We welcome a government announcement that the Coast to Coast walking route is to become a National Trail – bringing a commitment of £5.6m to upgrade the 197-mile route, much of which runs through North Yorkshire.
The route stretches from St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay in the North York Moors National Park. Twenty-six miles of the route pass along public rights of way and rural roads which we manage.
Natural England announced the award of National Trail status today (12 August), saying the organisation would work with partners to improve the popular route. This will include funding to develop a community engagement programme and to maximise economic and health benefits for local people and businesses.
Benefits or becoming a National Trail include:
- the path being made more accessible, with improvements possibly including the removal of stiles and using accessible gates where possible
- high-quality signage, waymarking, path surfaces and infrastructure
- developing circular paths and link routes
- working with local businesses to ensure they are aware of the economic opportunities
- a long-term commitment to funding to help local authorities maintain the path
Enhancements will be undertaken over three years, with the upgraded path expected to open in 2025.
Our executive member for highways and transportation, Cllr Keane Duncan, said: “This announcement hands North Yorkshire an opportunity it must grasp to realise environmental, social and economic benefits across its breadth.
“The walk is very popular with visitors both from the UK and abroad, especially from Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Each year, several thousand complete the route, generating significant business for food and accommodation providers along the way, as well as other businesses, such as those that offer luggage transport services between overnight stays.
“This announcement will unlock government funding to establish and maintain the trail, which could include improving surfacing to make the walk as accessible as possible. It would also provide an opportunity to address long-standing issues on the route, such as the erosion of riverside paths.
“This is the result of excellent joint working with Natural England, the National Parks and landowners and we look forward to continuing that partnership to improve this much-loved long-distance walk.”
The Coast to Coast walk was published in Alfred Wainwright’s 1973 guidebook. It passes through the upland landscapes of the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors national parks and lowland countryside of the West Cumbrian Coastal Plain and Vale of Mowbray. Walkers usually complete the route over two weeks. It is challenging, but is broken into 12 stages, each ending at a settlement with overnight accommodation. In 2004, the route was voted the second best long-distance walk in the world by writers of walking guides.