Natural England is working with the North York Moors, Yorkshire Dales and Lake District national parks, North Yorkshire County Council, Cumbria County Council and the Wainwright Society to develop a feasibility study leading to a proposal for designating the 182-mile Coast-to-Coast footpath as a National Trail.
This study, which will involve an audit of the route to assess any amendments and improvements that might be needed, will take place this year with a view to presenting a proposal early the financial year 2022/23.
Twenty-six miles of the route pass along public rights of way and rural roads managed by North Yorkshire County Council.
North Yorkshire has welcomed an announcement by Natural England of the first steps towards the creation of a new National Trail based on the iconic Coast to Coast walk across Northern England.
County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, said:
We welcome this excellent opportunity to work with Natural England, the National Parks and landowners to improve this well-loved long-distance walk.
The walk is very popular with visitors from both the United Kingdom and abroad, especially from Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Several thousand people complete the route each year, generating significant trade for businesses offering food and accommodation along the way. A number of companies also offer luggage transport services between overnight stays.
Currently, the walk is maintained by landowners, the national parks and local authorities. National Trail status would unlock Government funding to establish and maintain the trail, which could include improving surfacing to make the walk as accessible as possible. It would also provide an opportunity to address long-standing issues on the route, such as the erosion of riverside paths.
In short, this is an opportunity to realise environmental, social and economic benefits.
The Coast to Coast Walk was published in Alfred Wainwright’s 1973 guidebook. It passes through the upland landscapes of the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors national parks and lowland countryside of the West Cumbrian Coastal Plain and Vale of Mowbray.
Walkers usually complete the route over two weeks. It is challenging, but is broken into 12 stages, each ending at a settlement with overnight accommodation. In 2004, the route was voted the second best long-distance walk in the world by writers of walking guides.