County Durham's coastline has emerged from a polluted industrial past to become a haven for wildlife Durham Coast is a wonderful place for walkers and for those who want to enjoy the scenery from the cliff top paths. The magnesian limestone that underlies this area has given rise to a spectacular landscape of cream-coloured cliffs intersected by steep-sided wooded valleys, or gills.
In summer the coastal grasslands are awash with rare and colourful wild flowers, which provide habitat to some very special wildlife such as the iconic Durham Brown Argus butterfly.
In early 2019, the National Trust launched People’s Landscapes, a national programme inviting people to look beyond the beauty of our places and discover the hidden histories within. On the Durham Coast, they have been exploring the area’s industrial and social heritage, and how people’s actions and events have helped shape the landscape.
On the Durham Coast, they are exploring the area’s industrial and social heritage, and how people’s actions and events have helped shape the landscape as we see it today.
The National Trust look after five miles of this dramatic coastline, which has emerged from its industrial past to become a haven for wildlife, including wildflowers and rare butterflies. Once home to one of the biggest coal mines in Europe, at Easington, it suffered some of the worst coastal pollution in the world. The beaches were buried under two and a half million tonnes of colliery waste every year and became a no-go area for people, animals and birds.
Blast Beach is a great place for a coastal adventure. There’s plenty of free parking at Nose’s Point to the south of Seaham. From here, a fully accessible path runs across the property. Please note, the path is steep and uneven in places. The Durham Coast is well known for its spectacular wildflowers. Some of the fields at Blast Beach are among the best places to enjoy them, with plants like bloody cranesbill, dyer’s greenweed and devil’s-bit scabious creating a riot of colour in the summer. The patches of scrub that intersperse the grassland provide shelter for birds like grasshopper warblers. Listen out for their insect-like song.
While the flowers are at their best in spring and summer, the fabulous cliff-top views can be enjoyed year-round. These views are quite different now to how they looked at the end of the last century. This stretch of the Durham Coast was once home to the biggest coal mine in Europe, and to some of the worst coastline pollution in the world. Buried under no less than two and a half million tonnes of colliery waste every year, the beach was a no-go area for people, animals and birds. Thanks to a massive clean-up project involving the National Trust and 13 partner organisations the vast majority of the waste has now been removed and wildlife and people are able to use the coast again.
Discover the great variety of wildlife that calls this coastline home all year round.
** – Facilities – **
Location : Nose's Point Car Park, East Cliff Road, Seaham, County Durham, SR7 7PS
Transport: Seahams (National Rail) then bus or 2 miles. Bus: Numerous bus routes service the Durham Coast area. See http://durham.pindarcreative.co.uk/ for details.
Opening Times: Daily, Dawn till Dusk.
Tel: 01723 870 423