A new 90km section of the England Coast Path was opened today in Somerset (15 March 2016), by Somerset County Council Cabinet Member David Fothergill, just in time for the Easter holidays.
There will now be a continuous Coast Path along most of the Somerset Coast from Brean Down to Minehead, via Bridgwater, along both banks of the River Parrett.
Somerset County Council has worked in partnership with Natural England over the last seven years to establish this new Coast Path, following agreements with all the landowners over whose land the new Coast Path will run.
This new section of Coast Path will connect to the popular South West Coast Path in Minehead and also follows some of the current route of the West Somerset Coast Path.
Research carried out about other Coast Paths and National Trails in England
showed that they bring huge economic benefits to the area. Figures released in December 2015 regarding the South West Coast Path revealed that walkers using this Trail spent around £468m during 2014, an increase of almost 23% in the past five years. This bucks the trend for tourism in the region as a whole, which increased by 12% overall.
With 1 million more visitors spending an additional £86.7m in the region’s tourism businesses, the South West Coast Path is clearly a valuable asset to help grow the region’s economy and is responsible for the employment of 10,610 full time equivalent jobs.
Cllr David Fothergill, Cabinet Member with a responsibility for Highways said; “We are extremely happy to be launching the new section of Coast Path in Somerset. We know how popular they are with both locals and those new or visiting the region, and hope this new path will prove to be a draw for tourists.”
“Supporting the Coast Path brings great economic benefits to the County of Somerset and we look forward to further additions being planned for the future which will complete the England Coast Path in Somerset.”
Regular walking can also bring mental and physical health benefits, which Somerset County Council are keen to promote. Walking is a simple, free and active way to get healthy and lose weight and can help reduce the risks of health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, strokes, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Natural England, with the support of Somerset County Council has also begun work on the next section of the Coast Path from Brean Down to the Severn Bridge which amounts to approximately 6km in Somerset. Once this stretch is open it will connect the England Coast Path to the Wales Coast Path. Exmoor National Park Authority will work with Natural England on the 20km section from Minehead west to the county boundary with Devon.