Ramblers in the North East staged their own welcoming party yesterday for the new County Durham stretch of the England coastal path. Last Saturday saw the official opening ceremony for Natural England’s 55km length of coastal path linking Hartlepool and Sunderland.
The path will take walkers along the County Durham coast, which has been revived after a century of colliery waste tipping.
Yesterday around 60 walkers from six Ramblers groups from the region embarked on different walks to cover the whole 55km stretch, converging on Seaham Hall beach. There they heard a speech from Ramblers national president Kate Ashbrook. The Government reaffirmed its promise to create an England Coast Path last summer after the Ramblers award-winning campaign One Coast For All was successful in saving the project from being cut.
Ms Ashbrook said: “I really enjoyed celebrating the opening of this beautiful stretch of the England Coast Path with a walk along the route.
“This section of our coast has been transformed in past years with the removal of tonnes of waste caused by historic mining and industrial activities.
“We have campaigned for years for the right to walk around the entire coast of England and this new stretch brings us one stride closer to realising that ambition.
“Many practical improvements have been made along the path, allowing more people to enjoy the route.
“The path will bring huge recreational, social and economic benefits to the area, as well as providing walkers and residents with a complete, beautiful coastal route to enjoy, along with land by the path where they can picnic and enjoy the view while children play.”
Nuala Wright, Ramblers Northumbria area access officer, said: “We were involved in the original plans for the path and the Ramblers draft report for the County Durham stretch.
“The Ramblers began campaigning for open access in the 1930s and the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 gave moorland and mountain access.
“Now the coastal path will create access to the shore, with spreading room beside the path to enjoy activities.
“There is also provision so that if stretches are lost to erosion, the path can be moved back to protect it into the future.
“With the coastal path having national trail status, it will be promoted everywhere and will bring economic benefit to the local economy.
“There are a number of foreign tourists who visit Britain to walk our long distance routes.”