Your Awesome Guide To The South West Coast Path!
(For Hikers And Backpackers)
The South West Coast Path For Hikers
The Uk’s Longest (And Most Awesome!) National Trail
Where To Stay
Can You Wild Camp On The South West Coast Path?
The short answer is no, not without permission from the landowner, and the likelihood of you finding out who that is at the end of a long day’s hike is nil…
However, if you ask ‘do people wild camp on the South West Coast Path’, the answer is
Yes, of course! I’m one of them and I meet loads of people every year that do it too. The thing is, obviously, no-one will tell you where!
So if it’s your first time it can feel like a bit of an unknown punt, one that’s enough to put some hikers off altogether. And it has to be said, I’ve slept in some weird places (in a ditch, under a hedge…) but I’ve always had a good night’s sleep and often as not I’ve found a pitch with a perfect view!
The trick is to find somewhere early but not pitch up until dusk – and to leave early in the morning. One of the most important questions to ask yourself when you think you’ve found somewhere is ‘can I sleep here without causing any damage?’. That means damage to walls, fences or buildings, damage to plants, wildlife habitat (ground-nesting birds for example) the natural environment (even beaches can be sensitive environments) and if you have to move anything to pitch your tent, then move on. Don’t climb walls or fences to sleep in an adjacent field; don’t light fires; don’t camp where your stove might cause a fire and absolutely do not leave your crap (actual crap as well as litter) lying around. Phew!
That’s a lot of ‘don’ts’, but when you break camp if you make sure your pitch is exactly as it was when you arrived you should be fine. Your freedom is important, but not at the expense of someone’s livelihood (there’s a lot of farmland along the coast path), the natural and built environment, or other people that use the path. Wild camping is one of the best experiences a hiker can have:
Be considerate, be discreet, enjoy a perfect sunset, a good night’s sleep and (fingers crossed) a sublime sunrise too!
Find Out More
Have you heard of the Leave No Trace movement? No? Then you need to read this: The Principles Of Leave No Trace, because following this tried and tested guide will make you the best hiker you can be. And if you want to know more about wild-camping read my in-depth guide for loads more details, including how to ear-mark a potential pitch on an OS map and safety for women on solo hiking trips:
Where Can I Stay Close To The Trail?
If wild camping’s not for you, you might find you’re in for a lot more detailed planning – and you’ll have a lot less flexibility. But if you’re happy to trade flexibility you won’t have to carry so much either, and could even use a luggage transfer service. The biggest headache you’ll face though is finding a place close to the path that fits with the number of miles you want to walk each day, especially in more remote places. Begin your search with these websites:
- Treyarnon Bay
- Land’s End
- Lulworth Cove
There are a number of independent hostels around the South West Coast Path, check out