Coast Path Summer Rambling
The South West Coast Path team let us know their favourite walks for spotting dazzling flowers and fascinating habitats.
On the Coast Path summer flowers are putting on a dazzling display. Foxgloves, Sea Campion and Thrift in pinks and whites mix with the heady warming scent of golden gorse. We’re not the only ones that welcome their arrival. Insects sense out their bounty of nectar and buzz busily in and around them.
I’ve come across an amazing fact recently...
The South West Coast Path provides one of the most important habitats for bees in the UK. In Cornwall, the south of the county is especially important where south facing cliffs provide places for numerous species of solitary mining bees to make a home. These areas are warmer than many others and with wild flower filled cliff tops nearby they quickly become a national hotspot! In east Cornwall the area around Looe is home to the Long-horned mining bee, a real looker in the bee community.
One charity that really knows their stuff is Bug Life. Their South West Manager, Andrew Whitehouse, told me that the South West Coast Path in Cornwall has some of the largest quantity and rarest bees in the country. This is partly due the warmer weather in Cornwall but it’s also due to the connected nature of the Coast Path that mean bees can follow highways of flowers at this time of year. In other areas these routes are no longer available meaning that the Coast Path is more precious to them and us then ever.
Go slow and find a treasure trove of nature
There are many wild flowers on the Coast Path that are native to this part of the world. Valerian is synonymous with the south west sprouting from walls and pavements everywhere. On the coast you find them in sun blasted pockets on farmers’ stony boundaries. Here you will also find natives such as Toadflax, Sheep’s bit and Rock Sea-spurrey. As I now know that the number and diversity of these coastal wild flowers are important for the resilience of our pollinating friends I will endeavour to found out more about them and those that need them.
It’s great fun to ramble along with family, friends and an illustrated guide to flowers and insects in your hand, sharing finds excitingly as you go. I’d recommend a guide such as the Collins Pocket Guide series for UK wildflowers and insects. This activity slows down walking to a relaxed pace and allows all those participating to ‘take it all in’. Go slow and find a treasure trove of nature on the South West Coast Path this summer.
Below is a selection of nature walks, where even if you don’t identify a bee or two you will encounter summers other abundant offerings – maybe an oil beetle or two! Please respect the countryside code when rambling by protecting the plants and animals that you come across.
Kingsand, Cawsand and Penlee Point
A moderate walk 3.8 miles. A high path over coastal heathland, where butterflies twirl above the wildflowers in the grass beside the path and the breathtaking views out across the English Channel give sight of an assortment of vessels, usually including warships lying at anchor or patrolling the Channel.
West Looe to Lammana Chapel
A moderate walk 3.7 miles. A visit to the site of an ancient Celtic chapel, where a Benedictine chapel was later built after a number of pilgrims drowned trying to reach the chapel on St George's Island! Pause for a picnic in a flower meadow high above the sea.
Kynance Cove and Lizard Village
An easy walk 2.8 miles. A gentle stroll to one of Britain’s most spectacular coves, whose red and green serpentine rocks are as beautifully carved and polished by the sea. The walk follows the path through the rare Cornish heath above the cove to Tor Balk, where there are spectacular views down over Kynance's island trio: Asparagus Island Gull Rock and The Bishop.
Maer Cliff near Morwenstow
An easy family friendly walk 2.1 miles. A leisurely amble over Maer Down between two sandy beaches, with fine sea views over the rocky reefs and offshore islets. The cliffs are of geological importance and despite its frequent exposure to the weather, the grassland above the cliffs is vivid with bright wildflowers in summer, and Crooklets Beach has full facilities.
Constantine Bay to Mawgan Porth
A challenging walk 7.0 miles. A long walk, travelling high above a ragged rocky coastline where turquoise water washes onto golden sand and seabirds nest noisily on the cliffs. These rocks have been dramatically sculpted by the waves into islands and pillars. Look out for seals around Trethias at low tide. This walk is particularly good for dogs as it passes beaches and a pub where dogs are welcome.
You can find hundreds more walk ideas on the South West Coast Path website by using the walker finder tool.
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