The England Coast Path will stretch your legs a bit…
As we’re all confined to the house for the time being, the simple joy of walking has become a treasured activity, where one can roam as far and wide as one’s hour of allotted exercise time allows. Hopefully that joy lasts well into this year, for that’s when the grand prize of UK walking routes will open up: the England Coast Path. At a total of 2795 miles in length (once completed), it’ll become one of the longest walking trails in the world, and – not that we’re biased – one of the prettiest too. (Featured image: @josef_fitzgerald_patrick)
The England Coast Path is a project a long time in the making; the inaugural section, from Portland to Lulworth Cove, was opened in 2012 to allow spectators to watch the sailing events of the London Olympics. Some parts – such as the 630-mile South West Coast Path, which my dear parents are in the midst of tackling – are well-established trails, whilst others are new sections that will be opening specifically for the new path. In some cases, this will be the first time that the public will have access to certain coastal areas, which is an exciting development.
Stretching from the edge of Gretna on the west coast, all the way around to Marshall Meadows on the east, the England Coast Path will wind along the headlands and beachfronts of England. Technically, the route will skip out Wales (ending near the top of the Bristol Channel and picking up again around Merseyside), but you could always add in the 870-mile Wales Coast Path to make it a continuous journey.
The aim of the trail is to stay as close to the sea as possible, although at certain points the topography will force the paths briefly inland. It will spread across 66 sections, all of which will hopefully be completed by 2021 – although environmental rulings have pushed back an original opening date of 2020 a tad already.
Happily though, two significant south-eastern sections close to London are already open to walkers: a stretch from Camber to Folkstone (which includes the dramatic vistas of Dungeness), and another section from Folkstone to Ramsgate, where the highlight will surely be the White Cliffs of Dover. They’re long stretches for a day trip, to be sure, but perhaps they’re the perfect warmup for when the full trail opens and you set your sights on tackling the whole thing?