President’s Challenge: Wales Coast Path – Hwyl Fawr Cymru!

09 March 2023, Julie Barratt, CIEH President

Wales Coast Path wooden sign and view of the sea

After some last-minute scrambling and frantic logging of miles, the second of my three President’s Challenges finished on 28 February.

The Wales Coast Path is officially walked. Quite apart from the fact that it is a beautiful Coast Path in real life, it turned out to be pretty good in virtual reality too. We know that it is lovely in real life because some of us met up for a Walking Weekend and walked part of it, scaling high cliffs, walking lovely beaches and beautiful heathland, and admiring a very willing and photogenic peregrine falcon en route. It’s been beautiful virtually too, because we have seen walkers from all over the world posting some fabulous pictures of where they have been doing their virtual miles, in places that couldn’t be less like the Wales Coast Path but are beautiful that notwithstanding.

All of that having been said, in the cold light of day, was it worth it? I think so. The numbers are impressive. Of those of us that started out, 48 finished and over 60 made it to the halfway mark. Between us we walked a total of 48,378 miles. To put that into context, that’s the same as walking from London to Sydney four and a half times in one year. We raised nearly £2,000 for the Trussell Trust. We planted 275 trees and donated 56 meals to people in need. The President’s Challenge might be ‘just a bit of fluff’, but as bits of fluff go, it's quite a big one.

Followers of the President’s Challenge will be all too aware that the Wales Coast Path was the second challenge, following hot on the heels of the South West Coast Path, which was the first. When you start adding the figures together some very impressive figures start to emerge. Between the two challenges we have raised over £8,000 for Water for Kids and the Trussell Trust. We have donated 170 meals, planted 420 trees and walked an astonishing 110,118 miles between us. Again for context that is four and a half times around the equator, and with a carbon footprint of zero. It really does show that when we work together we can achieve a huge amount.

If you are inspired by what you have read and wish you’d been a part of it, don’t despair, it's not too late. The third and final challenge has started, but it’s not too late to join up. The Best of British, a virtual wander through some of the brilliant places in Britain is still open until 30 June if you fancy taking part. It’s a 750-mile challenge, easily doable and with all the usual benefits of tree planting at every 20% completion stage, meal donation at 50% and raising money to support Plastic Oceans, a charity committed to cleaning up the oceans. You can join the Challenge here and if you haven’t already you can join the Facebook group of like-minded people, all supporting each other and posting fabulous pictures of their own walks. I know you won’t be swayed by the glory of a medal or a t-shirt, or both, but they are up for grabs too.

So, on we go. Two challenges down and one to go. I hope that if you haven’t joined up you will. If you have, great to see you and I hope it’s going well. Onwards to Scotland for virtual shortbread and liquid refreshment, I’ll leave the choice of that to you!

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