A Review of Walking the South West Coast Path - From Minehead to South Haven Point by Paddy Dillon
Posted by Mark Armstrong 13th April 2016
Cicerone's guidebook to walking the South West Coast Path was published in February of this year. Written by the prolific outdoor writer Paddy Dillon, this latest guidebook includes full descriptions covering 45 stages and maps for all routes. The book also includes information on places of interest, refreshments, accommodation and public transport.
The coastline of Britain is an ever moving entity and so with cliff falls and mud slides it is inevitable that the coastal paths will always at some point in time require moving or changing in their route. In the planning section of the book, Paddy makes the point that "problems that can't be fixed will result in permanent re-alignment of the route, so beware if using an old map or guidebook." But beware that guidebooks of coastal paths do not stay new or up to date for long. It's always worth checking (however new your guidebook is) with the South West Coast Path Association regarding any possible diversions or changes to routes and when walking the coast path you should always pay attention to any warning signs or temporary diversions.
As a case in point, the route of Seaton to Lyme Regis, the Undercliff path, is described in the book despite being closed since 2014 and at the time of publication, although Paddy does make note of this in the margin. However, we are delighted to say that there has been extensive negotiations with landowners and advice from geologists to create a new safe route through this most challenging and unusual section of the entire South West Coast Path and was re-opened this month (April 2016.) The area has a reputation for being the closest thing you’ll get to a rainforest in England with its humid and sheltered environment providing the perfect habitat for ferns, fungi, orchids and wild clematis. Goat Island is a highlight of this new route, it is the result of several fields slipping seaward back on Christmas Eve 1839.
I have written about the Cicerone style and consistency of layout on previous reviews of their guidebooks, so I won't go into details here. Suffice to say that if you're a fan of theirs this won't disappoint. If you're expecting full blown descriptions of the views and notes on every twist and turn of the path and lots and lots of photographs you may however be disappointed. That's not to say that the route descriptions are insufficient, far from it.
However, on one part of the route I know very well, that has had a route change in recent years the description does seem rather skipped over with a very brief 'drop down to beach' comment, when the path actually goes inland across fields briefly before going back to the beach. But as with any change to the route, it is well signposted and it is only a very short section. BUT to get 630 miles worth of route descriptions, OS mapping for every stretch as well as information of interest into a pocket guidebook of 340 pages is no mean feat. I also love the fact that they have a plastic outer sleeve that protects it when the weather's not so great.
If you are a regular visitor to the South West then this book is an ideal walking companion to shove in your rucksack or case, as wherever you are the coast is not far away.
Enter our competition open until 7th May 2016 to win a copy.
If you would rather someone else have the effort of organising your walking holiday, High Point Holidays offers 4, 6 or 7 day's walking along Dorset's Jurassic Coast - our independent walking holiday follows the South West Coastal Trail between Lyme Regis and Swanage in Dorset, with a possible extension to Corfe Castle. We also have an independent walking holiday along Cornwall's Dramatic Northern Coast which follows a beautiful section of the South West Coastal Trail between Bude and Pastow.