An extended 13.4-mile section of the England Coast Path from Sand Bay to Brean Down Fort was opened on Thursday (16th June), creating a continuous coastal trail to Minehead, where the South West Coast Path begins.

The unveiling took place at Brean Down Sluice, the point that marks the crossing between Somerset County and North Somerset County.  The path also forms part of the ‘Tidal Trail’, a circular route from Uphill Beach Car Park.

The new path stretches through Weston-super-Mare and is the first section of the path to be opened in North Somerset. It links up to the Brean Down Way cycling and walking route which runs from Brean to Uphill and opened in 2017, as we featured here.

Councillor Mike Rigby from Somerset County Council opened the new path on the Somerset side of the River Axe on Thursday, as pictured, while Councillor Karin Haverson of North Somerset Council opened the northern side of the path.

Natural England has worked in collaboration with North Somerset Council, Somerset Council, Wessex Water, the Environment Agency, local landowners and other local partners to make the route available and accessible to the public.

The route along the west bank of the River Axe is seasonal and will only be open from 16th April – 15th July each year as waterbirds such as redshank feed and roost in this area during the ‘overwintering period’.

To conserve the bird’s energy and reduce disturbance to them, Natural England said it made the difficult decision to close the path while they are present to give them the best chance of survival. Alternative routes will be available during the closed period.

This is the latest section of the 2,700 mile England Coast Path (ECP) to be opened by Natural England.

Highlights of the new stretch of the Coast Path include:

  • Bleadon Levels Nature Reserve which consists of wetlands and saltmarsh. Skylarks, waders and otters are often visible from the bird hides overlooking the lagoon
  • The Grand Pier at Weston-super-Mare
  • The limestone grassland of Walborough Nature Reserve which is home to nationally rare flora including the Somerset hair-grass and honewort
  • Wildfowl and waders on the Axe estuary near to Brean during the autumn and winter, including redshank, dunlin and black-tailed godwit

Rachel Williams, Area Manager for Wessex at Natural England, says: “We’re pleased to open this new section of the England Coast Path, over 13 miles of spectacular views boasting some of our region’s most iconic wildlife.”

“We know that just two hours of contact with nature a week can significantly boost our health and wellbeing. This path is a welcome addition for both Somerset and North Somerset and will provide both the local community and visitors and tourists from further afield more opportunities to access the coast and connect with nature.”

Councillor Mike Soloman, North Somerset Council executive member for neighbourhoods and community services, said: “I am delighted that this first section is officially recognised and that our residents and visitors will be able to enjoy our beautiful coastline more easily. It is great that this project, carried out in partnership with Natural England, is reaching completion which is incredibly exciting for future tourism and our economy.”

Peter Hobley, Rights of Way Service Manager, Somerset County Council, Somerset Council said: “This latest section of the England Coast Path sees the provision of National Trail status on the whole of the Somerset coastline creating a fantastic, nationally recognised resource for Somerset residents and visitors alike.”

“The Somerset coast is spectacular and diverse and walking the Trail is a great way to experience it and take advantage of the many positive benefits including mental and physical health and supporting the local economy.”

When complete, the England Coast Path will be the longest continuous coastal path in the world. The National Trail will encompass the entire English coast, passing through some of the most stunning, dynamic and internationally recognised scenery.

 

 
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