In recent years The Leas has attracted a wide variety of seabirds - from the thousands of kittiwakes that have nested in Marsden Bay to the turnstones and purple sandpipers that have taken over the remaining coast.
The number of nesting kittiwakes has steadily increased since they first appeared in the 1930's and Marsden is now home to over 5,000 pairs. Other breeding birds include the large fulmar, cormorants, shags, razorbills, and guillemots. Lizard Point is a great place to spot migrating seabirds in spring and autumn.
See them for yourself by borrowing some binoculars from the lighthouse.
The scenic views along the two and a half mile stretch of The Leas are complimented beautifully by the varied plant life which exists on the coast.
Maritime plants like thrift, scurvy grass and sea plantain thrive on this stretch of coast with the magnesian limestone rich soil supporting rich flora.
The coast is also home to Pyramidal orchids, autumn gentian and wild thyme amongst others; and for plants like torgrass, yellow wort and bee orchid, Marsden is the northernmost point at which they'll grow in Britain.
Where to see what
This area is important for its geology, land forms, wildflowers and sea birds. A Durham Coast Site of Special Scientific Interest for its vegetated cliffs, it's also a Northumbria Coast Special Protection Area and a recognised Ramsar Site as a wetland space of international importance.
Whitburn Coastal Park
Situated on reclaimed mining land, Whitburn Coastal Park is a bird watchers dream. Part of the site was designated a Local Nature Reserve in 2003 and features tree planting, a bird observatory and wetland habitats for a variety of creatures, including pochard ducks and ducklings.
Rocket Green has the richest variety of rare wildflowers on this coast. This clifftop meadow is home to autumn gentian, bee orchid and dropwort. Small scabious even grow in the shallow lime-rich soils.