A guide to walking the South West Coastal Path from Ifracombe, North Devon


The UK's South West Coastal path has stunning views across the channel

The UK's South West Coastal path has stunning views across the channel



The South West Coast Path is England’s longest way marked long-distance footpath and a National Trail. It stretches for a massive 630 miles, running from Minehead in Somerset, along the coasts of Devon and Cornwall, all the way to Poole Harbour in Dorset.


There are lots of towns along the South West Coastal path where you can pick up a small section of the National trail, or if you fancy a challenge, you could take on longer sections over several days, or even the full route over several weeks!


I was staying in Ilfracombe in North Devon, for a few days break by the seaside and one of the best things to do in Devon is to walk the South West Coastal Path. From Ilfracombe, there's a great 8 mile long section of the coastal path, which takes you to the neighbouring seaside resort of Woolacombe, heading South along the path and this is the route I'm sharing in this guide.



Want to explore more of England's South Coast? See my post on how to plan a full day itinerary exploring Dorset's Jurassic Coast


The Dramatic South West Coastal Path, Devon

The Dramatic South West Coastal Path



A guide to walking the South West Coastal Path from Ifracombe, North Devon


1. Setting of on the South West Coastal path from Ilfracombe

A good place to start the walk in Ilfracombe is from the Tourist Information centre, in Jubilee Gardens and follow the signs from there. If you are staying further out from the town centre, you can pick up the South West Coastal Path from behind the Avoncourt Lodge B&B, on Torrs Walk Avenue.


The South West Coastal Path is really well sign-posted and it is really easy to follow the path without needing too many instructions or maps.


2. Ilfracombe to Lee Bay

The route from Ilfracombe will take you through Lee Bay beach- a quiet inlet with a tranquil pebble beach and small cafe. The village of Lee is very picturesque and offers some stunning local walks, so if you don't fancy doing the full 8 mile route to Woolacombe, I would recommend walking to Lee Bay beach and spending some time wandering around this pretty bay, before heading back to Ilfracombe.


If you are doing the full route to Woolacombe, follow the path round the edge of Lee Bay, up a small hill. From here, you will be rewarded with stunning views across the coves near Lee Bay.


Stunning views across Lee Bay and the surrounding coves on the South West Coastal path, Devon

Stunning views across Lee Bay and the surrounding coves



3. Lee Bay to Morthoe

Shortly after leaving Lee Bay beach behind, you have the option to veer off the coastal path and head inland towards the village of Morthoe. This is another great option if you want to shorten the walk and get a bus back to Ilfracombe from the village of Morthoe.


I continued to follow the path along the coastline, which is beautifully dramatic with exposed cliff edges and unobstructed views out to sea. The route does have some steep climbs and descents, particularly in the section between Lee and Woolacombe – so be prepared for that!

The South West Coast Path, Devon

Luckily the gorgeous views make the steep climbs worth it!!


4. Morthoe to Woolacombe

After the steep climb (see above photo!), you'll be glad to hear that the path starts to flatten out a bit, and you will start to skirt round the edges of the cliff edge as you turn the corner and start to see your first glimpse of the outskirts of Woolacombe.

Walking the South West Coastal Path with Woolacombe in view

Walking round the corner of the cliff, with Woolacombe in view



5. Finish the walk in Woolacombe and enjoy a few hours in this seaside town

As you get closer to Woolacombe, you’ll notice an increase in holiday cottages and the number of cafes, bars and restaurants. Woolacombe is a popular beach town, particularly for families, with mini golf and arcades to keep the kids entertained.


Woolacombe is also a popular seaside town for surfing and there's many shops that sell and hire out surf boards, body boards and wet suits.


The cafes can get really busy in Woolacombe, particularly in the summer months, so I would recommend getting some takeaway fish and chips and heading to the beach to enjoy it by the sea.


From Woolacombe, you can take the bus back to Ilfracombe, for a small fee, which you just pay the driver. The bus does get busy as it will drop off at the two camp sites just outside of Woolacombe, but they are fairly regular.


The sandy beach at Woolacombe

The sandy beach at Woolacombe



I absolutely loved this walk. It might have only been 8 miles, but it had plenty of steep climbs to make it more challenging. It was also really nice to take a more leisurely pace, stopping along the way to enjoy the views. For more things to do in and around Ilfracombe, see my post, here.



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