The South West Coast Path Association

- loving the South West Coast Path!

Welcome to the South West Coast Path Association (SWCPA), we are a charity that works to ensure the path is one of the best walks in the world and protects it for all to enjoy. Supporting the charity and adding a voice as a member helps SWCPA to improve the path and keep the way open to beautiful coastal places.

Join us and get our latest Annual Guide worth £9.95. The 2015 guide contains everything a walker needs to know to walk the whole 630 miles. It includes comprehensive accommodation details (B&Bs and campsites) actually on the path or very close to it; suggested itineraries; tide tables; river crossings and ferry operating schedules; local transport details; a trail description of the 630 miles. Become one of the thousands who help us, together with the organisations who run and maintain the Path, make the SWCP Britain’s best National Trail.

Look through some of the things we’ve done to help keep this superb amenity in good shape and see some of the benefits of membership; we’re sure you’ll want to join us and help us keep up the good work.

About The South West Coast Path

The South West Coast Path was originally a means for the coastguard to track and pursue smugglers and continues to provide access to 630 miles of stunning coastal scenery from Minehead to Poole. As a designated National Trail, which represent the finest walking routes in Britain, it is the longest and most popular walk in the country and is considered among the World’s Great Hikes. With two World Heritage Sites, Five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and one National Park, it’s a journey along one of the most diverse coastal landscapesin the world where no two days walking it are ever the same.

Latest News

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SWCPA 2015 AGM

South West Coast Path Association’s Spring AGM

Saturday 28 March 2015, Landmark Theatre, Ilfracombe

Stepping Forward

The South West Coast Path Association’s AGM took place on Saturday 28 March at the Landmark Theatre, Ilfracombe with a record 120 delegates who turned up to witness a monumental step in the evolution of the Association.

A key vote was taken to enable the Association to continue to grow by becoming a Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Support for this decision was overwhelming with no votes against and only a single abstention. This will help the Association to build on the legacy of its recent partnerships with the South West Coast Path Team, the Local Authorities and the National Trust in helping to protect and promote the Coast Path.

In the past few years, this partnership helped deliver the hugely successful Great South West Walk in the Association’s 40th anniversary year and saw almost £3m invested in improvement projects on the Coast Path. More recently, it secured £1m from the Coastal Communities Fund to help repair storm damage to the Coast Path and market the Path to a wider audience, and so protect and enhance the huge economic benefits that the path brings to the region.

Chairman Andrew Lack described the key partnership between the South West Coast Path Association and the South West Coast Path Team saying: “The link is symbiotic – each organisation is separate and different but rely on each other to get their aims and objectives fulfilled.”

Originally the Association was set up primarily to lobby for route improvements to the Coast Path and this has helped to secure the best possible route for walkers. As a result, the Coast Path is now considered one of the world’s greatest walks. However with recent funding cuts, the greatest need is now more about raising funds to ensure the quality is retained.

People Power

As the Association continues to grow, walkers remain at its core. It now has more volunteers than ever before with over 50 local reps who help keep a close eye on the condition of the path. These are coordinated by Area Reps who themselves often go on to become Trustees of the Association so it’s very much led from the ground up. More opportunities are being created for people to get involved and local businesses will also be able to show their support through business membership and sponsorship. All in all, it maintains at its heart the passion of the people that love the Coast Path and in this respect, little has changed since the Association began.

Keith Wainwright, a Trustee said: “The Association is still run by people whose heart is in the Coast Path. It will continue the legacy of how the South West Coast Path Association began and grew over the past 42 years.”

Peter and Jane Sillet who have been members of the Association since 1978 said: “I can understand why people worry about its [the Association's] future but I think it's safe – the passion it had from the start is never going to be lost. It will stay grounded and it is so important that it will continue to be run by people who love the Coast Path.”

Later in the day, members were given an exclusive preview of the new logo that will be used to promote the Association in its work to promote the Coast Path. This will be launched later this year along with new membership packages for individuals and businesses.

Coastal Festival 2015

The meeting was wrapped up by a presentation by Alex Raeder, the National Trust's Natural Environment lead for South West England. He spoke about the Trust's work to conserve and enhance the coast, and their plans to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Neptune campaign to protect the coastline with a series of events throughout the year. Part of this is partnering with the Association on our main fundraising event. This will be the South West Coast Path Challenge in October, which sets out to establish a new record for the number of times the South West Coast Path can be walked in one month. All members and non-members are invited to register to take part on the website.

This is just one of the ways in which the National Trust and the Association are working together to safeguard and improve the South West Coast Path and the countryside it passes through, both for now and in the future.

Annual Report and Accounts

These are available from here (pdf). Please contact the office if you would like a paper copy.

Benefits of Membership

  • Your subscription will help the Association promote, protect and enhance the Coast Path.
  • You will receive a FREE copy of the Annual Guide each year, including information on the whole length of the Path, accommodation, ferries, transport links and much more.
  • You will receive two Newsletters each year, with all the latest news of any Path alterations and a host of other items of up-to-date interest.
  • This website helps you keep right up to date with what is happening along the coast path
  • We have a range of publications, souvenirs and other coast path related items to help you enjoy and remember your experiences walking the Path.
  • You will be part of the “family” of those who love the Coast Path, and know that your input is important to the Path’s well-being.
  • We provide friendly advice at the end of a phone as we have intimate knowledge of the whole Path.
  • We work closely with the Path Managers and Team to ensure the Path is always walkable.
  • Your membership helps raise funds towards path improvements, enabling us to lever in double or treble each donation.
  • Plus, if you are a UK taxpayer, the Gift Aid proportion of your membership will also go towards the Path improvement fund.

Remember, the Association represents ALL Coast Path walkers, not just the hardy long-distance specialists. Whether you plan to walk all 630 miles, or have already done so, or are happy to stroll along a short stretch of coast on a Sunday afternoon or a couple of days a year when on holiday - if you love the Coast Path then the Association is for you!

South West Coast Path Association… THE organisation to join for anyone who cares about the Coast Path and wants to see it protected and enhanced.

Our Achievements

The Association is dedicated to helping everyone to enjoy the Path.

The South West Coast Path Association was formed in 1973 by a group of enthusiasts to encourage the development and improvement of the Path. This is still one of the main aims of the Association, and it works closely with Natural England, the Government’s rural recreation body, with local authorities and other user groups.

Over the years the Association has continued to campaign for maintenance, signing and alignment improvements, with particular attention to removing the route from roads. The Association has been closely involved in many such improvements.

Today one of the Association’s functions is to assist and advise all those who wish to walk this wonderful coastline – whether in short relaxing strolls around a headland or by undertaking more demanding long distance walks lasting several days, or even heroic attempts at covering the whole length of 630 miles in one go!

These days the Association is more involved in actually helping to fund improvements and currently has a programme for such work. We urge all those who walk the Path and enjoy it to join us as members and help support this very important work. Some of the improvements undertaken with the help of Association funding over the last few years include:-

  • Reinstatement after a major landslip between Duporth and Charlestown, South Cornwall.
  • Reinstatement after a landslip at Foxhole Cove, North Cornwall.
  • Realignment of the Path and funding of new waymarking at Cape Cornwall.
  • Establishment of a permissive path at the gunnery ranges at Tregantle Fort, South Cornwall.
  • Erection of end markers at Minehead and Poole Harbour and a half-way marker at Porthallow.
  • Erection of Coastguard-promoted location markers.

In addition, funding has been made available for a further series of improvements which it is hoped will take place in the foreseeable future, and which would not proceed without Association funds. We hope to be seeing these improvements, with the benefit of our help:-

  • Watermouth Cove, North Devon.
  • Strete Gate, South Devon.
  • Barret’s Zawn, North Cornwall.
  • Royal William Yard, Plymouth.

We have also agreed to part-fund a series of small-scale improvements around the Coast Path in conjunction with a variety of local businesses. The first group of these will see improvements at:-

  • Dancing Ledge, Dorset.
  • Durlston, Dorset.
  • St Mary’s Bay, Torbay.
  • Ringmore, South Devon.
  • Dartmouth, South Devon.
  • Reskajeague Downs, North Cornwall.
  • Porth, North Cornwall.
  • Hartland, North Devon.

Further, it was our promise of financial help towards route improvements that was one of the key factors in the Path’s management team successfully securing £2.1 million from the Rural Development Programme for England to deliver the “Unlocking our Coastal Heritage” project.

As you can see, funding by our members’ subscriptions has enabled the Association to play a vital part in a range of necessary Coast Path projects. All this impressive list of improvements is thanks to our members.......well done everyone!

So if you haven’t already done so, why not join 5,000+ other Coast Path enthusiasts and become a member of the Association?

Now for the official bit.

As a registered charity, the Association has formal objectives. These are:-

  1. To secure the protection, improvement and preservation of an acceptable South West Coast Path and public access thereto in order to improve the conditions of life of the users of the South West Coast Path.
  2. To educate users of the South West Coast Path to a greater knowledge of, respect and care for the coast and countryside.

In furtherance of these objectives the Association aims to work for and assist in:-

  1. Providing information about the South West Coast Path and its corridor to the public.
  2. The organisation directed at the improvement and maintenance of the South west Coast Path.
  3. Providing a forum in which different interests connected with the South West Coast Path (including its corridor) and its use can discuss problems of mutual concern.