4th May 2012

Wales Coast Path – The Dragon Walk

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Thanks to everyone who entered the Wales Coast Path GeoVation Challenge.   While your waiting to find out whether you’ve been shortlisted you might be interested in this guest  post in which Steve Webb explains why he is planning to walk the entire new Wales Coast Path this summer and will be taking the baton from Arry Beresford-Webb (aka Dragonrun1027)  when she returns to Cardiff on 5 May

This summer I’ve decided to walk all 870 miles of the new Wales Coast Path from Chepstow in the south to Chester in the north. The decision was made after I walked a big chunk of the 365-mile South West Coast Path last year and in the knowledge that the coast path was due to open in 2012. It seemed like a logical objective.Wales Coast Path finger post

While I’m walking the path I will  raise money for my School’s Parent Teachers Association (PTA) to help build a new Eco classroom for the Outdoor Education department which would be energy efficient and ecologically sound, and to provide a more simulating classroom to help teach our pupils.

The coastal path isn’t just about walking 870 miles, is about everything that the Welsh Coast has to offer, this was highlighted in one of the GeoVation problem statements: Not just a path. How does the path enable other activities for different demographics such as photography, writing, water sports and bird watching? Walking will not always be the main interest of potential users, so leading with other activities to particular demographic groups could increase visitors.

Our Outdoor Education department provides huge range of activities to all the pupils in the school from Year 6 to upper 6th form, and many of our pupils that don’t do well in the classroom excel in outdoor education. It is encouraging to see my pupils getting enthused about being outdoors and seeing their personal and team working skills while helping them discover new and challenging adventures outdoors that will give them lasting memories – , which in itself is motivation to do this walk.

Planning the walk has been hard sometimes because of the lack of information, which is highlighted in the GeoVation problem statements, one  of which was Coastal Path Newbies How can new walkers be confident they have all the geographical information to complete their chosen route? Making the Wales Coast Path a preferred choice for those going on a walking holiday or day trip for the first time will tap a new market and ‘repeat business’.

I’ve done some training walks on the Coast Path on Anglesey and along the North Wales Coastline, and have spent a lot of time looking at kit to make my rucksack as light as possible, but still maintaining some level of comfort. Interested people will be able to follow my progress on the Social Hiking website, via the Buddy Beacon feature on the Viewranger App, and see photos and video clips from twitter.

I guess that I know North Wales well as our school is based in Llandudno and we use the coast for venues for Sea kayaking, walking etc. I’ve already walked the Anglesey coastal path for a bit of fun, but I think it’s time to see the rest of Wales.

I’m starting on the 10th July and hoping to take around 55 days so finishing around the 3rd September, so ill able walking on average around 15 to 16 miles a day, I know this might sound a lot of distance to cover, but once you are into the swing of things you get used to the distances. . It’s hard to know if there is anything that I’ll be dreading but the most depressing is the sections where you have a huge inland detour to get around a river mouth when you can see its only 20 metres across and you have to walk 20 miles to get to the 1st crossing point!!!! I have arranged to meet Mike Parker author of Map Addict and presenter of Radio 4’s ‘On the Map’, when I get up towards mid Wales.

I’ve submitted ideas to the GeoVation Challenge myself to help walkers plan their trips using OS Opendata, and also an idea to get schools more involved with the coastal path. There are many other great ideas that people can comment or vote on to see that will get through to GeoVation Camp in June. The GeoVation Challenge has brought together all sorts of great ideas from people for all walks of life and backgrounds, not just professional website and app designers; I can see that many of them would work well in collaboration with each other to produce some amazing websites and apps that would enhance peoples leisure time and enjoyment of the new Wales Coast Path.

If you are interested finding out more please visit my website

Steve Webb