England Coast Path in Kent: two steps forward

25 Mar 2015 12:02 PM

Folkestone to Ramsgate route has been approved and Ramsgate to Whitstable route proposals have been published.

Folkestone to Ramsgate

Approval for a new stretch of the England Coast Path has been given by the Secretary of State.

Work can now begin to open up or improve 59 kms long stretch of access along the well-known coastline between Folkestone and Ramsgate This will be ready for walkers to enjoy when it is opened later in the year.

Kent County Council will now lead the implementation work to prepare this new stretch of coast path for public use. Their first step is to contact owners and occupiers to finalise the design and location of any new infrastructure, such as signs and gates. The new walking rights will commence once the route has been established and any necessary works have been completed.

When officially opened, this 59 km route will provide, for the first time, new rights of access to coastal land including foreshore, beaches, and cliffs; including areas where everyone can rest, relax and admire the view. Crucially, the path will be able to ‘roll back’ should the cliffs erode or slip – enabling a replacement route to be put in place quickly if necessary, helping to maintain a continuous route along the coast.

Improved access will support local economies, by attracting visitors to explore this popular coastline, and boosting business for local shops, pubs and hotels.

James Seymour, Natural England Manager for Sussex and Kent, said:

“We are delighted this route, which takes in famous and historic landmarks has been given the green light. I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been involved in the preparations, as their significant knowledge and expertise has been invaluable in helping to shape the route. We have worked closely with a wide range of local interests in developing the proposals and we now look forward to working with Kent County Council to put the route in place for everyone to enjoy.”

The England Coast Path is due to be completed by 2020 and will be a way-marked 4700km long National Trail, around the whole English coast. Work is already underway on more sections around England and proposals are being developed in close discussion with local authorities, landowners and businesses.

This route includes the White Cliffs of Dover, one of our most familiar landmarks, along with Pegwell Bay National Nature Reserve where Harbour seals haul-out on the nearby mudflats. The trail will make extensive use of existing coastal paths such as the Saxon Shore Way, Stour Valley Walk, Thanet Coastal Path, and the North Downs Way National Trail – and will improve access around the Stour Estuary. It will include new access to the historic site of Richborough port, which played a significant role in campaigns during both world wars; and will go through Sandwich town.

Natural England has recently published a map which shows where and when coastal access will be improved over the next five years.

Ramsgate to Whitstable: proposals published

In addition, Natural England has published proposals to improve public access along a 40 km stretch of coast between Ramsgate and Whitstable. If approved, this route will also become part of the England Coast Path.

This route includes the famous resort towns of Ramsgate, Margate and Broadstairs along with iconic Reculver Castle. The route also ascends the cliff via The 39 Steps, made famous in John Buchan’s novel of the same name and ends in the picturesque town of Whitstable. The trail will make extensive use of existing coastal paths including the Viking Coast Trail, the Oyster Bay Trail and the Thanet Coastal Path. It has improved access in places such as Kingsgate where a new path will take walkers off the busy coast road.

Anyone can make representations to Natural England about the report during the next eight weeks. Owners and occupiers of affected land can make objections about the report on specified grounds, which will be considered by a Planning Inspector before the Secretary of State makes a final decision.

Copies of the report and details of how to respond can be viewed in libraries in Ramsgate, Broadstairs, Margate, Herne Bay and Whitstable as well as Kent County Council and Thanet District Council Offices. Natural England will also display a copy at our offices in Ashford.

All representations and objections must be received by Natural England no later than 5pm on Wednesday 20 May 2015.

Natural England Manager for Sussex and Kent, James Seymour, said; “We have had discussions with landowners and key organisation along the proposed route; their input has been essential and helped shape the draft proposals - we thank everyone for their time and input so far. Over the next eight weeks, we are inviting all organisations, farmers, local residents, visitors and businesses to have their say. It’s important that all responses are taken into account and we look forward to hearing people’s views.”

As well as recommending new sections to the route, the report outlines improvements to existing access to the coast between Ramsgate and Whitstable with proposals to:

  • identify a clear and continuous way-marked walking route along this part of the coast, bringing some sections of the existing coastal footpath closer to the sea and linking some places together for the first time
  • allow the route to ‘roll back’ if the coastline erodes or slips, solving the long-standing difficulties of maintaining a continuous route along the coast
  • secure legal rights of public access for the first time to the area’s beaches

Proposals also were published for Camber to Folkestone in September last year and a decision on this is expected later in the year. The next stretches to be developed in Kent will be from Whitstable to Iwade and then on from Iwade to the Isle of Grain.

Last year, stretches were fully opened in Cumbria, Durham and Norfolk. See England Coast Path: improving public access to the coast for more details.