FRIENDS who met at Peter Symonds College in the 1960s have completed a mammoth walk, bringing back memories of their gap year.

Elizabeth Coates and Penny Allen had respectively returned from working abroad and retired when they both found themselves wanting to go on an adventure.

Due to Covid restrictions the pair were unable to fly off to a far-flung destination, instead they laced up their boots and took on the 630-mile South West Coast Path which stretches from Minehead to South Haven Point near Poole.

Although they had completed some of the walk previously, this time the women, both aged 62, decided they wanted to accomplish the whole route.

“We know it is demanding, but we just knew our limits. We were very lucky we didn’t have injuries and as time went on there was a possibility we could do it all in one.

“I felt that were able to do and we wanted to do it,” Penny said.

“We were very aware that a lot of our friends couldn’t do it because they are not with us anymore or not well. We spent a lot of time thinking about these people.”

On setting off the friends said they were unsure as to how they would be received along the route due to social distancing.

Elizabeth recalled: “We were relived there was no lockdown. I was worried whether communities would like us coming through, but people were really appreciative that people were coming and spending time in the south west.”

Overall, Elizabeth and Penny completed the walk in nine weeks and achieved the equivalent of three to four ascents of Mount Everest, but it was not all plain sailing.

“Right as we started, we had Storm Ellen and Storm Francis across a few days. It slowed us down, but we could walk in these situations – we were super careful,” said Elizabeth.

On other days they were met with strong winds which meant they had to change their plans and carry out sections on different days.

They have kept in contact since leaving Peter Symonds and even spent a time travelling together across Europe and Egypt after college.