack
- Walking Poles w/ extra “feet”
- Map & GPS
- Guide Book
- iPhone, Earbuds
- iPhone Charger
- Nuun tablets
- Water Bottle / Camelback
- Emergency Blanket
- Small sewing Kit – Needle and thread
- Toilet paper & Tissues
- Ziplock bags
- Bug spray/wipes
- Duct tape
- Army knife
- Plastic fork/spoon/knife
INSIDE FANNY PACK
- In Case of Emergency Contact
- If Lost – contact sheet
- Credit cards/Coins
I’m flying in a couple of days before my walk and will be seeing some sights in London. I’ve booked a tour of Buckingham Palace and the National Gallery. I’ve also booked a ticket to see “Simply Red” who are performing in Taunton.
I’ll be using England’s fantastic and super-efficient train service to get to and from London.
My tour operator has taken care of all my lodgings.
Here’s my walking itinerary
- Day 1 Set off from Westward Ho!
- Day 2 Clovelly 11m / 18km
- Day 3 Hartland Quay 10.5m / 17km
- Day 4 Morwenstow Historic 7.5m / 12km
- Day 5 Bude 7.5m / 12km
- Day 6 Crackington Haven 9.5m / 15km
- Day 7 Tintagel 11.5m / 19km
- Day 8 Port Isaac 8.5m / 14km
- Day 9 Padstow 12m / 19km
- Day 10 Rest Day – Padstow
- Day 11 Porthcothan 13.5m / 22km
- Day 12 Newquay 10.5m / 16.5km
- Day 13 Perranporth 12.5m / 20km
- Day 14 Portreath 12.5m / 20km
- Day 15 Hayle 12m / 19km
- Day 16 St Ives 6m / 10km
- Day 17 Rest Day – St Ives
- Day 18 Zennor 6m / 9.5km
- Day 19 Pendeen 7.5m / 12km to
- Day 20 Sennen Cove 9m / 14.5km from
- Day 21 Porthcurno 6.5m / 10.5km
- Day 22 Penzance 11.5m / 18km
- Day 23 Rest Day – Penzance
For my post-walk, I want to spend more time in Cornwall exploring sites like St. Michael’s Mount and I hope to be able to spend some time with my English relatives.
So this trip, delayed by Covid is, pending any global crisis, ON!
Have you walked or visited the South West Coast Path? If so, please share your comments and advice.