THE wait is finally over! After it was closed due to safety fears more than two years ago, the popular Highcliffe Castle zig-zag path is now open to the public.

Christchurch Borough Council fenced off the sloped path in March 2017 due to structural concerns resulting from cliff movement.

Initially councillors voted not to fund the work to repair the zig-zag which was estimated to reach around £1.25m in the summer of 2017.

But following a resident-led campaign, including a petition signed by more than 3,200 people prompted a surprise U-turn from members.

Bob Hutchings, who lives in Highcliffe and helped lead the campaign to repair the zig-zag, marked the occasion yesterday by cutting a ribbon and celebrating with glasses of champagne.

He said afterwards: "We couldn't have asked for a better day weather-wise. It was absolutely brilliant to be able to walk down the zig-zag once more after a two-year campaign. It is all down to people power and we just want to thank everyone who supported the campaign by signing the petition."

The now abolished council allocated £884,500 for the project which was taken over by the new Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council.

After the peak summer season, a team from Stewarts Garden Centre will return to the site to carry out a planting scheme, but the path will remain open during this period.

HRH The Duke of Gloucester will officially open the newly restored East Wing of Highcliffe Castle and the rebuilt zigzag path on Thursday, May 30.