England’s coastal path could be lost before walkers have the chance to set foot on it.
Britain’s biggest walkers’ campaign group said the establishment of an all-England route around the coastline has now dropped to the bottom of the Government’s priorities, and called on Westminster to honour its obligations to set up the trail.
The Marine and Coastal Access Act, passed by the last Labour government, set out a timetable for planning and establishing a walking route around England and improving climbers’ access to previously out-of-bounds sea cliffs.
But the Rambler said a shift in government focus now means the coastal path has dropped to the bottom of the priority list. “The planning and design of the route is being delayed and there is a lack of commitment from those in power to create this wonderful path around the entire English coast,” a spokesperson said. “At this rate the dream of a national trail that explores England’s stunning coastline may remain just a dream.
“The Ramblers are calling on the Government to assert their support for the English Coastal Path and set the next stages of this exciting project in motion.”
Chief executive Tom Franklin said: “As an island nation, we all know the awe-inspiring, soul-restoring influence of a walk by the sea.
“That’s why we’re urging the Government to firmly state their ongoing commitment to an all-England coastal path and clearly set out the timeline for the next stretches of the path.”
The charity said, according to Natural England figures, 249 million visits were made to coastal locations in the last year and in a poll of its own Facebook fans, the Ramblers found that the Dorset Jurassic Coast between Kimmeridge and Durdle Door – coincidentally just east of the first section of the English Coast Path to be opened – was the most admired seashore walk.
Others were in Cornwall, between St Ives and Land’s End; Northumberland from Craster to Embleton Bay; North Yorkshire between Saltburn-by-the-Sea and Staithes, and Crosby to Formby in Merseyside.
The Ramblers have also set up an appeal to help their campaign to keep the English Coast Path on track. Donations can be made via their website.