Somerset’s seafaring heritage and lost legends are beautifully brought to life in a set of ‘story walks’ that explore its spectacular, rugged coastal landscape.
Created by local poet Chris Jelley, and brought to you by the England Coast Path team at Somerset County Council, the set of 12 Storywalks can be accessed via your phone or tablet connecting walkers to the local landscape and history.
Somerset’s coast has a history of smugglers and shipwrecks, daring sea rescues and bustling trading ports. It is sprinkled with the remains of castles and fortifications and has inspired poets and artists alike. It is home to cliffs and beaches famous for their rock formations and offers protected status to Somerset’s coastal wildlife and flora.
All this comes together in the Storywalks, embellishing your experience of the local area by linking facts, myth, history and tales to locations. The walks are between one and five kilometres long and are set in urban and rural areas between Brean Down in the north and Minehead in the west.
“Storywalks are little journeys into the curious history, folklore and abundant nature along a trail,” said Chris Jelley. He added “Reading them aloud is a brilliant family friendly way to discover the broad history of a location and its inhabitants.”
St Audries waterfall
Written and researched by Chris with local historian Dr Helen Blackman, marine biologist Mark Ward, from Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Brilliant Coast project, and the communities along the trail, the walks introduce over 130 old Somerset dialect words such as ‘skitty vamps’, pronounced skeet’ee-vaams, which are lace up boots, and ‘farnticles’, which are freckles.
“We hope they appeal to locals and visitors alike and provide a starting point for those wishing to explore Somerset’s diverse and beautiful coast,” said Isobel Pring, England Coast Path Officer at Somerset County Council.
Produced with funding from Natural England, it is hoped that the walks will encourage local communities to engage with the England Coast Path and the Rights of Way team at Somerset County Council are hoping to run hosted Storywalks at local events during the summer.
“This is a fantastic new initiative to help people enjoy the wonders of the Somerset Coast. With its rich history, wealth of wildlife and stunning views across the Severn Estuary, it’s a brilliant place for people of all ages and backgrounds to get out and enjoy nature. Natural England encourages everyone to follow the Countryside Code, leave no trace, and care for nature when you’re out enjoying the countryside,“ said Matt Heard, Natural England’s Area Manager for Wessex.
Storywalks use the internet and the location finder in your phone to unlock chapters in a story about the area you are walking in. There’s no need to download anything, simply go to the England Coast Path Storywalks page https://englandcoastpath.storywalks.info/ or scan the QR code to a find a walk near you and start walking.
If you complete a Storywalk post a picture of your walk with the hashtag #ecpstorywalks so that we can see your journey.
The 12 walks are at: Brean Down, Berrow Dunes, Burnham-on-Sea, Bridgwater, Combwich, Steart Marshes, Stolford, Lilstock, St Audries, Watchet, Blue Anchor and Dunster.
The walks sit alongside a further eight Storywalks; six in Minehead produced by Minehead Development Trust and MineheadBID, and two in Kilve produced by the Somerset Wildlife Trust and Kilve Parish Council.
Daft as a Brush charity founder Brian Burnie continues his journey around the coastline of the UK
Walking open sections of the England Coast Path (see links for further information): Brian Burnie, the 75 year old founder of the ‘Daft as a Brush’ cancer charity, has been walking his way around the UK’s coastline. Click here for video of Brian’s lockdown walk (including open sections of the England Coast Path (ECP)) since March 2018. Brian, along with his army of volunteers and members of the north east ECP team, set off from Newcastle upon Tyne on his epic journey to promote his dream of free transport to and from hospital for cancer patients all over Britain and Ireland. Each ECP team continued to walk sections of the coast with Brian until the coronavirus lockdown. He has completed over 5,000 out of the 7,000 mile target and, after being inspired by Captain Tom, is continuing to walk circuits of his garden and the local golf course to keep up the momentum.
Brian will have walked the equivalent distance from Torquay (when lockdown happened after 5,126 miles completed) to Teesside (1,182 miles) by Friday 15th August 2020!
Brian completed his epic walk around the UK’s coastline! On 23rd September, he ended at the Millennium Bridge in Newcastle where it all started back in March 2018. Natural England have supported him along the way and members of the ECP team joined him on open sections of the ECP throughout his walk and also on his final day. See the links to the BBC here and ITV news clip here.
The England Coast Path (ECP) has been closed between Watchet and Blue Anchor due to a landslip. Somerset County Council is responsible for maintaining the ECP within the county boundaries and closed the path at the weekend in the interest of public safety.
An inland diversion is available, and the details for this can be found on the site closure notices and online at www.nationaltrail.co.uk. Somerset County Council will be working with the relevant landowners to assess the long-term safety of the route.
Councillor John Woodman, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways said: “It’s disappointing that the path between Watchet and Blue Anchor has had to temporarily close, but safety is our top priority and I’m pleased we’ve reacted quickly to provide a diversion.”
Somerset County Council works in partnership with Natural England to manage the England Coast Path in Somerset. The National Trail helps attract more visitors to the County and benefits the local economy.
If you’re interested in helping look after the England Coast Path you can sign up as a Trail Watcher, which will involve adopting a stretch of the trail. By keeping an eye on a stretch that you regularly use and reporting any problems you can help the County Council be more responsive in keeping the trail well maintained and accessible.
Please follow this web link to find out more: https://volunteering.somerset.gov.uk/opportunities/rights-of-way-volunteer/.
Just in time for the nice spring weather, Explore Kent is launching a set of eight linear walks that cover the current Kent stretch of the England Coast Path: Dungeness to Ramsgate.
Walney is the eight largest island in England and it now has a 33km (21 miles) section of the England Coast Path all around the island.
This new national trail circumnavigates the island, starting and finishing at Jubilee Bridge (where it will eventually connect to the rest of the England Coast Path), offering some stunning landscapes for walkers on the way. To the north, there are wonderful views of Black Combe and the Coniston Fells, to the west the Irish Sea and the massed ranks of wind turbines, to the south views across Morecambe Bay to Blackpool and to the east, Piel Channel and the adjoining Furness coastline.
The salt marshes, sand dunes and intertidal habitats of Walney Island support breeding birds, wintering waders and wildfowl as well as populations of important protected species such as natterjack toads. Both northern and southern tips are protected by nature reserves which help maintain the special character and feel of the island. The sense of wilderness provided by the open spaces is a stark contrast to the neighbouring industrial landscape.
Accompanied by the amazing views, you may be lucky enough to see porpoises or roe deer and of course the Walney geranium to add to the experience. There are some outstanding eating and drinking places along the way and, with luck, you could finish your adventure with one of the famous Walney sunsets.
In due course, the road bridge connecting Walney to Barrow will enable onward routes around Morecambe Bay, and north towards the Duddon Estuary and west Cumbria, should proposals published by Natural England in January 2020 be approved.