Handcrafted walking sticks are the perfect item to lead the way on our 50th anniversary commemorative Trailblazer Walk! A walking stick at each start point of the Trailblazer Walk (Minehead and South Haven Point) will travel around The South West Coast Path and act as the relay batons until their reunion in Plymouth on the final day of the Walk.
Our beautiful 50th-anniversary walking sticks are handcrafted by Peter Bailey of Rusticks Cornwall. We are so grateful to him for the time and the care he took to make these for us. When we first approached Peter at the end of last year we were delighted when he responded that he’d love to create the walking sticks for us and support the Association by donating them.
Following initial conversations and briefing Peter on our vision, he started to work and whittle the sticks. Over the next few weeks, we enjoyed progress reports from Peter and offered our feedback at various design stages (confirming paint colours and stick heights etc). We appreciate how much we were guided through the process of what turned out to be a lovely collaborative project.
We had the pleasure of meeting Peter in mid-February when he presented us with the sticks. The walking sticks are made from hazel wood with a lime wood head and carefully carved with the SW logo and number 50, and painted in the SWCPA colours with the addition of a touch of gold. Following the stick handover, we enjoyed sitting down and asking Peter a few questions over a cup of coffee at his daughter’s Garden Café in Newquay (thanks Louise :)).
How did you start the creative process?
Usually, my style is to bumble along and let the wood of a stick take me on a creative route. With the SWCPA sticks, it was the first time that I was working to a specification, and I felt that to be a challenge. I enjoyed chatting with the team and providing them with the opportunity to feedback at different stages, so I was sure I was creating something that worked for their purposes as well as being a good pair of walking sticks.
How much of the South West Coast Path have you walked?
I have walked many sections of the SWCP and it is wonderful to be able to give something back to the Association and help them celebrate its 50th anniversary. I am hoping that I will be able to join the final day of the Trailblazer Walk and see the walking sticks reunited in Plymouth. It’s going to be great to watch their progress around the 630-mile route – I’ll be keeping an eye on Facebook and watching their journey!
How did you become such an accomplished whittler?
I have been whittling from 6 years of age! When I was a young boy, the war had recently ended and there weren’t lots of toys to play around with as kids, but a lot of us owned penknives and we made our own from what we could find. I was brought up in the countryside of Hampshire, so spent days out collecting sticks and started whittling and shaping sticks with my penknife. I still have a carved doll I made when I was about 9 and, although it is quite crude, it’s a reminder of my obsession with shaping and making things with wood. My wife Penny has seen me make hundreds of items, but I particularly enjoy making walking sticks. I can’t pass sticks in the hedgerows and woods without looking at them and seeing a potential walking stick or wondering how it might turn out if (when) I started whittling!
Tell us a little about your background and interests?
My career started as an electrical apprentice in the army where I served for over 20 years, before retiring and continuing an electrical engineering career which took me to Australia for a few years. I also co-founded, along with Penny, my sister June and her husband, a Registered Charity, HART (Hants Animal Rescue Team) Wildlife Hospital, in our back garden which still exists although with younger and much more professional management in a well-equipped hospital.
Today, we live in Cornwall and enjoy country walks with our cockapoo Marty. Working on the sticks for the Association has given me a lot of joy and although I’m not looking for any more commissions – it is something I am happy to have done and achieved.
A HUGE thank you to Peter! We look forward to seeing him in Plymouth when we walk into Royal William Yard on 15 June using the walking sticks!
Participants of the Trailblazer Walk are invited to walk with one of the sticks.
If you’d like the opportunity to walk with one of these bespoke walking sticks please contact Will Keen at email@example.com to find out more!
We’ll be asking for a small donation towards our Trailblazing50 Appeal in return for carrying one of these unique and special sticks. If you’d like to hear more about our #trailblazing50 campaign or discuss other ways you’d like to support us, please get in touch, we’d love to hear from you!
Join us on an epic relay walk along the entire 630 miles with an endpoint at Royal William Yard in Plymouth – the Association’s HQ, and handily positioned on the Coast Path! Each day will be split into a morning and afternoon walk. It is free to join the walks, but spaces are limited, and booking is essential.