Views on The South West Coast Path trek from Hartland Quay to Morwenstow
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Hartland Quay to Morwenstow: Walk the South West Coast Path

The South West Coast Path from Hartland Quay to Morwenstow
Stunning Hartland Quay

Distance: 8.8 miles

Severity: Severe

Time It Took Us: 4 hours 46 mins

Steps: 22,478

Twenty per cent chance of rain they said. Ha. And the day had started out so well.

I knew this was going to be one of the most challenging sections, but I wasn't expecting the weather to exacerbate it.

Knowing full well that doing the full stretch from Hartland to Bude would be an absolute stinker, we decided to split it over two days, and thank goodness we did.

The South West Coast Path from Hartland Quay to Morwenstow

After a relatively flat start along a track out from Hartland Quay, we reached our first steep incline. For our efforts, we were rewarded at the top with some amazing views of the rugged north Devon coastline, the first being Speke's Mill Mouth and its dramatic waterfall.

With our guidebook warning us to ‘take care’ at Sandhole Cliff -  and with me having discovered earlier in the year whilst walking Lynton to Heddon’s Mouth that I don’t have a great head for heights - we decided to divert and take the valley route and instead battled our way through cow-trodden passages of deep, thick mud.

Waterfall at Speke's Mill Mouth on The South West Coast Path from Hartland Quay to Morwenstow
Waterfall at Speke's Mill Mouth

It was a relatively smooth run for a while after that and I'd begun to wonder what all the fuss was about. That thought was soon short lived as we began the steep, stepped descent into Welcombe Mouth, passed another waterfall, and back up the other side.

As if to cool us down as we climbed, the heavens opened. Although soaked, it failed to dampen our spirits as we finally came across the sign that meant we'd crossed the Devon and Cornwall border.

As the rain continued we briefly sought refuge in poet Ronald Duncan’s tiny writing hut with its window out to breath-taking views – even in the pouring rain.

The South West Coast Path from Hartland Quay to Morwenstow

After leaving rather a damp message in the visitor’s book, it was time to press on as daylight hours are much shorter at this time of year (November).

And just when we thought the rain couldn't get any heavier and the winds any stronger, they did. That combined with around six increasingly harder climbs and descents, it became even tougher underfoot.

The South West Coast Path from Hartland Quay to Morwenstow

The penultimate one was just ridiculous. A mud-clogged vertical climb with every slippery step a potential disaster waiting to happen. Terrifying but an overwhelming sense of achievement at the top.

If you enjoyed this stretch, you should next try Morwenstow to Bude.

Fancy giving this walk a go? Why not stay Gwelmor, our dog-friendly holiday cottage in Widemouth Bay, just 40 mins drive from the start point at Hartland Quay? Take our virtual tour below.

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Cornwall Tourism Award 2020 / 2021Gwelmor - Cornwall Tourism Awards - Bronze 2019/20Gwelmor - Cornwall Tourism Awards - Commended 2019/20