The entire English coastline will become accessible for the first time when the England Coast Path National Trail is completed this year; offering hikers, campers, swimmers and wildlife lovers access to the world's longest walking route.
At 2800 miles/4500kms long, the England Coast Path is the world's longest continuous path, connecting the entire English coastline through a network of public trails. The initiative is the result of a campaign that was first announced in 2010 and spearheaded by Natural England and local walking charities, who worked alongside the government and local landowners to open up the coastline.
Not only does the path connect and improve existing routes with signposted trails that are safe from tides and difficult terrain, it also opens new routes and secures access rights to coastal land such as beaches, dunes and cliffs. The result is plenty of opportunities for people to enjoy the simple pleasures of being by the English seaside.
Recent figures released from Natural England reveal that England’s coastal paths are hugely popular with 29.1 million walking trips made over a six-month period in 2019, a figure that's expected to grow once the path is complete.
"Our flagship England Coast Path is taking people through some of the finest and most important landscape in England, opening up historic landmarks, natural wonders and breathtaking scenery, enabling more visitors to experience, recognise and value the benefits of our environment," Natural England's Chair, Tony Juniper, said in a statement.
As a result, 2021 will be the 'Year of the English Coast' with a packed programme of events lined up. People can register for beach clean-ups, seafood feasts, art trail walks and, naturally, there will be a big focus on sustainability.
Read more: England's top eight Coast Path highlights
The England Coast Path is also one of the reasons why Lonely Planet named England as one of the best countries to visit in 2020 in the 'Best in Travel' list. From the surf-ready beaches of the Southwest to the 'creative coast' of the Southeast (home to world-class art galleries and museums such as the Turner Contemporary in Margate) and the Victorian seaside resorts of the Yorkshire coast, the path leads to all sorts of wonderful attractions that are now easier than ever to explore.