> Hillwalk Tours Blog > Hiking in England > 7 Facts About The South West Coast Path
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POSTED BY August 4, 2018

The South West Coast Path is one of the most famous hiking trails in the world. In this post, we investigate 7 unique facts about this magical trail.

1. The Longest Trail

At 1,014km (630 miles), the South West Coast Path is the longest waymarked hiking trail in England and Wales. It runs along the southwest coast of England, taking in beautiful coastal scenery.

Having been created by coastguards on the lookout for smugglers, the route hugs the coast for the majority and gives the perfect opportunity for wildlife and landscape watching.

The South West Coast Path Scenery

2. The Most Western Point

Land’s End is the western most point of the Britain. Hikers can stand at the tip of the peninsula, look north or south and see nothing but clear ocean.

A popular, extreme route is between Land’s End in the southwest, and John O’Groats, the most north-easterly place on the British Isles. Few people hike, cycle or drive this route to experience everything that England, Scotland and Wales has to offer.

Land's End - the most western point in Britain

3. The SWCP Symbol

As the South West Coast Path is a National Trail of England, its symbol is an acorn. All National Trails are waymarked by the symbol of an acorn, in conjunction with various other signage, such as yellow, blue, or red arrows. The acorn can be found on all posts marking the way, and is a sure sign that you’re on the right path.

Acorn Symbol - South West Coast Path

4. Quickest Completion Time

In 2016, Damian Hall – an ultra-runner – completed the entire 1,1014km South West Coast Path in just 10 days, 15 hours and 18 minutes. That’s an average distance of almost 100km per day, using just his feet.

*This record, set on 24th May, 2016, stood until September, 2020 when a new record was set by Kristian Morgan with a time of 10 days, 12 hours and 6 minutes shaving more than 3 hours off Damian’s Hall time!

A boat along the South West Coast Path

5. Giants! Sharks, that is…

The South West Coast Path isn’t just a hit with landscape-lovers. There is wildlife aplenty, as the trail runs through numerous nature reserves. Plants, animals, marine life, and other wildlife are all in abundance along this popular and beautiful trail. Farmers have played  apart in helping waining species to return. The changing of farming methods have increased the number of nesting areas and habitats that certain once-plentiful birds prefer. The cirl bunting used to be incredibly common on farmland. However, as of 1989 there were just 118 breeding pairs due to changes in farming. Today, there are 880 breeding pairs as work with farmers ensured that the bird has sufficient nesting areas and shelter. Giant sharks are also a sight to behold off the coast. As they migrate, they take a stop along the south west coast path to feed on plankton.

Wildlife on the South West Coast Path

6. Filled with National Park

Its easy to see why the South West Coast Path draws so many hikers and nature lovers. 74% of the waymarked trail is within a national park or an AONB (Area Of Natural Beauty).

Beautiful scenery on the South West Coast Path

7. A UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Cornish Mining Landscape is comprised of ten special mining heritage areas designated as a UNESCO world heritage site. They are evidence of an incredibly important era of development in Britain. It fed the industrial revolution in Britain and contributed to the mass movement of both people and goods. It gave way to innovation and invention, providing the basis for many of the tools that we use for manufacturing today.

UNESCO World Heritage site on the South West Coast Path

We hope that you enjoyed this guide to 7 Facts About The South West Coast Path. If you’d like to experience a hiking holiday on the South West Coast Path, check out our range of self-guided tours.