Half a million people in Essex are set to benefit from increased access to the coast as Natural England opens 85 miles of the England Coast Path.

This new section of path, spans from Tilbury to Wallasea Island, via Southend-on-Sea and takes in varied landscapes of saltmarsh and vast grasslands.

Now 50% of the Essex coastline – 150 miles in all – is accessible via the England Coast Path (ECP) which will provide more people with better opportunities to spend time outdoors and realise the health benefits of being in nature.

The newly opened trail will also provide an economic boost to the area – it’s estimated that £350 million is spent during trips to coastal paths supporting local people and businesses.

It is hoped path will encourage a surge in visitor numbers which will benefit coastal communities along the route.

Lord Benyon, Minister for Rural Affairs said:

“We want to connect more people with nature – as outlined in the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan – so I’m delighted to see this significant stretch of England’s Coastal Path openED.

“Essex has a dynamic and historic landscape and this path will support sustainable tourism, giving an economic boost to many coastal businesses.

“I hope visitors will enjoy the rich contrasts of this stretch of path, from saltmarshes and mudflats to thriving seaside towns.

Marian Spain, CEO of Natural England said:

“The England Coast Path will be the longest coastal walking route in the world once complete, accessible to all via public transport and walkable in all weathers and by people of all abilities.

“I’m thrilled that Natural England is opening this latest section, which takes us another step closer to being able to walk all the way around England.

This stretch passes through areas rich in seaside heritage: industrial heartlands, coastal communities and nature reserves where precious wildlife, from flocks of wild geese to rare insects, thrive.”