England Coast Path
The trail is being implemented by Natural England, a non-departmental public body of the UK government responsible for ensuring that England's natural environment is protected and improved. It also has a responsibility to help people enjoy, understand and access the natural environment.
In December 2014 the UK Government, encouraged by the success of the Wales Coast Path, announced that more than £5 million of additional funding was being committed over the following 5 years, to ensure that the England Coast Path will be completed by 2020, a decade earlier than would have otherwise been possible. In March 2016 a 58-mile (93 km) stretch from Brean Down to Minehead, which incorporates the West Somerset Coast Path, was opened and designated as part of the England Coast Path.
The England Coast Path has been possible because of the introduction of a UK law, the Right of Coastal Access, giving people for the first time the right of access around all England's open coast, both along the England Coast Path and, usually, over the associated ‘coastal margin’.
Natural England's Coastal Access Scheme was approved by the Secretary of State on 9 July 2013 under section 298(2) of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, and presented to Parliament pursuant to section 298(6) of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009.
This includes – where appropriate – any land, other than the trail itself, which forms part of the coastal margin and which has public rights of access along the way. This is known as ‘spreading room’. However, this does not include any right to enter private houses and gardens or Ministry of Defence land. The new right of Coastal Access also includes 'roll back', namely that if a section of coast erodes, the path will move back accordingly.
Existing coastal trails
Existing coastal trails in England, of which there are eleven, will be incorporated into the England Coast Path. There is, however, work to be done in upgrading and standardizing access and signage on these.
These eleven trails are:
- Bournemouth Coast Path: 20 miles (32 km)
- Cleveland Way: 110 miles (180 km); only part of the Cleveland Way is coastal
- Cumbria Coastal Way: 185 miles (298 km)
- Isle of Wight Coastal Path: 67 miles (108 km)
- Lancashire Coastal Way: 66 miles (106 km)
- Norfolk Coast Path: 45 miles (72 km)
- Saxon Shore Way: 163 miles (262 km)
- Solent Way: 60 miles (97 km)
- South West Coast Path: 630 miles (1,010 km)
- Suffolk Coast Path: 50 miles (80 km)
- West Somerset Coast Path: 25 miles (40 km)
At the border with Wales it will link to the Wales Coast Path, which was fully opened on 5 May 2012, and comprises an 870-mile (1,400 km) coastal walking route from Chepstow in the south to Queensferry in the north.
Natural England has divided the coast into 66 sections for planning purposes. The sections fall into 5 categories:
- England Coast Path and associated access rights now open
- Approved but not yet open
- Work in progress
- Estimated start 2016–17
- Estimated start 2017–18
The sections (working anti-clockwise round England from the southern end of the Welsh border and using Natural England's areas) comprise:
- Area 11: Somerset
- Area 12: Devon and Cornwall
- Area 13: Dorset, Hampshire and Isle of Wight
- Area 14: Sussex and Kent
- Area 8: Essex
- Area 9: Suffolk and Norfolk
- Area 5: Lincolnshire
- Area 1: Durham, Tyne & Wear and Northumberland
- Area 4: Lancashire and Merseyside
- "English Coast Path". nationaltrail.co.uk. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
- "Natural England". gov.uk. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
- "England Coast Path in sight!". Ramblers. 3 September 2014. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
- "Coastal Access Completion by 2020 – Provisional Timings and Stretches" (PDF). Natural England. 1 December 2015. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
- "England Coast Path new stretch opens in Somerset". BBC. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
- Coastal Access - Natural England’s Approved Scheme, 2013, retrieved 20 January 2017
- England Coast Path: improving public access to the coast, www.gov.uk, retrieved 16 August 2016
- Manage your land on the England Coast Path, www.gov.uk, retrieved 16 August 2016
- Weymouth Bay (pdf), retrieved 16 August 2016
- "All-Wales coast path nears completion". BBC News Wales. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
- "Wales Coast Path at a glance". The Independent. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
- England Coast Path: improving public access to the coast Natural England. Retrieved 20 January 2017
- England Coast Path National Trails. Retrieved 20 January 2017