The start of the Coast to Coast Walk at St Bees Head is included in the next stretch of shore to be opened

The start of the Coast to Coast Walk at St Bees Head is included in the next stretch of shore to be opened

Plans have been revealed for the latest stretch of England’s coastline to be opened up to walkers.

The 55km (34-mile) length of Cumbrian shore includes the start of Alfred Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk.

Natural England, the Government’s advisory body on the outdoors, today opened an eight-week consultation on the proposals for the stretch from Whitehaven to Silecroft, on the southern boundary of the Lake District national park.

The consultation will allow members of the public to make their views known. Landowners on the route can also lodge objections.

The plans are being published under a simplified scheme following the slow introduction of access rights under the Marine and Coastal Access Act, which was introduced by the last Labour government.

If the proposals are approved, the route will form part of the England Coast Path. A section has already been opened in northern Cumbria, between Allonby and Whitehaven.

The new section includes contrasting sections such as the cliffs of St Bees Head, the village of Seascale near the nuclear establishment at Sellafield, and Ravenglass, with its Roman bathhouse.

The section of the England Coast Path will end in the shadow of Black Combe near the Duddon estuary. Since 2012, Natural England and Cumbria County Council have met landowners and interested parties to ‘walk the course’, consider local issues and discuss the new route.

Natural England’s area manager Simon Humphries said: “This is the next step to establish the England Coast Path route along the Cumbria coastline, which will take in some fine views and many areas of coastline that have not previously had access.

he 55km stretch ends near Black Combe

he 55km stretch ends near Black Combe

“We’ve worked closely with Cumbria County Council, landowners and interested groups to identify a route and thank everyone for their time so far. We encourage anyone with a view on coastal access to take a look at the plans, which are available for objection or representation for the next eight weeks.”

Councillor Keith Little, Cumbria County Council’s cabinet member for highways, said: “We are pleased to see the progress being made in developing this route further down the coast, following the successful completion of the section between Allonby and Whitehaven earlier this year.

“When linked together, these two stretches will give a fantastic walking experience, provide a real boost to the local economy and take us a step closer to a new national trail along our outstanding coastline.”

Access areas will have similar rights to open access land, with walking and climbing permitted.

The closing date for representations is Wednesday, 10 December. Details are on the Natural England section of the Government website.

Last month, Deputy Prime Minster Nick Clegg set a deadline of 2020 for the full 3,000 miles (4,830km) of England’s coastline to be opened to walkers and climbers. Wales already has a full coastal path and access of shores is permitted in Scotland under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act.

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