I had wanted to walk the South West Coast Path in its entirety for many years. I’d done some sections when on holiday and on days out, but I wanted to start at Minehead and walk all the way to Poole. The problem was I couldn’t find anyone to walk it with me. I looked for holiday companies that might offer guided sections, but all I could find was a week at a central location with circular walks to include the coast path, not what I was looking for.
Then one day I had a light bulb Moment. I’d been raising funds for Macmillan Cancer Support for a number of years, coffee mornings, afternoon teas that sort of thing and I’d also done two of their challenges to Macuu Pichu and Cuba, so I thought why not try to raise money whilst walking the South West Coast Path?
I knew I wouldn’t be able to do the whole 8 weeks in one go, so I decided on 2 weeks a year for 4 years. I thought I would put some information together with a route planner, accommodation, itinerary etc and email it to all my friends and family asking them to join me at some point on route to walk for a day, a week, whatever but they would have to pay for the privilege.
Click the link below to see examples of Vi’s route planning:
I was truly astounded by the response. During my 8 weeks I never once walked alone and on some days I had as many as 15 people walking with me. Tom my husband did an amazing job ferrying people to and from their cars and moving bags for those who walked for longer periods.
Over the 8 weeks we raised over £20,000. The majority was donated to Macmillan Cancer Support, but also some to the Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance and of course the South West Coast Path Association without whom none of this would have been possible. They do a fantastic job, building bridges, putting in decking, stiles, fingerposts etc. Indeed we have sponsored 100 oak steps on the Path and one of them near Osmington Mills in Dorset bears the name Vi Howley – Come Walk With Me, which makes me feel very proud and very grateful.