The Coast-to-Coast Macmillan Way (Boston-Abbotsbury)
A Brief History and Introduction
THE MACMILLAN WAY STORY
Planning of the Macmillan Way started in the late autumn of 1993 with the original Oakham – Abbotsbury link, following the Oolitic limestone belt.
It was whilst walking this route, in 1996, that Peter Titchmarsh first received the idea of extending northwards to Boston, making a coast-to-coast footpath. Hence the fen country as far as Kate’s Bridge and limestone for the rest of the route.
But let’s go back a couple of years… According to Peter, one of the greatest chores was in contacting of all of the landowners and occupiers. Addresses were usually obtained from Parish Clerks, although response from them was often slow, sporadic and very challenging!
By the time Peter had gathered a team of helpers, written to every land occupier on the initial route and surveyed the route in detail, it was already mid-1995.
He, and friends, then wrote a guidebook and an accommodation guide and by the spring of 1996 they were able to open the 235-mile path between Oakham and Abbotsbury.
By this time, Macmillan Cancer Relief were actively involved and their opening walk down the Way raised generous sponsorship funds for them.
By the time they had arrived at Abbotsbury, the seeds of an idea were already germinating. Why not extend the Oakham - Abbotsbury walk northeastwards to Boston and make it a genuine coast-to-coast route? So the whole process began again and by the summer of 1997 they had the whole 290-mile, Boston to Abbotsbury route in full use.
Thanks to so many wonderful helpers and so many enthusiastic walkers and their sponsors, over £500,000 has now been raised for Macmillan Cancer Relief.
Work has now been completed on a new trail called ‘Macmillan Way West’. This branches off the main route at Castle Cary and heads across the Somerset Levels, the Quantocks and Exmoor to link onto the South-West Coast Path at Barnstaple - a distance of just over 100 miles.
This path is now fully in use.
They have also completed The Abbotsbury - Langport link, which makes yet another coast-to-coast route possible. This one goes between Abbotsbury and Barnstaple, by combining with Macmillan ‘Way West from Langport onwards.
Peter thinks that this will prove to have been their swan song, but they hope to continue keeping the various guidebooks up to date and, with the help of all of the hard-working helpers, to keep looking after all the pathways.
It is called the Macmillan Way as it has been developed to increase public awareness of Macmillan Cancer Relief and to assist in the raising funds for this vitally important charitable organisation, the role of which is to improve the lives of people with cancer and their families. As indicated, over half a million pounds has been raised so far through sponsorship and the sale of publications.