The England Coast Path is a proposed long-distance National Trail which will follow the coastline of England. When complete, it will be 2,795 miles (4,500 kilometres) in length.
The trail is being implemented by Natural England, a non-departmental public body of the UK government responsible for ensuring that England's natural environment is protected and improved. It also has a responsibility to help people enjoy, understand and access the natural environment.
In December 2014 the UK Government, encouraged by the success of the Wales Coast Path, announced that more than £5 million of additional funding was being committed over the following 5 years, to ensure that the England Coast Path will be completed by 2020, a decade earlier than would have otherwise been possible. In March 2016 a 58 miles (93 km) stretch from Brean Down to Minehead, which incorporates the West Somerset Coast Path, was opened and designated as part of the England Coast Path.
England Coast Path Wikipedia
The England Coast Path has been possible because of a new law in the UK, the Right of Coastal Access, giving to people for the first time the right of access around all England's open coast, both along the England Coast Path and, usually, over the associated ‘coastal margin’.
Natural England's Coastal Access Scheme was approved by the Secretary of State on 9 July 2013 under section 298(2) of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, and presented to Parliament pursuant to section 298(6) of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009.
The first instance of this new law was implemented on a stretch of the English coast at Weymouth Bay on 29 June 2012.
This includes – where appropriate – any land, other than the trail itself, which forms part of the coastal margin and which has public rights of access along the way. This is known as ‘spreading room’. However, this does not include any right to enter private houses and gardens or Ministry of Defence land. The new right of Coastal Access also includes 'roll back', namely that if a section of coast erodes, the path will move back accordingly.
Existing coastal trails in England, of which there are eleven, will be incorporated into the England Coast Path. There is, however, work to be done in upgrading and standardizing access and signage on these.
These eleven trails are:Bournemouth Coast Path [20 miles (32 km)],
Cleveland Way [110 miles (180 km)],
Cumbria Coastal Way [185 miles (298 km)],
Isle of Wight Coastal Path [67 miles (108 km)],
Lancashire Coastal Way [66 miles (106 km)],
Norfolk Coast Path [45 miles (72 km)],
Saxon Shore Way [163 miles (262 km)],
Solent Way [60 miles (97 km)],
South West Coast Path [630 miles (1,010 km)],
Suffolk Coast Path [50 miles (80 km)] and
West Somerset Coast Path [25 miles (40 km)].
At the border with Wales it will link to the Wales Coast Path, which was fully opened on 5 May 2012, and comprises an 870-mile (1,400 km) coastal walking route from Chepstow in the south to Queensferry in the north.
Offa's Dyke Path, a 177-mile (285 km) non-coastal route, also links the England Coast Path at its Welsh border, largely following the line of the remnants of Offa's Dyke.
Natural England has divided the coast into 66 sections for planning purposes. The sections fall into 5 categories:England Coast Path and associated access rights now open
Approved but not yet open
Work in progress
Estimated start 2016–17
Estimated start 2017–18
The sections (working anti-clockwise round England from the southern end of the Welsh border and using Natural England's areas) comprise: