England will be home to the world's longest coastal path in 2020

Ruth Doherty
Photo credit: ianwool/Getty

From Country Living

England's soul-stirring vast stretches of coastline are undoubtedly one of its biggest draws — and it's only set to get more epic thanks to the completion this year of the England Coast Path National Trail, which will make the entire English coastline accessible for the first time.

In fact, it will be the world's longest continuous coastal path at 2,700 miles long, with a network of public trails opening up endless opportunities to explore England's charming seaside towns, craggy cliffs, white beaches, heather-covered headlands and standalone lighthouses.

The project of joining the trails into one continuous path has been spearheaded by Natural England since 2010. Hikers, ramblers and nature-lovers will this year reap the rewards of the project as it heads into its final stages.

Natural England recently revealed the huge popularity of England's coastal paths with 29.1 million walking trips made over a six-month period, boosting local economies and bringing health and wellbeing benefits to visitors.

The data also revealed that visits boosted the economy by £350 million in 2017, with 97% of people feeling refreshed and revitalised as a result of their visit.

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Some of the most popular points on the England Coast Path include Lyme Regis on the South West Coast Path, which is also a pivot point on the Jurassic Coast, England's only UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you can search for fossils along the 95-mile strip of rock arches showcasing 185 million years of geological history.

The Holy Island of Lindisfarne on the 62-mile Northumberland Coast Path is also extremely popular. It's an island off England's northeast shore and has a rich history, including Viking raids and as a home to monks. You'll also find powdery-white beaches and majestic historic castles, like Bamburgh Castle, on this stretch of path.

Photo credit: bnoragitt

Other hotspots? Cromer on the Norfolk Coast Path (picturesque fishing boats, colourful beach huts and seafood cafes), Eastbourne on the South Downs Way (chalky cliffs and a Victorian pier), and Robin Hood's Bay on the Coast to Coast path in Yorkshire (think authentic old pubs, characterful fishing village and dramatic cliffs).

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The South West Coast Path, meanwhile, is currently England's longest waymarked long-distance footpath and a National Trail. It stretches for 630 miles (1,014 km), running from Minehead in Somerset, along the coasts of Devon and Cornwall, to Poole Harbour in Dorset.

Most recently, some of Cumbria's most spectacular coastline was opened up to the public for the first time in February after Natural England unveiled 21 miles of the England Coast Path on Walney Island near Barrow-in-Furness.

The new stretch offers walkers the chance to see saltmarshes, dunes, wonderful wildlife, epic views and wow-factor beaches. Natural England said walkers can "enjoy impressive views over the Irish Sea and Morecambe Bay, and across the Walney Channel and the Duddon Estuary to the Lake District fell".

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