Long Distance Walking Routes
The map below shows the long-distance, signposted walking routes through Somerset and beyond. Click on any route for more information.
1. South West Coast Path
The South West Coast Path - the longest of the National Trails at 630 miles - has an interesting history. It is based on a footpath established by the Coastguards who patrolled the length of the South West Peninsula, on foot, every day watching for smugglers. This activity continued until 1913. To enable them to do this, a series of coastguard cottages were erected at convenient intervals along the path, some of which are still standing today.
In Minehead, the start of the path is identifiable by a sculpture which represents a pair of hands holding a map. This is also the end of the West Somerset Coast Path (5).
From here, the Trail climbs up over North Hill and continues past Selworthy Beacon before dropping down into Porlock. Passing through Porlock Weir, the route proceeds into Culbone Woods and continues along the coast to the Devon boundary.
More information about the route can be found on the South West Coast Path website. Guidebooks are available at bookshops and Somerset and Devon Tourist Information centres.
2. Two Moors Way
The Two Moors Way runs between Ivybridge in South Devon and Lynmouth on the North Devon Coast. It is approximately 102 miles long and links Dartmoor and Exmoor.
From the south, it enters Somerset at Anstey Common and winds through beautiful river scenery and lonely moorlands across Exmoor,following the east bank of the River Barle through a beautiful wooded valley. After Withypool, the Way keeps mainly to high ground, dipping to cross and re-cross the Barle.
Before leaving Somerset to make a spectacular descent into Lynmouth, the route coincides for some of its length with the Tarka Trail.
For more information about the Two Moors Way, visit the Two Moors Way Association Website or the Devon County Council Website. An official guide to The Two Moors Way is available from bookshops and Tourist Information Centres in Somerset and Devon.
3. Coleridge Way
The Coleridge Way is a 36 mile trail through the stunning Somerset countryside of the Quantock Hills, the Brendon Hills and Exmoor. This landscape inspired the poet Coleridge to produce some of his best-known works.
The walking trail takes you from Nether Stowey on the Quantock Hills, where Coleridge once lived, to the beautiful coastal village of Porlock, close to where Coleridge is said to have written Kubla Khan. The Coleridge Trail Bridleway, for horse riders and cyclists, runs along a similar route.
Further information on the route is available from Porlock Visitor Centre or the Coleridge Way Website.
4a. West Deane Way
The West Deane Way is a circular 45 mile walk through the varied countryside of the Vale of Taunton Deane. Surprising vistas, spectacular views and picturesque villages hidden among gentle hills make it a pleasant introduction to the delights of this unspoilt area.
The route follows the River Tone, passing through a variety of landscapes including the river flood plain and its wooded valley as it skirts the Brendon Hills. It then rises to the undulating slopes of the Quantock Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Copies of The West Deane Way booklet may be obtained from local bookshops and Taunton and Wellington Tourist Information Centres.
4b. East Deane Way
This 42 mile circular walk takes in the varied landscape of the eastern half of the Taunton Deane Borough. Following the River Tone out of Taunton, the Way heads towards Burrowbridge, encompassing the North Curry Ridge. It then goes across to Hatch Beauchamp before heading to Bickenhall and Corfe in the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. From there, the route heads back into Taunton, ending at Vivary Park.
A guide to the walk is available as a series of six leaflets, which are available at Taunton and Wellington Tourist Information Centres and local bookshops.
5. West Somerset Coast Path
The West Somerset Coast Path is a 25 mile long linear trail linking the River Parrett Trail (7) at Steart in Bridgwater Bay to the South West Coast Path (1) National Trail in Minehead. The path offers magnificent seaward and inland views and passes through the northern part of the Quantock Hills AONB where it coincides with the Coleridge Way (3). There are a number of circular walks adjacent to the trail as well as access to towns and villages at Kilve, West Quantoxhead, Williton, Watchet, Blue Anchor and Dunster.
Leaflets are available from Bridgwater, Watchet, Dunster and Minehead Tourist Information Centres and more detailed route information is available at www.somerset.gov.uk/rightsofway/
6. Quantock Greenway
The Greenway allows you to discover intimate Quantock villages and farmed landscapes with confidence. It travels through different types of landscape and many different villages, where there are fascinating historic buildings and sites of interest.
Both loops offer a challenging day walk or it can be tackled over a number of days using local accommodation.
A copy of the Greenway brochure (which includes five circular walks off the Greenway) may be obtained from the Quantock AONB Service or Taunton and Bridgwater Tourist Information Centres.
7. River Parrett Trail
The River Parrett Trail can be enjoyed as a 50 mile hike over 3 or 4 days or as a series of shorter walks exploring some of England's most beautiful, intriguing and fragile countryside.
It is a fascinating journey through wetlands, orchards, woods, withy beds and the watery haunts of birds and fishermen; passing limestone cottages, Georgian terraces, elegant mediaeval churches and the elaborate pattern of rhynes and water courses of the low land.
The Trail links with the West Somerset Coast Path (5), Monarchs Way (12), Liberty Trail (9), Macmillan Way West (10b), and Leland Trail (11).
The River Parrett Trail guide may be obtained from Tourist Information Centres and the River Parrett Visitor Centre or by visiting the River Parrett Trail Website.
8. Colliers Way
The Colliers Way (NCN 24) is a 17 mile route for walkers, cyclists and horse riders between Dundas Aqueduct, Radstock and Frome making use of disused railway lines and quiet country lanes. The long and fascinating history of mining and life in the North Somerset Coalfields can be discovered at the Radstock Museum.
Frome is also steeped in history with more listed buildings than any other town in Somerset.
Colliers Way leaflet guides are available from local Tourist Information Centres and from the Sustrans website.
9. Liberty Trail
The 28 mile Liberty Trail from Ham Hill in South Somerset to the Dorset coast at Lyme Regis follows the route of some of the men, who walked to Lyme Regis in 1685 to join the Monmouth Rebellion.
At Ham Hill there are links with other Trails including the Monarch's Way (12), Leland Trail (11) and River Parrett Trail (7).
The Liberty Trail Pack is available from South Somerset Tourist Information Centres.
10a. Macmillan Way
The Macmillan Way is 290 miles long and runs from Boston on the Lincolnshire Coast to the Dorset Coast at Abbotsbury.
It enters Somerset in the north east and runs along the picturesque Frome Valley, through the woodlands of the Stourhead Estate, continuing on through the historic villages of Bruton, Castle Cary and North Cadbury.
At Castle Cary the route splits. Here you can continue on the main route into Dorset or take the Macmillan Way West (10b).
Route details are available from the Macmillan Way Association website.
10b. Macmillan Way West
The western spur of the Macmillan Way starts at Castle Cary and heads across the unique Somerset Levels to North Petherton. It then continues north westwards along the Quantock Hills before winding its way to the medieval castle village of Dunster.
Beyond Dunster, the route crosses some of the wildest parts of Exmoor before continuing to Barnstaple and the North Devon coast.
Details of the Macmillan Way West are available from the Macmillan Way Association website.
11. Leland Trail
John Leland worked for King Henry VIII as keeper of the royal libraries. In 1533, he was commissioned by the King to make a search for England's antiquities.
The Leland Trail is a 28 mile footpath which follows the footsteps of John Leland as he traversed the traditional lowland landscapes of South Somerset sometime between 1535 and 1543.
At Ham Hill there are links to other Trails including the Monarch's Way (12), Liberty Trail (9) and River Parrett Trail (7).
A guide to the Leland Trail is available from South Somerset Tourist Information Centres.
12. Monarchs Way
This long distance footpath is 615 miles long and runs from Worcester to Shoreham in East Sussex. It closely follows the route taken by Charles II after his defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651.
The route enters Somerset near Chewton Mendip and crosses the Mendip Hills, heading for the cathedral city of Wells. It continues south to Yeovil and eventually leaves the county en-route to Charmouth in Dorset. It re-enters the county at Crewkerne where it runs east, heading for its destination of Shoreham in East Sussex.
There are links to the Mendip Way (13) in the north and to most of the trails in the south of the county.
'The Monarchs Way - Book 2' by Trevor Anthill is available from bookshops. Further information about the route can be found online at www.monarchsway.50megs.com
13. The Mendip Way
The Mendip Way is almost exactly 50 miles long and runs from Weston super Mare to Frome.
The western section runs from the Bristol Channel at Uphill and in places has fine views over the Somerset Levels. It crosses the Central Mendip plateau leading down to the spectacular Cheddar Gorge before eventually taking in the beautiful city of Wells. Between Wells and Frome the landscape changes with open hilltops replaced by deep secluded valleys. A leaflet on the West Mendip Way can be found on the Mendip AONB website.
'Uphill to Frome: A Guide to The Mendip Way' by David Wright is available from Tourist Information Centres.