Path Memories

As part of our 50th-anniversary celebrations, we asked our members to write to us with their experiences of walking the South West Coast Path. This series shares some of the personal stories of members who have supported the charity over the years.

Jackie and husband Chris started walking the South West Coast Path in 1990 – here is their story.

Jackie and Chris Boxall – members and SWCP Completer’s

I began walking the Coast Path with my husband Chris in 1990. We did the section from Porlock to Lynmouth which we spotted in a book. The book said you could walk it in one day!

Not knowing any better, and clad only in jeans, T-shirt and jodphur boots, we were completely taken aback at how hard it was. I thought we’d be walking gently along the cliff-top and had no idea it involved going up and down!

Also, back then there was no need to book accommodation, we just turned up. Anyway, we survived – although it took us 2 days and I could hardly walk afterwards!

So we carried on, just walking occasionally at weekends and using at that time nothing other than the ordnance survey map, and when we arrived in Cornwall, a little book about the Cornish coast path. When we arrived in Lamorna, I was browsing the bookshelves of the B and B where we stayed and discovered, many months/years after we started that there was a book published by something called the South West Coast Path Association. What a revelation! So of course, we joined and the rest is history!

We did eventually upgrade our equipment but not before getting soaked to the skin various times and changing underwear in the pub before we could go any further! We also learnt to put our things in a plastic bag inside the rucksack! Seems very obvious to everyone, I’m sure, but not until you’ve learnt the hard way!

During our walks, we discussed retirement and plotted how to retire early. We decided to take the plunge and took early retirement in 1998. 

Since then, we’ve finished the walk and missed it so much, we started the other way around. We reached St Ives last summer, at the same time the weekend G7 took place, so entered St Ives with an escort of destroyers, helicopters, drone police and fast boats! It was amazing! But our way was barred further to Carbis Bay by the police so we had to retreat. Next session, St Ives to Newquay.

We are 70 and 71 now. Walking the coast path has brought us so much pleasure, it has been an integral part of our lives for over 30 years. We are still very fit and plan to go on walking for ever! We will have to start all over the “proper” way round. Our favourite section is the one we very first tackled all those years ago, blithely setting out without a care in the world, from Porlock round to Lynton and beyond to Happy Valley.

Thank you all at the Association for being part of realizing our dreams and giving us so much amazing fun. Brings a tear to my eye writing this!

Written by Jackie Boxall
Member, SWCPA

A huge thank you to Jackie for sharing her story with us. We love how Chris and Jackie are continuing their South West Coast Path adventures to this day – once you step foot on the South West Coast Path it’s hard to stop!

1 comment

  1. Hi Jackie – your words just make me smile. I finished at South Haven Point in October 2021 and after the initial buzz of completion, there’s a little Walk Worm in my head pushing me to start again in the opposite direction – all being well I will give in to it and off we go again ! Good luck with your walk


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