King Charles III England Coast Path – The Isle of Wight and Osborne

Tom King, English Heritage’s Historic Properties Director for the South of England, said: “We’ve worked closely with Natural England over a number of years to see whether the coastal path could go through Osborne but ultimately, the unique security and conservation challenges posed by the path to this historic site couldn’t be overcome. 

“As a Registered Park & Garden, Osborne is exempt from the coastal path scheme but we very much wanted to see if we could find a way of facilitating the path. Unfortunately, the risk the path would pose to the security of the site – including Osborne’s irreplaceable collection – as well as to the historic gardens was just too great. We appreciate that this will be disappointing to some and we want to explore with the Ramblers how else we could open up Osborne to its walkers.”

For several years, English Heritage has been actively involved in discussions about the proposal that the King Charles III England Coast Path would go through Osborne. We have been open throughout about the challenges that poses in terms of our responsibility to care for the estate’s precious collections and historic setting.

As a charity, English Heritage cares for over 400 properties across the country, and the vast majority offer free open access including, on the Island, St Catherine’s Oratory in Chale and Appuldurcombe House in Wroxall. The charity makes considerable efforts and investment in enabling access where possible and has welcomed public walking routes at coastal properties such as Tintagel Castle in Cornwall.

The proposed coastal path through the Osborne estate has been given careful and thorough consideration, but unfortunately it will not be possible. This decision is principally due to security and conservation concerns, and has not been taken lightly. It follows years of discussions with Natural England, and a considerable investment in time and effort exploring alternative options. 

English Heritage has a remit to protect both Osborne’s historic setting and its irreplaceable collection, and the proposed coastal path compromises both. The estate is home to a priceless collection of around 10,000 items belonging to the Crown, with many housed in Swiss Cottage near to the coast. We also have to consider our responsibility to maintain the historic setting of Osborne and care for protected habitats such as the SSSI of Osborne beach. It is considered that the volume of walkers and infrastructure required to facilitate a path would have a detrimental impact on the historic landscape.

As a Registered Park & Garden, Osborne is offered exemption from offering coastal access within the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 and the 2013 Guide: Coastal Access; Natural England’s Approved Scheme. Despite this English Heritage has entered into discussions around the coastal path in the spirit of finding a viable solution and while we’re really sorry not to have found one, we want to explore with the Ramblers how else we could open up Osborne to its walkers.