There are many reasons why more people are turning to staycations this year. The cost of living crisis, a greater consciousness of the climate, and nervousness about the COVID-19 pandemic are all amongst them, but another great reason is the fact that, well, the UK has a lot to offer for intrepid explorers!
The South West of the British Isles is awash with stunning coastal locations and hidden gems that are perfect for exploring, teeming with flora and fauna, rustic fishing villages, and revealing fossils of a bygone era – much of which can be found along the South West Coast Path.
A trip to the South West coast of England takes you to the land of pirates, hidden coves, and breath-taking views, and here are some of the best places that you can explore this year.
St Ives, Cornwall
Amongst the prettiest towns and villages in the UK, stands St Ives, a quaint seaside town and fishermen’s harbour, with its beach that is ranked as one of Europe’s top 10 beaches. The St Ives area of Cornwall boasts a wealth of coastal treats for you to enjoy, from beautifully soft, sandy beaches, to pebbles, to surfing and swimming at Porthmeor beach, or hiding away on your own secluded beach inside one of the nation’s areas of outstanding beauty.
You can take a 1.2 mile coastal walk from Carbis Bay to St Ives. Passing Carbis Bay Hotel and Estate, turn left onto the South West Coast Path in the direction of St Ives. The path crosses the railway line, taking you uphill through the trees, bringing you out to spectacular views over St Ives Bay. With very little ascent and descent, this walk is perfect for a summer’s day!
The Undercliffs, Jurassic Coast
Stretching from Axmouth to Lyme Regis is one of Western Europe’s most active coastal landslide systems – The Undercliffs.
The Undercliffs reserve offers up a seven-mile expanse of thriving woodland, natural springs, and a hive of wildlife protected by a border of untouched beaches. With its own mini tropical-like micro-climate, you can see plants and animals here that you would not see anywhere else in the British Isles, including serene orchids and reptiles that wouldn’t look out of place somewhere in the Caribbean.
You can walk the coast path from Seaton to Lyme Regis, taking you through The Undercliffs. Part 1 of this walk spans over 3.5 miles, over challenging and uneven terrain. If you’re feeling brave, take the entire 7 mile route from the Axmouth to Lyme Regis. The area is unique with fresh-leaved woodland, bluebells, and wild garlic. A gem of the Jurassic Coastline, this walk is not to be missed.
In Devon you’ll find England’s first natural World Heritage Site in the small village of Beer. Standing out against the red rocks that surround them, you can’t miss Beer’s iconic white cliffs and it’s picturesque shingle beach which is still used by fishermen daily.
If you fancy a walk between two very different villages, take the coast path from Beer to Branscombe. Start at the Beer Youth Hostel, and head towards Beer. Once you meet the sea, turn right and take the South West Coast Path. After a walk along the white cliffs, you’ll be greeted with spectacular ocean views! The walk in total is 5.6 miles, but this can be extended if you choose to walk back to Beer.
Chapman’s Pool, Dorset
Found close to the fossil-filled Kimmeridge Bay, Chapman’s Pool could be the location of the latest smuggler’s film. It is a little challenging to get to but this adds to its beauty and tranquillity. In fact, the only signs of life that you are likely to come across at Chapman’s Pool are a couple of fisherman’s huts and the millions of tiny creatures that inhabit the numerous rock pools.
Starting from Worth Matravers car park, you can walk around the beautiful limestone coastline which has been carved by millions of years of erosion by the sea, taking you through to Chapman’s Pool. Around 5.9 miles in total, you may spot shipwrecks as well as caves and quarries that date back to the medieval times.
The South West Coast Path takes you along an awe-inspiring coastline that provides keen explorers with a treasure trove of hidden jewels, and these are just a few of them!
Guest Blog written by Rosie Buckley
I am a freelance writer who has recently graduated from University with a degree in English Language. I have a passion for all things travel and lifestyle, which I channel into my writing.
I have been visiting the South West since I was young with my family. I visit each year, with some of my favourite locations being Gwithian Towans and St Ives Bay in Cornwall, and Budleigh Salterton in Devon. For me, the coastal walks aren’t just about exercise, but mostly for my mental health. There’s something about being by the sea that makes me feel calm and collected.
Each walk that you do along the coast path will always be in some of the most beautiful locations, and you never know what you may see! I hope this inspires you to get out and explore more of the South West this summer.
Contact Rosie on LinkedIn