Undercliffs reopened for coast path walkers

Finger and Thumb on the Undercliffs

Posted on: 11 April 2016

A popular stretch of the South West Coast Path between Axmouth and Lyme Regis has reopened, taking in the previously inaccessible Goat Island, made famous by east Devon’s ‘Great Landslip’ of 1839.

The coastal route through the Undercliffs Nature Reserve was closed and diverted inland almost two years ago after a more recent landslip made the area unsafe for walkers.

Devon County Council negotiated with landowners, and with advice from geologists, and in partnership with Natural England and the South West Coast Path Association, have created a new safe five mile route through one of the most challenging and unusual sections of the South West Coast Path.

The area is likened to a rainforest with its humid and sheltered environment providing the perfect habitat for ferns, fungi, orchids, wild clematis and many different insects.

The new route takes in Goat Island, recognised for being the first ever scientifically described and recorded landslip, when on Christmas Eve 1839, several fields slipped seaward. The remaining Goat Island has not previously been accessible or open to the public.

Cllr Jim Knight, Devon County Council’s local member for Seaton, said:

Cllr Jim Knight“The South West Coast Path is an important asset for our county, especially this section which boasts stunning views of the Jurassic Coast. Locals and visitors will be pleased that there is a new route along this popular section, and will no doubt take great pleasure in exploring it and continuing to enjoy some of their favourite walks. Thanks must got to the landowners who have worked with us to allow people to enjoy this section of the trail safely.”

Natural England, the South Coast Path Association and East Devon District Councils worked in partnership with Devon County Council to create the new route.  Read what they said:

“I am delighted to be able to welcome walkers back to the National Nature Reserve, one of the geological wonders of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. The new route through the reserve, taking in Goat Island, provides wonderful views out to sea across Lyme Bay and it offers coast path walkers new exciting access to one of the most attractive parts of the Undercliffs.”

“The re-opening of this stretch of the coast path after two years is fantastic news for walkers. The new route offers stunning sea views as well as the chance to explore the wild and wooded areas of the National Nature Reserve. The route along with the nearby new Seaton Jurassic Visitor Centre, is expected to provide a welcome economic boost to this part of East Devon.”

“We are delighted that the Undercliffs are now able to reopen as it is such an iconic part of East Devon’s outstanding natural environment. The Undercliffs as part of The jurassic Coast, England’s first natural UNESCO World Heritage Site, East Devon AONB and the South West Coast Path is a huge magnet for tourists and so brings significant economic benefits for our local communities in the area.”

Visit the South West Coast Path’s website for more information.

Posted in: Environment