Natural England published its proposals on November 25, 2020 to improve public access to a 33 miles stretch of coastline between Hunstanton and Sutton Bridge that extends around The Wash.
Legal interests and members of the public now have eight weeks in which to raise objections or statements, which the Foreign Minister must take into account when considering the approval of the proposals.
Part of England’s newest National Trail
If approved, this route will become part of the England Coast Path – a 2,700 mile walking route and England’s newest National Trail currently being developed by Natural England.
People have never valued outdoors so much, and these suggestions will allow everyone to get the most of the coastline and closeness to nature.
For some, this means family fun on the sandy beaches of Hunstanton, Heacham and Snettisham. For others, visit places of cultural interest like the atmospheric wharfs at King’s Lynn, or enjoy the tranquility of The Wash, with its salt marshes and mud flats that are home to wild birds.
Knot, Copyright Richard Stonier, from the Surfbirds Galleries
Great for bird watchers
The entire extent of the proposed trail is in areas of international wildlife value. Bird watchers will particularly appreciate the Wash National Nature Reserve and the RSPB reserve in Snettisham.
Natural England’s proposals will also create seven miles of new access between the RSPB reservation at Snettisham and King’s Lynn. This is an area that is far from local amenities such as restrooms and cafes where the path runs between The Wash and farm fields. Hikers will be inspired by the size of the flat, open landscape and huge sky, which creates a strong sense of place and tranquility.
From King’s Lynn, the trail uses the existing Peter Scott Way: a local trail that stretches into Lincolnshire and was named in honor of Sir Peter Scott, the famous naturalist. The trail also passes the lighthouse near Sutton Bridge, where he lived.
Route leads to historical sites
This stretch of coast has easy access to public transportation from King’s Lynn, which has direct regular trains to King’s Cross. King’s Lynn itself is a historic medieval port with an abundance of breathtaking buildings, historical museums, and attractions to explore.
At Purfleet Quay, hikers can enjoy the fabulous Customs House from 1683, described by historian Pevsner as “one of the most perfect buildings ever built”. You can also explore the city’s beautiful medieval merchant houses and the largest and best preserved medieval town hall in England.
From King’s Lynn, visitors can circumnavigate the Norfolk coast on the Coastliner bus route that runs to Wells and then the Coasthopper bus that continues to Cromer
33 mile route around The Wash
This is the fourth and final section of the England Coast Path to be developed in Norfolk and the third in Lincolnshire.
Hannah Thacker, Natural England Area Manager for Norfolk said:
“Our proposals will improve access by a path that can be used in conjunction with the existing ferry service across the Great Ouse between King’s Lynn and West Lynn. There are also good train and bus connections in King’s Lynn for car-free recreation. We have gone to great lengths to come up with proposals to achieve this while not compromising the considerable value of wildlife in the Wash Estuary. “
David Parker, Natural England Area Manager for Lincolnshire said: We have had discussions with landowners and key organizations along the proposed route. Your input was essential and shaped the proposals. We thank everyone for their time and contribution so far.
For the next eight weeks we are inviting all organizations, farmers, residents, visitors and companies to speak out. It is important that all answers are taken into account and we look forward to hearing people’s views.
Cllr Andrew Jamieson, a member of the Norfolk County Council for Cycling and Walking, said, With this final stretch of the coastal path in place, we have an excellent 113 mile trail right around Norfolk’s beautiful coastline. We want this new stretch to be a route that people enjoy using and that they will return to again and again. So I will share my views on the route and urge people to take this opportunity to look at the plans and give their views back.
Not only is it about opening new access to our coastal areas, but it is also likely to bring a much-needed financial boost, as we know that popular long-distance routes bring significant benefits to the local economy.
In 2018-19 we saw 750,000 visits to Norfolk’s coastal path. I hope that the completion of the path will help that even more people can experience our wonderful coast in the future.
Cllr Richard Davies, member of the Lincolnshire County Council for Highways, Transport and IT, said: Although this is only a short stretch of the Lincolnshire coast, we are pleased that Natural England was able to publish the proposals for the England Coast Path route connection from Hunstanton with the Sutton Bridge.
Lincolnshire is proud to support this project and we hope that more people than ever can enjoy some of the country’s most prized coastal habitats and stunning scenery, and that coastal communities like Sutton Bridge will benefit from the opportunities the trail offers.
Anyone can comment on the reports to Natural England during the eight week period. Owners and users of the affected land may for certain reasons object to the reports, which are examined by a planning inspector before the foreign minister takes a final decision.
All statements and objections must be received by Natural England by midnight on January 20th, 2021. The full reports, as well as all forms and instructions for submitting or raising objections within the next eight weeks, are available on GOV.UK.
- The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 obliges the Secretary of State and Natural England to enjoy a long distance walking path along the open coast of England as well as public access rights to a larger area on the way there.
- Natural England is working on the entire coastal route. New sections have also opened in Cumbria, Norfolk, Dorset, Kent, Somerset, Yorkshire, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Tees Valley and Lincolnshire.
- A map with a schedule for work is available on GOV.UK.
- The England Coast Path will be the longest, newest and most challenging National Trail, traversing some of the most beautiful scenery and coastal areas in the country. It will for the first time secure the legal rights of public access to typical coastal areas such as foreshore, beaches, dunes and cliffs.
- In addition to recommending new stretches of route, the proposals describe improvements to the existing access to the coast, including establishing clear and continuous path markings along this stretch of coast, bringing some sections of the existing coastal footpath closer to the sea and some locations for the first time to connect with each other; and allowing the route to roll back if the coastline erodes or slides, thereby solving the long-standing difficulties of maintaining a continuous route along the coast.