Guidebooks and Maps
To get the most out of your walk along the Coast Path it’s worth getting a guidebook and map. In addition to the summary below, you’ll find details of the local ones on each walk description page.
The following four official Guidebooks cover different sections of the South West Coast Path. They are published by Aurum Press and include Ordnance Survey mapping of the coastal strip at 1:25,000 scale (2½" to a mile). Each volume costs £12.99.
- Minehead to Padstow by Roland Tarr
- Padstow to Falmouth by John Macadam
- Falmouth to Exmouth by Brian Le Messurier
- Exmouth to Poole by Roland Tarr
South West Coast Path Association Annual Guide
The South West Coast Path Association publishes an annually updated guide to the path which includes a full route description (but no maps), suggested itineraries, and other helpful information such as tide times. It also has the most comprehensive accommodation listing available with details of hundreds of hotels, B & Bs and campsites close to the Path, the majority of which have been recommended by Coast Path walkers. The book is available from their webshop for £9.95 (+ P&P), but is given free with membership (from £12.50).
Some of the other benefits of membership are that you can look at the details of these accommodation providers direct from their website, you'll receive 2 great newsletters, and for UK tax-payers the Gift Aid part of your membership goes towards path improvement projects.
A guide written by Paddy Dillon covering the entire South West Coast Path in one volume is published by Cicerone Press. This incorporates Ordnance Survey mapping at 1:50,000 scale (1¼" to a mile) and costs £12.95. It is also available as a Kindle e-book.
To assist forward planning of both day walks and continuous long-distance hikes, the guide divides the coast path into sections, beginning and ending where there are amenities for refreshment or accommodation (or access inland to them). Each section begins with a summary of its length, the kind of terrain and gradients to be expected and with details of amenities and access points. An attempt has been made to grade the walking for difficulty, although such an exercise will always be subjective.
These guides, written by Henry Stedman and Joel Newton split the South West Coast Path into 3 volumes, Exmoor and North Devon, Cornwall and South Devon and Dorset (out September 2012). Each contains numerous detailed hand drawn walking maps at a scale of 1:20,000, town plans, route directions, gps waypoints along with practical information for all budgets about what to see, where to eat (cafes, pubs and restaurants) and where to stay (B&B's, hotels, bunkhouse, hostels and campsites).
All the guide books are based on the assumption that you are walking the Coast Path in an anti-clockwise direction (i.e. from Minehead to Poole). However, the walk is just as good going the other way, and many of the people who have completed it over several years, have enjoyed it so much they decide to do just that.
The reverse guide is designed to be used with the Annual Guide and provides a route description from Poole to Minehead and costs £3.50 (SWCP members) or £4.50 (non-members).
The South West Coast Path Association's online shop also sells souvenirs, a range of inexpensive booklets that cover each section of the path in great detail along with numerous booklets on local walks, wildlife, geology and history.
Circular walk books
In conjunction with Coastal Publishing, we are producing a series of walk books, each containing 16 of the best Coast Path walks. Each walk is illustrated with a stunning aerial photo showing the route, and has full directions and lots of information about what you'll see along the way. The books retail at £4.95 and are available from Tourist Information Centres, museums, visitor attractions, and all good local and national bookshops or from the SW Coast Path Association's online shop. The 4 volumes produced so far are:
- Studland to Portland (East Jurassic Coast)
- Portland to Exmouth (West Jurassic Coast)
- Exmouth to Dartmouth
- Dartmouth to Plymouth
Seven more volumes covering the rest of the Coast Path from Plymouth to Minehead are due to be available from Spring 2013.
There are various maps to choose from that can help guide your walk along the South West Coast Path. The best maps of these are the 1:25,000 scale (2½ inch to the mile) Ordnance Survey Explorer maps, and the 1:40,000 scale (approx 1½ inch to the mile) Harvey maps. To cover the entire path you’d require 17 Explorer maps, or because they only cover a narrow coastal strip, 6 Harvey maps.
From the South West Coast Path Association shop you can buy a souvenir poster map which incorporates stunning images from our photographic competition, distances walked from key points, and as the path is marked as a white line, you can use it to mark off the sections you've done. They also sell a log book, and a wide range of other Coast Path branded souvenirs.
Several people have written books based on their walk along the South West Coast Path and these along with som of our other favourite books about the south west’s coastline can be found on our Amazon store below.