Wondrous, balmy days
It’s over two decades now since I first walked the South West Coast Path, covered in three separate fleet-footed, mile-devouring trips during the late spring and summer of 1996. I started with Dorset and was duly hooked. The north coast from Minehead to Land’s End followed, and finally the south coast, from the Dorset/Devon border, again walking east to west, as I prefer. Unencumbered by a heavy pack, it was a joy. (I had my own personal baggage transfer service, aka my mother, who acted as chauffeur moving the tent and other gear on each day to the next overnight campsite so I could move fast and light with the limited time available.) Wondrous, balmy days when the sun – at least in gilded memory – seemed to shine for much of the time, enhancing the pleasure and exhilaration I was newly experiencing in walking this most beautiful and glorious of coastlines for the first time.
Since then I’ve returned most years to spend time at different locations getting to know better and savouring individual stretches. The more familiar I become the more I love this coast path, and no more so than in May – appropriately enough for its anniversary – when the myriad wild flowers which festoon the cliff-tops are at their best. No matter the weather – and I’ve walked it at all times of the year and in all sorts of weather – it never fails to revitalise and uplift one. As a long-standing member of the aforementioned Association, whose twice yearly newsletters include reports by those who have completed the Path, it’s clear that many others feel the same way.