The Atlantic Highway
Cornwall, United Kingdom
Where salty sea dogs and surfers shack up together…
On the Atlantic Highway fluffy forests hide red deer and storybook villages serve-up fat scones. There are hairpin bends, miles of coastline, and gnarly sea stacks.
Think of it as the best bits of Somerset, Devon, and Cornwall smooshed together into 275km of epic road trippin. We’ve teamed up with Airbnb and Booking.com to highlight a few of our favourite place to stay along the way...
Day 1:The route starts in Somerset on the fringes of Exmoor National Park. But if you’ve got time (it’ll add an hour) tag Cheddar Gorge on at the beginning. You’ll be driving between towering limestone ridges and stopping at hidden caves.
Or you can stick to the plan and dip into Exmoor National Park. There are a bunch of routes signposted but Snowdrop Valley is straight out of a fairytale.
StaySpace-age camping? We’re game. As long as toasting marshmallows is still a thing…
The Steam Rocket is a shiny silver camper van perched on a deck looking out over the West Somerset countryside. By some kind of wizardry the entire side wall lifts up - so you can live your best alfresco life. This place comes full equipped with a fridge, combi oven, shower, toilet and luxe extras like fleece blankets, heated towel rack, and WiFi.
Day 2:Cruise by the Quantock Hills on your way to join up with the A39. Drink in that countryside goodness like a thirsty bee, it’s all Devonshire coast from here on out.
Your next stop is Watersmeet. Take the Countisbury figure-of-eight trail for oak woodland, Iron Age forts, and deep ravines that look like unicorn watering holes. Magical stuff.
Stay:The Beach House is grown-up hostel meets B&B meets beach shack. And we’re here for it. Listen, the rooms are simple but the bistro and bar are the special sauce. It’s a lowkey surfers hangout right on the beach.
Day 3:Pick a lane, Karen. Pick a lane.
You could stick to the route and head straight for Clovelly Village. Make for the harbour, it’s got a pebble beach and frothy waterfall. Or you can chill with the donkeys at the town stable (no, really). After, walk to Mouthmill Beach (it’ll take an hour) and climb on Blackchurch rock.
OR you can stick it to the man and go your own way. Which is really our way. Add an extra loop on to include the seaside resort of Ilfracombe, Chambercombe (haunted) manor, and Lee Bay Beach.
Stay:A 1950s camper and a Land Rover hot tub… Welcome to your hipster starter kit. You’ll be tucked away in a dreamy valley, but no woz. This guy comes fully furnished with double bed, bath, shower, cooker, fridge, and a gas BBQ.
Day 4:Day 4 means slothing about in a pool and eating pizza. Bude is a dinky little resort town with nature’s version of an infinity pool - a tidal pool. After taking a dip head to Crooklets Beach for surfing or Summerleaze for tanning. Lunch is woodfired pizza at La Bocca Kitchen.
Next stop is Tintagel. Nature was just showing off when it whipped up this lad. Get sprayed at St Nectan’s Glen Waterfall then head for Merlin’s Cave. Apparently this is where baby King Arthur washed up and Merlin carried him to safety. If your eyes can handle more beautiful things, try Bossiney Cove and Tintagel Castle too.
StayIf you shit gold and think you’re royalty, we have the hotel for you.
Camelot Castle Hotel sits on a sea cliff and has rooms the size of your flat. It’s super spenny but you can’t argue with them views. For something a little cheaper try The Olde Malthouse Inn. It’s charming and cosy… and half the price.
Day 5:A fishing village with a harbour that’ll make you weep…
Port Isaac is silly pretty. It’s got two big swinging dicks - Stein’s (as in Rick) Fish and Chips or Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen. If you’re prepared to remortgage go for Outlaw’s. The paprika butter scallops are sinful. Next you’ll want to visit Polzeath for sugar sand dreams. Your final stop of the day is Padstow - hit up Prawn on the Lawn for spicy seared tuna.
Stay:You can end up dropping some serious dollar staying in Padstow. Most of the hotels are pricey. And let's be real, after a day of cramming carbs (and crabs) in your face you just need a bed to sleep off the bloat. Padstow Bed & Breakfast is light and bright and just a couple miles from a Blue Flag beach.
Day 6:You’re heading straight to Newquay. Lusty Glaze is a privately owned slice of beach in a hidden cove. There’s a rum bar, pizza oven, and live music most evenings in summer. Tom Thumb is another good spot for speakeasy vibes and allll the espresso martinis (if you’re not driving).
Surf newb? There are loadsa surf schools but Escape is one of the best. £35 for an intro 2 hour sesh. Now it’s time for the final stretch - hot foot it all the way to Land’s End.