Access to Open Country

Open Access

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act in 2000 allowed access to mountains, moorland and uncultivated land in England and Wales.  The Northumbria Area of the Ramblers was involved in surveying the areas that we considered should be included as Open Country, and submitted our work to Natural England, to assist in the mapping process.  We were not entirely successful in getting all areas we considered should be included on the Access Maps, but it was an interesting exercise.  Access Land is now shown on the Ordnance Survey 1:25 000 scale Explorer Maps.

The England Coast Path

The Marine and Coastal Access Act was subsequently passed in 2009, which allows for the development of a continuous coast path around the entire English coastline, together with the provision of spreading room, and a new legal right to walk on beaches.  The first section in Dorset was opened in summer 2012, in time for the water sports events of the Olympic Games.

Following this, volunteers from both Northumbria Area and North Yorkshire South Durham Area were involved in preparing a report for that section of the coast between Whitburn north of Sunderland to Seaton Carew near Teesmouth.  Maps and a report were prepared and submitted to the RA in London, and to Natural England, to assist in their preparation of the official report prepared for the Secretary of State.  This report identified not only the suggested route for the path, and sections where there are problems with erosion, but also areas of ‘spreading room’ to allow people to picnic and enjoy wider access to the coast.  Natural England’s Report was approved by the Secretary of State in July 2013, and the route was finally opened in April 2014. This land will now be included as Access Land on the Ordnance Survey 1:25 000 Explorer Maps.

The section from South Bents on the Sunderland/South Tyneside boundary to Amble in Northumberland was officially opened on 26th July 2018 at Souter Lighthouse. Much of the Ramblers draft survey work was undertaken by the Morpeth Group, with the Advisory Report for the Ramblers produced by Richard Fletcher.  

The next sections from Amble to Bamburgh, and from Bamburgh to the Scottish Border including Lindisfarne, has been surveyed by the Alnwick Group and the Berwick Groups.  We are currently awaiting the official report from Natural England about their proposed route with interest!  Natural England will publish their proposals in a report to the Secretary of State. These will be available on GOV.UK and advertised in the local press.  Copies of the report will be placed in council offices and other appropriate locations in the local area for people to view.  Anyone who wishes to comment will be able to make a representation on the report and owners or occupiers of affected land will be able to make an objection.  The report on the Amble to Bamburgh section was published in Summer 2019.  The report on the section from Bamburgh to the Scottish Border is expected to be published during 2019/early 2020 and there will be an 8 week period for making a representation and/or objection.

It is hoped that the opportunity will be taken to mark the completion of the route around England with the installation of a suitable plaque or sculpture at the English/Scottish border.  Any ideas welcome!

The complete England Coast Path is expected to open in 2020.  Updated information is available on the NaturalEngland website.

England Coast Path in the north east of England