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New stretches of the England Coast Path now open

April 14, 2014

New access rights come have come into force for two new stretches of the England Coast Path. This will enable people to enjoy 36 kms of coastline between Allonby and Whitehaven in Cumbria, and 55 kms of coastline between North Gare in Hartlepool and South Bents in Sunderland in the North East.

Last summer, the Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), gave approval for these two stretches of the national England Coast Path. Work to implement the new route – including new signage and gates – has been taking place since then in preparation for the launch events.

For the first time walkers will be given new rights of access to typical coastal land including foreshore, beaches, dunes and cliffs; including areas where everyone can rest, relax and admire the view. And, crucially, the path will now be able to ‘roll back’ as the cliffs erode or slips – enabling a replacement route to be put in place quickly if necessary, and so solving longstanding difficulties with maintaining a continuous route along the coast.

As well as enabling visitors to enjoy new parts of the coastline, improving access will help to support local economies, by attracting new visitors to both coasts and increasing associated spending in seaside businesses such as shops, pubs and hotels.

When it is complete, the England Coast Path will be a well way-marked National Trail  around the whole English coast. Work is already underway on more stretches in the North. Proposals for other regions of England are also being developed in discussion with local authorities, landowners and businesses.

Cumbria has one of the most interesting coastlines in Britain, with a variety of sandy beaches and dunes, old Norse settlements and Roman remains, a rich maritime history and a fascinating industrial and mining heritage. This new stretch starts in the village overlooking Allonby Bay in the Solway Firth, within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty giving spectacular views across to the Galloway hills of southern Scotland, and ends further south in the Georgian town of Whitehaven.

Ian Fugler, Natural England’s Director of Access & Engagement, said: “We’re delighted to be opening up this first stretch of the English coastal footpath in Cumbria. It will provide permanent, secure and improved rights for walkers to enjoy some of the most riveting coastline in England. As a Cumbrian resident, but with Cornish roots, I have a keen interest in our coast. These new public access rights are now in place thanks to the close co-operation and support of Cumbria County Council and the many landowners and local people involved. We’d like to thank everyone for working so well together to get us to this momentous day.”

Councillor Keith Little, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet member for Highways and Transport, said: “The council is delighted to be involved in this exciting initiative which will open up Cumbria’s coastline for people to explore and bring economic benefits to West Cumbria by boosting tourism and attracting new visitors. It’s a fantastic new resource and we look forward to working with Natural England and other partners on extending and improving access to the rest of the county’s wonderful coastline.” >>more