Jonathan Dimbleby steps out to open new route on Coast Path

Jonathan Dimbleby has marked a significant milestone in the history of the South West Coast Path today, by officially opening a new stretch between Strete and Strete Gate in South Devon. The event follows years of local residents and groups campaigning to take the route off a busy road.

Thanks to Natural England and Devon County Council for providing the majority of funding and a contribution from Strete Parish Council, along with the collaboration of local landowners and the South West Coast Path Association, this hotly anticipated project is finally complete and a route that has never before seen views of some of Devon’s finest coastline, can now be accessed by the public.

Broadcaster and local resident, Jonathan Dimbleby, is passionate about the coast close to his home in Moreleigh, South Devon, and is a keen supporter of campaigns to protect public access to beautiful places. He said: “I was very pleased to accept the invitation from the South West Coast Path Association to open this new and important section of the Coast Path. As a local resident I enjoy regular walks on the South Devon coastline which has everything, from sandy beaches and secluded coves to rockpools and dramatic cliffs.

“Walking the South West Coast Path is the best way to experience this natural beauty and it’s vitally important that this access is maintained. This new section at Strete represents the fantastic work of the South West Coast Path National Trail Partnership to secure the best possible route as part of its 630-mile National Trail.”

The opening event, organised by the South West Coast Path Association to thank the core funders of the project, was also a celebration, as the Charity unveiled its new website and a new fundraising event, the South West Coast Path Challenge taking place throughout October.

This project represents one of the charity’s original aims to campaign for the best possible route for walkers, close to the coast and off road. Strete has long been considered the most hazardous road sections on the entire 630 mile route, and there are no comparable road sections remaining.

Vice Chairman of the South West Coast Path Association, Ken Carter said:“The problem of fixing the gap at Strete to make a route safe for walkers, which didn’t impact on the privacy of the houses whose grounds it would run across was complex. It is of great credit to all partners involved in the project that a solution has been found and the work to re-route the Coast Path is complete.”

“Thousands of people visit the South West every year to walk the South West Coast Path, which is the longest and most popular National Trail and is worth £436m to the regional economy. We look forward to people enjoying this new section at Strete for the first time and being inspired to support our work in future.”  

Tess Jackson, Senior Advisor for National Trails on behalf of Natural England said:“This new section is a great partnership achievement, substantial efforts by everyone involved, particularly Devon County Council and the South West Coast Path Association.”

Leader of Devon County Council, Councillor John Hart said:“Thanks go to everyone involved in helping to deliver this project. It has only been made possible by working closely with the local community, landowners and the South West Coast Path National Trail Partnership. It is a project that has taken a great deal of patience for more than three decades and it is fantastic that this collective effort has paid off.”

Looking forward, the Association continues to evolve in response to the demand for a world-class walking route and is increasing its fundraising activities through business sponsorship and events, as well as its capacity to continue delivering improvements on the Path.

Monica Read, South West Water’s Business Services and Sustainability Director, who is the lead business sponsor of the Association’s work said:“The South West Coast Path offers a fantastic walking experience, scenic views of some of Europe’s cleanest beaches and coastal waters, as well as access to many of those beaches and waterways. The new section is a welcome addition to this important regional and local attraction.

“This is an exciting time for the Coast Path and we look forward to helping to promote this jewel in the region’s tourism crown and the good work done by the Association.”

Published on: July 9, 2015