Following the dramatic and diverse curves of the English coastline, the South West 660 is a newly-plotted road trip stretching from Poole, Dorset to Watchet, Somerset. As the numeric in the name suggests, this is a pretty long road trip, with much of the journey taking place along quiet, scenic roads (excluding holidays, of course). No matter what your holiday goals are you’re bound to find plenty of distractions to tempt you along the way so leave plenty of time to take in the glorious vistas, explore the beaches and coves and relax at a local pub or two.
The South West 660 route has been broken down into 12 unique sections, each around 50 miles long. It covers all four counties in this lovely area, each with its own unique character. This guide to a great South West 660 road trip will cover the highlights from each section, with recommendations for motorhome campsites along the way.
We’ll point out some must-sees and top spots to suit travellers of all ages and all tastes. With 660 miles to cover, we’d better get started! Grab yourself a revitalising beverage and let’s discover the perfect itinerary for driving the South West 660 in a campervan.
Poole to Lyme Regis - The Dorset stretch
Distance - approx 75 miles
Starting at the seaside town of Poole, Dorset you have the option to follow the winding coastal paths or head straight on the more direct route to Lyme Regis to give yourself more days to explore Devon or Cornwall. If you do have time to take in the seaside delights of Lulworth Cove, Durdle Dor and pebbly sweeping Chesil Beach you won’t be disappointed. Each of these locations can get pretty packed on sunny weekends and holidays (making parking a nightmare) but if you can visit during quieter times you’re bound to fall in love with these Dorset highlights. After taking a dip at Lulworth Cove check out the Fossil Forest, the remains of a submerged Jurassic forest. A visit to Corfe Castle is also a worthy detour.
Journeying along you’ll pass through the busy harbour town of Weymouth. Avoid the traffic jams and get some splendid views of Chesil Beach by taking the B3157 instead of the westbound A35. The Jurassic Coast is one of the UK’s most famous world heritage sites and offers plenty of wonderful stops. Check out Visit Dorset’s guide for more information.
Staying at: A number of campsites in this area are only open a few weekends a year so be careful when doing your research. Durdle Door Holiday Park is open from 1 March to 31 October and offers a variety of grass and gravel-standing pitches, some with sea views. There’s a good shower and toilet block with baby changing facilities, water points, and a dishwashing area with a shared fridge-freezer. There’s also a washing machine and an on-site shop. Prices start at £38.50 for a campervan pitch with a sea view.
Durdle Door Holiday Park, Main Rd, West Lulworth, Wareham BH20 5PU
Lyme Regis to St Austell - The South Devon stretch
Distance - approx 181 miles
Red sandstone cliffs, river mouths dotted with gorgeous homes and settlements, sheltered sandy coves and bucolic farmland - South Devon really is the gift that keeps on giving. Did we mention the meandering woodland valleys and the magnificent rolling cliffs?
Between Lyme Regis and Exeter consider stop-offs in the seaside towns of Beer, Axmouth or Seaton, or take a trip up the Exe Estuary where the riverside pubs and promise of award-winning shellfish are a worthy lunchtime draw.
The next stretch is the city of Exeter to Dartmouth, known as the English Riviera due to its relatively sunny microclimate. Check out the black swans in Dawlish Warren and be sure to sample some of the local seafood. Then it's on to South Hams (Dartmouth to Plymouth) where the entire coast is a designated AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). As you can imagine, this stretch is pretty easy on the eye. Start Point Lighthouse is a highlight (pardon to pun) as is Salcombe Bay. If you have time to stop for a boat trip Salcombe Estuary Cruises offer a variety of trips at very reasonable prices.
If you’re in the mood for a city stop, pull into Plymouth. Here you’ll discover fascinating maritime history, lively pubs, a historic harbour and some very tasty Plymouth Gin. Finally, make your way on to St Austell, your first stop in Cornwall. If you can drag yourself away from the coast, head 10 miles or so inland to The Eden Project, a former clay mine transformed into a glorious botanic garden and education centre. It’s a great place for kids and adults alike. If you’re visiting in summer, check the website for available tickets to the outdoor music concerts hosted here.
Staying at: River Valley Holiday Park has 45 spacious touring pitches, heated showers and excellent facilities, making this an ideal stopover on your South West 660 road trip. There’s also an indoor pool, laundry room and electric hookup available.
Prices during the low season for a standard pitch start at £23, rising to £38 in the high season.
River Valley Holiday Park, London Apprentice, Saint Austell PL26 7AP
St Austell to Padstow - The Cornwall stretch
Distance - depends greatly on which route you take!
Many people have a special place in their hearts for Cornwall and get rather misty-eyed when conjuring up memories of their visits. Artists have flocked here to enjoy the beautiful light for centuries and it is clear to see why. The sense of space and edge-of-landness is present at every turn and, if you can avoid the crowds, this is one of the top areas of the UK for motorhome holidaymakers.
This South West 660 itinerary is structured around St Austell, Penzance, St Ives and Padstow but there are so many other places along the way to enjoy. It really depends on the time of year you go and what you fancy doing. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Heading southwest from St Austell you can stop at the university town of Falmouth which has plenty of pubs and a lovely harbour to enjoy. Cornish scenery doesn't get finer than The Lizard, Britain’s most southerly headland and a swim at Kynance Cove is an experience that you will cherish forever. Check out the glittering mica schist rock while you are there and enjoy a refreshment at the local cafe.
Carry on around the coast in a north-westerly direction to explore more wonderful beaches at Gunwalloe Church Cove or head on to the lovely harbour village of Porthleven. If the Mussel Shoals Cafe is open we highly recommend you sample the delicious and fresh local produce on their pontoon.
Other great spots on this part of the trip include surfing at Sennen, walking out to St Michael’s Mount and enjoying a pasty at Marazion. Then there’s the chance to take in some world-class art at The Tate and yet more wonderful beaches at St Ives. Mind out for the seagulls, especially if you have a pasty in hand!
Speaking of food, your last stop on this leg of our South West 660 campervan journey is Padstow, not-exactly-affectionately renamed ‘Padstein’ after Rick Stein who has opened several eateries in the fishing town. This is a great place for a visit, regardless of local politics and there are plenty of fine eating options that don’t involve celebrity chefs including some mentioned in this BBC Good Food blog.
Staying at: Tower Park Caravans and Camping is located in the heart of Poldark country, midway between Penzance and Land's End. With plenty of beaches nearby and excellent facilities including a wetsuit wash and an outdoor play area for children, this is an ideal campsite for families. The site is open from 20 March to 29 October. Contact the hosts via the site for bookings and fees.
Tower Park Caravans and Camping, St Buryan, Penzance TR19 6BZ
Padstow to Watchet - The North Devon and Somerset Stretch
Distance - 115 miles
Whether you want to catch waves, go bird watching, relax in picturebook villages, slide down sand dunes or wander misty moorlands, this stretch of your South West 660 camping trip is a wonderful way to conclude your journey.
Heading north, take a few hours for a stop in Tintagel Castle, the legendary birthplace of King Arthur. Tintagel is a great opportunity for people of all ages to soak up some history and it also doubles as an excellent place to spot seals.
Back on the road, a stop in Bude is well worth your time, especially if you want to surf. If you need lessons or equipment, Big Blue Surf School can help you out. They do group bookings and lessons and offer specially designed adaptive classes for people with disabilities or neurodiversity.
Next we make our way around the coast of North Devon where you can stop for more beach action and surf at Woolacombe or visit the harbour town of Ilfracombe which has pubs a-plenty and some pleasant coastal walks. The villages of Lynton and Lynmouth are situated 40 minutes or so west up the Bristol Channel. These two ‘half-towns’ are linked by a Victorian water-powered cliff railway which you can take to visit both. Stand at the front for the best views!
And so we arrive at Watchet, your final destination on our South West 660 campervan road trip. Here you can take a walk along the Coleridge Way or West Somerset Coastal Path or simply relax and enjoy the harbour views. There’s also a tiny but interesting boat museum to visit.
Stay at: Set in 60 acres of lovely ancient oak woodland, Newberry Valley Touring and Camping Park is a well-located family and dog-friendly site with plenty of good facilities. You can visit one of the nearby beaches, head down the road to Combe Martin for a go on a kayak or paddleboard, or simply relax on-site with the four resident alpacas. Prices start at £37 for a hard-standing pitch.
Woodlands, Combe Martin, Ilfracombe EX34 0AT
As you can see there is a lot to cover on the South West 660 route so it pays to plan well in advance and get your priorities in order. If you can travel out of season you will definitely enjoy clearer roads, cheaper prices at campsites and fewer people in general. Having said that, if you can only go during the summer holidays it is possible to avoid crowds. Stay away from the honey-pot areas and choose campsites that have fewer amenities and that are more ‘back to nature’ and you should have a more peaceful visit. You can also try to do most of the driving before the other holidaymakers get up.
Whenever you decide to go make sure you pack well and prepare for all weather and take a few creature comforts like cosy blankets for cuddling up under the stars. Packing these extras is, of course, much easier when you have your own vehicle. If you don’t own a campervan why not hire your ideal four-wheeled travelling partner from one of our trusted customers? Head over to our motorhomes for hire to find out more.
Looking to extend your trip? Check out the best campsites in Cornwall and the best motorhome sites in Devon!