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Last Updated: Friday, 9 June 2006, 12:41 GMT 13:41 UK
All-Wales coastal path proposed
First Minister Rhodri Morgan walking on the Anglesey coastal path
An all-Wales path would be a 'tremendous asset' said Mr Morgan
Plans for an all-Wales coastal path have been unveiled by First Minister Rhodri Morgan.

It came as he officially opened an 125-mile route around Anglesey.

The project, which would take up five years, would improve access and link up existing paths and is likely to involve an application for EU funding.

Mr Morgan said consultation would start but the Anglesey path would be "a good precedent" to learn from.

It would improve access for wheelchair users, cyclists, horse riders and parents with pushchairs.

Mr Morgan added: "A good deal of forward planning work will now be needed, as well as the co-operation of the local authorities and other key players such as the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) and the farming unions, to make this coastal access programme a reality."

CCW chairman John Lloyd Jones said he was looking forward to working with the assembly government on the project.

About £1.4m has been spent on Ynys Môn coastal path which runs almost entirely within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and over a third of the island.

It is hoped tourism will be boosted from the walk, which already brings in an extra £12m to the local economy.

View towards Ellin's Tower, copyright Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path Project
Based on the experience of the Isle of Wight, the coastal path does wonders for tourism and ours is better
Ron Williams, Ramblers Association Wales

The path, which has been partly funded by EU Objective One money, goes round the entire island, including Holy Island.

Walking the entire length of the path involves ascending around 4,100 metres - equal to walking up Snowdon more than three and a half times.

Ron Williams, chairman of Ramblers' Association Wales, said: "The ramblers have been trying to get this opened up for 30 years. A lot of the paths were originally blocked - barbed wire or hedges were in the way."

Mr Williams, who lives in Holywell, said: "Coastal walking is one of the most popular types of walking, you don't have to be a mountain man, it's not tough, it's easy.

"I think it's wonderful, based on the experience of the Isle of Wight, the coastal path does wonders for tourism and ours is better.

"Having walked both, Anglesey is better - although I haven't done it all. There's all kinds of different countryside here, there is the huge forestry nature reserve."

Mr Williams said although he welcomed the walk being opened, the 30-year wait had been "too long".

Rosie Frankland, coastal path manager at Anglesey Council, said it was not uncommon for long distance trails to take so long to develop but over the last five years there had been "dramatic changes".

"As an almost complete circuit, it's in the best shape than it has ever been," she said.

Mr Morgan opened the path at St Cybi's Church, Holyhead.




SEE ALSO:
Coastal path aiming to fill gaps
01 May 06 |  North West Wales


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