St. Bees Head Heritage Coast

(See also St. Bees)

St Bees Cliffs by Ann BowkerThe most notable feature of St Bees Head Heritage Coast is its 300 foot high red sandstone cliffs. The name of the area, inhabited since pre-historic times, comes from Saint Bega, an Irish num. In the 7th century she came over from Ireland and founded St Bees priory here. Far-reaching coastal views to the Isle of Man are possible in clear weather.

Large parts of the beach at St Bees beach are designed SSSI (Site of Special Scientifc Interest). Shellfish, mussels, and crab can be found on the beach. Another interesting feature are the structures created by Sabellaria tube worms.They look like coral but are made from sand and pieces of shell. The beach is a good spot for rock and gem collectors.

Fulmar by David PackmanHome to the largest seabird colony in the north-west, the area is replete with bird life. The RSPB Nature Reserve, with 2.8 miles of clifftop path, has three viewpoints along the coast for spotting birds. Fulmars, herring gulls, kittiwakes, and black guillemots can be spotted in the spring while in summer cormorants, guillemots, kittiwakes, razorbills, white throat herring gulls, and fulmars are all easy to see. Ravens and peregrines can be spotted soaring above the high cliffs. Along the clifftops are rock pipits, whitethroats, linnets, and stonechats. Offshore birds include skuas and shearwaters. On occasion dolphins and porpoises inhabit the waters.

Start Coast to Coast Path courtesy Dave DunfordThis is a good area for walking as it encompasses part of the Cumbria Coastal path and is the beginning of the famous Coast to Coast walk, a 190 mile long walk that ends in Robin Hood's Bay, Yorkshire. Walkers can spot the remains of old mines and quarries.

St Bees RSPB Nature Reserve
Grid Reference: NX959118
Tel. 01697 351330
Email: stbees.head@rspb.org.uk
Website of Royal Society for the Protection of Birds: www.rspb.org.uk
St Bees Cliffs by Ann BowkerOpen: open site
The nearest village, St Bees, is located on the B5345 south of Whitehaven.
Car park : Copeland Borough Council Pay and Display car park at St Bees shore, adjacent to the reserve entrance.

Photos courtesy of Ann Bowker , Tony Richard , David Packman and Dave Dunford The Geograph British Isles Project

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