Guide to Durham Heritage Coast

The Durham Heritage Coast is a coastal path that stretches from Seaham to Crimdon. The path is 11 miles long weaving in and out of the clifftops and countryside that stretched along the coastline.

Blast Beach

We have walked in this area quite a few times, most notably was back in May, on what was the hottest day of the year so far.

Noses Point and Blast Beach

If you are on the Sunderland end of the coast, then I would recommend parking at Noses point near Seaham. There is a free car park here which is fairly secure, and always has people parked in so you don’t feel like you’ve abandoned your car.

Postcode: SR7 7PS

View of Blast Beach from Noses Point

Here you can learn about the rich heritage of Blast Beach. It was once used as a dumping ground for the local coal mines waste. The mine in fact was once the biggest coal mine in Europe and caused the beach and coastline to be so heavily polluted it was uninhabitable to all animals. It is believed that 2.5 tonnes of waste was dumped on the beach every year with the damage being visible 7km out to sea. During WW2, a machine gun pillbox was put on the beach itself to protect the mine, which miraculously survived this waste being dumped on top of it!

The WW2 Machine Gun Pill Box on Blast Beach

After the mine closed in the 80s, a massive clean up project happened and the Durham Heritage Coastal path was born. Although there is still evidence of this unfortunate history, the beach and are surrounding fields are full of life. The clifftops are home to rare butterflies and wildflowers in the spring and summer, and the views are spectacular.

The view inland from the clifftops of Blast Beach

Durham Heritage Coastal Path

Whether you walk over the cliff tops, or down onto the beach, the heritage coastal path is easy to find. Mainly because its the only path! If you’re on the beach, then you’ll need to climb the stairs behind the WW2 bunker to meet the clifftop path. From here take a sharp left turn and as long as the sea is on your left, you can’t get lost.

Blast Beach from the top of the stairs

The east coast mainline runs alongside the path with the path crossing over it on many occasions. But at every crossing, there is gates at either end and often traffic lights and alarms so you know if there is a train coming.

The train tracks

Once you get into the forest area, the path becomes a little more hilly. Especially when you get to Hawthorn Dene, which is a beautiful place to walk through.

The train track from below, Hawthorn Dene

If you keep going South you will hit Shippersea Bay, which is an incredibly secluded beach and the cliffs above offering spectacular views of the coastline. This is the furthest point we got to before heading back as the weather on that day in May was incredibly hot! However, I would love to give it another go and get a lot further.

Shippersea Bay

The Essentials

If you are planning on doing this walk, I do have a few top tips for you to bear in mind.

  • There are quite a lot of hilly parts, and if you’re on the beaches, lots of loose rocks. Sensible footwear is essential on this walk. Sandals/flip flops are a no go, I’d really recommend hiking boots.
  • There are no toilets outside of the villages and towns along the coast, so just be prepared for that…
  • Be sensible when crossing the train tracks.
  • If you’re having a picnic (and i really recommend you do as there are some really beautiful spots), bring a picnic blanket or something to sit on as there are no benched along the path.

Stay Safe and Happy Adventuring!

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