The King Charles III England Coast Path, recently renamed in honour of the current monarch, has expanded with the opening of a new 36-mile (58km) stretch. The new section runs from Tarleton Locks in Preston to Liverpool’s Pier Head, passing through important sites such as the Ainsdale and Birkdale Sandhills Nature Reserve, RSPB Hesketh Out Marsh, the National Trust’s Formby site, and Crosby Beach’s iconic iron men. This new section of the path means that the North West section of the coastal route now covers 121 miles (195km).
Natural England (NE), the government’s adviser on the natural environment, has said that the entire coastal pathway, currently stretching for 851 miles (1,369km), will eventually cover 2,700 “walkable” miles (4,345km) by the end of 2024, making it the longest managed coastal walking route in the world. NE added that the new section in Lancashire and Merseyside includes the RSPB-managed Hesketh Out Marsh, which is an important bird habitat, as well as the sand dunes in Ainsdale. The path will also pass through Formby’s dunes, grasslands, and pine woodlands, providing a safe haven for natterjack toads, sand lizards, and red squirrels.
Crosby Beach, which is home to the 100 cast-iron figures that make up artist Anthony Gormley’s Another Place art installation, is also part of the new section of the coastal path. The Environment Minister Trudy Harrison has called the coastal path a “significant part” of the government’s commitment to ensuring “every household to be within a 15-minute walk of a green space or water,” and a “fitting tribute” to the King. Senior advisor at NE, Gerry Rusbridge, has said that the expansion of the coastal path will open up “beautiful new countryside to the public” and make it easier for more people to experience the coast.