Press release

First Norfolk stretch of England Coast Path opens today

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Walkers can now enjoy 41 km of coastline between Sea Palling and Weybourne in Norfolk.

Earlier this year, the Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, approved this new stretch of England Coast Path. Work to implement the new route, including new signage and gates, has been taking place since then in preparation for today’s announcement.

Walkers will be given new rights of access to foreshore, beaches, dunes and cliffs; including areas where everyone can rest, relax and admire the view. Crucially, the path will now be able to ‘roll back’ if land erodes or slips, enabling a replacement route to be put in place quickly if necessary. This solves longstanding difficulties with maintaining a continuous route along the coast.

When complete, the England Coast Path will be a well way-marked National Trail around the whole English coast. Work is already underway on more sections around England and proposals are being developed in discussion with local authorities, landowners and businesses. Following recent government funding announcements, the entire path is due to be completed by 2020. Stretches also opened in Cumbria and Durham earlier this year.

As well as enabling visitors to enjoy new parts of the coastline, improving access will help to support local economies, by attracting new visitors to the coast and increasing associated spending in seaside businesses such as shops, pubs and hotels.

Natural England have worked with Norfolk County Council are holding a launch event in Trimingham today, attended by local MP Norman Lamb who will officially open the new route. Local HM Coastguard teams are taking part in a sponsored walk of the new section, to build their knowledge of the route and raise money for Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Natural England’s Chairman, Andrew Sells said:

I am delighted that Norfolk’s first stretch of the England Coast Path is now open for residents and visitors to enjoy. We thank everyone who’s worked with us to open up this new route, including Norfolk County Council and HM Coastguard, local landowners, businesses and other interest groups including a range of access and conservation organisations.

Further sections will be opened up along Norfolk’s coast over the next couple of years, joining work in neighbouring regions. With new funding recently announced to accelerate the roll out of the England coast path it’s a hugely exciting time for England’s coastline.

Environment Minister Dan Rogerson said:

Norfolk has an incredible coastline, with beautiful beaches, dunes and cliff top views. Now that the first part of Norfolk’s Coastal Path is open, more and more people will be able to enjoy this breath-taking part of the country.

Being rolled out nationwide, the English Coastal Path will improve access to coastlines across the country and boost local tourism helping to build a stronger economy and fairer society.

Toby Coke, Chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Environment, Development and Transport Committee said:

Our existing network of footpaths and trails already contribute millions of pounds to our economy each year. Our Norfolk coastline, which is some of the best coastline in the country, officially being designated as part of the England Coast Path can only boost visitor numbers further and benefit businesses along the route.

A sponsored walk is being held by HM Coastguard Norfolk teams on part of the new route to raise funds for Guide Dogs for the Blind. HM Coastguard rescued 230 dogs from the coastline in 2014, and so far this year, Norfolk teams have been involved in the rescue of 15 dogs. The Mundesley and Happisburgh coast guard teams will be walking from Sea Palling to Trimingham, and the Sheringham and Cromer teams walking from Weybourne to Trimingham.

Tony Garbutt, north Norfolk manager for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency added;

The walk today will help build our knowledge of the route and, raise enough money to sponsor a guide dog for each team as well as support a charity close to our hearts. Understanding our coastline and getting to know this new route is vital and will assist us in our work.

The coastguards intend to walk the whole of the route that passes through north Norfolk in the coming months.


For further information (Media only) contact: Emma Lusby, Natural England press office: 0300 060 4231/ 07900 608073 ; or David Hirst on 0300 060 1720/ 07827 821679

Additional facts

The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 places a duty on the Secretary of State (Defra) and Natural England to secure a long distance walking trail around the open coast of England, together with public access rights to a wider area of land along the way for people to enjoy.

This is the first stretch in Norfolk. Two stretches were opening in April 2014 in Cumbria and the north east. The first stretch opened in Weymouth in Dorset, in time for people to view the sailing events for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

It is envisaged that, over the next 2 years, work will have started or been completed on 17 stretches of England’s coastline, totalling in excess of 1,000 km.

This national infrastructure project is being established with a low cost input, and it will open up new business opportunities for coastal communities. The England Coast Path is a good example of generating more money for local economies at a low cost.

The England Coast Path timetable 2014

  • September 2014: proposals from Whitehaven to Silecroft (55 km) in Cumbria were published and submitted to Government for approval
  • September 2014: proposals from Camber to Folkestone (48 km) in Kent were published and submitted to Government for approval
  • October 2014: proposals from Hopton on Sea to Sea Palling (31 km) in north Norfolk were published and submitted to Government for approval
  • Winter 2015: Proposals from Filey Brigg to North Gare (130 km) along the north east coast will be published and submitted to government for approval

More details and maps are available on Natural England’s coastal access web pages.