WALKING on the South West Coast Path has helped many people get through lockdown, a new survey suggests.

The study of 1,000 people, carried out by the South West Coast Path Association, resulted in almost 80 per cent of respondents saying they felt more positive after walking on the path.

Meanwhile, three quarters said they felt less stress in dealing with lockdown conditions after visiting the path; 57 per cent said they were better able to sleep and 62 per cent reported feeling inspired to be more active in the future.

Findings coincide with a national survey carried out by Natural England in May, where 89 per cent of respondents reporting better mental health and wellbeing after visiting green and natural spaces.

South West Coast Path Association director Julian Gray said: "Since lockdown, more people than ever are choosing to visit the coast path to reconnect with nature.

"We are already looking at how we can better support those who are new to this type of activity to ensure they have the information and confidence they need to enjoy and respect these spaces fully.

“We hope that people maintain these new healthy habits and that with them, comes a renewed appreciation of the power of being active in nature for our health."

The association says it is estimated that walking national trails saves the NHS £167 million a year, with The South West Coast Path alone delivering £40 million in health benefits - that’s £63,000 for every mile of the 630-mile route.

Findings from the survey coincide with a nationwide poll that sought to find out which of the 16 National Trails in England and Wales is the nation’s favourite.

The South West Coast Path took the top spot beating popular trails such as the Cleveland Way, Pembrokeshire Coast Path and North Downs Way, with more than a third of the vote.

It is not just humans benefitting from strolls along the coast either – 75per cent of dog-owners agreed that their four-legged friend is more content after being on the coastal path.