Advertisement promotion

This is Durham: Durham Heritage Coast

Hit this award-winning stretch of coastline for an invigorating journey

The rare wild flowers and birds, alluring beaches, easy links from the coast to the nearby villages and an attractive location for a scenic, if often refreshingly bracing, maritime hike: a general description that could be applied to much of Britain’s shoreline. But now it describes the Durham Heritage Coast, winners of the UK Landscape Award in 2010. And to anyone familiar with this stretch of coastline, say, two decades ago, the transformation of this area is little short of a miracle.

Gone are the blackened beaches, ugly slag heaps and functional industrial structures. With the closure of the local pits – including the largest coal mine in Europe – the abuse of the coast through the dumping of colliery waste stopped.

Thanks to an ambitious community project, and paid for with lottery funding, the devastated shoreline has gradually been reclaimed as an amenity for locals and visitors alike, and is a flourishing habitat for the abundance of wildlife which has returned to the area. Such has been the change to the Durham Coast, which stretches from Sunderland in the north to Hartlepool in the south, that it has been granted heritage status in recognition of the high quality of the landscape. The central stretch, between Seaham and Crimdon, has been designated as the Durham Coastal Footpath, a 12-mile trail that is well worth exploring. The nearby church of St Mary the Virgin, whose origins date back to the seventh century, is one of the oldest churches in the country.

Heading south from here, past the 19th century harbour built to service the coal industry, the coast is an appealing mix of limestone cliffs, dramatic headlands and attractive beaches. Highlights include Nose’s Point, a finger of limestone jutting up out of the North Sea, of special interest for its geology and its ecology. Further south still, cutting inland at right-angles to the Coast is Castle Eden Dene, a 550-acre nature reserve with a maze of walks through a stunning wooded valley. And before the path reaches its end at Crimdon are the Blackhall Rocks, a nature reserve and picnic spot with magnificent sea views.

Now that it has been brought back to life, this award-winning stretch of coastline will now be preserved and enhanced. The rare wild plants, and butterflies like the Durham Argus which had all but disappeared completely from the area, can now flourish once again, and future generations will have a new coastal area to enjoy.

Where to stay in Durham

Durham has a host of accommodation options which provide facilities for cyclists and walkers. Click here are a few highlights.

To discover more of Durham’s great outdoors, visit thisisdurham.com/outdoors

News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

    £25,000 - £30,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a fantastic opportunity...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Ashdown Group: Project Accountant (Part-Qualified Accountant) - Manchester

    £23000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Project Accountant (Part-...

    Beverley James: Accounts Payable

    £23,000: Beverley James: Do you have a background in hospitality and are you l...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
    How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
    11 best bedside tables

    11 best bedside tables

    It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
    Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

    Italy vs England player ratings

    Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
    Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

    Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat