WALK IT NOW!
IF YOU’RE ITCHING to get out and walk the new ECP, seven stretches are already open. In the north-west, you can coast 22 miles from Allonby to Whitehaven in Cumbria, while in the south-west there’s 58 miles through Somerset from Brean Down to Minehead, and 20 in Dorset from Rufus Castle on the Isle of Portland to the almost-perfect-circle of Lulworth Cove. In the south-east you can edge 66 miles from the golden sands of Camber in East Sussex to the buzzing harbour of Ramsgate in Kent. Norfolk’s open trail stretches 47 miles from Hopton-on-Sea to Weybourne, and further up the east coast there are 102 miles ready between Filey Brigg and South Bents, with an 8-mile gap from Newport Bridge to North Gare that’s set to open this year.
A further 590 miles are scheduled for completion in 2018, including two islands: Walney in Cumbria (21 miles) and Mersea in Essex (12 miles). Cumbria gets another 32 miles from Whitehaven to Silecroft, and out east the ECP will grow 43 miles north from South Bents to Amble, hitting Northumberland for the first time. Lincolnshire should also see its first bit, with 16 miles from Skegness to Mablethorpe.
Down south, the Somerset path extends into Devon on a 35-mile section across the north of Exmoor from Minehead to Combe Martin, and fossil hunters can tread 68 miles from Kingswear to Lyme Regis on the Jurassic Coast and 48 miles from Lulworth Cove to Highcliffe. There will be 51 miles from Calshot in the New Forest to Portsmouth, 91 miles from South Hayling to Shoreham, and 97 miles from Ramsgate to Grain, on the remote tip of Kent’s Hoo Peninsula.
And Essex, the county with the longest coastline in England, gets 37 miles from Jaywick to Harwich and another 39 from Burnham-on-Crouch to Maldon, home of the famous sea salt.
You might spot that some of those stretches are already part of a shorehugging trail like the South West Coast Path, but work still needs doing to add them to the official ECP stable and map the coastal margin. Keep up to date at www.gov.uk and on the interactive maps at www.nationaltrail.co.uk/ england-coast-path, where you can also add photos and recommendations from your coastal adventure.
TRY THE TRAIL
Main image: Sandsend Beach near Whitby on the long stretch of open path along England’s north-east coast. Left: Marking the way around the vast shingle spit of Dungeness in Kent and above: An ammonite fossil at Somerset’s Kilve Beach, a sea-dweller here millions of years ago.