TRAVEL GAZETTE – The creation of what will be one of the world’s longest walkways, covering the entire coast of England, is approaching the half-way stage, Britain’s rural minister announced Sunday.
When completed in 2020, it will be possible to walk the entire length of the English coastline with pathways extending for almost 4,400 kilometers, or half of the length of the Great Wall of China.
The announcement by Rural Minister Rory Stewart marks the latest milestone in the delivery of a coastal path of stunning walking routes covering 100 percent of the country.
Already families can now explore 164 kilometers of coastline in Cumbria, Durham, Dorset and Norfolk, with a further 153 kilometers of new routes set to open in Kent and Somerset in southern England in the spring.
“We are working closely with Natural England to build on the progress already made, with the aim of completing the coastal path around England by 2020,” said Stewart.
Welcoming the progress, he said: “Providing more access to our coastline brings huge benefits by both connecting us with nature and boosting local tourism. Tourism is hugely important to the rural economy, contributing around 11 billion pounds (16.32 billion U.S dollars) each year. By attracting even more visitors to explore our iconic coastline, we expect the England Coast Path to benefit even more local businesses like pubs and hotels.”
Andrew Sells, chairman of Natural England said: “This is the most significant footpath project for a generation, it will be an incredible legacy for our island nation… We are on target and have built a momentum to complete the entire route by 2020.”
Work to open up or improve access along the coast is also underway in Essex, Devon, Hampshire, Lincolnshire and Lancashire.
The England Coast Path will be well signposted as a National Trail around the whole of the English coast, passing through some iconic landscapes such as the White Cliffs of Dover, St Bees Head, and the sunny beaches of the South West, and the cities that plot Britain’s colorful maritime history.