Rising number of hikers are discovering delights of the Norfolk Trails

The number of people using the Peddars Way has increased. Picture: Norfolk County Council.

The number of people using the Peddars Way has increased. Picture: Norfolk County Council. - Credit: NORFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL.

They are well-trodden paths leading walkers through some of the best scenery the county has to offer and new figures show increasing numbers of hikers are discovering the delights of the Norfolk Trails.

And, that is also good news for the region's economy, according to a report which claims the Norfolk Coast Path brought £12m into the county in 2017/18.

The report, which will be presented to the Norfolk Local Access Forum at a meeting in Thetford next week, says there has been a 'significant rise' in the number of people using the Peddars Way and the Norfolk coast path.

The number of people using Peddars Way has gone up by 7pc, from 22,807 in 2016/17 to 25,537 in 2017/18, while the increase on the Norfolk Coast Path has been even larger.

That path, which runs from Hunstanton to Sea Palling, has seen an increase of 35pc, from 247,148 to 333,099 trail users in 2017/18.

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But those figures are based on static data counters. New ones were added in 2017/18 at Burnham Overy Staithe and Beeston Bump, with portable counters at Blakeney, Holkham and Horsey.

Adding the data from those counts give an overall footfall on the Norfolk Coast Path of 712,111 last year.

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And a survey of the spending habits of more than 3,000 users of the trails has been used to come up with a 'robust valye of visitor spend along the Norfolk Coast Path'.

Looking into spend on accommodation, food and drink and other activities, that research estimated that the economic annual value of that trail was almost £12.2m.

Hilary Cox, MBE, North Norfolk District councillor and chair of the National Trail Partnership, said: 'What an exceptional year, exhilarating, exciting and expensive but worth every penny of every step.

'Our aim to give opportunity to as many as possible to enjoy Norfolk's Trails has culminated in a year of determination, hard work and dedication by a team who have achieved so much.'

Martin Wilby, chairman of the environment, transport and waste committee at Norfolk County Council, said 'We are delighted to have a seen a huge recent increase in National Trail users.

'There are many benefits to seeing greater use of these trails, including promoting healthier lifestyles and increasing economic development and tourism across the county.

'We hope that use of Norfolk Trails continues to grow in future years.'

The biggest recent project on the trail was to improve access to Beeston Bump, the highest point on the Norfolk Coast Path, while all the stiles have now been removed from the Peddars Way, which goes from Knettishall Heath in Suffolk to Holme-next-the-Sea in Norfolk.

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