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Out of the box - Tick off Britain's best five coastal walks

August 2011

This is our regular OUT OF THE BOX feature where we give suggestions on different things to try.

If you have tried something unusual or different, tell us all about it - and send in a photograph as well if you can – so that we can share your experiences with others.



At our age, walking is something most of us do either simply as an excellent way of helping to keep fit or because we love it.

So why not combine the fun of walking with a real challenge – tick off Britain’s five top coastal walks. Achieving something tangible when you are exercising can make such a difference and having a real challenge can also be a serious spur plus give you something really interesting to talk about with all your friends and relations.

There are lots of known walks in the UK, the Coast to Coast and the South Coast Walk and so on, but one that is among the very top in terms of scenery and enjoyment is the Top Five Must Do Coastal Walks put together by the National Trust in conjunction with Hi-Tec walking boots.

The five walks have been well researched and are in very different parts of the country, in Cornwall, Cardiganshire, Scotland, Dorset and Anglesey. Obviously you will have to travel to each location and also stay locally before you commence the walk, but this is part of the fun and the challenge. Clearly you are not going to do it in just one weekend, but spread over a period convenient to you, it means you really can plan this challenge and eventually achieve it.

For maps and more details click on the walk name.

Carlyon BayWalk 1
Par, Carlyon Bay and Charlestown, Cornwall
Distance: 6 miles

This is an unusual walk in that you either have the choice to walk from Par to Charlestown and return via the ‘Hoppa’ buses or main road or chose to trace your steps back along the coastal path. Either way, it is most enjoyable and informative.

Begin at Par, a celtic word meaning ‘harbour’ or ‘cove’, and pass the railway line and golf course heading for Carlyon Bay, home to Cornish Leisure World. First glimpses of Charlestown Harbour can be obtained from Appletree Point, where it is believed that at one time white monks had cultivated an apple orchard.
Charlestown was better known as West Polmear towards the latter half of the 18th century when all activities took place off the beach. At that time it was primarily used for shipping china clay, coal, copper and limestone but later developed into a pilchard fishing and boat-building community largely due to the enterprising efforts of Charles Rashleigh who was responsible for building the harbour. The settlement was subsequently re-named Charlestown in his honour. Tall ships are the trademark of Charlestown today and the lovely harbour area and nearby buildings are often used as a film set by the television and movie industries.



Aberporth BeachWalk 2
Aberporth Beach, Cardiganshire
Distance: Under 2 miles.

The former fishing village of Aberporth has beautiful beaches and breath-taking walking routes. You can see rock pools at low tides and bottlenose dolphins, sunfish and basking sharks can be spotted in the area too.

Begin at Tresaith where there’s a lovely sandy beach, and head along the cliff-top path. Look out for stonechat, meadow pipits, and perhaps the rare chough. During the summer, gatekeeper butterflies are often seen along the coast path, especially in those areas protected by blackthorn scrub. The path will continue for about 1.5 miles until you reach Aberporth.



PlocktonWalk 3
Plockton, Scotland
Distance – Around 3 and a half miles

Plockton is a National Trust for Scotland conservation village, located in the northwest Highlands. It’s a nature-lover’s paradise, with stretches of sea, a magnificent loch, mountains and glens. Life here was once based on fishing and crofting but there’s a huge art influence now, with artists and photographers visiting regularly.

Begin this walk either by taking the train from Inverness to Plockton and begin from the railway station or by taking a car and parking on Bank Street and starting from the village itself. Walk up the hill out of Plockton, past the open air church, and further up the hill turn left onto a footpath which is signposted 'Footpath to Duncraig Castle'. The path takes you alongside Loch Carron and the breathtaking views (see adjacent picture) across to Applecross begin to emerge from here. The route then runs adjacent to the railway line and then underneath it. When you reach a junction shortly after this, follow the signpost reading 'Duncraig Castle'.
On reaching an old brick kiln, the footpath connects to a larger path, turn left here and after a while you'll come across a level crossing for the railway. Turn right to go off to the side of this rather than crossing the railway and carry on along the path heading inland and uphill. Look out for a stile on the left, marked with a blue metal pole. Turn left here following the path through woodlands to emerge on the final section of the road, leading to Duncraig Castle grounds.
The route then passes the front of the Castle and then links with the Plockton to Stromeferry road. Continue along the road until a sign reading 'Footpath to Plockton' is reached. Turn right onto this footpath, which takes you back to Plockton.



Lulworth CoveWalk 4
Lulworth, Dorset
Distance: Short walks in the immediate vicinity, or 12 miles for the full walk all the way to Weymouth

Beautiful Lulworth Cove is part of The Jurassic Coast, which spans 95 miles across Devon and Dorset. Rocks and fossils over 185 million years old have been found here and the cove itself was formed approximately 10,000 years ago.

Begin at Lulworth Cove and pass St Oswalds Bay and Durdle Door. The stunning chalk cliffs mean there are one or two steep climbs throughout the route, but the views are well worth it- especially atop White Nothe, with Ringstead bay below. After White Nothe cliff, the path becomes a bit gentler and passes through Osmington Mills, before ending in Weymouth. Bear in mind, travelling back to where you parked your car at Lulworth Cove isn’t always easy because of limited bus routes; some people arrange a lift with friends or even park a car at the other end before they start.



HolyheadWalk 5
Holyhead, Wales
Distance: 6 miles

This exhilarating walk takes you on a tour of the Stackpole Estate National Nature, set amid the Pembrokeshire National Park. Discover an unusual combination of sand dunes, beaches and cliff top coastline, with woodland and lily ponds just inland. Stackpole is one of the few places in Britain where choughs live.

Begin at Bosherston car park. Walk down to the lakeside and turn left, following paths over two causeways and a low stone bridge (the ‘Grassy Bridge’). Follow the path towards Broad Haven beach. Here you can add 1ml on to your walk and explore the secluded Mere Pool Valley, perhaps the best ‘hot spot’ on the estate for butterflies,dragonflies and wild flowers. Otherwise strike left up to the cliff top route. Continue skirting around the coast path. Look out for choughs,before reaching guillemot and razorbill colonies on Stackpole Head. On a clear day spot Lundy Island on the horizon.
From Stackpole Head follow the coast path down to Barafundle Bay. Cross the beach and walk up a long flight of stone steps to the last stretch of cliff top before Stackpole Quay, a tiny 18th-century harbour and perhaps take a break at the Boathouse Tearoom. Head to the rear of the car park and return inland across the fields.

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