Damage from the the recent spate of wet weather has led to path closures at many points along the 630 miles of Britain's longest trail; but despite all the work that needs doing the team in charge of the route are keen to stress that much of it remains open as normal.
Mark Owen, National Trail Officer for the South West Coast Path, told us:
'Because of record-breaking rainfall we have had the worst winter for years in terms of path closures, with 15 in the past month.'
The incessant rain has made the cliffs along which much of the Coast Path runs far more unstable than normal, leading to an unprecedented number of cliff falls, landslips and general flood damage. At many points of the route between Dorset and the Exmoor coast the worst affected stretches have been temporarily closed.
'Our rangers will be busy in the coming months, initially checking and making things safe, and then putting in temporary diversions as the cliffs stabilise, as well as liaising with landowners to try to negotiate new routes' says Mark.
In some cases the Coast Path may end up being re-aligned onto a new route - striking a balance between moving sufficiently inland so that it is safe to use and not likely to need moving again for many years, whilst still providing an enjoyable route, and minimising the impact on landowners.
'While most of the Coast Path is still open, our advice to walkers is to make sure you heed landslip warnings, and to check the route changes on the South West Coast Path website before setting off so that you are aware of any diversions in advance of your walk' Mark Owen suggests.
Funding for essential repairs will be sought from Natural England. The Coast Path Team, along with its charity arm, the South West Coast Path Association, are also urging the public to offer their support by taking part in a fundraising walking event. The Great South West Walk is a charity challenge taking place from 3 April to 7 May.
NB. Thanks to site user blondel for bringing this to our attention.