630 Miles - An Audio Journey

630 Miles - An Audio Journey was created as part of our 50th-anniversary celebrations!

Rachel Hadley-Leonard, a 2022 South West Coast Path completer and fundraiser hosts 630 Miles.

Each month we interviewed the amazing people that help to make the South West Coast Path one of the world's greatest Trails. We meet the volunteers that help to protect this incredible natural resource, the artists that take inspiration from the coastal landscape, the organisations that work tirelessly to protect the heritage and wildlife along the coastline, the businesses who depend on the Path, plus we delve into some of the research that we have undertaken to highlight the health and wellbeing benefits of walking the Path.

Tune in and listen!

Listen to our inaugural episode of 630 Miles – An Audio Journey and find out more about the charity that has been championing Britain’s longest National Trail for 50 years!

Our host, Rachel, talks with Ken Carter, SWCPA Trustee; and Julian Gray, SWCPA Director; who provide an insight into the history of the South West Coast Path Association. They explore some of the main challenges and issues that the charity faces in its 50th year, plus take a look forward at what the next 50 years might hold for the National Trail and the charity. Aletha Mays, SWCPA Head of Comms discusses some of the exciting events and activities planned to celebrate the charity’s 50th trailblazing year!

Listen: https://spotifyanchor-web.app.link/e/0kGicVmyQzb

Our second episode focuses on the people at the heart of the charity – the volunteers. 

Rachel meets members of the SWCPA team, Lorna Sherriff and Alex Turner, who work closely with the volunteers, and also chats with SWCPA volunteers Helen Marshall and Steve Church, about why and how they volunteer and what it means to them.

We are incredibly grateful to each and every one of our volunteers who come from many different walks of life and bring with them a host of immeasurable skills, knowledge and enthusiasm plus a shared passion for the South West Coast Path and the outdoors. Whether it's being a path rep and helping with our annual path survey, or volunteering on our community walks to help support other people who want to experience the path, we simply couldn't do what we do without them. Listen and find out more.

Listen: https://spotifyanchor-web.app.link/e/XcAVyXWDbyb

This episode focuses on the nature and wildlife that you may encounter as you walk along the Path, how nature can adapt to changing landscapes caused by climate change, and highlights the beauty and ruggedness of the coastal environment that the South West Coast Path traverses. We speak with 3 guests: 

Sue Sayer MBE, Founder and Director of the Seal Research Trust
Tom Munro, Manager, Dorset AONB
Charlotte Wray, Ranger, Exmoor National Park

Listen: https://spotifyanchor-web.app.link/e/x6OTtX2Zmzb

Episode 4 explores how the environment on and around the Coast Path inspires artists and creatives. We had the absolute privilege of chatting with renowned contemporary artist Kurt Jackson; celebrated musician Peter Knight; and artist, writer, and fundraiser Emma Scattergood.

Each artist discussed their very personal relationship with the coastal landscape and how immersing oneself in its awe-inspiring beauty, provokes and inspires their artwork and music. 

Listen: https://spotifyanchor-web.app.link/e/xTJhNLV3mzb

This episode was recorded during Mental Health Awareness Week and delves into the increasing body of research, both quantitative and qualitative, that shows how people's mental and physical wellbeing is enhanced when spending time outside in nature, most specifically, when walking the South West Coast Path - a coastal wild belt providing a valuable space between land and sea. We speak with 3 guests:

Dr Carolyn Petersen, Social Science and Environment Researches, University of Exeter
Paul Sharpe, SWCPA Fundraiser and 2022 SWCP Completer
David Morris, SWCPA Trustee

Listen on Spotify.

In this 'live from the path' episode Rachel returns to her podcast roots and chats with people as she takes part in the Trailblazer Walk over several days in Dorset and Cornwall. Over 20 interviews were captured as people joined us to walk, meet other path lovers, and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Association. If you couldn't join us for the Trailblazer Walk - this is, almost, as good as having been there!

Listen on Spotify.

The South West Coast Path draws over 9 million visitors to the South West each year and is one of the region's most valuable environmental and economic assets, bringing £500 million into the local economy. Our Way Maker businesses and supporters understand the importance of walkers to their business, as well as understanding the need to help protect the path their business relies upon. We speak with 3 guests:

Vanessa, Hartland Point Kiosk
James, Mariners Guest House, Plymouth
Mike, Luggage Transfers

Listen on Spotify.

In this episode, Rachel talks to four 'SWCP completers' - people who have completed the 630 miles of Britain's first coast path and longest National Trail. Many completers can take years to complete the Trail, but our four guests have each undertaken the journey in a thru-hike (or run in one case!) ranging from 56 days, 45 days and a record-breaking 18 days, 46 minutes, and 46 seconds! We speak with 4 guests:

Martin Berry, SWCPA Volunteer Path Rep
Dani Blackie, the Coastal Ultra Runner
Malcolm Joyce, SWCP Completer and Fundraiser
Graham Eaves, five-times SWCP Completer

Listen on Spotify.

In this #makingadifference episode we invite the inspiring Jo Earlam to talk with us about her love for the coast path, and her enduring passion for fundraising. Jo is a long-term member of the Association, champion fundraiser, hiker, trail runner, and SWCP completer, who has been raising money for charities close to her heart for 50 years! We also chat with SWCPA Impact Fundraiser, Will Keen, who gives a great insight into all the ways that you can help support the South West Coast Path and the work we do.

Listen on Spotify.

In this episode Rachel chats with Lorna Sherriff, National Trail Officer, about the work she does improving, caring for and protecting the Path. Lorna discusses the importance of the Trails Partnership in ensuring the South West Coast Path meets the National Trail set of standards. Rachel also meets Huw, North Devon Project Officer, Coast Path Connectors Project (funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund), and Jeanie, a participant of the project, who discuss the transformative effect of the Coast Path.

Listen on Spotify.

Critically acclaimed author, Katherine May, joins Rachel to chat about her journey along the South West Coast Path and the healing power of the path. Katherine is one of the charity's ambassadors and has walked the South West Coast Path for a number of years. Chatting through her transformative time on the Path, Katherine also talks about winter and suggests tools we can all use to help us through the darker months.

Listen on Spotify.

Celebrated author, Raynor Winn, joins Rachel to talk about the upcoming screen adaptation of her Sunday Times best-seller, The Salt Path, and the evocative and beautiful collaboration with The Gigspanner Big Band that has created 'Saltlines', a project that combines prose and folk music with a focus on the coastline of the south west.

Listen on Spotify.

About host Rachel Hadley-Leonard 

Rachel Hadley-Leonard has a lifelong love of the outdoors, the coast and walking and had walked many sections of the SWCP over the years, but it had been a lifelong ambition to complete the whole path, solo in one attempt, and finally, aged 55 she completed this goal on 29th October 2022, after 56 days of through-hiking the Path. 

As a Mile Maker fundraiser, Rachel is keen to continue giving back to the Association in any way she can, and volunteering her time to host the podcast, is one small way. We are very grateful to Rachel for the time and thought she has committed to helping the charity produce this podcast to help celebrate our 50th anniversary. 

LEFT: Rachel with SWCPA area rep Tino braving the storms in Dawlish
RIGHT: Rachel on the Path during her through hike in 2022