Chris Depledge had grand plans for 2020. After quitting his job in December 2019 to start walking the National Trails, he had no idea that in a few short months a global pandemic would hit. Nevertheless, Chris was able to complete the South West Coast Path like he’d always dreamt of doing. Here is his story…
Before I’d ever heard of Covid-19 I decided that in 2020 I’d take a year off work. I resigned my job just before Christmas 2019, and started walking National Trails.
The inspiration for that big decision, was the South West Coast Path. I’ve always wanted to walk it, and knew deep down I needed to build fitness and do it in ‘one go’ or probably never get around to finishing it.
My 2020 vision, like everyone else, looked a lot different to what we’ve experienced, but I was delighted to finish ‘the big one’ in early October. The South West Coast Path was an absolutely amazing experience, and I loved it, even if my knees grumbled for every one of the 52 walking days it took me to plod to the finish.
I originally planned to do the walk in April, but the Coronavirus ‘lockdown’ stopped that, and had me scrambling to reorganise about 50 nights of hotels, B&B’s and campsites. I’d like to do a quick shout-out to all the independent accommodation providers who made that rebooking easy, who were so helpful in the face of circumstances no one predicted, and who had made great efforts to make their businesses Covid-Secure on arrival.
I wanted to do the walk all in one go, but in the end the replan had me walking from South Haven Point, Poole to Sutton Harbour, Plymouth in late July and early August. Then Minehead back to Plymouth in September. I finished in early October just as Storm ‘Alex’ was starting to blow. I like the saying ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes’, and that was true for the South West Coast Path. I had hot sun, high wind, driving rain and fog but it was all part of the experience.
I have not yet distilled the walk into ‘favourite bits’, as it is so diverse, with such a lot to reflect on. Memories of an AWCP (Award Winning Cornish Pastie) in the middle of a hard day, or a lovely pint at the end of a long one stick are mixed in with visions of amazing, never ending views, and the fantastic wildlife.
For anyone reading this wondering if they should do it, my opinion is an unreserved ‘Yes!’ – for a normal person it’s 50+ days (but go at your own pace, that’s what it’s there for!) of some of the most amazing walking you can do. Whilst I was walking the path someone completed it in less than 11 days, but the beautiful views must’ve been a blur at that pace!
Living in Yorkshire I am drawn to the moors, not the seaside, but I am going to have to do parts of this walk again. I fell in love with the trail, and can’t wait to come back and revisit it.
Finally I would like to say ‘Thank You’ to all the people who maintain the trail, you do a fantastic job.
Hey, read this great completer story! #SWCPTweet