Sunday, 5 January 2014

Isle of Wight Coast Path

View from Tennyson Down towards St Catherine's Point

Although apparently now committed to the creation of an English Coast Path, the government have been curiously unwilling to include the Isle of Wight. In June it decided "that it will not make an order for the Isle of Wight as it is not a priority for the coastal access programme. It considers that the Isle of Wight Ramblers should work with local landowners and the local authority to see what can be achieved by voluntary agreements."

Happily as a result of lobbying by the Ramblers and others, Defra are consulting again on this issue, in particular about the priority given to the Isle of Wight as against other parts of the Coast Path. You can respond here. Perhaps they have realised that if we are to have a national Coast Path, it makes no sense at all to exclude such a significant and fine stretch.

Walking a coastal path is a wonderful leisure activity with well-established benefits for the people who do it. There are equally well-established economic benefits for the area concerned. A fully accessible coast path, without inland excursions would only enhance both sets of benefits. This of course is the basic argument for the Coast Path as a whole.

There is also a natural integrity to walking around an island - and hence a great sense of satisfaction and achievement that would come from doing it. This would surely make an Isle of Wight path especially attractive. Hopefully, everybody who responds to the consultation will make similar points. But please hurry as it closes on 24 January.

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