Around Land´s End… on the South West Coast Path (SWCP)…
The South West Coast Path or SWCP in England – an ultimate place of longing for many hikers. And they all probably have such images in their heads very quickly:
But does it always look like in the photo above? The clear answer is: yes and no. Yes, because this trail is really so incredibly beautiful. And because it does indeed mostly run very close to the coastline – often directly on some impressive cliffs. And of course no, because it is simply impossible for it to look like that in every single spot of the SWCP…. but first things first.
The South West Coast Path
The SWCP is a long-distance coastal trail in the southwest of England. It´s a whopping 1014 km (630 miles) long in total and stretches from Minehead in Devon to Poole in Dorset. On its official website, 52 stages in eight weeks are scheduled for the complete hike of the trail. In my opinion, this is a relatively reasonable figure – especially when you consider the 35,000 metres of altitude difference that you have to manage in addition to the actual distance.
However, I don’t want to hide the fact that the current record for walking the entire SWCP is ten days (!!!). I guess without having too many cream teas though… 🙂
Our personal hiking tour
Perhaps the most beautiful – or at least scenically most spectacular – part of the SWCP runs through a third county: Cornwall. And this article is about exactly one part of that. To be precise, it’s about the seven stages of the section between Newquay and Mousehole.
In proposed staging plans, this roughly corresponds to the stages from the middle of the third week to the middle of week four. Maybe not quite as tough as the second week between Westward Ho! and Padstow, but not exactly easy either and often hardly less spectacular in the views.
The path as such…
A few brief words about the path as such… in other words, about the quality of the path. The SWCP is very well signposted and technically never overly demanding (with very few exceptions!). Good walking shoes and a normal level of fitness and surefootedness are basically sufficient. This is mainly because the path, although often quite narrow, is almost always very good nonetheless.
Furthermore, it´s never the same in appearance and condition. I think there are thousands of different looking trails all over the SWCP… which is really great. You just never get bored visually either. Here are a few examples from our hike:
However, due to the frequent ups and downs, it is advisable to consider hiking sticks on at least some of the stages – especially in case of rain. On certain stages (e.g. St. Ives – Pendeen or Land´s End – Mousehole) I would even strongly recommend them under wet conditions…
Fortunately, however, we had almost no rain, but a lot of sunshine… 🙂 Lucky us!
On one day – due to the whim of nature with very strong southerly winds and Sahara sand over parts of France and South West England – even with a truly mystical face.
The special characteristics of this section
I think (pretty much) all parts of the SWCP are beautiful in their own way. And they are – no wonder with a length of more than 1000 km – also very different. At least for most of the section from Westward Ho! to Moushoule, I can now confirm this myself. This is also true for the part we walked. Here, some very different (landscape) elements alternate quite frequently.
On the one hand, Newquay and St. Ives are comparatively large towns with a lot of tourism. On the other hand, there are some of the most beautiful beaches imaginable, which are also a paradise for surfers.
But we also see quite wild and deserted sections on impressive cliffs. And last but not least, we hike in parts through a historic mining region, where tin and copper, for example, were mined directly on the coast under very harsh conditions.
In addition, of course, there is another special feature with Land’s End. This most westerly point of their country obviously has a special fascination for the English in particular. For some of us – myself included – the place itself is rather irritating. In front of an admittedly impressive natural backdrop, a kind of pilgrimage site with an adjoining mini amusement park has been created, which is not to everyone’s taste. Well, at least photographically I found it somehow exciting.
Anyway, this diversity – some of which can even be seen on a single stage – is a large part of the region’s appeal. And of course the constant and beautiful view on the sea…
… which then also tempts you in Land’s End not to linger there, but to go on… 🙂
Was it very strenuous?
This question is not so easy to answer. Of course, it’s not an afternoon stroll, and hiking more than – in this case – 113 km over several days is unusual for office workers at first, and the bones and muscles ache. And if you catch a cold (as Romi did unfortunately), arriving at the end of a stage can be somehow tough.
But – colds, blisters and sore muscles aside – you get used to it pretty quickly and the moments you get back for it are not only worth every effort, but are simply priceless.
It is not a terrible burden to have to walk the SWCP, but a privilege to be able to do it!
A final word about the food: Yes, you will find often “only” pub food on the way – which is usually not so bad nowadays. But there are also other places with other things to eat in England – and not bad at all… 😉
Further impressions of the tour
Since this website is mainly about photography and not a travel blog, I will leave it at this description of our hike. Even though there are soooo many stories to tell… but go there an see yourself! By the way, it is quite easy to get there by train from Germany. And the ones in England are even very punctual… 🙂
A little side fact about the photography: I actually wanted to write that it was another trip with only one camera and one lens – namely, as so often, with the wonderful Fujifilm X100V.
But to be quite honest, I had a second camera with me – and that would actually have sufficed in 95% of cases. And this was, of course, my smartphone. From a certain quality of device (in my case an iPhone 13 Pro), this is almost always sufficient from a photographic point of view.
OK, so finally here are a few more impressions (at least these all taken with the “real” camera) of this wonderful walk on the SWCP without a special chronological or thematic sorting.