DOZENS of walkers will be covering the length of Dorset’s coast path to raise essential funds for its upkeep.

The South West Coast Path Association is organising The Great South West Walk to celebrate the group’s 40th anniversary next spring.

At least 30 walkers each day will take part in the event in April and May with a series of sponsored strolls covering 630 miles around Dorset, Devon, Cornwall and Somerset.

Brian Panton, chairman of the association, said funding for the path has shrunk in recent years and it is now in desperate need of support.

He said: “From locals to visitors, dog walkers to family outings, hill climbers to gentle strollers the South West Coast Path is enjoyed by many. “It is used for recreation and business, is vital for the economy, whilst providing a tool for a range of charities to raise funds. “So please get involved with the Great South West Walk and help put some love back into the coast path. It is a unique part of our heritage and it needs help.”

The south coast series will come into Weymouth on April 5, around Portland on April 6 and out to Abbotsbury on April 7.

Each leg will be guided by local experts, rangers and path wardens and walkers will be asked to raise £50 of sponsorship each.

The path is estimated to generate over £300 million for the regional economy each year, with walking one of the most popular activities undertaken by visitors.

Mr Panton said: “We want to encourage as many people as possible to take part for a half day or full day walk, through to a number of legs over several days, building a walking holiday. Whether people are walking long or short distances, coming from near or far, we hope that thousands of people will take part to support this spectacular coast line.”

The target is to raise £250,000 which will enable more than 40 improvement projects spread along the route of the entire path to be completed during 2013.

The scheme is being supported by various organisations including South West Coast Path Team. For more information, or to sign up to take part, visit or follow the event on Twitter @LoveSWCoastPath