England Coast Path – work now underway to open up half of England’s coastline - a report by Sue Shipston, Coastal Access Team, Natural England
Natural England has reached a key milestone in its work to deliver the England Coast Path, with work underway to open up half ofEngland’s coastline. Set to become one of the world’s longest coastal walking routes, the path will stretch out across 2700 miles of stunning walking routes covering 100% of the country. What Natural England has achieved so far: Natural England has already opened up 101 miles of our spectacular coastline via the England Coast Path in Cumbria,Durham, Dorset and Norfolk, with a further 95 miles of new routes set to open in Kent and Somerset in the Spring. They are now building on this progress with the aim of completing the coastal path around England by 2020. It is hugely challenging. Natural England staff are learning lessons as they go and sharing these around the coastline.
What benefits will the England Coast Path bring? Walking in the countryside is good for people’s health and wellbeing, and providing more access to our coastline brings huge benefits by both connecting us with nature and boosting local tourism. Tourism is hugely important to the rural economy, contributing around £11 billion each year – and by attracting even more visitorsto explore our iconic coastline, we expect the England Coast Path to benefit even more local businesses like pubs and hotels. The new routes will also improve public access to our coastline, beaches and foreshore, with existing coastal footpaths used where possible, or in some cases moved nearer the sea so walkers have a better opportunity to properly enjoy our coastal views and beaches. The England Coast Path will be a well way-marked National Trail around the whole of the English coast, passing through some of our country’s finest and iconic landscapes such as the White Cliffs of Dover, St Bees Head, and the sunny beaches of the South West, together with picture postcard villages and the cities that plot our colourful maritime history. Boosting local economies and supporting tourism.
Welcoming the development Rural Minister Rory Stewart said: “None of us lives further than about 75 miles from the sea, and most of us live much closer, so it’s vital to our ongoing relationship with our countryside that the public has easy access to our outstanding coastline.” “We have already opened up miles of our beautiful coastline for everyone to enjoy, boosting local tourism and growing the rural economy, so it makes sense to extend these plans even further. We know that walking in the countryside is good for people’s health and wellbeing, and what better way to do it than with the accompaniment of a nice sea breeze?
Andrew Sells, Natural England’s Chairman added “This is the most significant footpath project for a generation, it will be an incredible legacy for our island nation and I’m delighted to report on our excellent progress this year.