With its sinuous 80 km trail from Urville-Nacqueville to Surtainville the coastal path or “customs path” (Hiking trail GR223) was used until the early 20th century for coastal surveillance to prevent or limit smuggling with the Channel Islands.
Sometimes high on the rocks, sometimes low in the valleys, the footpath always amazes walkers with the variety and contrast of its landscapes. An exuberant nature offers a spectacle of light and shadows, colours, sounds and fragrances.
Every minute that passes on the coastal path appears under a new light, every view sketched on the skyline is another landscape. Experienced hiker or Sunday walker - up hill and down dale, whatever the season, you step from surprise to surprise on the custom's path!
YESTERDAY AND TODAY
The Customs Path was created in 1791, enabling the customs and excise men to ensure better coastal surveillance. After a century and a half as a vital asset in the war against smugglers, it fell gradually into disuse.
The french parliamentary act 76-1285 had the ambition to restore the trail and open it to the exclusive use of pedestrians, establishing the Coastal Right of Way. This legal right of way was gradually connected up from village to village and town to town by the Departmental Services of the Territories and the Sea (DTTM)
Funding of all work is supported by the state. The département finances the signs and local bodies are responsible for ensuring the maintenance of the trail in their area.
The DDTM of the Manche département has opened more than 300 km (of a total of 438 km) of Coastal Pathways to pedestrians, all certified by the French Federation of Hiking, and has been given the label GR 223, “Tour de Cotentin”.
In the near future the customs path will link up the whole coastline of the Manche département. The coastal path is becoming not only part of maritime heritage, but also a highly exploitable access way to the natural areas, promoting their protection.
Find the route of the customs path in detail along with lots of practical information at www.lahague-rando.fr