A TRAIL popular with hikers since it was devised 43 years ago could be on its way to becoming an accredited national route.

A campaign has been launched on Wednesday, April 6, to upgrade the status of The Coast to Coast Walk, which runs for 190 miles across the North of England, by Richmond MP Rishi Sunak, who met supporters on the trail at Surrender Bridge, near Reeth.

Devised by legendary fellwalker Alfred Wainwright and published as a book in 1973, the Coast to Coast Walk is one of the most popular long distance routes in the UK – but has never been made a UK National Trail.

The Northern Echo: ROUTE: The Coast to Coast Walk

Fifteen other long distance routes in England and Wales are designated National Trails and receive modest amounts of public funding for path maintenance, signposting and promotion.

Mr Sunak has launched a campaign with the backing of the Wainwright Society to have the route from St Bees Head in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire made a National Trail.

He said: “The Coast to Coast runs right through the heart of the Richmond constituency and some of the most beautiful scenery in the UK.

“Hundreds of businesses depend on it and official recognition would bring a real boost for the economy of the area.

“This is a walk that was rated as the second best walk in the world in a survey of expert opinion carried out by Country Walking magazine a few years ago and yet it has no official status. This is a real anomaly.”

Derek Cockell, secretary of the Wainwright Society, said: “We have wanted this for a number of years so we are delighted to get the support of Mr Sunak.

“More than £5,000 people a year walk the Coast to Coast and it does suffer from wear and tear – making a National Trail would make a real difference.”

Mr Sunak’s campaign has been supported by the broadcasters Julia Bradbury, presenter of the BBC’s Countryfile, and Eric Robson, host of the BBC’s Gardeners’ Question Time.

Ms Bradbury, who is a honorary member of the Wainwright Society, said: "As someone who has tackled this trail a number of times I am delighted to support the campaign.

"The Coast to Coast is a national treasure and deserves to be a National Trail."

Mountaineer Alan Hinkes, the five times conqueror of Everest, has also lent his support. He said: “The Coast to Coast traverses some of the UK's finest scenery. Across mountains and fells, wandering through through valleys and villages, it is an inspirational crossing of the North of England.”