The Atlantic Highway - 7 Day Itinerary
This scenic road trip takes you through 170 miles of Somerset, Devon and Cornwall on the South West Peninsula of England. Dense forests, picturesque villages and rugged coastlines greet you through this stunning park of England. Beginning near the World Heritage Site of Stonehenge, then into the UNESCO site of Bath City to the spectacular moorlands of Exmoor National Park, famous for being home to the red deer and thats just the beginning. This route takes you through some of the county’s prettiest fishing villages, beautiful English countryside, impressive beaches with some of the Uks’ best surf spots and a stunning clifftop castle.
A great way to spend a summers staycation or to explore the UK for the first time.
Day 1: Stonehenge – Bath (approx 34 miles)
What better way to start a road trip then to visit one of Europes best know prehistoric monuments, the World Heritage Site of Stonehenge. A massive stone monument, the largest of which is known as Sarsens and reaches up to 9 metres and weighs 25 tons, Believed to have been built between 4,000 and 5,000 years ago and is just one part of a larger sacred landscape that included a stone monument that was incredibly 15 times the size of Stonehenge. Take in the unforgettable atmosphere of this ancient site and visit the world-class exhibition and walk amongst the Neolithic houses to experience how they lived.
After your drive West its time to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Centre of Bath. A wellbeing destination since Roman times, when it was founded by the Romans as a thermal spa for pleasure and relaxation. The modern day Thermae Bath Spa houses the only natural thermal hot springs in Britain you can bathe in. Beautiful independent boutiques, museums, galleries, and year-round festivals as well as its great choice of bars and restaurants makes it an ideal nights city break.
Day 2: Bath – Woolacombe Beach (approx 132 miles)
Start your morning exploring one of the hiking trails Cheddar Gorge, an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a National Trust Site, which at almost 122 metres deep and 3 miles long is Englands largest gorge and with its pinnacles, caverns and dramatic cliffs, an incredible natural sight. Famous for its herd of feral goats, there is plenty of wildlife to discover or enjoy some cheese tastings and traditional English pubs.
Further along your drive is Exmoor National Park, with its 267 square miles of spectacular moorland, amazing variety of wildlife, clear streams and dramatic coastline, it provides a sense of remoteness, wildness and tranquility rare in Southern Britain. With over 1000km of footpaths and bridleways through woodlands, moorlands and along side rivers its the perfect spot for a horse riding, hiking, mountain biking, cycling, canoeing and fishing. The diverse habitats of the park create the perfect home for an array of wildlife from its famous red deer and ottars to some the UK’s rarest butterflies and bats.
You’ll end your day at Woolacombe beach, one of the finest beaches in the West Country, having won numerous awards, the 3 mile sandy beach is popular with surfers and families looking for a seaside retreat. The beach combines stunning natural beauty as well as excellent services such as beach huts which are cleaned daily, lifeguards on duty and plenty of seaside shops cafes and restaurants. For the surfers, the sheer length of the beach means its always possible to find a quiet spot even at the height of the summer. Kayaking, swimming and kitesurfing are also popular.
Day 3: Woolacombe Beach – Summerleaze Beach at Bude (approx 47 miles)
Right next to Woolacombe is the stunning Watersmeet, with its huge variety of trails, magnificent sea cliffs and wooded East Lyn River, its a perfect spot for the whole family. Make the most of the East Lyn River with a canoeing or fishing trip, indulge in a Watersmeet cream tea or enjoy a short walk to the Foreland Point and Countisbury, some of the highest sea cliffs in England with stunning views to the east and west.
Stop off for lunch in the picturesque and ancient fishing village of Clovelly which from the Elizabethan days until today has been in private ownership preserving its original character and atmosphere. No cars to be found here, just donkeys and sledges with its cobbled streets and flower-strewn cottages. Enjoy its famous lobsters and crabs or take a boat trip along the dramatic coastline.
Day 4: Summerleaze Beach at Bude – Port Isaac & Port Quin (approx. 28 miles)
Looking for a morning Surf? Crooklets beach can be reached by a short walk over the Summerleaze Down on the north side of Bude. The beach also has a large car park, play area, skate park, beach cafes and pubs.
If you’re looking for a spot of lunch before heading back on the road then La Bocca does excellent pizza’s to eat in or takeaway.
Between Bude and Port Isaac is a small town called Tintagel which is a great stop off point with four notable stops in and around; St Nectans Glen Waterfall, Bossiney Cove and Tintagel Castle and Merlins Cave.
En route to Tintagel is St Nectan’s Glen, an unspoilt hidden gem and one of Cornwall’s best-kept secrets, voted an area of outstanding natural beauty and of special scientific interest due to its rare plants. There are 3 waterfalls in total with St Nectan’s Kieve, a sixty foot waterfall and a beautiful walk to explore through woodland and along the banks of the River Trevillet.
Back towards Tintagel, is another hidden gem of Bossiney Cove with a small sandy beach where you can spot Elephant Rock hidden in the cliff face. The walk down is via a footpath over farmland and then by steep steps so not suitable for everyone. Down on the beach is a 60 feet high cave to explore which opens up into a large cavern with two more caverns which become dark and the floor becomes rock and uneven.
If you like a bit of legend then Tintagel Castle and Merlin’s cave must be on your list of stops. Legend has it that Tintagel Castle could in fact be Camelot, home of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and the cave below belonged to the wizard Merlin.
Merlins cave is a 330 foot long sea cave stretching beneath the head land on which the castle stands.
One of the most spectacular castle ruins in Britain being on its own island connect by a bridge and with its incredible vies, there are plenty of ruins to explore and an impressive statue of the Knight of Tintagel Castle right on the cliffs edge.
Day 5: Port Isaac & Port Quin – St Ives (approx. 28 miles)
A fishing village since the early 14th century, Port Isaac was once a busy port handling imports and exports. A charming little village set amongst the rugged Cornish coast with narrow winding streets , welcoming bars and restaurants down to the harbour front. It’s also found fame on the TV series Doc Martin as the fictional village of Portwenn and a visit to Doc Martin’s house is a popular activity. Port Isaac is famous for having on of the narrowest thoroughfares in Britain, called Squeezy Belly Alley!
Outlaws Fish Kitchen is a popular seafood restaurant celebration great Cornish produce.
Between Port Isaac and St Ives is the well known town of Newquay, previously voted as “One of the Nation’s Favourite Seaside Towns” and “Best Family Holiday Destination” having some of Cornwall’s best beaches, laid back charm and choice of family friendly accommodation and activities.
Take your pick of things to do from galleries, museums and castles to surfing, boat trips, cliff top walking and cycling or a laid back visit to the spa.
For the surf enthusiast, the town holds the annual Boardmasters festival and surfing championships.
Day 6: St Ives to Lands End (approx. 18 miles)
Another idyllic fishing village and seaside town for you to explore, St Ives has been voted Best Family Holiday destination and one of TripAdvisors Top 10 European beaches. Explore the narrow cobbled street, boutique shops and Fishermans cottages and sample some of the tastiest award-winning restaurants. Visit one of the galleries and museums or for the more active surfing, boat trips, cliff top walking and cycling are all available.
The road from St Ives to the famous beauty spot of Lands End is filled with dramatic countryside, ancient stone walls and granite farmhouses. Take your time and head off the beaten track to explore and discover this unspoiled part of England.
Finish your day in the legendary Cornish destination of Lands End, one of Britains best loved landmarks, due to its beautiful scenery, cliff top trains and stunning views.
Day 7: Lands End – Lizard Peninsula & Kynance Cove (approx 34 miles)
Set in glorios gardens with a stunning panorama view of Porthcurno Bay, the Minack Theatre is one fo the UK’s most famous. Carved into a granite cliff it could be right out of Greek history, however its only 80 years old. Musicals and Operas run from May to September but day visitors can still explore the stunning grounds.
Further along the route is the 9 acre, secret garden of Tanglewood Wild Garden. With 4 ponds, exotic plants and a range of bird species, there are no commercial facilities but lots of areas to lay out a picnic blanket and enjoy your beautiful surroundings. It’s also dog friendly so your four-legged friends can join in the fun.
As you head closer to Lizard the scenery changes and the rare geology of the area means a change in the flora and fauna. Jagged black rocks, stunning sandy beaches and a choice of fishing ports sepcialising in serving freshly caught seafood delicacies. Lizard lies within Cornwalls Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and designation as a National Character Area with plenty of picturesque coves and beaches and walks to enjoy. Head to the Lizard Lighthouse or hike from Lizard to Kynance Cove.