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Self-Guided Walking: South West Coastal Path

Walk & Trek

Listed as one of the World’s Greatest Walks by Lonely Planet, discover the South West Coastal Path from Penzance to Falmouth

Trip Code: MCSL
Holiday Grades

Our Holiday Grades Explained

To show the relative difficulty of our holidays, each trip is graded on a scale of 1 to 12, with 12 being the most challenging. Although we have tried to make our grading system as clear as possible, it cannot take into account your personal interests, abilities or experience. If you have any questions about the nature of a particular trip or its suitability for you, please read the 'Is this holiday for you?' section or contact us.


Suitable for most people in good health, holidays at this grade include only limited amounts of activity.

View leisurely holidays

Suitable for reasonably fit individuals, such as weekend walkers and cyclists. There can be the occasional more difficult day.

View moderate holidays

Physically challenging holidays, where you need to be prepared before you go.

View challenging holidays
10 - 12 TOUGH
10 - 12 TOUGH

Our toughest holidays, involving many long days, often in isolated areas. A high level of fitness and previous wilderness and mountain experience is essential.

View Tough holidays

Self-Guided Walking: South West Coastal Path

  • Recognised by Lonely Planet as one of the World’s Greatest Walks, this is self-guided coastal walking at its best
  • Expect dramatic geology, sweeping cliffs, stunning sea-stacks, hidden coves and creeks
  • Enjoy the tales of smuggling skulduggery and read up on Robert Louis Stevenson and Daphne du Maurier before you go
  • A wonderful picture-perfect tour of Cornwall’s coastal highlights all experienced the best way, on foot
  • Extensive route notes, recommendations for local meals, daily luggage transfers and B&B in local guesthouses included in the holiday price

At a Glance
  • Self-Guided
  • 5 days walking
  • Average of 18km walking per day
  • Packed lunches available on request
  • Recommendations for excellent local meals
  • Join In Penzance/ Ends in Falmouth

Accommodation & Meals
  • 6 Breakfasts
  • 6 nights Guesthouse

The South West Coastal path brims with a multitude of treasures – amazing landscapes, crystal seas and some of the UK’s most dramatic coastal scenery. This five day self-guided walking holiday starts with magnificent views across the causeway to St. Michael’s Mount, reaches the wild Atlantic cliff of Lizard Point and passes fishing villages and creeks on the way to Falmouth.

Bursting with highlights this one of our most dramatic shorter walking breaks. This is a coast that has been defined by mighty seas, ancient Cornish legends and by the smugglers whose exploits shaped the tales of the south-west peninsula for centuries. Extraordinary geology abounds with stunning sea-stacks, caves and cliffs, and in this lush part of the world, the flower-strewn cliff-tops are home to abundant bird-life. There are vibrant fishing villages like Cadgwith with its thatched houses, the church of St. Winwaloe hides among sand-dunes and the wide beach of Praa Sands will impress. Next come the creeks and you can jump on the Helford Ferry across Gillian Creek before tackling the final day’s walk past a series of little beaches and coves before reaching the promenade of Falmouth and Pendennis Castle, a fitting finish point on this wonderful route.

The trip includes all accommodation, breakfast and full luggage support meaning you can travel light and concentrate on the lovely scenery and historic sites.

This is just one of many itineraries we offer including the 175 mile section of the trail in South and West Cornwall, with holidays ranging from 3 to 7 days walking.

Is this holiday for you?

Grade - This is not a technically difficult walk and should be easy to tackle for most reasonably fit people. Terrain - The paths are good, and there are no major route finding challenges. What’s it like underfoot? Generally good paths and tracks, although a few sections can get muddy after heavy rain. How much up & down? – More than you’d think! Although you never …

Grade - This is not a technically difficult walk and should be easy to tackle for most reasonably fit people. Terrain - The paths are good, and there are no major route finding challenges. What’s it like underfoot? Generally good paths and tracks, although a few sections can get muddy after heavy rain. How much up & down? – More than you’d think! Although you never reach more than 400m above sea level (and most of the time not more than 200m) there are many short steep sections. Most days involve ascents of 200-400m metres, although no section is very steep for very long. Signposting: Good – the path is well waymarked. Navigation: Pretty straightforward – good signposting, and generally well defined tracks. Weather: You may be lucky enough to encounter warm, dry weather over the whole route and enjoy dry paths and tremendous views, but you must be prepared because the weather can change quickly. Good clothing and waterproofs are essential, but don’t forget you sunhat, sunblock and shorts!

Why KE?

We operate this trip in collaboration with our sister company Mickledore Travel, which is also based in Keswick in the Lake District. Mickledore have a long tradition of operating self-guided walking holidays along some of the finest trails in England, Scotland and Wales. Route notes, maps, luggage transfers and bed & breakfast accommodation in the best B&Bs, guesthouses and inns along the way are all included. Recommendations are also made for the best places to find delicious local meals at each night stop. We operate this trip in collaboration with our sister company Mickledore Travel, which is also based in Keswick in the Lake District. Mickledore have a long tradition of operating self-guided walking holidays along some of the finest trails in England, Scotland and Wales. Route notes, maps, luggage transfers and bed & breakfast accommodation in the best B&Bs, guesthouses and inns along the way are all included. Recommendations are also made for the best places to find delicious local meals at each night stop. 

Mickledore have a near perfect customer satisfaction score (99%), and we have no doubt that you will find their knowledgeable and friendly team able to answer even the most detailed of questions. 

Different durations of this holiday are available on request.



Travel to Penzance for your first night's accommodation.



Your walk begins adjacent to Mounts Bay with views of St Michael's Mount. On reaching the peaceful village of Marazion the trail follows a fairly flat track before picking up at Perran Sands where you walk in and out of the coves. Next comes Prussia Cove which was an area known for smuggling exports. Climbing out of the Prussia Cove you have a good section of cliff-top walking and you will pass the impressive beach of Praa Sands. A mixture of fields and dramatic cliff-top walking lead you to Porthleven.






542 M


21 KM

First up today is Loe bar which is a freshwater lagoon and a popular spot for keen birdwatchers. The trail then passes over the tiny beach at Gunwalloe where the church of St Winwaloe hides in the sand dunes. Beyond here the trail is along exposed cliff tops rewarding you with some of the best views over the treacherous rocks where many ships have been wrecked in bad weather. The trail continues along the coast down towards Lizard Point, the most southerly point in Great Britain.






822 M


21 KM

As you traverse around the coastal path you pass Housel Bay with its hidden cove. From here the trail is fairly flat until you reach the small fishing village of Cadgwith. After leaving Cadgwith you will encounter some extraordinary geology along this section including Old Serpentine Works which was a thriving Victorian rock factory steeped in history. After crossing the sandy beach of Kennack sands the path is fairly flat but with a few steep climbs as you cross over the cliff-tops toward the seaside village of Coverack.






755 M


18 KM

This section begins with some easy cliff-top walking with some splendid coastal views. After passing Dean Point you head inland to Godrevy Cove. The trail then re-joins the cliff tops once again following a flat stretch around the coastline to Gillian Creek. Here you need to cross the creek which can only be done safely one hour either side of low tide. The best option is to take the path around the estuary which takes between 40-45mins. The trail then snakes around the flat coastline passing by Bosahan Cove through woodlands. Upon reaching Helford the easiest way to cross the river is by Helford Ferry. The trail then bends round the side of the coast on a fairly flat path all the way up to Mawnan Smith.






908 M


24 KM

This is the shortest section of this route giving you plenty of time to go and explore the wonders of your ultimate finishing point of Falmouth. This section of walking is mainly flat with no real climbs. You pass through a series of little beaches along Gatamala Cove and Bream Cove. There are only a few small villages you pass on this section which include Maenporth and Swanpool. Upon reaching Falmouth you walk along its promenade towards Pendennis Castle which marks the finish point on this delightful route.






265 M


6 KM

Enjoy a relaxing breakfast at your accommodation. You may wish to take a further stroll around Falmouth before making your onward journey.


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The Route
Point Point

Essential Information

We've compiled some of our Frequently Asked Questions to help you learn more about this amazing trip.

  • All accommodation as described
  • Meals as described in the Meal Plan
  • Self-guided infomration pack containing your map and route notes
  • Luggage transport

  • Travel Insurance
  • Evening meals
  • Packed lunches (can be booked at an additional cost)
  • Transport to the start and away from the finish
  • Personal equipment
  • Any additional activities/excursions indicated as optional

This holiday is operated by our sister company, Mickledore Travel. KE is not acting as an agent, but is marketing the holiday on Mickledore’s behalf. All bookings and payments will be processed by Mickledore, and you will enter into an agreement directly with them under the terms of their booking conditions.

You will be posted your self-guided holiday pack once we have received the balance (normally around 8 weeks before the start of your holiday).  We supply one holiday pack per booking and this will be posted to the person that made the booking. Extra packs can be purchased at £30 per pack. Please contact us a minimum of 6 weeks in advance if you require an extra pack. 

Your holiday pack comprises of:

  • Your itinerary with details of each night’s accommodation; information on your evening meals, as well as luggage transport and transfers, (where applicable).
  • Directions and detailed maps to each accommodation
  • A guidebook that describes the route in detail, and covers the whole route with a series of maps, as well as providing a wealth of background information.
  • Map(s) which cover the entire route(s).
  • Luggage Tags (if luggage transport booked) which the luggage courier will use to identify your bags.
  • Information on local facilities, such as cafes and other recommended places to eat, cash points, taxi companies, etc.

As part of the standard charge we will issue the following:

  • 1 guidebook and map for up to 4 people
  • 2 guidebooks and maps for 5-7 people
  • 3 guidebooks and maps for 8 people or more

You may purchase extra copies from us at a discounted price.

This holidays starts at your accommodation in Penzance. All of our self-guided holidays are sold on a land only basis allowing you the flexibility to choose the travel method which best suits you.

Detailed instructions on getting to your first night’s and returning from your last night's accommodation by car, or on foot from/to the nearest train or bus station, will also be included in the holiday pack on individual accommodation maps.

This holiday is on a B&B basis. Packed lunches are available on request and we offer recommendations for each evening meal.

Your evening meal isn’t included in the package, but we include full details and recommendations for each evening meal in your itinerary. You will normally be within walking distance of a pub and/or restaurant, or where there is good food available at the accommodation, we’ll book that for you. Allow about £20 per person per night.

Pack lunches can be provided on this holiday for an additional cost from £36 per person. We recommend this as there will not always be a handy shop or cafe on the route.

Whilst we can cater for vegetarians, albeit sometimes with a more limited choice, we cannot always provide special diets.  Due to the nature of some of the trips that we operate and the countries in which we operate them, it can be very hard (and sometimes impossible) to cater for a wide range of dietary choices and you may have to supplement your diet with food/snacks from home.  If you have specific dietary requirements please do speak to our sales team and they will be able to advise you whether or not we will be able to offer your specific choice.  Please note that we are unable to provide separate menus and cannot accept liability for any problems arising from special dietary requirements or intolerances.

Good accommodation and friendly hosts are an essential part of any holiday. We understand this and go out of our way to find the best. We put a great deal of effort into hand picking our accommodation and matching it to individual customer requirements.

We use a variety of accommodation, including small country house hotels, guest houses in market towns, bed and breakfasts in farm houses, country cottages and Victorian town houses. In selecting the accommodation we look for helpful, friendly hosts with good quality, characterful accommodation close to the trail. For example, over the course of your trip you might stay in a village inn, a bed and breakfast in a converted barn, a Victorian guest house, on a working farm, and in a Georgian hotel.

We always try to arrange en suite accommodation, i.e. rooms with their own bathrooms for each night of your stay. However, in some of the more remote locations accommodation is limited and occasionally we may have to book rooms with shared bathrooms for one or two nights of your holiday, (especially if the booking is made at short notice), but we will always let you know if this is likely to be the case.

For each holiday there is a minimum number of participants required to enable it to go ahead. Once the minimum number is reached, the trip status will change from 'Available' to 'Guaranteed to run'. You can check the trip status for each departure in ‘Dates and Prices’ table. Other than in exceptional circumstances, we will not cancel a trip once it has achieved this guaranteed to run status and so you are free to proceed with your international flight booking and other travel arrangements.

The information that we provide is for UK passport holders. A passport with 6 months remaining validity at the end of your stay is generally required, and you should have at least 2 blank pages for each country that you visit.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct travel documents and visas for your holiday. Please ensure that you check for the latest advice before travel. For the most up to date information on entry requirements, please visit the UK Government website.

If you have a severe allergy please inform the KE office before you travel. We will do all we can to help, but we cannot guarantee an allergy free environment on KE trips. You will need to carry your own treatment for the allergy with you, as 'adrenaline auto-injectors' are not carried as standard by KE leaders and staff. You should inform your leader on arrival of your allergy, and let them know where you keep your adrenaline pen.


You should contact your doctor or travel clinic to check whether you require any specific vaccinations.

GHIC / Medical cover

UK residents should carry a free Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). This entitles you to state provided medical treatment when you're visiting an EU country or Switzerland. This is not a substitute for medical travel insurance which is vital when travelling overseas.

Severe Allergies

Please inform our KE Sales and support team of any severe allergies you may have before travel. We will always do our best to help but we are unable to guarantee an allergy free environment on our KE trips. We advise that you always carry your own treatment for the allergy with you such as 'adrenaline auto-injectors' if required.  We also recommend that you discuss this with your accommodation on arrival so that they can better assist you.

As a reputable tour operator, KE supports the British Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office's ‘Travel Aware campaign to enable British citizens to prepare for their journeys overseas. The 'Travel Aware' website provides a single, authoritative source of advice for all kinds of travellers and we recommend that prior to travel, all KE clients visit the official UK Government website at and read the FCDO Travel Advice for their chosen destination. North Americans can also check out the U.S. Department of State website: for essential travel advice and tips.

KE treat the safety and security of all clients as the most important aspect of any trip we organise. We would not run any trip that we did not consider reasonably safe.  Should the FCDO advise against travel for any reason, we will contact everyone booked to travel to discuss the situation.  We receive regular updates direct from the FCDO and are in constant touch with our contacts on the ground.  If you have any questions about government travel advice, please call our office.

KE do not encourage the use of single use plastic items. We are ensuring that our agents all over the world are working together to reduce the problem and educate those around them. We are leading by example in our KE office by reducing our plastic use.

It is an essential condition of joining a holiday with KE Adventure Travel that you have a valid travel insurance policy to cover the cost of medical treatment and to protect the value of your holiday in the event of cancellation.  When taking out insurance please ensure the policy you choose covers you for the activities and altitude included in your itinerary.

For appropriate insurance cover we recommend Campbell Irvine Direct.  Please go to our Travel Insurance page for further information and to get a quote.

Where luggage transport is included in the price, this will be a standard of 1 piece of luggage per person, usually up to 20kg in weight. On some routes the weight limit may be less, but we will advise you if this is the case. If you leave your luggage at your accommodation in the morning, it will be waiting for you on arrival at the B&B that evening. Any extra bags can be transported (at an additional charge) as long as they are pre-booked.

On certain holidays we also offer a storage service for extra luggage not needing to be transported for the holiday. Please contact us for for information on which holidays and a quotation.

All you need to carry is a small day sack to hold your waterproofs, personal items, packed lunch, map, guidebook and camera. You should be prepared for all weathers, at all times of year.


  • Walking boots – need to be comfortable and well broken in
  • Several pairs of thick walking socks
  • Mittens/gloves
  • Warm hat and/or sun hat
  • Raincoat: (waterproof and windproof with a hood)
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Thermal long-johns & thermal top
  • Jacket
  • Fleece tops
  • Fleece or polypropylene trousers (no denim or cotton)
  • Spare clothing for the evening
  • Shorts and t-shirt (ideally made from synthetic fibres)
  • Map case
  • Compass
  • Torch: with spare batteries
  • First aid kit: insect repellent, sunscreen, blister kits, pain relief and assorted bandages
  • Water bottle
  • Walking poles (if you already use these)
  • Small day sack (20-30L) for carrying your personal items
  • Day sack liner / black bin bag / day sack waterproof cover
  • Camera and memory card
  • Phone and charger
  • Binoculars
  • Sunglasses
  • Whistle
  • GPS (if you already use one)

Cotswold Outdoor Red PantonMany of the Equipment items listed above are available from Cotswold Outdoor - our 'Official Recommended Outdoor Retailer'. When you book a holiday with KE you will receive 12.5% discount voucher from Cotswold Outdoor and other retailers.
>> Find out more

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