RAMBLERS stepped out with gusto for bracing walks along a newly opened stretch of coastal path in the North-East.
Members of six regional Ramblers groups marked the opening by taking to different parts of the pathway linking South Bents, north of Sunderland, with North Gare, south of Hartlepool.
They initially converged on the beach near Seaham Hall, in County Durham, for the celebration of the opening of the new path, led by Ramblers’ president Kate Ashbrook.
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Among those attending were MP Grahame Morris, through whose Easington constituency much of the new section passes.
During the day Ramblers group members staged a series of walks, which, combined, took in the entire 55km section.
The recently-completed track is part of the England Coast Path.
It is aimed at opening up the entire English coast and creating a 3,000-mile continuous network of walkways overlooking the sea.
Improvements included creating ‘spreading room’, land adjoining the path, giving walkers secure access to the beaches and views over the coast, plus space to “explore and relax” on the landward side.
Ms Ashbrook said: “I really enjoyed celebrating the opening of this beautiful stretch of the England Coast Path with a walk along the route.
“This section of our coast has been transformed in past years with the removal of tonnes of waste caused by historic mining and industrial activities, and thanks to the path, people are able to enjoy our industrial heritage.
“We’ve campaigned for years for the right to walk around the entire coast of England and this new stretch brings us one stride closer to realising that ambition.”
She believes it will bring “huge” recreational, social and economic benefits to the area, as well as providing walkers with a complete coastal route to enjoy.