[P]eople in Cumbria are one step closer to being able to walk around the entire England coastline as Natural England announced today that work has started on every stretch of the England Coast Path.
Natural England is now working on 100 per cent of this 2,700 mile walking route, which when completed will allow people to explore new and improved routes along the entire length of the English coastline – taking in iconic sights like the White Cliffs of Dover, the beaches of Norfolk and the picturesque North Yorkshire coast.
England’s spectacular coastline already attracts 300 million visits a year, with people spending up to three times more than at any other holiday destination.
And with the South West stretch already worth £400 million to the economy, by offering new and approved access to some of the country’s best tourist hot spots, the England Coast Path will bring a huge boost to tourism – an industry already worth £106 billion.
The England Coast Path is an inspirational project to create the world’s longest continuous coastal trail. In Cumbria there are five stretches included in the project:
- From Gretna on the Scottish border to Allonby, where Natural England’s proposed route is being considered
- From Allonby to Whitehaven, where work is complete and the path is now open for everyone to enjoy
- From Whitehaven to Silecroft, where the proposed route has been approved by the secretary of state and work is underway to make the path a reality
- Walney Island, where the proposed route has been approved by the secretary of state and work is underway to make the path a reality
- From Silecroft to Silverdale, where Ramblers’ volunteers are working with Natural England to discuss the best route that the England Coast Path should take.
Speaking ahead of his visit to Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, Rural Affairs Minister Lord Gardiner said: “We have some of the most spectacular coastland in the world, with iconic sites such as the White Cliffs at Dover and the picturesque beaches at Whitby attracting millions of tourists and walkers every year.
“The England Coast Path is a hugely significant project – helping people across the country to access our stunning coastline and providing a significant boost to the economy of our coastal communities.
“By working closely with landowners, farmers and local communities, we are well on track to creating the world’s longest coastal path by 2020.”
Natural England’s Chairman Andrew Sells added: “We are now working on all sections of our beautiful and varied coastline so the ability to walk the longest, continuous coastal walking route in the world is on the horizon.
“I’m extremely proud of the strides we have taken to reach this point. We will continue to work closely with landowners, communities and local authorities to create the best possible route, to bring more people closer to nature, and benefit local economies.”
So far Natural England has opened just over 300 miles of coastline, helping thousands of people access some of England’s most spectacular coastal scenery.
The new routes link up the best existing coastal paths, create new ones where there were none before, and in some cases move paths nearer the sea so walkers have a better opportunity to properly enjoy the country’s coastal views and beaches.
Most recently, routes have opened in North Yorkshire and Norfolk, with further stretches set to open in Kent, the north east and Cumbria over the coming months.
Ramblers’ director of advocacy and engagement, Nicky Philpott said: “This is a huge milestone in the story of the England Coast Path and one we should celebrate. Building sandcastles on the beach, dipping toes in the sea and taking a stroll along clifftops are favourite activities that cross generations and bring us all together.
“So it might surprise you that until recently, a third of England’s coastline was inaccessible. The Ramblers has long dreamed of a country where everyone can freely enjoy our beautiful coast, so we were pleased that after years of campaigning, in 2010, work started on the England Coast Path.”
At almost 3,000 miles long, the path will stretch around the entire English coastline. Not only will this open up new paths, it will create new areas of open access land so people can freely explore headlands, cliffs and beaches, right up to the water’s edge.
Natural England has been working with landowners, local authorities and others to open up stretches of the path and Ramblers’ volunteers have worked tirelessly to walk and survey swathes of coast, mapping out the best route for walkers.
Nicky added: “We’d like to thank our wonderful volunteers who have spent hours exploring possible routes for the path. Using their local knowledge and thinking with their feet they are helping to ensure that the England Coast Path is not just a path, but one of the most incredible walking trails in the world.”
The Government hope to complete the England Coast Path by 2020, and the Ramblers is keen to ensure that plans are put in place to maintain the path once it’s complete and has become a National Trail.
Ian Brodie, Ramblers coastal access volunteer for the Lake District area, said: “We’re really looking forward to having the whole Cumbrian coast open for walking in the forthcoming years. It will give walkers and local residents alike an opportunity to see the secretive places that are a delight to discover on our unsung coast.”
To find out more, visit www.ramblers.org.uk/EnglandCoastPath.