Rhossili, with the Worms Head in the distance. Photo: Heather  Cowper CC-BY-2.0

Rhossili, with the Worms Head in the distance. Photo: Heather Cowper [CC-2.0]

A new section of the All Wales Coast Path was officially opened by the Welsh environment minister.

The 26km (16-mile) stretch on the Gower peninsula, running from Llanmadoc to Port Eynon, includes the Worm’s Head headland and Rhossili beach, site of the last British Mountaineering Council annual meeting.

Minister Jane Davidson received a baton from children from Llanrhidian Primary School before walking to pass it on to Ramblers’ representatives walking the new path.

The opening of the new section involved seven legal diversions of public footpaths, the creation of 2km (1.2 miles) of new public footpath, 13 gates, 41 signposts and waymark posts, and 22 steps cut out of solid rock.

The minister said: “I am delighted to visit this new section of coastal path that improves access for walkers to the beautiful coastline of Gower.

“This section in particular includes one of the most iconic views in Wales as well as two nature reserves and some of the most important archaeological sites in Wales, which shows that walking is a great way to enjoy the heritage and wildlife of Wales as well as the stunning coastline.

“I am confident that the path will help to attract more visitors to this area and provide a real boost to the local economy.

“However the Wales Coast Path is more than just a tourist attraction. Walking is a great way for people to get the exercise they need to stay healthy. This new stretch of path will provide local people with new opportunities to get active, in line with our Change4Life programme, whilst enjoying some stunning scenery.”

Progress on the All Wales Coast Path contrasts with the English coastal path, of which only one section in Dorset is being worked on. Expected coalition Government cuts have thrown the future of the next five sections, due to be started in the near future, into doubt. The Ramblers have urged the coalition Government not to abandon the project – a result of the last Labour Government’s Marine and Coastal Access Act.

Under its coastal access improvement programme, The Welsh Assembly Government is committed to creating a continuous 1,368km (850-mile) path that runs right around the coastline of Wales by 2012, and has been investing in access improvements in partnership with the Countryside Council for Wales. CAIP funding of £2m a year has since 2009 been backed by the European Regional Development Fund which totals £3.9m over three years, to support development  of  the Coast Path by 2012.

The WAG says the All Wales Coast Path will ensure improved access to the coast line and encourage people to live more healthy and active lifestyles. The path is also expected to boost tourism and economic activity within coastal locations around Wales.

Councillor Gareth Sullivan, Swansea Council’s cabinet member for economic regeneration and planning, said: “This is a big day for Gower. Gower has been a vital attraction for this part of Wales for many years, attracting millions of visitors to its amazing scenery and walking country.

“For the first time, visitors will have the right to walk the whole of Gower coastline and see this famous landscape from a new angle.

“This is great news for walkers and the local tourism community and I’d like to pay tribute to the council staff, the local landowners and the volunteers who have helped make this happen.”

The environment minister also recently opened a 43km (27-mile) stretch of coast path between Llandudno and Prestatyn, a challenging 7km (4½-mile) section from Pendine in Carmarthenshire to the start of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path at Amroth, and a boardwalk in Porthcawl that has been designed to facilitate disabled access.

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