Isle of Wight Ramblers protest coast path diversion

On the Isle of Wight, a potential diversion to the King Charles III Coast Path would sever its connection to the coast

07 May 2024

On Monday 6 May, the Isle of Wight Ramblers organised a rally to highlight concerns that the new King Charles III England Coast Path will be diverted away from the coast at Osborne House, forcing walkers to take a 4-mile inland detour along a dangerous, traffic-choked inland route with no sea views.     

Timed to coincide with the first anniversary of the coronation of King Charles III, the protest sought to draw attention to English Heritage’s refusal to allow the new National Trail to run along the coast 1 km from Osborne House, the residence of Queen Victoria, King Charles’ great-great-great grandmother.  

Not only would this inland diversion sever the path’s connection to the coast, it will also mean visitors and locals alike will be forced to follow the A3021, the main road towards Whippingham, with limited footways.  

Publicity Officer for the Isle of Wight Ramblers, David Howarth, told reporters that the proposed route was unfit for a king: “You can’t see the sea, you’ve got traffic fumes, you’ve got the noise. 

“In the legislation it says it shouldn’t go along the roads, it should go along the coast. We want it go along the coast. It’s as simple as that.” 

This is not the first time the Isle of Wight Ramblers has had to fight for access to the coast. Back when the England Coast Path was first announced as part of the Marine and Coastal Access Act, the Isle of Wight was not automatically included in our new access rights.  

The Isle of Wight Ramblers, supported by the Ramblers, the island’s Chamber of Commerce and the Isle of Wight council, campaigned successfully for the island to be included and its existing coast path developed to a world class standard.  

Creating a truly coastal path would not just help open up previously off-limits areas of the coast; it would also have significant economic benefits. Currently, there are no public paths in and around East Cowes, meaning the public is entirely excluded from enjoying the coastline on its doorstep. The King Charles III England Coast Path offers a rare opportunity to open up the surrounding coast and countryside for residents and visitors to enjoy. 

And with increased visitors comes increased income. Based on South West Coast Path and The Wales Coast Path economic benefit studies, the IOW Coast Path could be worth £50-60 million pounds in revenue income. But these economic and access opportunities are in danger of being squandered.  

“Last year the England Coast Path was named after King Charles III, and yet there is a real threat that it will not follow the coastal boundary of the Osborne Estate, which was owned by his great great great grandmother, and is now owned by the nation,” said Kate Ashbrook, vice-president of the Ramblers.  

“There is a real opportunity to have a magnificent path here. I’ve seen it, it’s beautiful. And yet, there is a real problem, because Natural England, English Heritage, and the Crown Estate are not helping at all. But we, the Ramblers, are determined to persuade them to put the path along the coast.” 

To find out more about the fantastic work the Isle of Wight Ramblers are doing to open up access on the island, visit their website: 

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