South West Coast Path being damaged by increased footfall

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The charity that looks after the Coast Path has announced it has raised over £100,000 to help safeguard the future of the National Trail after increased ‘wear and tear’ due to severe storm damage, increased footfall and coastal erosion during the pandemic.

The South West Coast Path Association (SWCPA) has been collecting money as part of the ‘Every Mile Matters’ campaign for just under a year and hit the milestone total earlier this week.

The SWCPA has been championing the Coast Path since 1973, and the campaign aims to change perspectives about the true value of the Coast Path to people’s health and wellbeing, the environment, and the regional economy.

The fundraising drive’s success was announced by Raynor Winn, the award-winning author who lives in Cornwall and credits the path with changing her life.

She said: "During lockdown, so many of us have found that walking has been such a solace.

"It's been some connection that we actually need and there is nowhere more beautiful than the South West Coast Path.

"After a few months of living wild actually on those headlands I came to discover that it is such a special place.

Luke Elliott, founder of Plymouth Coastal Runners, relishes the challenge of adapting to a changing coastline during a run Credit: ITV West Country

The South West Coast Path is 630 miles long and costs £1,400 per mile to maintain each year, but it also generates health benefits for the nation valued at over £75 million per year.

It supports the wellbeing of over 9 million people who visit each year and the path is popular with runners like Luke Elliott who organises a monthly time trial event.

He says number of participants is now up to about 100 per month - more than double what they used to get.

Luke Elliott, founder of Plymouth Coastal Runners, said: "The exciting bit about the coast path is the terrain is constantly changing.

"One minute you are running through a little town or a village or whatever and the next minute you are on something that is still considered a path but it might be rocky or whatever.

Chris Leigh is one of many volunteers for the South West Coast Path Association who repairs damage and puts up fencing around the trail Credit: ITV West Country

Last week's major cliff collapse near Seatown in Dorset was a reminder that our coastline is always changing.

These falls happen all the time, but network of volunteers go out regularly onto the path to check for damage.

Chris Leigh, volunteer for the South West Coast Path Association, said: "The sink hole appeared just before Christmas and earlier this year another area of land dropped and fell away.

"We've had to fence off part of it on a temporary basis before we decide exactly what route the new path is going to take and put in permanent fencing.

"It all takes time and costs money to continually repair stretches of the path."

Money raised by the campaign throughout the last year has helped to fund ongoing work caring for the Trail as well as health and wellbeing projects prioritised by the charity during the pandemic.

Disabled Ramblers and Cornwall Rolling Ramblers to improve easy access walk descriptions for the National Trail.

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