The path to paradise
Caring for one of the UK’s most beautiful walking routes
Saturday 19 November 2022
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Towns and breweries we visit have a lot in common. Each is engulfed in spectacular scenery, a rich food culture, and the struggle to find landlords that take proper care of casks, though a lot divides them equally. They are physically separated, often by one-track country roads, and a wealth disparity that differentiates life inland from that on the coast, or in a city. As always, beer can be better appreciated if the lived experience of those who produce and consume it is somewhat understood, and so keen to gain insight into life in this complex corner of the country, we team up with the best example of South Western connective tissue we can think of; The South West Coast Path.
The South West Coast Path Association is a charity that marries advocacy of health and wellness with a deep concern for the environment so widely celebrated in Somerset, Exmoor, Cornwall and Devon. Its primary focuses are to champion, protect, conserve, raise funds, and improve equity of access to the path so it remains one of the world’s greatest trails. The South West Coast Path is a National Trail that traces the coastline and connects communities along the 630-mile stretch of England’s south west peninsula.
Aletha Mays, head of communication at the South West Coast Path Association, tells us that mitigating the danger of inevitable and unavoidable coastal erosion is a big part of the charity’s work, particularly along areas of the path with soft soil and cliff, which sometimes does just crumble and fall into the sea. In these instances, the association works with their partners to reroute the path around areas of danger so people can continue to safely use it.
Aletha also tells us that during the 2022 storm season, when storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin followed in quick succession, the Path experienced extensive damage. In North Devon and Exmoor a 5 mile stretch had to be closed and a diversion put in place due to fallen trees either blocking or badly damaging the path. “In response, we launched a Storm Damage Appeal to raise the funds needed to get the trees removed as quickly as possible. Our partners in the Exmoor National Park Authority and the National Trust worked quickly to clear the route and re-open the path. Our appeal raised £4,465 to help repair the damage caused. We’re always grateful to those who help and support us when the path needs it the most.”
The same challenge applies to the association’s yearly review and maintenance of the path itself. With the 630-mile route featuring more than 115,000ft of ascent and descent, and 30,000 steps made out of materials that need to be replaced or repaired every 15 - 20 years, it may come as no surprise to learn that preserving the path is no mean feat. “Each step costs around £25,” says Aletha,“ but we use the power of our partnerships to make every £10 donation to our Step Up Appeal go even further. Our partnerships are such that if we raise £10 towards materials, our partners will install the step for free, saving £15.”
A big project for the association next year is Coast Path Connectors, which will open up coastal walking to a range of new audiences “The Coast Path Connectors project will help improve equity of access along the South West Coast Path by supporting local people in making the most of the amazing trail for their mental and physical health and well-being. We plan on doing this by developing a network of volunteers that will act as walk leaders, points of contact and advocates for the Coast Path in their local communities. They will also show people the heritage and nature in their local area, with the goal of sparking an interest which will make people feel more confident about returning and engaging with nature on future visits. We want to work with different organisations in the South West to encourage people to get out on the Path and take advantage of this beautiful natural resource that is free to all to use and access.”
With the wonderful work that the South West Coast Path Association is doing, Beer52 is proud and privileged to be a South West Coast Path sponsor. Being a “Mile Maker” means our £1,400 donation will pay for the maintenance and upkeep of one mile of the path for a single year – a metric that only puts further into perspective the spectacular work this small charity does for the wellbeing of communities around the South West. To celebrate this, we have also brewed a beer for this month’s box. The recipe for our Mile Maker Oat Pale Ale was designed by Beer52’s own head of production and quality assurance, Carlos de la Barra, and brewed by the wildly talented team at the Wild Beer Co.
THE RIGHT KIT FOR THE JOB
It was a real pleasure to explore the stunning and distinctive scenery along the South West Coast Path, made even more enjoyable by the high quality and sustainable kit provided by our outdoorswear partner, Craghoppers. Thanks guys!
• Black Waverley Thermic Jacket - £160
• Chili Red Archive II Beanie - £20
• Wild Olive Waterproof Caithness Jacket - £135
• Dark Navy Women's Kiwi Thermal Leggings - £50
All available from www.craghoppers.com.
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