Campaigners gathered outside the Isle of Wight's Osborne House today (Monday), in protest over English Heritage's refusal to allow a new coastal path to run through the grounds.

The charity, which manages the former Royal residence, argues opening the path is a security risk to Queen Victoria's "irreplaceable" collection.

But group, Isle of Wight Ramblers, has said not allowing access poses an even greater risk for walkers, who will instead have to use a "busy and dangerous" main road.

Proposals for the King Charles III Coast Path - a 2,704-mile stretch around England - include a route between East Cowes and Wootton.

From Norris Wood, it would have gone along the coast, past the beach at Osborne and come out at Barton Wood.

However, despite years of negotiations with Natural England, the agency responsible for the coastal path, English Heritage has said it will not allow it, claiming 'park and garden' exemption.

Tom King, English Heritage’s historic properties director for the south of England, said: "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."

Isle of Wight County Press: Protesters rallying outside Osborne House.Protesters rallying outside Osborne House. (Image: IWCP)

Isle of Wight County Press: From left: David Howarth and Kate Ashbrook.From left: David Howarth and Kate Ashbrook. (Image: IWCP)

Kate Ashbrook, vice president of Ramblers Great Britain, said the alternative and current route for walkers, along the A3021 and York Avenue, towards Whippingham, is "dangerous" and will mean no sea view for four miles.

She told the County Press: "The England coast path has been named after King Charles and yet it looks set not to go through the land which belonged to his great great great grandmother and now belongs to the nation.

"It could easily go along the coast at Osborne. It doesn't go near the house at all. It goes along the coast."

A protest was held outside Osborne House this afternoon, with campaigners holding up placards saying the alternative route is 'unfit for a king'.

Chair of the Isle of Wight Ramblers Group, David Howarth, said "You can't see the sea, you've got traffic fumes, you've got the noise.

"In the legislation it says it shouldn't go along the roads, it should go along the coast. We want it to go along the coast. It's as simple as that."

He argues many estates such as Blenheim Palace, Kew Gardens and Windsor Great Park already have public footpaths.

Tom King added: "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.”

David said the group has already had to fight to get the Island included in the footpath scheme and members are prepared to take the matter to parliament, if necessary.