Sydney’s Wedding Cake Rock. Hawaii’s Kalalau Trail. Turkey’s Lycian Way. When you hear the phrase “world’s best coastal walk” England’s frigid waters and dour clifftops hardly spring to mind.
That may soon be set to change. As The Lonely Planet reported yesterday, “The entire English coastline will become accessible for the first time when the England Coast Path National Trail is completed this year; offering hikers, campers, swimmers and wildlife lovers access to the world’s longest walking route.”
At 4,500kms long, the England Coast Path will be the world’s longest continuous track, connecting the entire English coastline through a network of public trails. Assuming an elevation and descent of roughly 100m throughout, hiking calculators estimate this journey would take about 1,120 hours of walking (think: 94 days of plodding from 6am to 6pm, with no breaks), to complete.
That’s one heck of an afternoon ramble.
Anyway, the idea was sparked after a 2010 campaign spearheaded by Natural England and local walking charities, who worked with government and local landowners to open up England’s littoral region. Not only does the path link and enhance existing routes (as The Lonely Planet reports, “with signposted trails that are safe from tides and difficult terrain”), it also opens up access (while reducing the threat of erosion) to beaches, dunes and cliffs.
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Natural England stats reveal 29.1 million walking trips were made over a six-month period in 2019. That figure is expected to grow once the path is complete, with Natural England’s Chair, Tony Juniper, announcing in a statement: “Our flagship England Coast Path is taking people through some of the finest and most important landscape in England, opening up historic landmarks, natural wonders and breathtaking scenery, enabling more visitors to experience, recognise and value the benefits of our environment.”
As a result, 2021 (assuming we’ve fought off coronavirus by then) will be the ‘Year of the English Coast’ with a promising programme of events: people can register for beach clean-ups, seafood feasts, art trail walks and a focus on sustainability.
So, whether you’re interested sightseeing the Jurassic coast, marvelling at the white cliffs of Dover, seeing seals in Newport or surfing in Cornwall, this walk could have something in it for you.