A PATH down to a popular beach which has been officially closed for more than four years has reopened.

Campaigners were ‘over the moon’ when Dorset County Council’s regulatory committee voted to restore access to Castle Cove in September.

However, the original steps have not yet been put back in place and campaigners say that it is still dangerous to go down the slope.

Dorset County Council says it has worked with local groups to put the steps back in place to allow safer access to the beach.

The steps are not currently considered a public footpath, but there is a claim into the county council to amend this status and to accept them as a right of way.

The path down to Castle Cove beach was closed in early 2013 due to safety concerns. The tarmac surface had become uneven due to a landslip and steps down to the beach were considered unsafe and removed.

It was later partially reopened and campaigners launched a bid to raise the money needed to restore access.

They have also been battling to get the steps recognised as a public footpath, with an application to the county council supported by 79 people. They were told in February 2016 that the investigation would begin in three to four years, as the authority is currently dealing with dozens of applications.

Cllr Clare Sutton, local county councillor, said: “Having worked alongside the Friends of Castle Cove for nearly 4 years now to try to restore safe public access to our much-loved beach, this is a really major step in the right direction. 

“It’s been a very complicated process, involving several different parties, and very frustrating for local people, who have been using the beach for many generations, but I’d like to say a huge thank you to the rights of way officers for all their help. 

“The path looks fantastic, and the hope is that, quite soon, the other pieces of the jigsaw will be in place and we’ll have our beach back.”

The decision taken by the regulatory committee in September came after Cllrs Sutton and Kate Wheller presented evidence in support of the application alongside a representative from the trustees of the Friends.