RAMBLERS keen on getting a seaside fix can now walk all the way from Hartlepool to Sunderland as the ribbon ws cut on a new 55km coastal path.
Efforts to open up more of the region’s coastline to walkers are now well underway after the path was officially opened at Seaham, by four-year-old Oliver Robinson.
The young walker was there with sisters Imogen, 13, and nine-year-old Harriet Coxon, on the day which coincided with the launch of a 36km route between Whitehaven and Allonby in Cumbria.
Hartlepool Borough Council leader and ceremonial mayor, councillors Christopher and Steven Akers-Belcher were also at the ceremony.
Durham Heritage Coast officer Niall Benson said the coastal path, which runs from Seaton Carew to South Bents near Sunderland, will at last replace a route between Seaham and Hendon which was washed away years ago.
“The coastal path links two important maritime centres in Hartlepool and Sunderland and will help regenerate areas which have suffered form a loss of industry over decades,” Natural England coastal advisor Andrew Best added.
“I think it will make a big difference to the area and will also link communities along the coast.”
Natural England executive director Jim Smyllie added: “This path will provide permanent, secure and improved rights to walkers and other users to enjoy some of the most fascinating and striking coastline in England.”
It is hoped that the full North East coastal path will be completed in the next six years.
But not everyone is happy about the move, which has been criticised by the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) in the North, which claims it is a waste of tax-payers’ money. The CLA claims that there is already adequate access along the routes and that the Government has mishandled the management of the scheme.