THE Coast-to-Coast route stretching from St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hoods Bay in the North York Moors National Park will become a new 'national trail', it was announced today.

Natural England said it will work alongside partners to improve the popular route, with £5.6 million committed to upgrade the 197-mile path.

This includes funding set aside to develop a community engagement programme - and 'maximise economic and health benefits for local people and businesses'.

Today’s announcement will also ensure long-term support for the national trail, according to the body.

Benefits to the Coast-to-Coast becoming a part of the internationally recognised National Trails family include meeting the National Trail Quality Standards with investment to ensure:

  • The path is made more accessible for people of different abilities. This could include measures to remove stiles and using accessible gates where possible 
  • High quality signage, waymarking, path surfaces and infrastructure are provided consistently across the whole route
  • Circular paths and link routes are developed to make the trail more accessible for those interested in taking shorter walks 
  • The route is well promoted including being featured on the Visit Britain and National Trail’s website to create new opportunities for international and domestic tourism 
  • Work with local businesses to ensure they are aware of the potential economic opportunities of the route
  • A long term commitment to funding to help the local authorities maintain the path

Natural England said it will work alongside the Lake District, North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Parks as well as relevant county councils to improve the path.

Enhancements will be undertaken over three years with the upgraded path expected to open in 2025.

It is intended that the new National Trail will closely follow the existing route.

News and Star: The route of the new national trailThe route of the new national trail

Lord Benyon, minister for rural affairs, said: “The Coast to Coast route passes through some of our most spectacular countryside, villages and natural habitats so I’m delighted to approve these plans and deliver on our manifesto commitment to develop the route into a new National Trail.

“With over £5 million of new funding to upgrade the path, local business and communities will be able to secure real benefits from the sustainable tourism this route offers.

"I look forward to seeing the route go from strength to strength and leave a lasting legacy across the North of England.”

With seven towns within 5km of the route - Whitehaven, Cleator Moor, Egremont, Kirkby Stephen, Northallerton, Richmond and Whitby - as well as seaside fishing villages, investment in the path will 'promote levelling up through improved health, wellbeing and public access opportunities for local communities close by'.

'Boosting economic and social benefits for local areas'

Marian Spain, chief executive of Natural England, said: “The way we will now develop the Coast to Coast into a National Trail is a turning point for national trail development as it will be the first national trail where delivery of the social and economic benefits for users and communities will be built in from the start."

A programme of work to boost the economic and social benefits for local areas will help ensure local businesses are aware of new opportunities from further developing tour guiding services, to improved accommodation and hospitality.

News and Star: Walking enthusiast Julia BradburyWalking enthusiast Julia Bradbury

Julia Bradbury said: “I'm so pleased that this well-trodden route is to become an official national trail.

“Having walked the walk (and talked the talk!), and promoted its virtues on TV and in print, I know exactly why it is one of the great Alfred Wainwright's most popular routes.

"Taking in the magical Lake District, to the heights of the Peaks and the rolling landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales and Moors - it is just stunning.”

'There cannot be a finer itinerary'

The route was first devised by Alfred Wainwright, a renowned fell walker and author, with his guidebook to the route published in 1973.

The route immediately gained a strong following, becoming one of the UK’s most popular long-distance walks. 

Eric Robson OBE DL, chairman, The Wainwright Society: "The designation of Wainwright's Coast to Coast Walk as a National Trail has long been one of the Society's ambitions.

"The Walk is one of the country's most popular long-distance routes, and helps support businesses and jobs from St Bees to Robin Hood's Bay, including in some of the north's most sparsely populated rural communities.

"We very much welcome, therefore, the news that the route will become a new National Trail.

"This is the start, of course, of bringing the project to successful fruition. But this is a very exciting and important step and we look forward to working with partners along the route to establish the C2C Walk as one of the UK's great National Trails.

"As Alfred Wainwright said of the walk he devised: 'Surely there cannot be a finer itinerary for a long-distance walk!'"

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