Plans are afoot to create England’s longest national trail.
The proposed North-West Coastal Trail would be nearly 400km longer than the existing longest tail, the South West Coast Path. It would stretch from Cheshire to Cumbria and take in the delights of Blackpool beach, Liverpool’s Albert Dock and the more obvious attractions of the Cumbrian coast and the Solway Firth.
It could also link with Alfred Wainwright’s Coast to Coast path, which starts at St Bees, which the Wainwright Society is campaigning to have designated a national trail.
The path is the brainchild of the North West Coastal Forum and would run from Chester to Carlisle. It is being touted as a major economic attraction, though its mixture of history and natural beauty is its unique draw. From start to finish, the trail would be 1,400km (870 miles).
Natural Economy North West is an amalgam of interested parties from Natural England to the RSPB. It includes the Forestry Commission, water company United Utilities, Friends of the Lake District and the National Trust. Its programme director Will Williams said: “The trail will take a path that looks over internationally important sites such as St Bees Head, a stunning, designated Heritage Coast that is home to the only English colony of black guillemots.
“The Solway, Mersey and Ribble estuaries, home to more rare bird and marine life, would also be covered by the trail, as would the rich industrial heritage of sea ports such as Liverpool and Fleetwood.
“On top of that, the trail will pull together this environmental and historical offer with modern attractions like Blackpool Tower and Liverpool’s Albert Dock to create a diverse destination that cannot be rivalled. We are certain it will help to bring huge economic, social and environmental benefits to the region.”
Now promoters of the idea are having a 100-day blitz to convince locals of the benefit of the scheme, during which a new fact will be touted each day about what they call the ‘natural economy’.
There are currently 15 national trails in England and Wales, with a total distance of about 4,000km. The first, the Pennine Way, opened in 1965, the result of relentless pressure and campaigning by advocates of access to the uplands.
The South West Coast Path runs from Poole Harbour to Minehead and is 1,014km (630 miles) long.