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News | England Gets a New National Trail

A much-loved path has been officially awarded National Trail status, bringing the list in England and Wales up to 17

Natural England has announced that the much-loved Coast to Coast long-distance hiking route that stretches from St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hoods Bay in the North York Moors National Park is to be given National Trail status.

£5.6 million has been committed by Natural England to improve the existing 197-mile path in order to help it meet National Trail Quality Standards, with new high quality signage, waymarking and pathed surfaces added and stiles removed in order to improve access for people of different abilities. The entire route will also be added to Ordnance Survey maps for the first time since it was first conceived.

Ennerdale, which the route passes through during the Lake District section. Photo: Unsplash / Jonny Gios

First devised by Alfred Wainwright, a renowned fell walker and author, with his guidebook to the route published in 1973, the Coast to Coast immediately gained a strong following and it is now commonly regarded as one of the UK’s best long distance walks.

Wainwright originally hoped that people would use his route as a suggested one and not one that needed to be followed turn by turn.

“I want to encourage in others the ambition to devise with the aid of maps their own cross-country marathons and not be merely followers of other people’s routes,” wrote Wainwright in his guide to the trail. “There is no end to the possibilities for originality and initiative.”

Despite Wainwright’s intentions, over the years, the route eventually became somewhat set in stone and the new National Trail status finally confirms it as official.

Along the way, walkers pass through the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors crossing through three National Parks and the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. as many as 6,000 people walk it in its entirety every year.

It has been estimated that the Coast to Coast already generates approximately £7 million for the local economies through which the trail passes and that number should now rise considerably.

The new designation brings the list of National Trails in England and Wales up to 17 with the Coast to Coast now joining the likes of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, Thames Path, the Ridgeway and the Pennine Way, the latter of which was the first trail in the UK to achieve National Park status.

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