North West Coastal Trail

The Trail

The North West Coastal Trail is an ambitious and exciting project, aiming to create a continuous, multi-use trail running along the coast from Carlisle to Chester, linking some of the North West’s greatest coastal landscapes, heritage and settlements. When complete, the Trail will provide access for walkers, cyclists and, where practical horse riders, and all-abilities access, for the region’s residents, day visitors and tourists.

Rather than creating a new path, the NWCT project seeks to link together existing coastal trails, and improve access where necessary. Implementation of the Trail ‘on the ground’ will largely be a ‘bottom up’ process, involving a wide range of national, regional, sub-regional and local partners, funders, businesses, communities, user groups, volunteers and other stakeholders.

The project has been boosted by the recent Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009), which has provided the political impetus for a continuous walking trail around the coast of England, work on which will be undertaken by Natural England The first part of this national coastal path in the North West will run from Whitehaven to Allonby in Cumbria and as work continues, the NWCT Steering Group will work closely with Natural England to see the aims of both projects realised.

Please note that with the work now progressing on the England Coastal Path the Forum is no longer leading on coastal access although we do still have an ambition to help to secure improved access for horse riding and cycling to and along the North West’s coast.

Vision and Objectives

The vision for the Coastal Trail is –

A continuous, multi-use trail running along the coast from Chester to Carlisle encouraging residents and visitors to explore, appreciate and enjoy some of the North West’s greatest assets – its coastal landscapes, heritage and settlements.

The objectives for the Coastal Trail are –

  • to create a continuous coastal route, from Chester and the Dee Estuary to Carlisle and the Solway Estuary, for tourist, recreational and utilitarian trips
  • to link existing paths, cycle routes and other recreational routes along the coast and provide enhanced access to the coast and between coastal settlements
  • to provide opportunities for walking and cycling along the whole route and, wherever practical, for all-abilities access and horse riding – on shared-use, braided or separate routes
  • to enable longer distance, multiple-day visits and increase local day/part-day trips by providing links to circular routes of varying distances
  • to enable and encourage exploration, appreciation and enjoyment of the coast’s landscapes, settlements, natural and cultural heritage and visitor attractions, by residents, day visitors and tourists
  • to enhance the landscape and biodiversity values of the Trail corridor, thereby contributing to the green infrastructure of the North West
  • to achieve a wide range of benefits for the North West, by contributing to leisure, tourism and economic growth, urban and rural regeneration, and community health and well-being – all in sustainable ways.