Boost for popular coast path as arts trail and upgrade project completed

Concrete path running alongside a beach with St Michael's Mount in the distance

Mount’s Bay coast path has fully reopened following a major upgrade work to improve its resilience to storms, as well as to create safe cycle and walking routes through Longrock and Marazion car parks and install new benches and cycle parking.

Significant investment into the path has not only improved the connection between Marazion and Penzance, but also provided an opportunity to celebrate the area’s rich history.

New artwork has been created as part of the project. Artist Emma Smith worked with more than 600 members of the local community on ‘Gwelen’, which encourages visitors to imagine the ancient, submerged forest in Mount’s Bay.

Gwelen features 85 sculptures which are gathered in groups along the path, creating the impression of clusters of trees. Each sculpture, designed to support poses for resting, is based on a local tree form and the result of contributions from people living in West Penwith.

Gwelen also features a series of podcasts which are available on all major podcast platforms and through Newlyn Art Gallery website. Made in collaboration with Storylines, the podcasts feature interviews and stories from local residents and explore the location’s layered history and the relationships between people and the landscape.

The coast path upgrade is part of the EXPERIENCE project, which promotes experiential tourism and sustainable economic growth during October to March.  Cornwall’s funding will support activities that encourage a sustainable cultural tourism, connecting visitors with the distinct historical, geographical and cultural assets of the local area.  It aims to leave a positive impact for the community and visitors alike.

Stephen Rushworth, Cornwall Council cabinet member for economy, said: “The coast path is a fantastic asset overlooking one of our most iconic landmarks. It is a major new attraction for visitors who want to experience Cornwall sustainably and will contribute to a year-round visitor economy.

Philip Desmonde, Cornwall Council cabinet member for transport, said: “Improving the path’s resilience and surface, as well as providing dedicated routes for cyclists and walkers through the car parks, will hopefully encourage more people to walk or cycle rather than travel the short distance by car.”

Emma Smith said: “The submerged forest in Mount’s Bay is an extraordinary geology that it has been amazing to explore with so many people locally. Thank you to everyone who has been part of this project – to all the residents who contributed their measurements, ideas and poses for imagining the forest and the many collaborators and contributors to the podcasts, publication and workshops.”

The WILD Project, which works with young parents and their children across Cornwall, was one of the groups that took part in the arts trail workshops. Ellie Nicholas from the charity, said; “WILD is committed to supporting young parents and their babies to have the right to belong and thrive, to be heard and helped, and to have the best possible start to family life.

“Young parents and their children are valuable members of their communities and the experience of being part of this arts project has given them a sense of belonging and self-worth.

“Thank you for giving our WILD families the opportunity to be included in this piece of sculptural, thought-provoking work.”

Due to run until June 2023, the project is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Interreg France (Channel) England Programme under the Natural and Cultural Heritage funding category. Of the €16.1m ERDF committed to the total project, €1.9m is allocated to Cornwall Council, which is investing a further €0.9m.

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