The official opening of a new walking route along Somerset’s coastline between Minehead and Brean has been welcomed in Burnham-On-Sea this week, with hopes that it will boost visitor numbers and trade in the area.
The launch of the new section of the extended England Coast Path by Natural England has been welcomed by Burnham’s MP, the town’s Chamber of Trade, tourism bosses and the Town Council.
MP James Heappey told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “This is a huge opportunity for Burnham, Berrow and Brean – our stretch of the Somerset coast. We already are recognising the value of walkers and walking to our visitor economy.”
“Already, the 15 miles of the South West Coast Path that is open in Somerset has been worth £770,000 per mile value added to the local economy. The addition of another 43 mile stretch of the path will mean nearly £40million of added value into our local visitor economy, with Burnham at the centre of that along this stretch of the coast.”
He added: “This is a great opportunity for Burnham and what we need to do now is grab what Natural England have done for us by getting the coastal path here and make Burnham the most attractive place we possibly can for walkers to come and stay and feel welcome to bring more people back next year.”
“Walking as an industry is worth billions of pounds per year in the UK and Burnham is now part of one of the most prominent paths in the country.”
“There are hundreds of thousands of people who walk along a stretch of the England Coast Path each summer – Burnham is now on the map and part of that. This is a really exciting opportunity for the town.”
Matt Heard, Natural England’s area manager, added: “It’s great to be able to open this stretch of the Coast Path. I think it has a huge amount to offer visitors and we are delighted that it’s now open.”
“The England Coast Path project which will enable people to walk about 2,700 miles around the whole of the country’s coastline.”
“We are opening 58 miles of it in Somerset this week, and are working on the next section from Brean to the Severn Bridge which will complete the whole Somerset coast.”
Visit Somerset’s CEO John Turner added: “When we consider that rural tourism in the UK is worth between £3-4bn a year, this new coastal path for this stretch of Somerset is incredibly important. It’s something that Visit Somerset in relation to ‘walkers are welcome’ across the county will be publicising as part of our community reach to ensure that if there’s something free to see and do in Somerset we will get the message out there. We are working with local communities to bring benefit, connecting pathways, businesses and customers coming in. We wholeheartedly support it.”
Burnham-On-Sea Chamber of Trade & Commerce added: “This is certainly a great opportunity for Burnham to benefit from a potential influx of extra visitors. The new route is very welcome and could well bring an increase in trade to accommodation providers and shops in our town.”
Natural England and Somerset County Council have spent two years meeting with landowners along the route to agree where the route should go. Councillor Harvey Siggs says it will be the first time that a “continuous walking route” will be available along the whole of the county’s coastline.
“It will link with existing promoted trails such as the River Parrett Trail and West Somerset Coast Path as well as Steart. We expect the route to bring additional trade to local businesses throughout the year and along the whole route.”
Pictured: Top, Burnham’s MP James Heappey, Burnham’s Deputy Mayor Bill Hancock, Matt Heard of Natural England, town councillors David Hoggarth and Andy Brewer, Burnham Chamber of Trade Chairman Mark Newman, and Visit Somerset’s John Turner