Outdoor access and recreation – collection

England Coast Path: improving public access to the coast

Find out about Natural England's work to improve coastal access, where work is in progress and where new rights of access are now available.

National map

Work is well underway on the England Coast Path - a new National Trail around all of England’s coast.

For the first time people will have the right of access around all our open coast. 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’.

See the coastal access scheme for more information about the process to establish the England Coast Path.

The government is putting additional funding in place over the next 5 years, to make sure that the England Coast Path is completed by 2020.

This will significantly speed up the programme of work so that:

  • people will be able to walk around and enjoy the entire coastline of England much sooner
  • benefits to local communities and economic opportunities that will arise will be realised more quickly

The national map below shows:

  • where Natural England are already working
  • stretches that are open
  • when work on new stretches is likely to start

The map will be kept up to date over the 5 year period.

  1. England Coast Path: overview of progress

    • 13 March 2015
    • Map

Regional maps

The new right of access will be brought into effect at different times around the coast.

Use the maps below to find out which stretches of coast Natural England is currently working on and where the new right of access is available.

  1. England Coast Path in the north west of England

    • 16 September 2012
    • Map
  2. England Coast Path in the west of England

    • 31 March 2015
    • Map
  3. England Coast Path in the south west of England

    • 6 September 2012
    • Map
  4. England Coast Path in the south of England

    • 31 March 2015
    • Map
  5. England Coast Path in the south east of England

    • 10 September 2014
    • Map
  6. England Coast Path in Essex

    • 31 March 2015
    • Map
  7. England Coast Path in the east of England

    • 27 March 2014
    • Map
  8. England Coast Path in the north east of England

    • 11 April 2014
    • Map

Stages of the coastal access process

Stage 1: Prepare

Initial preparations for implementation of a coastal stretch.

Stage 2: Develop

Speak with local landowners and other legal interests in land that may be affected. Natural England will explain our initial thoughts about where the route might go, ask them for their views and discuss any issues that might need to be addressed. Speak with other key organisations to make sure the necessary steps are taken to protect any key sensitive features.

Stage 3: Propose

The Secretary of State for the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs receives Natural England’s report of the proposals for Coastal Access. Anyone can make a representation on the report and owners/occupiers may submit an objection relating to particular aspects of the proposals.

Stage 4: Determine

The Secretary of State decides whether to approve the proposals in Natural England’s report based on representations or objections and the recommendations from the Planning Inspectorate.

Stage 5: Open

The Secretary of State approves the route. Preparations are then made on the ground and the necessary legal paperwork is completed. Once complete, the new public rights of access will come into force on the stretch.

See the guides below for information on what responsibilities you have if the England Coast Path passes through your land and how you can comment on Natural England’s proposals.

  1. England Coast Path: comment on new proposals

    • 27 March 2015
    • Detailed guide
  2. England Coast Path: manage your land in the coastal margin

    • 27 March 2015
    • Detailed guide
  3. Open access land and the coastal margin: how to restrict public access

    • 27 March 2015
    • Detailed guide