Author Topic: Southwest Coast Path in summer - booking in advance required?  (Read 1034 times)

Lola P.

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Hello!  I am an experienced distance backpacker looking for a month-long walk in the UK with our 1 yr old from mid July to mid August.  Up to 450km total.  Flying into Heathrow, no car.


Goals:  Spectacular scenery, easy access to camping/towns/food/resupply, swimming in lakes or sea, and no midges! 


Have walked the Pembrokeshire path previously and loved it.


I prefer to camp with occasional hotel/hostel stays for drying out.  I prefer not to book lodging or camping in advance, to allow for flexibility with a toddler.  Is the Southwest Coastal Path a reasonable destination for this goal?  (I understand wild camping is illegal, but what other option is there if we arrive at a campground/town and find it all booked?)


thank you all!

Jac

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Wild camping isn't actually legal but it is perfectly possible to do on a pitch lateish leave earlyish basis on the, mostly National Trust land, outside the boundary of the agricultural fields. However, clifftops may not be ideal with a 1yr old.
As there are so many campsites/B&Bs etc you'd probably get away with contacting some the day before you need one - this assumes you have 'net access on your mobile (or taking a long, long list like I did in the olden days before mobiles could do that!)



Rail connections to London (for Heathrow) are many on the south coast not so easy on the north coast; just St Ives and St Erth or Barnstaple which links to the main rail line at Exeter but otherwise you would need to use buses or taxis.



IMO lot of the SWCP is much steeper and more rugged than the Pembrokeshire path (I've done both) so 450 kms in a month would be good going with a 1yr old even in good weather (haha it's UK) and no doubt he/she will not want to be carried all day.



Would love to know which bit you chose to do and how its goes.


So many paths, so little time

harland

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IMO lot of the SWCP is much steeper and more rugged than the Pembrokeshire path
I would agree with the north coast although the south coast isn't too bad or perhaps I had got used to it by then.

johhnyp

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Bournemouth to St Ives might tick most of Lola's boxes. Could be quite warm in August ;D. Cant think of another UK LDW that has the accommodation options available and is more than 330 miles long

harland

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Or even 630 miles long.  More people ascent Everest in a year than walk the SWCP, just shows which one is easier!

johhnyp

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I reckon getting to St Ives in a month with an infant in tow would be a pretty impressive feat in high summer. Actually longer than I guessed at nearly 400 miles. Not too shabby for a solo adult. Think it took me 23 days ..with no one year old in tow! Key thing is there are places to stop; nothing really remote O0

tyreon

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I would be very interested if this lady does the walk and mileage she wants,especially with a 1 year old in tow.


I wish her well,but I wonder if her goal might be set a tad high for the walk to be enjoyable. I could be wrong.


Maybe I am getting soft,but wotsabout the washing and toileting at night. And getting and cooking grub. It all takes time.


Yes,and again,it can be done,but maybe a bit too SAS?


I think planning and booking accommodation is a whole new ball game theseadays. All things have changed. There are lots more people on the move and by my experience less BxBs by the locals.


I'm less on foot theseadays and more on bike,but reasonable accommodation can get booked. Next offering can be 10 or more miles away. That can be problematic by bike let alone foot. Chain hotels seem to be ousting local lettings in my experience.


The whole experience of doing thru hiking is much more complex than what it first appears. Ok: its not when yer 18/40 and can self camp,but outside these perimeters its....how do you say...more of a challenge.


I'd like to have another go at thru hiking and camping but my knees wont allow it. And it might bring on a divorce. Age has tempered my drive.


If this lady does it and enjoys it with youngster I applaud her. It'll be a good story to tell,but I don't think one I would ever have attempted.


The weather may make it happen or no

Lola P.

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Hey intrepid walkers, thanks so much for the helpful info, we haven't settled on a Path yet. 


I hesitate to choose the SWCP for 2 reasons -- 1. the wild camping being illegal.  (in the US I am used to trails where camping is illegal, but overnight bivies are almost always legal.  I'm not terribly comfortable with stealth camping, as there will be nothing stealth about having a toddler with us! :)     2. finding lodging in busy areas--the trick to travel with kids is flexibility, and even when I hike solo I dislike having a fixed schedule. 


SO...the big question is, if legal camping with no fixed schedule was our primary goal, what Paths would satisfy this?  Either by abundant legal wild camping or fairly frequent campgrounds not too far off the path, and/or hotels/hostels that wouldn't be booked up in summer.


I'll make sure to send update next Fall and let you know how it went!


harland

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If legal camping is paramount then Scotland is where you need to go e.g.  West Highland Way, Great Glen Way, Southern Upland Way.