Natural England - Heritage Coasts

Heritage Coasts

Heritage Coasts represent stretches of our most beautiful, undeveloped coastline, which are managed to conserve their natural beauty and, where appropriate, to improve accessibility for visitors.

Many stretches are easily accessible by a network of public footpaths and bridleways, some of the most challenging of which are designated as National Trails.

How many Heritage Coasts are there?

Thirty-three per cent (1,057km) of scenic English coastline is conserved as 32 Heritage Coasts. The first Heritage Coast to be defined was the famous white chalk cliffs of Beachy Head in Sussex and the latest is the Durham Coast. Now much of our coastline, such as the sheer cliffs of Flamborough Head and Bempton, with their huge seabird colonies, is protected as part of our coastal heritage.

How are Heritage Coasts designated?

They are ‘defined’ rather than designated, as there is no statutory designation process like that associated with National Parks and AONBs. Definition is formalised by agreement between the relevant maritime local authorities and Natural England. Most are within the boundaries of National Parks or AONBs, although a small number including Lundy, the Durham Coast, and Flamborough Head stand alone.

The national purposes of Heritage Coasts are to:

  • Conserve, protect and enhance the natural beauty of the coasts, their marine flora and fauna, and their heritage features.

  • Facilitate and enhance their enjoyment, understanding and appreciation by the public.

  • Maintain and improve the health of inshore waters affecting Heritage Coasts and their beaches through appropriate environmental management measures.

  • Take account of the needs of agriculture, forestry and fishing, and of the economic and social needs of the small communities on these coasts.

Heritage Coasts

Hotspot map

1. North Northumberland 2. Durham 3. North Yorkshire and Cleveland 4. Flamborough Headland 5. Spurn 6. North Norfolk 7. Suffolk 8. South Foreland 9. Dover - Folkestone 10. Sussex 11. Tennyson 12. Hamstead 13. Purbeck 14. West Dorset 15. East Devon 16. South Devon 17. Rame Head 18. Gribbin Head - Polperro 19. The Roseland 20. The Lizard 21. Isles of Scilly 22. Penwith 23. Godrevy - Portreath 24. St Agnes 25. Trevose Head 26. Pentire Point - Widemouth 27. Hartland 28. Hartland (Devon) 29. Lundy 30. North Devon 31. Exmoor 32. St Bees Head