RAMBLERS will be able to enjoy a walk from Harwich to Shotley if proposals for the latest section of the England Coast Path are given the go ahead.

Natural England submitted reports to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs setting out plans on improving coastal access along a 24-mile stretch of coast between Harwich and Shotley Gate on Wednesday (Jan 22.)

The route includes Harwich Harbour, Parkeston, Wrabness, Manningtree and Brantham before curving around the river Stour to the Suffolk side through Stutton, Harkstead and Shotley Gate.

The proposal, submitted by Natural England, said: "The estuary is valued by birdwatchers, attracted especially by its high populations of over-wintering and passage waterbirds. There are also three neighbouring nature reserves open to the public, all on the Essex bank; at Copperas Wood, Stour Wood and at Wrabness.

"At the extreme east of the estuary is the historic town of Harwich, home of the Mayflower, which carried the Pilgrim Fathers to America in 1620.

"Among the many historic features are the impressive Redoubt Fort, a crane designed to be powered by humans, and the Electric Palace; one of the oldest surviving purpose-built cinemas."

It added: "Manningtree, at the western end of the estuary, is England’s smallest town.

"Together with neighbouring Mistley it is also a modest tourist attraction with attractive old buildings, a working quay and expansive estuary views.

"It is also well-placed, its station being a stop for fast trains on the London to Norwich mainline."

If approved, the route would become part of the England Coast Path, a 2,700-mile walking route and England’s newest National Trail.

An Essex County Council spokesman said: “Natural England are currently working toward implementing a new long-distance trail that, once completed, will enable people to walk around the whole English Coast.

"Essex County Council is a delivery partner and will adopt the maintenance of the route in Essex once the trail has been completed.

“Essex County Council urges residents to engage with Natural England’s proposals for the Essex stretches of the England Coast Path, which includes Harwich to Shotley Gate, as they are consulted on over the coming months.”

Representations and objections must be sent to Natural England by midnight on March 18.

Once the Secretary of State has approved the reports, Natural England will start work with Essex and Suffolk County Councils on preparing the route for public use.

Suffolk County Council and Natural England have been contacted for comment.