Countryfile takes a look at progress on the England Coast Path

Countryfile coastal report

Countyfile's Tom Heap talks to Ramblers Campaigns Director Nicky Philpott

‘As islanders we’re drawn to our coast’ says Countryfile’s Tom Heap. So why aren’t we making the most of it with a continuous path around our coastline? In a report aired on Sunday 8 December, Heap looks at what’s holding back the completion of the England Coast Path and why its Welsh counterpart is so successful.

Heap talks to pub landlords Alun and Liz Williams about how the Wales Coast Path saved their business on the coast near Bridgend and hears from John Griffiths, Welsh Minister for Culture and Sport, about why the impact the coast path has had on Wales’ international profile is “absolutely priceless”.

While enjoying a cliff top stroll Heap also speaks to Ramblers Campaigns Director Nicky Philpott about the need for a champion for the England Coast Path and “political will” to match the ambition that drove forward the Wales Coast Path. “In England we need the same amount of commitment and excitement” says Nicky.

Three years on from Neil Constable’s buoyant remarks to Countryfile presenter John Craven at the start of the England Coast Path project, Heap speaks to the Natural England Senior Adviser about the delays the England Coast Path has suffered and asks whether central government is supporting the project. “Very much so,” affirms Constable. “They are behind this programme”.

The report also explores ‘spreading room’ – the land between the route of the coast path and the sea’s edge covering dunes, marshes and beaches. Heap talks to James Weld, owner of the Lulworth Estate, and Neil Constable about the responsibilities to maintain access to the coast over spreading room.

The programme also looks at the big questions – the budget for the England Coast Path (reduced from £50 million to £4.5 million), the completion date (promised in 2019) and whether the big challenges are yet to come. The coast path is “an epic undertaking” says Heap, but as Nicky Philpott enthuses “it’s the most exciting project" and one that's "sustainable, green and benefits everybody".

You can see the report on the BBC iPlayer (watch from 9 minutes 3 seconds) this week. You can also listen to us talking about our views on plans to introduce wolves and lynx in Scotland on BBC Radio Scotland’s Out of Doors programme (tune in at 14 minutes 24 seconds).

Find out more about our work to secure the England Coast Path.