We have finished the south-west coast path. My brother George has organised a group of us walking the path in twice-yearly sessions, starting six years ago, and now we have walked all 630 miles of it, finishing at the south side of Poole harbour just yesterday. In fact only two of us, George (in red) and Mark, have walked every inch but about 15 of us have walked most of it. I’ve done about 570 miles.
It is a wonderful national trail. Some of the going has been more diffciult than we expected, with the frequent steep climbs up 200 steps followed immediately by 200 steps down being a particular favourite. But the sea has been a constant source of pleasure, from the wild and stormy conditions at Harland Point, which blew George’s glasses clean off his face (never to be found), to the waves pounding the path at Dawlish as we walked by the side of the newly-restored railway track, to the final delightful stroll from Old Harry rocks to Poole harbour.
The bed-and-breakfasts we have stayed at have nearly all been excellent. Even the infamous Captain Jack at Lynmouth has provided a host of good stories.
The waymarking is, as you would expect, mainly very good. However it was disappointing that the Lulworth ranges were closed to us, requiring a long inland diversion of average quality. As we walked round the ranges, all was quiet. No evidence at all of any firing taking place. We must hope that Natural England will achieve some sort of resolution of this problem when this section of the England coast path is implemented. Talking of which, we walked through one completed section of the England coast path, from Weymouth to Lulworth Cove, without seeing any evidence at all of the wider coastal access that the England coast path is supposed to provide. That is such a shame. There should be notices explaining the beach access and the spreading room, but unless I missed it, there was nothing.
The south-west coast path is a wonderful natural asset of which the UK can be very proud. It clearly brings in huge revenues to local B&Bs, hotels, pubs, restaurants and taxis. Let us hope it continues to flourish.