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Accessible footpath gets stamp of approval from wheelchair users

PUBLISHED: 14:33 01 September 2017 | UPDATED: 16:49 05 September 2017

Defra Minister Lord Gardiner with centre 81 users by the new coastal path in Yarmouth.
Picture: Nick Butcher

Defra Minister Lord Gardiner with centre 81 users by the new coastal path in Yarmouth. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2017

A stretch of a newly accessible coastal path has been welcomed by the community.

A recently installed boardwalk at the dunes in North Denes has proved a hit with those who would otherwise struggle to get on the beach.

It was originally installed as part of the ambitious plans for a 2,700 mile round-England coastal path, to direct walkers off the dunes to protect wildlife which are a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

But an extra bonus is that the set of wooden planks, which were installed and paid for by Norfolk County Council, provide a flat surface making it accessible for wheelchair users.

The boardwalk has been welcomed by Active Trails, a Norfolk-based group of disabled people who are also countryside enthusiasts.

John Watt, who is from the group, said he managed to enjoy a picnic on the beach with his family at the weekend, something he would not have been able to do before the installation was put in.

He added: “It was really quite good and surprising just how many people are using it.”

Mark Allen, the owner of the nearby Munchies Cafe which looks out over the dunes and the new boardwalk, said the coastal path was already very popular.

He added: “Probably the nicest thing is it’s given access to older people who use a walking stick or cane who would not have been able to go on the beach before.

“We’ve been seeing a lot of footfall. It’s not just people with wheelchairs, but also mobility scooters, push chairs.”

Walker Barbara Blake, who lives in Seafield Road South, Caister, regularly walks from her home all the way to Caister.

She encouraged others to take up walking, adding: “It keeps you young. I’m elderly now but this keeps me fit. I take my grandchildren out walking too.”

A government minister visited the site last Friday morning as part of a visit to the east coast to inspect the latest section of the footpath to open.

Lord Gardiner, who works in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said the section from Cromer to Great Yarmouth which had already opened had seen an increase in footfall of 50pc to nearly 90,000 people annually.

He added: “You get a sense of wellbeing and enjoyment from walking and there are also physical benefits too.”

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