'Why I walk the coast' personal stories

The way to really get to know a landscape is to walk through it. Nowhere is this more true than by the sea, where a walk along a coastal path is enriched by the calls of seabirds and the rustle of marram grass, and where a limitless horizon offers space for the eyes to wander and the mind to clear. We're lucky in the UK that the coastline is so beautiful, dramatic and diverse. Whether for inspiration, companionship, memories or necessity, our members, volunteers, supporters and staff share their stories of why they walk the coast in these extracts from our autumn Magazine feature (page 35).

Ceri Victory-Rowe

Ceri Victory-Rowe, member: walks to remember 

The West Wales coastline is the landscape of my childhood and reminds me so much of my mother, who we lost to cancer in 2002. Sometimes I have a chat with my mother as I walk – the coast provides space to remember her. Earlier this year, I walked from the beautiful Bosherston Lily Ponds to Stackpole Quay and over to Barafundle and Broadhaven South. Walking there in the year I turned 40, and stealing some moments away from my young family, I felt exhilarated.

Lizzy Tibble and Ken Tansley, volunteers

Lizzy Tibble and Ken Tansley, volunteers: walk to be sociable

We are both members of Royston Ramblers in Hertfordshire and met on one of our weekday walks. We were both at a loss after losing our partners and it was through walking that we found each other and ourselves again. We love to head out on a coastal path because walking is the only way to access certain parts of the coast. We are often rewarded with exhilarating views of cliffs and rocky outcrops that we couldn’t see otherwise.

Rhossili Bay, Wales

Bob Smith, volunteer: walks to fundraise 

I carried a trident along the Wales Coast Path as part of a trek to raise money for the Neptune Coastline Campaign. I took the trident to all 133 places the Trust looks after around the Welsh coast. I’ve been lucky to have trekked in some beautiful places around the world, but I still find the coast of Wales the most inspirational. It’s easy to forget how amazing our own coast is with its long, sandy beaches, towering cliffs, coves and rocks.

Irene Wilcox

Irene Wilcox, member: walks for confidence 

Last September, my husband and I were staying on the Isle of Wight and one day we decided to visit the Needles Battery. The weather was lovely as we walked along the cliffs, the sun was sparkling on the Solent and behind us we could see the cliffs of Alum Bay. I have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue and hadn’t long been out of my wheelchair, so I felt a proud glow that I had completed such an uplifting walk with the most stunning views.

Kevin Cosgrave, supporter

Kevin Cosgrave, supporter: walks to spend time with his autistic son 

I have a ten-year-old son, Ged, who is almost non-verbal autistic. He can wake up very early so, to give the rest of the family a chance to sleep, I take him to the coast. My favourite walk is north of Easington, towards Seaham. It's so quiet and the only way to access the coast is on foot: there are no roads. At the best times, Ged starts running, and on rare occasions to show he is happy, he will kiss me and just can’t stop smiling.

Sasha Harding, member

Sasha Harding, member: walks for inspiration

I needed fresh inspiration for my art exhibition and thought that walking the entire South West Coast Path would be a great way to get new ideas. It was a painter's dream.

Paul Sayers, ranger

Paul Sayers, ranger: walks to work 

I work at Downhill Demesne as a Visitor Experience Ranger. My commute to work starts with a 35-minute train journey travelling through the Lough Foyle wildlife sanctuary and then the Binevenagh Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. From there I walk for 45 minutes through Downhill Demesne over the clifftops, passing the Mussenden Temple, from where I watch kittiwakes, skuas and gannets fishing. The Demesne is quiet in the early morning and no two mornings are the same – a different sky and sea every day is an absolute joy.

The cliffs at Tennyson Down, Isle of Wight

About the author 

Clare Gogerty is the author of The National Trust Book of the Coast, and former editor of Coast magazine. Her favourite coastal walk is Tennyson Down on the Isle of Wight, although St Anthony Head on the Roseland Peninsula, Cornwall, comes a close second.