Nature is a winner on the Durham Coast

Wildflowers add colour to grassland overlooking Beacon Hill and the sea

A project to restore rich meadows and grasslands along a five mile stretch of the Durham coast will begin this year in a new conservation project funded by players of the People's Postcode Lottery.

We've got big plans to create 50 hectares of wild flower meadows between Hawthorn Dene and Cotsford Field, Horden, benefitting wildlife including a variety of plants, birds and insects. The project has been made possible as part of a generous award of £750k made to the National Trust by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

The tern sculpture is a well-known local landmark in Cotsford Field, Horden
A metal sculpture of a tern against a backdrop of tall grass in Cotsford Field
The tern sculpture is a well-known local landmark in Cotsford Field, Horden

The £40k project will focus on the removal of species such as bracken and Himalayan balsam, which are currently out-competing native species in some areas, followed by the management and improvement of grassland through a programme of cattle grazing and grass cutting. Cattle grazing encourages wild flower growth as cattle crop the grass and turn over the soil, creating good growing conditions for meadow flowers such as wild thyme, bird’s-foot trefoil, bloody cranesbill and common rock-rose, the larval plant of the rare Durham Argus butterfly. Areas fenced off for grazing will also reduce disturbance to ground-nesting birds including skylark, lapwing and grey partridge.

" The support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery is a huge boost to nature conservation on the Durham Coast. This special area features some extremely rare magnesian limestone habitat. It’s the only place in the world where you find this geology on the coast, which in turn leads to an unusually diverse range of wild flowers and insect life. Some meadows are home to up to 50 species of plant life in a square metre and we want to extend these areas. Lots of local residents and visitors who already enjoy the coast will be able to see improvements over the coming years – it’s very exciting. Meadows will become healthier and more wildlife rich, views of this fantastic coastline will become even more beautiful. We’re proud to be leading on this project; our rangers and volunteers can’t wait to get started on the work. "
- Eric Wilton, General Manager, South of Tyne property group
Wildflowers bloom in Cotsford Field, Horden
A field of wildflowers in full bloom
Wildflowers bloom in Cotsford Field, Horden
" We are thrilled that funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery to the National Trust has increased in 2018, supporting the charity’s nature programme for the first time, alongside continued support for Heritage Open Days. We are delighted to see players’ funding supporting significant conservation activity across England and Wales to improve a range of priority habitats, from coastal slopes and chalk grasslands, to woodland pasture, and to safeguard species that call these places home."
- Clara Govier, Head of Charities, People’s Postcode Lottery

As well as helping to restore meadows here on the Durham coast, the £750k award from players of People’s Postcode Lottery will be used to fund several other National Trust conservation projects, along with continuing support for Heritage Open Days. They include:

  • Creating lowland heath and wood pastures in Exmoor and Devon to give the High Brown Fritillary, the UK’s most endangered butterfly, a fighting chance for the future.
  • Woodland management, pond creation, building bat boxes and installing infra-red cameras to monitor bat populations in the South Downs.
  • Restoring grasslands and wildflower meadows along the North Pembrokeshire coast, helping birds including chough. You can read more here.
  • Planting hornbeam, beech and field maple trees at Woodside Green near Hatfield Forest.
  • Protecting and restoring chalk grasslands at the White Cliffs of Dover, following players’ support towards the acquisition of land immediately behind the cliff face in 2017.

Nationally, the National Trust is working with its tenants and partners to reverse the alarming decline in UK wildlife, aiming to restore 25,000 hectares of wildlife-rich habitats by 2025.

Anyone who would like to volunteer with our ranger team, to lend a hand with the meadow restoration project and other conservation work, can contact area ranger Mark Frain by email: mark.frain@nationaltrust.org.uk or phone: 07483 117657.