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BRITISH COASTAL WALK - 7,000 MILES - 1978
I received these photos -January 30th. 2020 - of me calling in on Blacks shop in Cardiff on March 6th. 1978. I was given a new pair of socks! Kindly send by the grandson of the shop manager.
June 10th. 2021 update - Sadly a few people claim to have walked the coastline of Britain, quoting the distance they walked as 4,500 miles. Another 6,500 miles, but that is not the total distance. Upon enquiry they took ferries and classed Poole Harbour as an inland waterway! It isn't, I took no ferry and walked round the harbour 55 miles! The longest inland walk was the Humber - 186 miles from Spurn Head to Grimsby - no ferry all on foot - the PURE WAY. On June 9th., a woman set off to walk the coast, as reported in The Sun, aiming to walk the coast of Britain - 2,700 miles! That is the length of the Scottish coastline (mainland). She only walked 3 miles and had to rescued by the RNLI. Also she was walking anti-clockwise, the Devil's Way!
WALKING THE COAST OF BRITAIN.
In 1978 I pioneered, created, devised, inaugurated and walked around the entire coastline of Britain - England, Wales and Scotland - the seaweed walk. Becoming the first person to do so and a permanent Guinness Book of Records entry. I worked out the entire coastline was 6,100 miles. The Ordnance Survey agreed with my figure. My plan was simple - follow the nearest right of way, be it path or road to the coastline in England & Wales. At low tide I was legally allowed to walk below the high tide mark. In Scotland you are legally allowed to walk anywhere once, so I was able to hug the coast fully. I also planned on the walk being done with just my own two feet, taking no ferries or any form of transport. As a result I walked 7,000 miles by walking up the estuaries and using the road bridge over the river - never a motorway bridge. For instance the River Severn, it was an 88 mile walk up the river to Gloucester and down the other-side to Chepstow, 4 miles opposite to where I had been four days before! The longest estuary was from Spurn Head to Grimsby - only 4 miles from the headland, but 186 miles on foot. I average between 20 and 42 miles a day, walking everyday, wearing out three pairs of boots, while carrying 50lbs of equipment, over ten months. I excluded islands as there are some 1,200 off the coast and I now only have fifty or so to walk around! I set off from St. Paul’s Cathedral, London and crossed Tower Bridge. The bridge marks the meeting point of freshwater and saltwater on the River Thames. I returned to St. Paul’s to complete the walk, ten months later.
Basically the British coastline is (Clockwise) -
London to Land’s End - along the south coast - 1,100 miles.
Land’s End to John o’ Groats - along the west coast - 4,000 miles.
John o’ Groats to Dunscanby Head - along the northern coast - 200 miles.
Dunscanby Head to London - down the East Coast - 2,000 miles.
Since then several people have claimed to have walked the coastline of Britain, but this is not so. One person said he had walked 4,500 miles around the coast of Britain, but he is missing 2,500 miles! Another said he had walked it in stages over 4 years, doing 6,500 miles. Upon enquiry I discovered this was not so. He took ferries. At Poole Harbour he took the ferry from Bournemouth to Studland. He classed Poole Harbour an inland waterway; it isn’t. I walked 55 miles around it. Recently a woman set off in Devon to walk around the coast anticlockwise (Devil’s Way). The feature in The Sun showed her route map around the coast stating it was a 2,500 mile walk! The reason for the feature was that after three days she was cut off by the tide and had to be rescued by the RNLI.
The Sun on August 23rd. 2021 reported that Nick Butter had run 5,250 miles around the coast of Britain in 128 days. I wondered how he had missed at least 1,500 miles.
September 15th. 2021 - another runner “claims” to have run around the coast of Britain - 8,000 km. which equates to 4,800 miles. Again she is missing at least 1,500 miles. I assume both runners used roads and not shoreline/paths.
Read my book - “Turn Right at Land’s End” - for the full story of my unique pioneering walk.
(Copyright - Revd. John N. Merrill, September 2021).