More than 12,000 miles have been pledged by people walking or running the coast path so far this month, smashing the record set last year of 10,000 miles clocked up during the inaugural event.
Christine Hammond is one of the many walkers that will be taking part in the final Challenge event this month and she will be joined by friends and family to celebrate the completion of her own personal journey, walking the entire length of the 630-mile South West Coast Path in honour of her 70th birthday. Now aged 70 ¾, she finished it on September 24th after setting off in May 2015 and completing it in sections.
Christine said: “Although I have done the Studland walk many times, I am making it my ‘ceremonial finish’ to walk the last 2-mile stretch from Knoll Beach cafe to South Haven Point along with family and friends before I turn 71.
“So far, the walk has been one of the best things I have ever done. I’ve enjoyed every mile, even those that hurt a damaged knee. I’ve walked with family, friends, strangers and dogs, in sunshine, rain, wind and thick mist.
“I’ve enjoyed the birds, the flowers, the sea and the cliffs. I’ve paddled, swum, fallen in mud, been out of breath more times than I can count, seen a bat flying in daylight, spoken to a man who had a huge snake draped around his body, eaten pasties and crab sandwiches, laughed a lot, and around Lulworth heard explosions for the whole day…..and that’s just a few of the delights.
“I look forward to sharing some more with those that are taking part in the Challenge walk.”
The walk sets off from Durlston Country Park and takes in high, level cliff walking between St Aldhelm’s Head and Durlston Head, followed by fairly easy walking along the promenade of the seaside town of Swanage.
It continues through open grassland and woodland around Studland, where you can keep a look out for bottlenose dolphins and take time to enjoy the beautiful seasonal wildflowers and butterflies along with the spectacular views of the chalk stacks of Old Harry. Three miles of sandy beaches running all the way to South Haven Point offer plenty of opportunities to rest and take in the views across Poole Bay to Bournemouth and the Isle of Wight.
Just before the ferry to Sandbanks the famous steel sculpture marks the end of the Challenge route and the official end point of the 630-mile South West Coast Path National Trail.
Arrival and Registration will be from 9.00am, Shell Bay National Trust Car Park, Ferry slipway, Ferry Road, Studland, Dorset BH19 3BA with transfer by coach at 9.30am to the start point for 10.00am, Durlston Country Park, Lighthouse Road, Swanage, BH19 2JL
For further information and to take part visit the Association’s website at www.southwestcoastpath.org.uk/challenge or call 01752 896237. Registration costs from £10 per person and you’ll receive a fundraising pack and a Challenge 2016 t-shirt.