North East and Cumbria coastal path routes opened

Blackhall Rocks in County Durham Image copyright Natural England/Peter Wakely
Image caption The North East path includes stunning views of Blackhall Rocks in County Durham

Two stretches of coastline pathways have been opened to the public in the North East and Cumbria.

A 34 mile (55km) stretch from Hartlepool to Sunderland takes in the rugged beauty of Durham's east coast.

Another 20 mile (32km) section links the coastal towns of Allonby and Whitehaven in Cumbria.

They are part of a £50m Natural England project to create about 2,800 miles (4,500km) of footpaths around the whole of the English coast.

The organisation said the routes would attract more tourists and boost the region's economy.

But the Country Landowner's Association (CLA) claimed there was already sufficient public access to coastal areas.

Jim Smyllie, Natural England's executive director, said: "The North East has one of the finest coastlines in Britain, and the stretch between Hartlepool and Sunderland has evolved triumphantly from its industrial past to form part of the Durham Heritage Coast.

'Spectacular views'

"It is an area rich in shallow bays and headlands with yellow limestone cliffs, and has dramatic views over great natural landscapes of historical and geological interest."

Opening Cumbria's pathway, Ian Fugler, Natural England's director of access and engagement, added: "This will provide permanent, secure and improved rights for walkers to enjoy some of the most riveting coastline in England.

"Cumbria has one of the most interesting coastlines in Britain.

"This new stretch starts in the village overlooking Allonby Bay in the Solway Firth, within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, giving spectacular views across to the Galloway hills of southern Scotland, and ends further south in the Georgian town of Whitehaven."

But CLA North Regional Director, Dorothy Fairburn, said: "Natural England's own figures state that more than four-fifths of the coast is already accessible to the public.

"In these straitened times when the government is trying to cut public expenditure, it is misguided to spend millions of pounds replicating access that already exists."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites