16th June 2021

Step into county’s rich history of shipwrecks and smugglers on coast path

Image from Somerset’s coastal path

Somerset’s seafaring heritage and lost legends are beautifully brought to life in a set of ‘story walks’ being launched by Somerset County Council.

If you love getting out and exploring the county’s spectacular coastal walks while learning about the heritage, nature and tall tales surrounding Somerset’s rugged landscape, Storywalks are just the ticket.

Created by local poet Chris Jelley, and brought to you by the Council’s Rights of Way Team, the set of 12 Storywalks can be accessed via your phone or tablet connecting walkers to the local landscape and history.

Somerset’s coast has a history of smugglers and shipwrecks, daring sea rescues and bustling trading ports. It is sprinkled with the remains of castles and fortifications and has inspired poets and artists alike. It is home to cliffs and beaches famous for their rock formations and offers protected status to Somerset’s coastal wildlife and flora.

All this comes together in the Storywalks, embellishing your experience of the local area by linking facts, myth, history and tales to locations. The walks are between one and five kilometres long and are set in urban and rural areas between Brean Down in the north and Minehead in the west.

“Storywalks are little journeys into the curious history, folklore and abundant nature along a trail,” said Chris Jelley.

He added: “Reading them aloud is a brilliant family friendly way to discover the broad history of a location and its inhabitants.”

Written and researched by Chris with local historian Dr Helen Blackman, marine biologist Mark Ward, from Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Brilliant Coast project, and the communities along the trail, the walks introduce over 130 old Somerset dialect words such as ‘skitty vamps’, pronounced skeet’ee-vaams, which are lace up boots, and ‘farnticles’, which are freckles.

“We hope they appeal to locals and visitors alike and provide a starting point for those wishing to explore Somerset’s diverse and beautiful coast,” said Isobel Pring, Somerset County Council’s England Coast Path Officer.

The Storywalks use the internet and the location finder in your phone to unlock chapters in a story about the area you are walking in. There’s no need to download anything, simply go to the England Coast Path Storywalks page https://englandcoastpath.storywalks.info/ or scan the QR code to a find a walk near you and start walking.

Produced with funding from Natural England, it is hoped that the walks will encourage local communities to engage with the England Coast Path and the Rights of Way team at Somerset County Council are hoping to run hosted Storywalks at local events during the summer.

“This is a fantastic new initiative to help people enjoy the wonders of the Somerset Coast. With its rich history, wealth of wildlife and stunning views across the Severn Estuary, it’s a brilliant place for people of all ages and backgrounds to get out and enjoy nature. Natural England encourages everyone to follow the Countryside Code, leave no trace, and care for nature when you’re out enjoying the countryside,“ said Matt Heard, Natural England’s Area Manager for Wessex.

For more information or to get your community involved in future Storywalks events email rightsofway@somerset.gov.uk and put ECPStorywalks in the subject of your email.

And, if you complete a Storywalk post a picture of your walk with the hashtag #ecpstorywalks!

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