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National Trail User Survey 2005
2:06pm Thursday 30th March 2006 in South West Coast Path
Terri Edwards National Trails Programme Manager for the Countryside Agency.
'Utterly gorgeous and lovely', 'There's nothing as great as this in Germany', 'It's a privilege to have this heritage so well cared for.' These were just some of the comments made by Coast Path walkers during last summer's National Trail User Survey. Team members interviewed people using the Trail at Pentire Point in North Cornwall, Devon's Berry Head and Danger Point and Flower's Barrow in Dorset. The locations were chosen to reflect the views of a wide range of walkers.
The Survey was carried out on all 13 English National Trails and globally, captured the opinions of some 1,000 users. It is one of a series (the last one was in 2003), designed to ensure that the funds invested in National Trails by both central and local government are meeting the needs of users. And if you've ever read an opinion poll and said "Well, they didn't ask me!", there's no excuse this time as the National Trail User Survey was also available on-line. This was a first, and we'd still like to hear your views at www.nationaltrail.co.uk On the Coast Path, 101 face-to-face interviews were carried out and 13 questionnaires were completed online. This is a tiny sample and at the level of an individual Trail, the survey only gives a snapshot of user opinion. As previous surveys have shown, the vast majority of users are walking for less than a day - a massive 89% in fact. Interestingly though, we have significantly more half-day users and fewer 'end to enders' than the other National Trails. This probably reflects the high usage of the Coast Path by local residents and the fact that it takes so many weeks to complete.
Users were also asked how the Trail could be improved and again, there were some interesting comparisons with other National Trails. The greatest demand was for more information about circular walks, but the percentage was 12% compared with 25% for all Trails. And there was between one-third and one-half of the demand found on other National Trails for things like more waymarking, better surfaces or more information or interpretation. But perhaps the most striking point is that less than 12% of respondents wanted to see any of the 12 possible improvements!
This suggests that both Trail management and information provision for the South West Coast Path are broadly on track. But there's always room for improvement, and the results of the survey will be looked at alongside a comparison of how the Coast Path measures up to National Trail Quality Standards to prioritise future work.
For most people the landscape (52%) or the whole experience (28%) were the best thing about their day.
The results of the survey for all the National Trails will be published in a new version of the leaflet "National Treasures, National Trails and online.