New project – assessing the mental health benefits of walking the South West Coast Path

I’m excited to be embarking on a short @CRPRExeter research project commissioned by the South West Coast Path Association @swcoastpath (funded by Natural England) on the mental health and wellbeing benefits of walking the South West Coast Path.

In tandem with this project I also aim to walk several sections of this much-loved National Trail with family and friends (Covid allowing), providing some first hand experience and insights along the way (I already have some favourite sections– which is yours?). To celebrate the start of this project I recently walked the first section from Minehead to Bossington with the family. This was a much-delayed trip that we were finally able to do having cancelled it three times for Covid-related reasons. We were lucky to get a calm and dry winter’s day. The views from the rugged path were amazing (worth the uphill climb). Except for negotiating through an initial minor sense of humour failure from our eldest, and a slightly adventurous detour towards the end where we missed the main path, the navigation was fairly straightforward. As we walked the final stunning riverside section before arriving at Bossington we were welcomed with blazing sunshine. Am definitely looking forward to the next instalment.

Minehead – start of the South West Coast Path National Trail
View from nr Bossington looking towards Porlock Weir
View of woodland and path nr Minehead

The research project will investigate the positive impacts of the South West Coast Path (SWCP)’s beautiful and varied blue and green spaces on our mental health and wellbeing, which has become of even more importance in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. The research follows on from a previous SWCP project in 2020 quantifying the physical health and wellbeing benefits (see 2020 report here). This project will build on recent advances in methodologies for assessing mental health and wellbeing benefits of green spaces. It will also investigate how inequalities relating to environmental access impact on these benefits, and will include implications for policy and practice.

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