Heritage coast

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A heritage coast is a strip of coastline in England and Wales, the extent of which is defined by agreement between the relevant statutory national agency and the relevant local authority. Such areas are recognised for their natural beauty, wildlife and heritage and amongst the purposes of definition is support for these qualities and enabling enjoyment of them by the public.[1] For England this national agency is Natural England (having formerly been the Countryside Agency) and for Wales it is Natural Resources Wales (which took over the role from its predecessor body, Countryside Council for Wales).

Designated coastlineEdit

1,057 km of the English coastline and 495 km of the Welsh coastline, in both cases approximately one-third of the total length, have been defined as heritage coast. The goal is to conserve their natural beauty and improve accessibility for visitors.

Unlike national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), the heritage coast designation is non-statutory, and designations can only be made with the agreement of local authorities and landowners. However, the majority of heritage coast falls within statutorily designated landscapes such as national parks, AONBs and the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. These coincident designations are listed in the fourth column of the tables below. Designations for nature conservation (as opposed to landscape, e.g. SSSI, Special Area of Conservation and Special Protection Area) of parts of Heritage Coasts are too numerous and complex to easily list here.

The southern coast of Wales and Devon and Cornwall in south west England have more heritage coastline per mile than other regions, including over 50% of the coast between Cardiff and St Davids, about 55-60% of Cornwall's coast, and around 60-65% of Devon's coast. This contrasts with the coasts of North West England, where St Bees Head is the only heritage coast, or the south-east stretch of the English Channel which has only very sporadic stretches.

The first heritage coast was Beachy Head with its famous white cliffs.

List of heritage coastsEdit


Heritage coasts listed clockwise around the English coast from Northumberland:[2]

Heritage coast name County (or equivalent) Defined length Coincident designations
Northumberland Northumberland
Durham Durham none
North Yorkshire and Cleveland North Yorkshire, Redcar and Cleveland mostly within North York Moors National Park
Flamborough Headland East Riding of Yorkshire none
Spurn East Riding of Yorkshire
North Norfolk Norfolk
Suffolk Suffolk
South Foreland Kent
Dover-Folkestone Kent
Sussex Sussex South Downs National Park
Tennyson Isle of Wight Isle of Wight AONB
Hamstead Isle of Wight Isle of Wight AONB
Purbeck Dorset Dorset AONB, Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site
Dorset Dorset AONB, Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site
East Devon Devon East Devon AONB, Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site
South Devon Devon
Rame Head Cornwall 7.6 km
Gribbin Head-Polperro Cornwall 24 km South Devon AONB
The Roseland Cornwall 54.2 km
The Lizard Cornwall 27 km
Isles of Scilly Isles of Scilly
Penwith Cornwall 54 km
Godrevy-Portreath Cornwall 9 km
St Agnes Cornwall 11 km
Trevose Head Cornwall 4 km
Pentire Point-Widemouth Cornwall 52 km
Hartland Cornwall 11 km
Hartland (Devon) Devon 37 km
Lundy Devon none
North Devon Devon North Devon AONB
Exmoor Somerset
St. Bees Head Cumbria


Heritage coasts listed clockwise around Welsh coast from southeast:

Heritage coast name Unitary authority area(s) Defined length Coincident designations
Glamorgan Vale of Glamorgan, Bridgend 21.7 km
Gower Swansea 55 km Gower AONB
South Pembrokeshire Pembrokeshire 66.0 km National Park
Marloes and Dale Pembrokeshire 43.3 km National Park
St Brides Bay Pembrokeshire 8.0 km National Park
St Davids Peninsula Pembrokeshire 82.0 km National Park
Dinas Head Pembrokeshire 17.7 km National Park
St Dogmaels and Moylgrove Pembrokeshire 22.5 km National Park
Ceredigion Ceredigion 33.8 km
Llŷn Gwynedd 88.3 km Llŷn AONB
Aberffraw Bay Isle of Anglesey 7.7 km Ynys Mon/Isle of Anglesey AONB
Holyhead Mountain Isle of Anglesey 12.9 km Ynys Mon/Isle of Anglesey AONB
North Anglesey Isle of Anglesey 28.6 km Ynys Mon/Isle of Anglesey AONB
Great Orme Conwy 7.1 km


  1. ^ "Heritage coasts: definition, purpose and Natural England's role". GOV.UK. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  2. ^ "Heritage Coasts". Natural England. The National Archives. Archived from the original on 5 June 2014. Retrieved 27 January 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)