How £250,000 will transform our coast path
From locals to visitors, dog walkers to family outings, hill climbers to gentle strollers – the South West Coast Path is enjoyed by many. It is used for recreation and business and is vital for the economy, while providing a tool for a range of charities to raise funds.
With so many people using and enjoying the path, the South West Coast Path Association (SWCPA)is raising funds for a large number of improvement projects to sections of the entire route.
To celebrate its 40th anniversary, the association is inviting the public to join it in giving some much-needed tender loving care to the path – especially in light of recent floods and record level of cliff falls. With the aim of putting 40 years of love back into the coast path, the SWCPA is holding the Great South West Walk this spring to raise vital funds for a range of improvement projects. More than 40 are planned along the path, costing in the region of £250,000. This will be raised by the Great South West Walk and projects will be completed by the end of this year.
Full information on each can be viewed at www.southwestcoastpath. org.uk/40th-anniversary/projects.php
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Here is just a taster of what will be achieved with the funds raised...
Morte Point near Mortehoe
Along the north side of Morte Point, the path in places is very narrow and rocky. To make it easier to walk along and more accessible to less hardy walkers, the National Trust would like to dig out the path to make it wider and improve the surface.
As the coast path heads out towards Hartland Point, the National Trust would like to replace stiles with traditional oak gates and install improved waymarking (also in oak) to Brownsham.
Carbis Bay to Lelant
Cornwall Council's Environment Service would like to improve this popular section of the path, which is slippery and muddy in places, particularly after wet weather. The work will include a new flight of granite steps and improved drainage to divert surface water off the path. Vegetation will also be cut back to open up the views across St Ives Bay to Godrevy Lighthouse. The result will be a much nicer and easier path for walkers to use. Carbis Bay Hotel is kindly supporting this project, which will enable it to go ahead in the spring.
Sennen Cove to Land's End
This is a major two-phase joint project, between the National Trust and Cornwall Council's Environment Service, to create a much easier walk between Sennen Cove and Land's End. Because of erosion, the path is currently of a poor quality, making it very challenging for those with walking difficulties, as well as being a scar on the landscape. By stone pitching the worst section and re-vegetating the bare areas either side, this will enable a more enjoyable walk to or from Land's End. The first phase of this project, covering 220 metres of stone pitching, is under way and due to be completed by the end of March. Land's End Company, Cornish Cottage Holidays and the RDPE are kindly supporting this project.
Downas Cove steps
Cornwall Council's Environment Service would like to improve the steps on the steep section of coast path east of Downas Cove, to make it easier to walk and reduce future erosion. Parkdean Holidays are kindly supporting this project.
River Erme crossing
This project will be led by the South Devon AONB service and carried out in conjunction with the Flete Estate, which will restore the historic slipways on the coast path leading to the River Erme crossing (and the beaches) revealing the original pitched stone setts. Previously they have been repaired using a concrete skim, but this is unsightly and is now breaking up.
Ayrmer Cove to Westcombe Beach
Cliff erosion between Ayrmer Cove and Westcombe Beach means the coast path is getting close to the edge. To provide more space for the path and walkers, the National Trust is planning to move 200 metres of fencing ten metres away from the cliff edge. Parkdean Holidays are kindly supporting this project.
Babbacombe Beach to Oddicombe Beach
Following on from work undertaken to improve the coast path down to Oddicombe beach, the Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust would like to improve the section between Oddicombe and Babbacombe Beach to make it easier and nicer to use all year round. The proposed work includes improving the drainage to reduce surface water and mud, clearing vegetation to open up the views, and installing two new benches. The Cary Arms is kindly supporting this project.
Across the Ranges between Lulworth and Kimmeridge, four stiles with gates have replaced the existing stiles – another six need to be upgraded. The steps at Arish Mell and Mupe Bay are also to be reset to make them less steep. Some new steps are also required to bridge gaps.
Countisbury & Trentishoe
The National Trust wishes to grade and level a half-mile stretch of the path on Countisbury Hill. It will also install a series of drainage routes under the path. At Trentishoe, the path crossing the common will be re-graded and levelled.
The South West Coast Path Association is working with a range of organisations such as the South West Coast Path Team, the National Trust, county councils and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty teams, along with local walking groups and numerous tourism businesses. The Western Morning News, Cornwall Today and BBC Radio Cornwall/Devon/Solent are also supporting this special event.
The Great South West Walk will see a series of 56 sponsored walks, done in relay, to cover the entire 630 miles of the path around Dorset, Devon and Cornwall (plus the Exmoor coast through Somerset).
Meeting with a birthday party at Land's End on May 7, the south coast series starts at Poole on April 3, with the north coast series starting at Minehead on April 16. Each leg will be guided by local experts, rangers and path wardens, who will share their knowledge of each area.
Any sponsorship that walkers raise will make a huge difference to the path, adding to the funds pledged by companies and funding bodies, all helping to achieve the £250,000 target for these small but significant improvement projects, over and above the general maintenance of the path.
The South West Coast Path is a unique part of our heritage that needs help. So please get involved with the Great South West Walk and help put some love back into the coast path! Take part in a half-day or full-day walk, or build a walking holiday over a number of days and legs.
For more information, or to sign up to take part before the March 4 registration deadline, please visit www.GreatSouthWestWalk.co.uk or contact the SWCPA on 01752 896237. You can also follow the event on Twitter @LoveSWCoastPath.