The grand plan - more than just the South West Coast Path
The irreverent British travel writer Eric Newby described the smell of the English coast as so strong it was like ‘a biff on the nose’: eventually, visitors to just about every corner of the coast will be able to sniff it for themselves.
England already enjoys access to much of its coast, with several long-established, long-distance coastal trails. These include the South West Coast Path through Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and Dorset; the Cleveland Way along the north-east coast and the Norfolk Coast Path.
A project to fill in the gaps and make the entire coast open was begun in 2010 and 91% of the path has now been either fully opened or is in the final stages of approval.
Of course, only the hardiest walker will embark on a long-distance hike in the depths of winter but the rationale of the coast path is that visitors can take bite-sized chunks of it and perhaps walk the 10km between Craster and Alnmouth in Northumbria one day and 5km between Sandsend and Whitby in Yorkshire a day or two later.
In the south, a short break might involve the 11km hike from St Ives to Zennor in Cornwall one day and then the 7km from Soar Mill Cove to Salcombe in South Devon a day or two later.
It’s easy to forget how England does not close down in winter and, while storms come and go, the weather is often benign. ‘People used to be wary of offering experiences in the winter months but this year has made people realise England is not positioned in the Canadian Arctic,’ says Susan Briggs, director of the Tourism Network, which promotes rural tourism. ‘We get good and bad weather in winter and your beer or hot chocolate tastes so much better after a bracing walk.’