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Ancient monuments and wild moorland — Land's End Trail

R~P~M (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Ancient monuments and wild moorland — Land's End Trail

Hiking Collection by Kit P

21-47

days

3-6 h

/ day

327 mi

24,900 ft

25,300 ft

Whether you’re walking between Land’s End and John O’Groats or simply want to explore the South West, the Land’s End Trail is an undeniably fabulous way of doing so. Created in the 90s, this 300-mile (480 km) hiking route takes you through the region’s most extraordinary inland landscapes.

Beginning in the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the trail passes through numerous other regions of nationally recognised beauty. Cranborne Chase & West Wiltshire AONB, Quantock Hills AONB, Exmoor and Dartmoor National Parks, Tamar Valley AONB, Cornwall AONB and finally ends at one of the UK’s most famous places: Land’s End.

This route takes in the South West’s high points with some stages taking in over 1,500 feet (460 m) of elevation gain. The trail also includes summit Brown Willy, Cornwall’s amusingly named highest hill. Despite some steep sections and a lot of undulations, there’s nothing outright challenging on the route. All reasonably fit hikers can happily ramble this wonderful expedition be it in individual stages or as one, massive trip.

Traversing the South West of England, you’ll discover rich and varied geology. Wiltshire’s eroded chalk grasslands and downlands have a wealth of human and natural history; the peat, heathland and old woodland of the Quantocks feels as though it’s hardly changed in centuries; Dartmoor’s dramatic granite tors sit atop rugged moorland; whilst Cornwall’s tremendous coastline can be spotted from plenty of hills along the final stretch.

I’ve broken the mammoth route into manageable chunks of mostly between 10 and 15 miles (16 - 24 km) but of course, you can easily join two stages together or complete shorter versions. Where possible, the stages end in settlements or close to public transport options. Wild camping is legal in some areas of Dartmoor so check out the official map if you’re bringing your tent along: dartmoor.gov.uk/about-us/about-us-maps/camping-map

Although there’s nothing particularly challenging or risky on this route, it does include exposed locations and places where the weather is highly changeable. Exmoor, Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor are all wild regions, often pathless and experience fickle, treacherous weather conditions. Check the forecast before hiking in these parts particularly and monitor the sky as you walk. High, wispy clouds indicate a change in the weather is due. Waterproofs, sturdy hiking boots, and a backup analogue compass and sunscreen are all essential.

To get the most out of the weather and the days, it’s preferable to hike this beautiful route in the late spring and summer months. Even in the height of summer, much of the trail peacefully avoids the major holiday spots and while Cornwall’s coast is often packed, its glorious inland trails see little foot traffic.

To reach the start, get the train to Swindon and catch the number 49 bus to Avebury. At the finish, catch the Land’s End Coaster bus to Penzance from where you can take a train to Exeter, Bristol and London. Much of the hike is very rural but there are some stations on or near the trail. These include Bruton, Bridgwater, Eggesford, St Columb Road, Redruth and St Erth.

At Land’s End, the trail links up with the South West Coast Path which you can see here: komoot.com/collection/887617/conquer-britains-longest-trail-south-west-coast-path-part-1

In Avebury, the trail links to The Ridgeway route which you can see here: komoot.com/collection/889209/the-ridgeway-discover-3-000-years-of-history-on-britain-s-oldest-trail

On The Map

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Lands End Trail

328 mi

24,450 ft

24,825 ft

Last updated: November 16, 2021

Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: Avebury to Urchfont — Land's End Trail

    Difficult
    05:05
    12.0 mi
    2.4 mph
    525 ft
    675 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This initial stage could hardly begin in a more intriguing location. The famous village of Avebury lies mostly within a large, ancient stone circle with many more historic monuments dotted around nearby.

    

    Hike south to the mysterious Silbury Hill and onto West Kennet Long Barrow which dates back to around

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    07:03
    16.2 mi
    2.3 mph
    1,225 ft
    975 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This stage leads you up onto Salisbury Plain, a vast chalk plateau famous for its military ranges, far-reaching views and ancient monuments. You skirt the edge using tracks and lanes, often catching sweeping vistas unfolding to the north.

    

    Signs of ancestors long gone are everywhere here, with strip lynchets

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    04:16
    9.76 mi
    2.3 mph
    700 ft
    825 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This is a stage of three sections: Salisbury Plain, Warminster town and Cranborne Chase and the West Wiltshire Downs AONB. It’s a little hilly but the ascents are gradual with nothing particularly steep.

    

    Hike around the edge of Salisbury Plain and admire the phenomenal views west before descending into

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    04:18
    9.82 mi
    2.3 mph
    700 ft
    875 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    An undulating hike, this stage takes you through woodlands, past a medieval village and across the fields to the quaint village of South Brewham. Crossing the north western corner of Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs AONB, enjoy the richness of the area’s vibrant forests before descending steeply

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    05:02
    11.6 mi
    2.3 mph
    800 ft
    850 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This hike is all about the pretty English countryside and little villages bursting with history. Hike west from South Brewham to the thriving town of Bruton. Here, seek out the 16th-century dovecote and watchtower to enjoy far-reaching views.

    

    Ascend Creech Hill where you can fill up on soaring views

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    04:36
    10.7 mi
    2.3 mph
    525 ft
    800 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This route is actually fairly flat after the descent at West Pennard, but I’ve added in a trip up Glastonbury Tor which adds a large hill in the middle. The Tor is not only rather majestic itself, but offers fantastic views of its surroundings. Of course, if you want to admire it from below then you

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    05:28
    13.1 mi
    2.4 mph
    425 ft
    425 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This is a quintessential Somerset Levels hike, where you’re never very far from a drain or channel and the only hills you’ll see are very modest. Hike west to Ashcott and Shapwick, two sedate villages surrounded by farms. From Shapwick, head south west down to Moorlinch, a nice halfway spot if you want

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    05:32
    12.7 mi
    2.3 mph
    975 ft
    825 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This stage is much hillier than the previous one as it cuts across the south of the Quantock Hills AONB. Peaceful and rural, you stick mostly to forest trails, pastoral footpaths and tiny villages.

    

    Hike south west out of Bridgwater along low-lying fields to Goathurst and its intriguing Temple of Harmony

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    03:26
    8.03 mi
    2.3 mph
    525 ft
    300 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    A flat-ish hike, this route takes you through tranquil countryside where farms pepper the landscape and sheep bleat in the hills. Thanks to Bishops Lydeard heritage station, you might get to see a steam train too.

    

    Hike west of our Bishops Lydeard, pausing at the railway to admire its restored beauty

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    06:02
    13.3 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,500 ft
    1,450 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This stage takes you into the fantastic Exmoor National Park – expect steep hills from the very beginning. Hiking west from Wiveliscombe, ascend Maundown Hill which will reward you with some excellent views. Descend to cross the River Tone and follow footpaths across farmers’ fields due west.

    

    At Lowtrow

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    04:34
    10.0 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,250 ft
    975 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This stage follows the pretty River Barle for the first third, making it rather picturesque. You pass the grade II-listed Marsh Bridge and walk under the Iron Age hillforts of Mounsey and Brewer’s castles.

    

    Leave the river where it splits and hike up alongside Brewer’s Castle, traversing Hawridge Ridge

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    05:47
    13.1 mi
    2.3 mph
    1,100 ft
    1,300 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    You leave Exmoor National Park and hike south east across North Devon’s rambling countryside. This stage is undulating and makes the most of field footpaths and empty lanes. You cross the River Mole at Bicknor Bridge and take a farm track down to South Molton, a historic market town just over halfway

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    06:50
    15.5 mi
    2.3 mph
    1,250 ft
    1,425 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Hilly and rural, you continue hiking through North Devon’s delightfully pastoral landscape. This is one of the trail’s longer stages at 15.5 miles (25 km) to enable you to reach North Tawton, where you can find local buses and nearby accommodation.

    

    Hike south from Kings Nympton over hills using mainly

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    03:58
    9.08 mi
    2.3 mph
    875 ft
    325 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Dartmoor National Park is your destination for this beautiful stage and you find yourself gradually ascending most of the time as you work your way there. You join a stretch of the Devonshire Heartland Way south of North Tawton using quiet lanes that dip over Rowden Bridge.

    

    Cross the River Taw at Taw

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    05:38
    12.7 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,100 ft
    1,325 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This stage has a couple of hefty hills but the views will more than make up for your effort. You find yourself skirting the perimeter of Dartmoor’s north western corner, passing by the town of Okehampton early on. A historic market town, it’s a good place to restock if you need food or gear.

    

    You share

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    04:24
    10.2 mi
    2.3 mph
    525 ft
    950 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    A particularly glorious stage with quite a different feel than the previous hikes, you can enjoy fantastic views to the moor and to Brentor Knoll, with its eerie church, on this walk. From Lydford, scope out the Norman Castle and visit the exquisite gorge before setting off across moorland. As you loop

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    05:39
    12.3 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,575 ft
    1,350 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Striking west from Tavistock and then south to Callington, this hike takes you across the north of the Tamar Valley AONB. Visit the medieval horse bridge which continues to span the River Tamar as it has done for over 500 years.

    

    The first half is undulating and then you undertake a long, steep ascent

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    04:14
    9.24 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,300 ft
    825 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This stage brings you into the next incredible landscape the Land’s End Trail has to offer: Bodmin Moor. Wild with an often desolate feel, this majestic moorland is littered with evidence of its industrial, mining past.

    

    You hike west from Callington and cross the River Lynher at Kerney Bridge and follow

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    04:29
    10.2 mi
    2.3 mph
    725 ft
    950 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This stage skirts the north eastern edge of Bodmin Moor which is also part of the Cornwall AONB. It’s a hilly hike and one of the highlights is reaching the dramatic Kilmar Tor with its fantastic jumble of stacked granite. This is truly an ancient landscape, littered with the remnants of medieval settlements

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    05:56
    13.7 mi
    2.3 mph
    1,175 ft
    1,250 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This undulating, moorland stage takes you to two famous locations. Firstly, visit Jamaica Inn, the famous smuggling inn featured in Daphne Du Maurier’s novel of the same name. Secondly, summit Brown Willy, Cornwall’s amusingly named highest point.

    

    Hike south west from Five Lanes to reach Jamaica Inn

    by Kit P

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    29
  • Distance
    327 mi
  • Duration
    143:11 h
  • Elevation
    24,900 ft25,300 ft

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