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Historic improvements for accessibility on Norfolk’s National Trails

13 August 2019

For the first time in its 33 year history, the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path National Trails are now completely stile-free, making them more accessible than ever for everyone.

Norfolk County Council’s Trails Team has been hard at work planning the improvements, then carrying them out through the summer months, making sure there are no obstructions along the entirety of both routes. Stiles can restrict access to the countryside for many, because they can be difficult to climb over.

National Trails are long distance walking, cycling and horse riding routes that take people through the best landscapes in England and Wales.

One alternative is to leave a gap in a boundary, although this can involve a legal process, especially where land is used for grazing livestock. Another option is a gate, making access along the path much easier for the hundreds of walkers that visit each month, but also keeping the boundary intact.

Councillor Andy Grant, Norfolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “This is a real accomplishment by our Trails team. It builds on the amazing strides they’ve been making over the last few years, including creating a variety of Access Tested walks, ensuring as many people as possible are able to get out and enjoy our stunning countryside.”

Councillor Andrew Jamieson, Member Champion for Walking and Cycling, said: “There is such a variety of beautiful countryside in our county, so I’m pleased these two beautiful stretches of Norfolk can be enjoyed by as many people as possible, thanks to the sterling work our Trails team has been carrying out.”

There are ‘Access Tested’ walks across several major trails in Norfolk, which have extensive information about ground conditions, the width of paths, nearby facilities, and other useful information. To find out more, visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/accesstested

The final stile was removed just last week, from the section of the Norfolk Coast Path that crosses Brancaster Marshes, an area of common land between Brancaster and Brancaster Staithe.

The Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path become only the 4th National Trail walking route to become stile-free, following access improvements on the Yorkshire Wolds Way, The Thames Path and the Ridgeway National Trails.

The work was made possible by working in partnership with the National Trust, who own the land, and the common rights holders that occupy the site, the Scolt Head and District Common Rightholders Association (SHDCRA).

National Trust Countryside Manager, Chris Bielby said: “It is so important that as many people as possible can have the opportunity to visit this wonderful place. Removing this stile means those with restricted mobility can now enjoy uninterrupted access along this special stretch.”

SHDCRA chair Chris Cotton said that the National Trail Team has done an excellent job with the gate and was happy to see the last physical barrier on the coast path removed, which now makes it possible for all to enjoy more of the Coast Path.

The works were funded by the Coastal Treasures Project, a three-year Coastal Communities Fund project geared towards improving countryside access and bolstering heritage tourism in north-west Norfolk.

Funding for National Trails is provided by national government through Natural England and Natural Resources Wales and also by local highway authorities and other funding partners. For more information on National Trails including the Norfolk Coast Path and Peddars Way visit National Trails website at www.nationaltrail.co.uk.

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