Bantham Beach & Avon Estuary

Mark Harold, South West Regional Director for the National Trust said: ‘Today (3 July 2014) we have been informed by the agents acting on behalf of Evan’s Estates that we have been unsuccessful in our bid to purchase Bantham Beach and Avon Estuary in South Devon.

‘We are extremely disappointed at this decision.  We, along with many thousands of people who have contacted us over the past few weeks encouraging our involvement in its future, care very passionately about Bantham.  We believe this is a very special place, held dear in the hearts of many, not only locally, but also those who have fond memories of childhoods and family times spent there.

‘We will of course continue to care and protect for ever and for everyone the 40 miles and 3,000 hectares of the South Devon coast we already care for. We would also want, if possible, to work with any future owners of Bantham Beach & Estuary and ensure that this beautiful location is continued to be enjoyed by the many thousands of people who have told us how much it means to them.

‘We would like to thank everyone for their support of our fundraising appeal. As a charity the Trust relies on the generous support of its supporters who help us care for some of the most beautiful and vulnerable stretches of coastal land in the country.’

National Trust launches coastal appeal in bid to buy Bantham beach and Avon estuary

A view from the coast of the golden sands at Bantham beach, popular with families and walkers

A view from the coast of the golden sands at Bantham beach, popular with families and walkers

A multi-million pound fundraising appeal is being launched today by the National Trust in a bid to raise money to acquire Bantham beach and the Avon estuary in south Devon.

One of the finest estuaries in South West England and the best surfing beach in south Devon, this coastline is a place that has captured the hearts and minds of generations of holiday-makers and local people.

If the appeal is successful the Trust would maintain the high-quality access enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people every year and would work hard to further enhance the landscape along the estuary as a home for nature.

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100 Days later: Lessons from this winter’s storms

The coastline in the South West of England saw more drama than Coronation Street or EastEnders this winter. Dramatic pictures made for a compelling story as the coast was hit hard by the worst weather in living memory. National Trust coast and marine adviser Tony Flux reflects on some of the lessons from the storms 100 days after the last big weather event on Valentine’s Day:

It can be quite tricky to get your head around coastal change. Often the stretches of coast that we love to visit will appear to be changing very little during our lifetime. We think of the coast as a constant; a place that we know well.

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Volunteers help Formby clean up its act

This April, National Trust rangers at Formby beach near Liverpool welcomed a team of volunteers to help with their Big Beach Clean.

Rubbish colleceted during the Big Beach Clean, Credit Kate Martin

The clean-up operation, organised by the Marine Conservation Society, attracted some 90 volunteers who collected a staggering 2,075 discarded items of litter. The selection of rubbish weighed in at over 340 kg and even included a rusty watering can and a large bakery crate.

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Adapting to a future where defence is the last resort

A clear national strategy is urgently needed to help coastal areas adapt to the twin pressures of rising sea levels and extreme weather, according to a new report published today by the National Trust.

Demolition work taking place at Birling Gap. Credit National Trust, John Miller

Demolition work taking place at Birling Gap. Credit National Trust, John Miller

As one of the UK’s biggest coastal owners, the Trust has seen many of its sites battered by the winter storms or hit hard by the high tides – with one, Birling Gap in East Sussex, experiencing seven years of erosion this winter.

These impacts have meant that the charity has had to fast-forward many decisions about land and buildings in its care, looking at how to adapt coastal places in the months ahead, rather than years or decades.

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Studland beach: forecast – changeable

Mike Collins is a Senior Press Officer with the National Trust. Following a visit to Studland Beach, he tells us how the winter storms have affected this coastal beauty spot.

Studland on the Dorset coast is a classic beach; golden sands with a dramatic seascape from east to west and town ebbing into countryside. More than a million people every year come to this jewel on the south coast seaside.

This popular and much-loved beach is on the front-line of how our coastline is changing and the challenges of managing the scale and pace of change that is happening now.

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Our Changing Coastline

National Trust Coast and Marine Adviser, Phil Dyke, reflects on the impact of the recent storms on the coastline.

The National Trust cares for one in ten miles of the coast of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This includes many of our favourite beaches and dramatic cliff top walks, as well as havens for wildlife such sand dune and salt marsh.

The succession of dramatic storms and surges that have battered our coast since early December 2013 continue to have a huge impact on peoples live. We sympathise with people and businesses that have been affected, as indeed we have been affected ourselves and are grateful for the huge efforts of public authorities and the emergency services in helping restore some semblance of order.

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Reaction to creation of 27 Marine Conservation Zones in England

The Government today outlined the creation of 27 Marine Conservation Zones in England.  Here is the National Trust reaction to the announcement:

Phil Dyke, Coastal and Marine Adviser at the National Trust, said: “The National Trust, as a partner in the first Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ), set up in the waters around Lundy, has first-hand experience of the considerable benefits of protected zones for nature conservation. We therefore very much welcome the Government’s announcement today to designate 27 Marine Conservation Zones as a positive first step in creating a larger and coherent network of protected areas in our marine environment.

“We’ll look closely at the government’s proposed approach to designate further MCZs through to 2017 – it’s vital that the process moves quickly to establish a network of MCZs at the scale required to secure a healthy future for our marine environment. Key to this will be sustaining momentum, building on the considerable energy, consensus and commitment secured from partners engaged in the earlier processes of consultation for selecting MCZs.”

Let’s all take over the White Cliffs of Dover – Dan Snow

Landscape can be totemic. The Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls and Table Mountain have all come to symbolise the spirit of their nations. The UK is blessed with several iconic features that, to the romantically inclined observer, seem to reflect back something about ourselves, our history and character.  We have the Giant’s Causeway, the Great Glen and Cadair Idris, but few places loom as large in our collective consciousness as the White Cliffs of Dover. The brilliant white chalk has served for generations as a canvas upon which we have projected our national story.

As a child on a wave tossed ferry, reeking of diesel, they meant home and release from the tyranny of seasickness. Until the advent of aircraft a huge number of travellers arriving in Britain would have been greeted by the White Cliffs. They were seen and recognised by the crews of the millions of ships that have used Europe’s busiest shipping lanes for millenia. During the First World War British soldiers returning on leave from the Western Front yearned to see them, as confirmation that they were truly leaving the hell behind them and would see their homes once more. Bomber crews in the Second World War glimpsed them on a moonlit night, a ribbon of silver demarking the start of territory that remained free from the Nazi yoke. In 1940 a shattered army carried in frigates, ferries, barges, paddle steamers and tenders from the cauldron of Dunkirk saw the cliffs and knew they would live and fight again.

The cliffs welcome and reassure but they have roared defiance.  Despots like Bonaparte and Hitler have gazed across the narrows. The only site of their implacable enemy was the line of cliffs like barred teeth on the horizon, the manifestation of a stubborn island nation that would not be beaten into submission. From the cartoons of Gillray and his contemporaries, to the paintings of Turner and Dame Vera Lynn’s anthemic World War Two smash hit, the cliffs have been an instantly recognisable metaphor for Britishness.

The cliffs have played this role long before the great wars of the last two centuries. Caesar himself commented on them in his Commentarii De Bello Gallico, the first eye-witness account of Britain that survives in literature. His first impression was of a wild island with giant natural fortification. In 55BC his first expedition was met by “armed forces of the enemy on all the cliffs.” They rained javelins down on any ship that approached the shore. Disinclined to assault such a strong position he sailed north and landed on a more open beach. The Britons had tracked his forces and met his legionaries as they staggered out of the shallows, making this first recorded invasion the only opposed one in our history.

Many travellers, conquerors and tourists alike, have followed in Caesar’s footsteps. Henry II enlarged Dover Castle and created one of the world’s supreme medieval strongholds, its defences taking full advantage of the precipitous cliffs. Twice, the invading French were unable to penetrate the walls and seize what was rightly known as ‘the key to England.’ Monarchs such as Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth stayed there for a nervous foreign princess, like Henrietta Maria, the cliffs and the castle were her very first taste of a country that she would preside over as Queen.

A walk along the cliffs today is a walk through the layers of our history. Mighty ramparts which are older than the name of Britain, a Roman lighthouse towering three stories high, the castle, Second World War radar masts, the world’s first, which allowed the RAF to see beyond the horizon and meet the German raids head on with Spitfires and Hurricanes, the first electric lighthouse in the world on South Foreland, where Marconi carried out the first ever international radio transmission.

There is nowhere better on this island to ponder our past, with its contradictory mix of cooperation and defiance, of Englishness, Britishness and Europeaness, than the meadows atop the White Cliffs.  That is why I’m involved with a National Trust campaign to take advantage of an opportunity to acquire a key section of the White Cliffs. This not only means the actual cliffs themselves but also the stunning land on top of them. This will ensure that the cliffs are a place we can all visit, lie among the wildflowers and stare out to sea. Access will be guaranteed and conservation implemented. The National Trust is creating a truly public space on top of the national icon. We must seize this chance to secure them for future generations to enjoy. Now we have a chance to shape the destiny of the cliffs, as profoundly as the Plantagenet kings, the Victorian army or the wartime engineers. This year we can take them into our own hands and protect them, in the words of the National Trust motto, ‘for everyone, forever.’

This article first appeared in The Times on Wednesday 27 June


Make your mark on history and save England’s White Cliffs of Dove

A £1.2 million fundraising appeal has been launched by the National Trust in a bid to secure the long-term future of the world famous White Cliffs of Dover in Kent.

The appeal is the charity’s biggest ever coastal fundraiser and will help ensure that public access to the White Cliffs can be improved for future generations to enjoy.

It will also mean that this much-loved stretch of Kent coastline can be cared for in a way that will improve its habitat for local wildlife.

If the appeal is successful, the most iconic stretch of the White Cliffs – the 1.35km (just under one mile) sweep overlooking the port of Dover – will be looked after and managed for the benefit of the public and for wildlife.

It will complete the missing link of coastline under National Trust care, uniting a stretch of more than 7km (nearly 5 miles) between the Trust’s visitor centre and South Foreland lighthouse.

Fiona Reynolds, Director General of the National Trust, said: “Immortalised in song and literature, the White Cliffs of Dover have become one the great symbols of our nation.

“We now have a once in a lifetime opportunity to secure their future for everyone to enjoy.

“If we don’t raise the money then the future of the White Cliffs is uncertain and this stretch of coastline might one day be disrupted by inappropriate management or development.”

Standing proud at over 110 metres (taller than Big Ben or the same height as twenty-five London buses stacked on top of each other), the White Cliffs of Dover have witnessed many dramatic moments in England’s history.

These include the arrival of the Romans and the welcome return of British armed forces after the evacuation of Dunkirk during the second-world war.

The cliffs are also home to a rich array of rich wildlife including the Adonis blue butterfly, rare coastal plants such as oxtongue broomrape and sea carrot, and birds including skylark, the only colony of Kittiwakes in Kent and peregrine falcons.

Historian and television presenter Dan Snow, who is supporting the appeal, added: “For me it’s simple.  The White Cliffs of Dover are one of the country’s greatest and most iconic landmarks.

“When I heard that the National Trust had this opportunity to safeguard this crucial stretch of the Cliffs, I thought great.

“It’s brilliant that they have a chance to secure this important section of the cliffs, for ever, for everyone.”

Across England, Wales and Northern Ireland the National Trust looks after more than 720 miles of coastline. The Trust acquired its first stretch of the White Cliffs of Dover in 1968.

Hundreds of thousands of people come to visit the dramatic chalk cliffs every year with their wonderful views across the English Channel.

The funds need to be raised by the end of the year to help acquire this piece of the Kent coast and help with the conservation and management of the whole White Cliffs of Dover.

There are three easy ways that money can be donated to the appeal:

-        Make a donation online at and you can choose to have your name engraved on our virtual White Cliffs of Dover.

-        You can text a donation to support the appeal.  For example, if you wanted to donate £5 you’d need to text ‘DOVR02 £5’ to ‘70070’. The amount that you wish to donate must be included in the text.

-        Make a donation over the phone by calling 0844 800 1895.

The Twitter hashtag #whitecliffs will be used on twitter to keep people updated about the progress of the appeal.


For further information and images please contact:

Mike Collins, Senior Press Officer, on 01793 817708, 07900 138419 or

Stephen Field, Assistant Press Officer, on 01793 817740 or


Notes to editors:

  • National Trust – The National Trust looks after more than 250,000 hectares of countryside, 720 miles of coastline and hundreds of historic places across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. For more information and ideas for great value family days out go to: