Coast path's 33-mile revamp would open up new walking route

Saltmarsh alongside The Wash

A view across the marshes at Snettisham - Credit: Adrian Gardiner

Norfolk's new coast path will offer a walk on the wild side through countryside previously closed to the public.

Natural England is creating a 2,700-mile path around Britain's entire coastline.

It has now published its proposals to improve public access to a 33-mile (53-km) stretch of coast between Hunstanton and Sutton Bridge, which extends around The Wash.

The route opens up seven miles of the coast between Snettisham and King's Lynn. Visitors will be able to walk along the sea defences south of Shepherd's Port to the South Outmarsh, on the edge of King's Lynn.

Natural England highlights its remoteness in reports published along with its proposed maps today.

It adds: "Walkers using the trail to the east will have become used to villages every few miles but in this section the distance between Shepherd’s Port and King’s Lynn is 18km and so walkers are remote from local facilities and support."

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But those venturing along the route, part of which skirts the edge of the Royal Estate at Wolferton will have plenty of company.

The path skirts rich saltmarsh and the southern fringes of The Wash, an internationally-important bird reserve with thousands of waders and seasonal migrants, such as tens of thousands of geese.

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Access to the saltmarsh and mud flats is not included in the proposals.

Natural England says: "Safety is considered as part of the assessment along with the nature of the terrain and any natural risks that exist such as soft mud, hidden channels, potential to be trapped by rising tides, and suitability for walking. The intention is to prevent those who may be unfamiliar with the risks from using such areas."

A consultation over the proposed route from Hunstanton to Sutton Bridge is open until January 20.


Knots swirl above the mud flats as the tide turns in The Wash - Credit: Adrian Gardiner

There is now a period of eight weeks for legal interests and members of the public to make objections or representations that the Secretary of State must take into account when considering whether to approve the proposals.

If approved, this route will become part of the England Coast Path – a 2,700-mile-long distance-walking route and England’s newest National Trail, currently being developed by Natural England.

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