New plans for a 125-mile seafront footpath linking the Fylde coast to Cumbria are being unveiled today.
The ambitious plans, creating a route from Cleveleys to Silecroft – via Morecambe Bay and Barrow – will eventually form part of the England Coast Path, taking in the country’s entire shoreline.
Part of the Cumbria path is already open, with a further stretch given the go ahead for work to get under way, but the proposals put forward today are the first for the Lancashire coastline.
They cover 51 miles of the planned route in the county, with the vision for a path from Cleveleys to Liverpool set to be put forward at a later date.
Today’s plans include 27 miles of new path are included, where people could not previously access the coast.
An eight-week consultation is now under way for people to have their say on the proposal.
Coun Andrea Kay, mayoress and armed forces champion of Wyre, welcomed the path to Cleveleys as a healthy and free alternative to busy lifestyles.
She said: “This is a fantastic idea, something fun for families and accessible for older people, without needing to spend money.
“It will be great for health, wellbeing, and the economy, and we need to bring people to our side of the coast to see just how beautiful it really is.
“Cleveleys is a holiday resort, and we don’t get enough people visiting anymore, so hopefully these new plans will help with that and bring thousands more people here.”
In 2017, visits to coastal paths across England boosted the economy by £350m, with 97 per cent of people feeling refreshed and revitalised, according to Natural England.
In Lancashire, the proposed trail continues around the limestone cliffs and headlands south of Silverdale, passing close to Leighton Moss and Morecambe Bay RSPB reserves rich in wildlife, including otters, bearded tits, marsh harriers, egrets and red deer.
This stretch also includes the promenade through Morecambe, the Lune Estuary and makes its way to the Fylde coast, passing through Fleetwood en route to Cleveleys.
Nature conservation experts have been consulted in order to ensure the path does not have an impact on the internationally important birdlife of Morecambe Bay.
If approved, this route will become part of the England Coast Path – the 2,700 mile long walking route and England’s newest National Trail, currently being developed around the entire English coast by Natural England.
Coun Albert Atkinson, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for rural affairs, said: “The creation of the England Coast Path is an exciting development which will provide access to a great diversity of Lancashire’s towns and countryside.
“It will offer opportunities for Lancashire residents and visitors to enjoy some remote coastal landscapes as well as attractive seaside towns.
“Our officers are working with Natural England to make sure this opportunity provides the best experience for all users of the new path.
“This announcement of the detail will give an opportunity for local communities and keen walkers to have their say in developing the proposals.”
Chris Kaighin, Natural England’s area manager for Cumbria, said: “The proposed route showcases the Cumbria and Lancashire coastline.
“We thank everyone for their time and input so far to help share the proposals. Over the next eight weeks, we are inviting all organisations, farmers, local residents, visitors and businesses to have their say on our proposals.
“All the responses will be taken into account and we look forward to hearing people’s views.”
How can I have my say?
Anyone can make representations to Natural England about the report during the eight week period.
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.
All representations and objections must be received by Natural England no later than midnight on March 4.
Copies of the reports can be viewed at Knott End library and Fleetwood visitor information Centre.
The full reports and all the forms and guidance on how to comment are also available at www.gov.uk/government/publications/england-coast-path-in-the-north-west-of-england