Designated: March 2001
The Durham Heritage Coast is an attractive coastal landscape of magnesian limestone grasslands, cliffs, pebble and sandy beaches stretching between the two main conurbations of Tyne and Wear and Teeside.
Until recently the Durham Coast was one of the most heavily polluted coastlines in Britain, a legacy from over a hundred years of dumping colliery waste from its six coal mines along the beaches.
Following the closure of the local coal mines in the 1980s, a £10 million Turning the Tide project has been implemented, which has seen the successful transformation of the coastline. The removal of the spoil heaps and debris from the beaches and cliff tops, and the conversion of large areas of arable land to magnesian limestone grassland, through Countryside Stewardship agreements has rejuvenated the coastline.
Much of the Coast is now of national and international nature conservation importance. In recognition of the considerable improvements in the quality of the coastal landscape and the fine restored magnesian limestone grasslands, denes, cliffs and stacks, the area was defined as a Heritage Coast in March 2001 by the local authorities and the Countryside Agency.
The area is now proving itself to compete with other areas of the north east region's coastline in attracting visitors, with increasing tourism interest and potential. In addition to its rich natural history, there exists a rich cultural history extending back to Iron Age times. Its more recent modern history through the Wars with pill boxes along the cliffs, and its intense industrial past give the area a unique identity, and provides the opportunity to promote the Heritage Coast as a unique destination to visit and an enjoyable place to live and work.