Want to go hiking in South West England to explore more of this corner of England? In this guide, we’ve reviewed our full collection of hikes and walking routes in South West England to bring you our top 5 hiking routes in the region.
The largest and most diverse of England’s nine regions. The South West is well known for its warm hospitality and delicious artisan produce.
Read on to acquaint yourself with the diversity of South West England.
- Cheddar Gorge
- Walk difficulty: Intermediate
- Time: 1½ to 2 hours
- Distance: 4 miles (6.4 km)
The limestone cliffs of Cheddar Gorge are an arresting sight. One of Somerset’s top attractions, Cheddar Gorge is the largest gorge in England and a feast for the eyes. Located in the Mendip Hills, 50 minutes away from Bath and Bristol, the spectacular gorge offers a breathtaking walk along the cliff tops, fantastic views over the Somerset countryside and a great opportunity to spot wildlife. While visiting Cheddar Gorge is free, you may need to pay for parking.
To explore Cheddar Gorge to the fullest, I recommend following the Cheddar Gorge Cliff Top walk which takes you along the ridge of the gorge and offers breath-taking scenery. I’d also suggest driving through the winding valley and admiring the majestic cliffs. Unfortunately there are no footpaths in the valley. From the bottom of the gorge, you’ll be awestruck by the imposing height of the Cheddar cliffs.
The Cheddar Gorge Cliff Top walk is a circular hike along the two gorge ridges. Featuring two steep ascents to the top of the cliffs, this walk offers astounding views over the gorge, the Somerset hills, the town of Cheddar, and in the distance, Glastonbury Tor and the Bristol Channel.
- Castle Drogo via the Fisherman's Path & the Hunter's Path — Dartmoor National Park
Walk difficulty: Beginner
Distance: 4.2 mi
Walking the Hunter’s and Fisherman’s Path to Castle Drogo is a fairly laid back adventure that will take you through a lovely gorge set within the beautiful landscapes of Dartmoor National Park; however, there are a few steep sections of the route as you make your way into and out of the gorge. Be sure to wear proper walking footwear with good support. Additionally, Castle Drogo is a popular destination for tourists and the parking may be limited at times, so be sure to arrive early.Setting out from the car park, you will make your way to the southeast through the forest to reach the Hunter’s Path that runs parallel to the River Teign along the top of the gorge. Follow this to the east and make your descent of the hillside to arrive at the historic Fingle Bridge and a pub of the same name where you can grab some mid-walk refreshments. From here, you will head to the west along the Fisherman’s path that follows along the banks of the river. Reaching the base of Hunter’s Tor, you will turn to the north and make your way back uphill before turning once again to the east to walk just below Castle Drogo on the return to the car park.
- Lizard Peninsula loop to Kynance Cove, Church Cove and the Lizard Point — Cornwall AONB
Walk difficulty: Challenging
Time: 3- 4 hours
Distance: 7 mi
In 2016 the Lizard National Nature Reserve was extended and hence became one of the largest nature reserves in the South West of England. The Lizard peninsula is one of the best locations in the country for wildlife, with a wealth of rare plants, invertebrates and habitats that make visiting the area a must for nature lovers. The Reserve covers nearly 2000 hectares of spectacular heath and coastline which is where you can find the incredible diversity of wildlife and rare, unusual plants with the heathland, coastal cliff vegetation and temporary ponds, being of international importance. The rare plants include dwarf rush, wild asparagus and Cornish heath, and the peninsula is a stronghold for the sadly much declined marsh fritillary butterfly. Chough, peregrine and raven soar above the cliffs, and the heathland puddles are home to a wealth of rare beetles.
Length of the Lizard Point to Kynance Cove trail
This Lizard Point to Kynance Cove walk is a roughly 8km (4.9 miles) long circular route. Depending on your speed or how long you’re spending at Kynance Cove beach and in Lizard, this route could take anywhere between 4 to 5 hours. It’s because the scenery is just so beautiful, so inevitably you’ll want to stop every 5 minutes to admire it.
- Sennen Beach and to Lands End Circular
Walk difficulty: Beginner
Time: 1 hour 30 mins
Head out on this 5.8-km circular trail near Penzance, Cornwall. Generally considered an easy route, it takes an average of 1 h 34 min to complete. This is a very popular area for birding, camping, and fishing, so you'll likely encounter other people while exploring. The trail is open year-round and is beautiful to visit anytime. Dogs are welcome, but must be on a lead.
This short walk in Cornwall has outstanding views of the sea and cliffs. This is a good route for bringing the family as there is some elevation gain but it is not too challenging.
One sight worth seeing is the Sennen Beach Shipwreck but make sure to keep an eye on the tides! There are opportunities to grab coffee and food at Land's End for a mid walk bite or drink.
- Tarr Steps & Withypool loop — Exmoor National Park
Walk difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 3 hours 30 mins
Distance: 7.38 miles
Walk alongside a winding river through deep forests in Exmoor National Park on a seven-mile loop from the magical Tarr Steps to the Somerset village of Withypool.
Tucked away down a narrow lane five miles from Dulverton, the steps are an ancient clapper bridge – large flat slabs of stone placed on stone supports – across the River Barle, which dates back to around 1000 BC. Local legend says the five-tonne slabs were placed here by the Devil to win a bet with a local giant (apparently Old Nick still has sunbathing rights on its stones).
This gentle ramble meanders alongside the river before looping through Withypool and climbing for gorgeous views over Exmoor.