WHAT an amazing year it's been for the South West Coast Path, from dealing with a record number of cliff falls and landslides at the start of the year to reaching targets set for a £2.1 million project that's just coming to an end.
The project, 'Unlocking our Coastal Heritage' has seen almost £3 million invested in the coast path over the past three years, with a £2.1 million grant from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) and additional investments from the National Trust, local authorities and Natural England, local businesses, individual donations and volunteer support. The path runs through 10 of the 12 sections of the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
The aims have been to conserve, enhance and interpret the path across four strands, the first of which formed the basis for the project with investments totalling £676,127 across 28 historic sites.
This has involved the restoration and reconsolidation of our built heritage and scheduled monuments, along with archaeological surveys and geophysical reports, that reveal more information about how the sites have been used in the past.
Recent sites to benefit can be seen along the west Penwith coast, part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage site and a fascinating stretch of the coast path that now offers a greater sense of discovery for visitors, as well as improved access and a safer route.
The National Trust has overseen the work to consolidate three major monuments at Wheal Rose in the Cot valley, Wheal Call in the Kenidjack valley and Porthmeor tin stamps, altogether totalling almost £100,000, 80 per cent of which is RDPE funded.
National Trust countryside manager Jon Brookes said: "Partnerships are the key to achieving good conservation of our landscapes and heritage.
"Additional opportunities have been realised within the commercial partnership element of the project where we have been able to improve over 40 sections of the coast path.
"This has been a fantastic opportunity and it is excellent to see our shared heritage brought back to life for future generations to enjoy."
The work has been carried out by local contractors, and represents traditional craftsmanship of an exceptionally high standard.
Interpretation on the three sites has been installed to reveal the stories behind the landscape, including the water-powered tin processing that took place and the important role this played during the heyday of Cornish mining in the 19th century.
Bella Crawford, from the South West Coast Path team, said: "The coast path is dotted with sites of archaeological and historical importance.
"The aim of the project is to conserve them before they become lost or irreparably damaged and open them up to wider audiences."
The completed works follow the recent restoration of the Serpentine Mill at Poltesco, also overseen by the National Trust.
For more about the Unlocking our Coastal Heritage project visit www.southwestcoastpath.com/RDPE
More than 150 of these Environment series articles are available at wwwcornwallaonb.org.uk