WATCHET residents are being encouraged to walk or cycle on a recently reopened road in order to improve their mental health.

The B3191 Cleeve Hill closed to all traffic in January 2023 following concerns about coastal erosion, cutting off the town from the neighbouring village of Blue Anchor.

Somerset Council partially reopened the road in time for the Easter long weekend, allowing access for pedestrians, cyclists and those using wheelchairs or mobility scooters.

The council is now encouraging both residents and visitors to undertake more exercise off the back of mental health awareness week (which runs from May 13-19).

The council’s public health team has been working in partnership with the Somerset Activity and Sports Partnership (SASP) to get people talking about their mental health, with the theme of this year’s event being ‘movement: moving more for our mental health’.

Somerset has seen an increase in the number of adults who have been diagnosed with depression, with the number recently rising to 15.4 per cent, or nearly one in seven.

Research has consistently found that being physically active has a significant, positive impact on mental health and overall well-being.

Regular movement has been found to reduce stress, increase energy levels, improve mood, boost self-esteem, and enhance overall brain function.

Councillor Adam Dance, portfolio holder for public health, equalities and diversity, said: “Many of us struggle to incorporate enough movement into our busy daily lives. This year we want to help you find ‘moments for movement’ in your daily routines.

“Even the smallest acts of movement has huge potential to enhance our mental well-being.”

Since the original closure of the B3191, Somerset Council has been looking at different measures to support Watchet’s residents and businesses through the Watchet Task Force.

The council provided £30,000 towards various improvements to the town centre – including walking and cycling infrastructure, such as the Mineral Line which links the town to Washford.

The partial reopening of the road enables people holidaying close to Blue Anchor to reach Watchet without driving – including those staying at the Beeches and Warren Bay holiday parks.