Not a walk for the faint hearted! The steep South West Coast Path around Hartland is challenging, but the scenery is equally as rewarding.
Why it’s on my list
Hartland has got to be one of the most beautiful places in North Devon. We enjoyed a really good walk there a little while ago, which you can read about in this walk review, and when we got a new walking book and found a different long walk around Hartland, we thought we’d give it a go.
Location: Start in the car park above Hartland Quay
Parking: Lots of spaces in the car park, costs around £2
Length of walk: 10.5 miles – the guide suggests allowing 6 hours
Type of walk: Circular walk, very steep coastal path in many places
Dog friendly? We saw sheep occasionally, advisable to keep leads close at hand
This certainly isn’t a lazy Sunday afternoon walk, in difficulty level or scenic rewards. I absolutely love the views, which definitely makes this walk one of my favourites. The steep ups and downs make it a good work out too!
The route we followed is taken from Pathfinder Guides’ North and Mid Devon Walks. Get it from Amazon here.
Starting from the car park above Hartland Quay and walking up the hill, we passed through a gate by the Rocket House to come out on to the cliff path. Beautiful views right from the start!
We walked along the cliff path, admiring the rock formations and wild hedgerows all the way to Blackpool Mill Cottage and beyond.
We carried on all the way to Hartland Point, where there is a lighthouse that sadly isn’t open to visitors.
Just beyond the lighthouse there is a parking area and a cafe (open in the summer season). Bearing right up a road and past the helicopter base that takes passengers to Lundy Island, the walk now heads inland. The route is about as up and down as the coastal path and takes you past Blagdon Farm – there are great views from here.
We headed into Abbey Valley, where you can see Hartland Abbey. There were sheep and other animals in the fields by the Abbey.
We enjoyed more gorgeous scenery and reached Lower Elmscott Farm. The lane took a sharp left, with Post Box Cottage on the right, we kept ahead on a signed concrete path. We soon came to some fields and we crossed one diagonally to rejoin the coast path and the final quarter of the walk.
We followed the coastal path all the way back to Hartland Quay, passing by bluebells (it was early summer at the time), stunning rock formations and amazing views of the sea.
Having completed a previous walk around Hartland, which I really enjoyed, one of the best bits for me was that by walking in the other direction to that walk we could enjoy the glorious coastal views in a whole new way.
The scenery really is amazing here. It’s no wonder it’s been used in all sorts of TV shows and films, most recently the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
Not the best
At one point we almost walked right into an electric fence cable that was placed right across the path. We spotted it just in time thanks to the bright red plastic bit that was by the fence pole. Make sure to keep an eye out for electric fences when you’re walking inland!
Before you head home, take a walk around Hartland Quay. As well as pub grub, ice creams, fudge and more to enjoy, there are plaques that tell you a bit about Hartland Quay’s fascinating history. And on top of all that you can sit and watch the waves too. This was our view.