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Coast path 'earns' £436m for region

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: January 29, 2014

  • New figures have revealed that walkers spent around £436 million during 2012, on day trips or holidays walking parts of the 630-mile South West Coastal Path National Trail – maintained by Natural England, the National Trust and local authorities on the route – which stretches from Minehead around Cornwall and Devon and into Dorset

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Walkers using the South West Coast Path are pumping millions of pounds into West Country shops and businesses and supporting almost 10,000 local jobs.

New figures have revealed that walkers spent around £436 million during 2012, on day trips or holidays walking stretches of the 630-mile National Trail.

Ramblers from outside the region spent the most, according to the South West Coast Path Team, which oversees the management of the route, with visitors ringing up a combined £333 million during their stay.

Starting at Minehead, the path heads along the north Devon coastline around Cornwall, through Devon again and into Dorset until it ends at Poole Harbour, taking in countless breathtaking views along the way.

The latest figures reveal that the number of people attracted to use the trail increased by 7 per cent between 2011 and 2012, to 8.6 million.

According to the team's figures, the majority of people enjoy a short walk lasting half a day or less, which they can access from a beach or a nearby car park and follow a circular route.

It says that an increasing number of West Country residents are setting out from home and holiday makers staying in non-coastal locations making a day of a coastal walk.

Linear routes on the path tend to last a full day and are designed to link in with public transport connections, while walks can also be themed to take in a particular site or pub along the way.

Meanwhile, a growing number of people are taking on the challenge of completing the entire coast path by walking it stage-by stage in sections. Those who attempt the route all in one go, take around six weeks to complete it.

Mark Owen, the National Trail officer for the South West Coast Path Team said: "These figures are great news. It shows that it's not only locals who know that you have to leave the car behind and explore on foot if you want to discover the most memorable views of our beautiful coastline.

"While walking on the Coast Path is free, the money walkers spend in nearby pubs, cafés, accommodation and with other local businesses makes public investment on the South West Coast Path National Trail a cost-effective way to help grow the region's economy."

The path costs around £1 million a year to maintain, with three quarters of the cost coming from Natural England and the remainder from local authority partners and the National Trust.

Meanwhile, since 2010, more than £2 million in grant aid from the European-funded Rural Development Programme for England, along with further cash from other sources, has backed restoration and archeology projects at sites and monuments along the path.

The aim is to create a "cultural corridor" along the route.

Projects to have come about from the scheme, Unlocking Our Coastal Heritage, include the £71,000 restoration of the Second World War coastal battery at St Anthony's Head on Cornwall's Roseland Peninsula.

The fund has also helped create negotiable routes for wheelchairs and pushchairs along the coast path.

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