They say that with all the cumulative elevation gain, walking the entire 630 miles of the South West Coast Path in England is the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest four times! That’s approximately 115,000 feet elevation gain total! Earlier this year, my husband and I walked 100 of those miles. That’s a cumulative elevation gain of 19,000 feet!
Of course without the snow, ice, glaciers, crevasses, altitude, oxygen tanks, climbing ropes, cold, or Sherpas of Mount Everest, summarizing all the blogs I have written about our 19,000 feet of elevation gain, I present “My Travel Guide to the South West Coast Path,” including links to all my previous blogs.
The beautiful scenery. Each foot of the South West Coast Path alternates between the ups and downs of the high cliffs and low valleys, the quaint villages and relaxing beaches. You constantly view the vast sky and the Atlantic Ocean or English Channel, and the wildflowers, plants and farmland. Each and every foot of the scenery is beautiful.
The fishing villages. Including the seas, the fish, the boats, the sailors, the fisherman, and the coastguards, the fishing villages are part of what the South West Coast Path is all about. According to the South West Coast Path Association, historically the Path was “originally created by coastguards, patrolling the south west peninsula looking for smugglers. The Path has also been used by fisherman looking for shoals of fish and checking the sea conditions.” Today you can eat fresh fish caught by the fisherman from some of these fishing villages.
The lighthouses. Also part of what the South West Coast Path is all about is the lighthouses, used to keep those at sea as safe as possible. In our 100 miles, we saw nine lighthouses, including a few harbour lights, sometimes from a distance, sometimes up close, other times through the fog, and even taking a tour. In the entire 630 miles, I believe that there are no less than 15 lighthouses, and perhaps even more.
The churches. Seeing nine historical, spiritual, peaceful churches along our 100 miles of the Path, I experienced a mix of emotions. One such emotion was feeling the significance of another part of what the South West Coast Path is all about as I read memorials to those who unfortunately lost their lives at sea. The older art and architecture of the interior and exterior of each church always fascinates me, as well as the modern embroidery of kneeling pillows, with images of the villages, lighthouses, and churches of the Path itself. And messages of world peace. There must be countless churches to see in all 630 miles of the South West Coast Path.
The senses. Listening to the sounds of the oceans and waves, the birds chirping, the whisper of the wind in trees. Seeing the vibrant colors of the wildflowers, the varying hues of blue skies and waters. Smelling the salty sea air, and even the fish. All these senses allowed me to experience a calming walking meditation along the South West Coast Path.
Seeing and doing fun things. (Aside from walking all day every day.) Some random photos of our journey included when we needed to summon a ferry by changing a sign from blue to yellow. Seeing old sundial clocks from various churches. And feeling welcome with signs such as, “Walkers, Muddy Boots & Dogs Welcome.” (Even though we didn’t have a dog with us.)
Visiting landmarks. We were able to visit two landmarks that are not only significant on the Path, but also in all of England. The most westerly point in England, Land’s End. And the most southerly point in England, Lizard Point on the Lizard Peninsula. Even in the fog.
Windows and Doors. My favorite subject to photograph when I travel is windows and doors. Turns out I appropriately took pictures mostly of nautical themes in the windows and doors on our 100 miles – boats and ships, fishing and sailors, beaches and shells, toy pails and shovels, anchors and buoys, crab pots and lobsters and turtles, and lighthouses. All which are representative of what the South West Coast Path is all about. Even some humorous words of wisdom were displayed in some windows and doors such as, “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him to fish and you can get rid of him for the entire weekend.”
Directional acorns and arrows. Following various aids to navigation for walking the Path, the National Trail symbol of the acorn, and colored arrows, including the yellow arrow which indicates a path for use by walkers, helped us find our way. Of course, we also used guide books, booklets, and maps. But if there is a discrepancy, the “Complete Guide to the South West Coast Path” advises, “follow any such directions on the ground rather than relying on literature – things change over time, even including the route of the South West Coast Path, literature can become out-of-date.”
Three inspiring books. Two humorous books by men, “The Man Who Hated Walking” by Overend Watts, and “500 Mile Walkies” by Mark Wallington (even though he probably actually did the entire 630 miles), were two of the three inspiring books about walking the entire 630-mile South West Coast Path that I read. The third and the most inspirational book was created by a woman who walked the entire path solo (well, with her dog). Sasha Harding’s book, “A Brush With The Coast,” is filled with her heart-felt writing and her adorable drawings.
I hope you enjoyed “My Travel Guide to the South West Coast Path,” including links to all my previous blogs, based on our 100 miles of walking and our 19,000 feet of elevation gain!