Yesterday the Welsh Environment Minister, Jane Davidson, officially opened a new stretch of the All Wales Coastal path along the Gower Peninsula.
The 26km (16-mile) stretch, running from Llanmadoc to Port Eynon, includes the Worm’s Head headland and Rhossili beach, site of the last British Mountaineering Council annual meeting.
The opening of this section has involved seven legal diversions of public footpaths, the creation of 1.2 miles of new public footpath, thirteen gates, forty one signposts and waymark posts, and twenty two steps cut out of solid rock.
The Minister said the new stretch of path would attract more visitors to the area and boost the local economy. Ms Davidson also added that it was more than just a tourist attraction, and would help local people to get active in line with the assembly government's Change4Life programme.
Under its coastal access improvement programme, the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) is committed to creating a continuous 1,368km (850-mile) path that runs right around the coastline of Wales by 2012, and has been investing in access improvements in partnership with the Countryside Council for Wales. The All Wales Coast Path will ensure improved access to the coast line and encourage people to live more healthy and active lifestyles.
The Minister has also opened a 27-mile (43.5km) stretch of coast path between Llandudno, in Conwy county, and Prestatyn in Denbighshire and a 4.5-mile (7.2km) section from Pendine in Carmarthenshire to the start of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path at Amroth.
Whilst progress on the All Wales Coast Path continues, the English coastal access scheme is now being rolled out along the Weymouth coast, which will not only see the establishment of a path but the provision of a margin of land for open access (including sea cliffs and beaches). The difference in timing and approach to improved coastal access in England and Wales is certain to add confusion to those visiting the coast in the future. The BMC will continue to lobby the WAG for wider and extended opportunities to access the Welsh coast (sea cliffs and beaches etc) and will continue to press Westminster to carry on with the implementation of the coastal access scheme in England.
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