Coastal paths project unites six countries around North Sea

DR MARK Horton, one of the presenters of BBC's popular Coast series, will be one of the main speakers at a conference in Peterhead today, marking the completion of a four-year project to create more than 4,000 kilometres of coastal paths across six countries bordering the North Sea.

Since 2002, Aberdeenshire Council has acted as the lead partner in the ambitious Nortrail pathway project, which involves 26 local authorities and similar bodies in England, Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Holland.

The project, which has been partly financed by the European Union through its North Sea funding programme, is aimed at encouraging both visitors and local people to make the most of their visits to the very best coastal areas of the six countries around the North Sea, using a waymarked North Sea Trail.

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In the UK the pathway starts near Scarborough in the North York Moors National Park and continues up the east coast of England and Scotland to Caithness.

There are still a number of gaps in the network which it is hoped will be filled once negotiations with landowners are complete.

A spokesman for Aberdeenshire Council said: "The aim has been to create a series of footpaths around the North Sea coast to enable people to enjoy walking in these special coastal landscapes.

"At the same time, they will be able to discover the special things about these places - what makes them different and what gives them a common North Sea culture.

"Many of the historical trading and cultural links between the countries have been explained in a new website, which is also a digital guidebook with information in several languages, at

"It contains maps and over 1,200 articles illustrating why the natural and cultural environment around the North Sea coastline is special.

"It is hoped the Nortrail project will also be able to produce a DVD to hand out to tourist boards if it benefits from further EU support."