A new 15 mile extension to the Coleridge Way was opened today (Wednesday 21 May) by Rosemary Coleridge Middleton, the great, great, great-granddaughter of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge together with Andrea Davis, Chairman of Exmoor National Park Authority and Suzette Hibbert, Mayor of Lynton and Lynmouth and Chair of the Lyn Community Development Trust.
The ceremony took place in the picturesque village of Malmsmead in Exmoor National Park and was also attended by other members of the Coleridge family.
Andrea Davis, Chairman of Exmoor National Park Authority said: “It’s great that this has new extension to the Coleridge Way is happening in the 60th anniversary of Exmoor National Park. I’m sure the new route will be enjoyed by local people and visitors alike and hopefully it will provide the same economic benefits to the small villages along the way, and the area in general, as did the first.”
The Coleridge Way extension was funded primarily by the Exmoor National Park Partnership Fund with additional support from Lyn Community Development Trust, Lyn Valley Society, Lynton and Lynmouth Town Council (c/o the Lyn Economy and Tourism Alliance) and Lynmouth Flood Memorial Hall Fund. Andrea Davis (as local county councillor) also contributed. The groundwork on the route was undertaken by the National Park’s Ranger and Field Services Teams.
The Coleridge Way extension is a 15 mile inland route from Porlock to Lynmouth following in the footsteps of the Romantic Poets. This extends the current 36 mile route from Nether Stowey to Porlock creating a superb 51 mile walk taking in some of the finest countryside in the country and linking the Quantock Hills AONB with Exmoor National Park.
Suzette Hibbert, said: “Back in the 1790s Coleridge and his fellow Romantic poet, William Wordsworth, loved to walk all the way from Nether Stowey to Lynmouth, a distance of about 50 miles, but when the Coleridge Way was opened 9 years ago, it stopped short at Porlock.
“We have all been working hard to extend the route the extra 15 miles to take it all the way to Lynmouth and we are grateful to Exmoor National Park which provided the largest share of the finance as well as the skilled manpower needed to upgrade the paths that together make up the extension.”
Rosemary Middleton Coleridge expressed delight at seeing so many people at the opening and said: “Walking actually concentrates the mind, soothes the soul and helps sort out problems. It is a healer of the mind, body and spirit and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, my great great great Grandfather, knew this. I’m very proud to say that it is indeed the Coleridge way of doing things! Keep moving, love thinking, do praying, keep talking, just toddle, but if possible do walk.”
Full information on the entire route, including downloadable route guides, is available on www.coleridgeway.co.uk.
Originally opened in 2005, The Coleridge Way was an immediate success and attracted national and international press attention bringing new visitors into the area and helping to identify this part of the country with the work of the Romantic Poets.
The route connects two protected landscapes – the Quantock Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Exmoor National Park. In addition to offering some fabulous scenery our landscapes are important as a means of linking culture with nature and the past with the present. Over 8,000 years of human history can be found within the Quantocks and Exmoor. Protected areas such as National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are protected through legislation first drawn up following the Second World War through the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949.
However the idea of protecting nationally significant areas was not new, and was first raised by the Romantic Poets such as Wordsworth, Coleridge and Byron. Their writing spoke about the inspirational beauty of the ‘untamed’ countryside and Wordsworth famously claimed the Lake District as a “sort of national property, in which every man has a right and interest who has an eye to perceive and a heart to enjoy”.