Collection

England Coast Path: Whitehaven to Silecroft

Find out about the progress of improving coastal access - including maps, process and timing - in Cumbria.

The 51.9 km (32.2 miles) stretch of the England Coast Path (ECP) from Whitehaven and Silecroft is now open to the public. Coastal access rights came into force along this stretch of coast on Wednesday 31 March 2021, by order of the Secretary of State.

Maps of the route

The overview map shows the final approved route along this stretch of coast and the adjoining land that is coastal margin, as approved by the Secretary of State in the original report and variation reports.

The route is also available to view on the National Trails website.

Stage of progress

Stage 5: Open

If you are planning a walk on the ECP, check our interactive access maps for details of local access restrictions and coast path diversions which may apply at certain times.

Coastal access rights normally apply to all land that is coastal margin - including any land seaward of the route - unless it falls into a category of excepted land.

Use the links below to see details of the Secretary of State’s decision to approve Natural England’s proposals and for guidance on your rights and responsibilities if the ECP passes through your land.

Variation reports on approved sections

Proposals to change the approved route between the Calder viaduct and Seascale promenade (VR9)

On Wednesday 17 February 2021, Natural England submitted a variation report to the Secretary of State setting out proposals to change the approved route of the England Coast Path in Cumbria between the Calder Viaduct and Seascale promenade (VR9), by adding rollback status to this section of the trail.

You can now read the report.

Anyone can comment (make a representation) on these proposals. Landowners and occupiers can make an objection.

Representations and objections must reach Natural England by midnight on Wednesday 14 April 2021.

Proposals to change the approved route at Nethertown station and Sellafield (VR7)

On Thursday 23 January 2020, the Secretary of State announced her decision to approve a variation report (VR7) which modifies the original proposals. In response to changes at Nethertown station, the new alignment will provide a more pleasant, safe walking route adjacent to the station. Changes to proposed developments near the Sellafield nuclear decommissioning site and railway prompted a further realignment of the coast path to a revised route above the railway. There is also an alternative route to ensure continuity during short-term emergency maintenance or operational works.

The period for making representations and objections about the report closed at midnight on 21 August 2019. The report is still available to view.

Proposals to change the approved route at Drigg (VR6)

On Friday 6 March 2020, the Secretary of State announced her decision to approve a variation report (VR6) which modifies the original proposals.

The new alignment of the route through part of the Drigg Dunes will provide a more pleasant, sustainable and safe walking experience by avoiding areas of ground that are likely to be very wet at certain times of the year.

The period for making representations and objections about the report closed at midnight on 17 October 2018. The report is still available to view.

Proposals to change the approved route at Coulderton and Nethertown (VR2)

On Thursday 19 December 2019, the Secretary of State announced her decision to approve the Variation Report (VR2), which modifies the original proposals. The alignment of the coast path will now avoid more intensively managed land in both locations. At Coulderton, it will sit seawards of the original approved route, on the slopes above the coastal railway. At Nethertown, it will follow a minor road and roadside verge to the south of the village, before joining the original approved route.

The period for making representations and objections about the report closed at midnight on 26 September 2018. The report is still available to view.

What happens next with proposals to change the approved route

Natural England forwards objections to an independent planning inspector appointed by the Secretary of State. The inspector will make recommendations to the Secretary of State in respect of each one.

Natural England may not make any further changes to the report as a result of the representations and objections. It will make comments about the representations and objections for consideration by the Secretary of State and, in the case of objections, the planning inspector.

The Secretary of State will consider all the representations and objections before making a decision about Natural England’s report.

Route near River Irt and River Esk

The full length of the trail will not be available for use near the River Irt and the River Esk until new river crossings have been built and nearby sections of the route have been approved.

Until this time, no new public access rights will apply on the sections shown on these maps:

Advice for land managers is available in the detailed guide below.

Find out more about the England Coast Path

See information about all stretches in preparation around England’s coast.

The coastal access scheme gives details of the process being followed to improve access to the coast.

Contact the coastal access team

If you have any questions about the open parts of the England Coast Path, please contact:

Email: open.access@naturalengland.org.uk
Telephone: 0300 060 2091

Post:

Open Access Contact Centre
Natural England
Temple Quay House
2 The Square
Bristol
BS1 6EB

See the map below for information about progress on improving coastal access in other parts of north west.

Published 16 April 2014
Last updated 31 March 2021 + show all updates
  1. Page updated to show this stretch is now open to the public.

  2. Updated the page with information about the variation report between Calder viaduct and Seascale promenade (VR9).

  3. Length of the stretch amended from 51 km to 51.9 km, (32.2 miles).

  4. Page updated to show the Secretary of State has approved the variation report VR6.

  5. Page updated to show the Secretary of State has approved the variation report VR7.

  6. Variation Report 2 approved by the Secretary of State.

  7. Added section on proposals to change the approved route at Nethertown station and Sellafield (VR7).

  8. Removed the sentence giving a date for when access is expected to be ready.

  9. Page updated with information about the variation report on proposals to change the approved route at the Drigg section of this stretch.

  10. Page updated with information about the variation report on proposals to change the approved route at the Coulderton and Nethertown section of this stretch.

  11. Added link to the maps showing approved modifications to the route.

  12. Route approved by the Secretary of State.

  13. Consultation period has now closed 10 December 2014

  14. Content updated for Natural England submitting report to secretary of state.

  15. First published.