We love heading to the south coast over the winter months, when the wind whips the sea into a foaming frenzy, the sky dawns clear blue one day and a brooding grey the next and the beaches are empty and exciting. The South West Coast Path is an incredible trail, with countless stretches along its 630-mile length between Poole in Dorset and Minehead in Somerset that provide outstanding trail running. The section that traces the intricate coastline around the Kingswear peninsula is one of the few we hadn’t previously visited but, having just returned feeling windswept and refreshed, we’ll definitely be returning to explore some more. Scroll to the end for a full set of photos.
A week’s enjoyable trail running on a brilliant rollercoaster section of the South West Coast Path. Scrambling on wet rocks overlooking peaceful, sandy coves, exploring anemone-filled rockpools, swimming in exciting seas and brewing up the Kelly Kettle for a warming, post-adventure cuppa. Out-of-hours access to the beautiful formal gardens at Coleton Fishacre, a bonus of staying in one of the cottages on the estate. A ferry ride across the River Dart to Dartmouth for castles and cafes aplenty.
Mainly cold, with strong winds and regular rain showers, but in between there were some stunning clear days when Devon basked resplendent in all its green grass, blue sea, red earth glory. We saw very few other people along the coast and generally had this fantastic place all to ourselves.
Eat, drink, sleep
If you’re not bound by school holidays, out of season holiday cottages in the south-west are excellent value, and the local communities desperately need year-round visitors in order to thrive. We stayed in a National Trust self-catering cottage at Coleton Barton, surrounded by sweeping fields and with glimpses of the sparkling sea. There was no mobile reception and no wifi which, having just finished a few weeks of full-on work, was absolutely perfect.
With the trails in a pretty muddy, slippery condition good grip was essential. We went for the new Inov-8 Mudclaw 275s with some nice sticky rubber soles and plenty of depth of tread and our trusty Inov-8 X-Talon 230s which have seen us around much of the country, from munro-bagging in Scotland to the pathless bogs of Dartmoor. Most of our runs were under two hours and, wonderfully, done from the doorstep so we used the Ultimate Direction Groove Mono predominantly and the Salomon Skin Pro 15 pack for a day-long run that more than fitted everything we needed. This pack is great for us as it’s stretchy and versatile and fits both of us perfectly, even though we’re very different sizes. It’s stable, comfortable, great for all-round use and has an attachment system that works with poles, helmet, ice axes and any number of other bits and pieces. Lightweight waterproof jackets (currently loving the funky, brilliant women’s Dynafit Ultra Light 3L smock and the men’s Inov-8 AT/C Stormshell) were an essential addition, easy to stash away but absolutely necessary when the rain began.
Pretty Dartmouth, via a passenger or car ferry across the stunning Dart estuary, is well worth a visit, and the coast path running past the atmospheric castle continuing south-west is excellent. The views are glorious, out along the rugged coastline and down into the sandy coves from the precipitous cliff tops. Back on the Kingswear side of the estuary the beaches at Man Sands and Scabbacombe are serene, peaceful and beautiful with great swimming and surfing and plenty of rocks and caves to explore.