It's official, the steps down to Castle Cove Beach have been opened – allowing full access to the much-loved Weymouth beauty spot.

The steps were opened at a ceremony in front of a huge crowd on Easter Saturday.

The sun was blazing down, temperatures soared above 20C and the Dorset Wrecks sea shanty group sang songs of the sea to mark the occasion.

Speaking at the ceremony, Steve Elsworth, chairman of the Friends of Castle Cove Beach, said: "This is why we kept trying to get this done for five years. Look around and the community spirit is fantastic. It is completely non-political, we have former councillors from all different parties here today. Everyone has been extremely supportive.

"I have to thank five groups of people. First the Dorset Wrecks for coming down and singing, they have travelled internationally across land and sea to be here with us and they're doing it for free.

"Then I have to thank the local land owners who worked extremely hard to make this happen.

"Next I want to thank the local councillors of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council and also the Dorset County Council. They often get a lot of stick but they really made a difference here.

"Then there are the sponsors like Tesco and Portland Port which helped with fundraising and donations.

"And lastly, but most importantly, it's all of us here who have all made this happen because you kept pushing us and you kept giving us money so thank you.

"These steps are a commemoration of all the people who have gone before and for the generations to come.

"People have enjoyed this beach for hundreds of years and, with a 99-year lease, we hope that people will keep enjoying it for another hundred at least.

"We want more young families to come and enjoy this beach because it is safe and secure."

The steps were officially opened by local resident Brian Wilkins, 84, who cut the ribbon.

Mr Wilkins said: "It is fantastic and the real magic was that the kids were here to enjoy it as well.

"The beach is back open after five years and I have been coming here since 1936. The first time I was here I was carried down the steps, then I worked on hiring out deck chairs on the beach and eventually I got engaged on the beach too. It's great to see it so busy again."

Building the steps was the last hurdle to restoring full access to the popular beach.

Castle Cove has been blocked off for more than five years although it has been accessible at low tide by walking along the coast.

The footpath to the beach from Old Castle Road was closed by Dorset County Council but later partially reopened. Subsidence prompted the removal of an access staircase down to the sands.

The Friends, with support from the community, have been working on restoring access.

Local firm David R. White Ltd constructed the new wooden steps, which are similar to the steps that was removed in 2013, but are mounted on scaffold poles so that they can be dismantled and rebuilt if the land starts to move.

Clare Sutton, who launched the original campaign to restore public access, said: “I just can’t express how wonderful it is to have our beach back and to see hundreds of people at the grand opening celebrating just that. Little did I think in 2014 that this would take five years. It is a huge tribute to the talents and tenacity of the Friends, and wonderful support from the local community, that we have overcome the many obstacles and frustrations along the way. The beach holds precious memories for so many people, and I am absolutely delighted that it now has not only a ‘past’ but a ‘present’ and a ‘future’ too, for the generations who come after us.”