Shifting shores at Middle Beach

Failing sea defences at Middle Beach in Studland

Old maps and photographs show that beach and slope erosion have been occurring at Middle Beach for well over 100 years.

The defences have added to the problem by starving the beach of new material so that levels have dropped in recent years.

These defences are now reaching the end of their lives. Instead of rebuilding them, we want to find a new location for the café and toilet facilities at Middle Beach that is out of harm’s way.

This is part of our national policy to work wherever possible with natural processes which constantly reshape the coastline.

Removing the defences will allow the shoreline to adjust to a healthier and more natural state. It is vital that we make sustainable choices now to ensure the wellbeing of our coastline in the future.


The Middle Beach Café has been at the heart of Studland for generations. The community and our visitors told us that they did not want to lose the café.

In Autumn 2016 the National Trust, Studland Parish Council and the Middle Beach Action Group came together to address these concerns and formed the Middle Beach Working Group.

The group meets once a month at our Purbeck office and currently consists of representatives from Studland Parish Council, the Middle Beach Action Group and the National Trust.


The group wants to provide a new café and toilets in a safer location at Middle Beach. During this transition period the current facilities and defences will be maintained.

It has undertaken consultation including four public drop-in sessions and 161 surveys to try and build up a clearer picture of how the strategy could work for all users of Middle Beach.

The consultation process identified an option for like-for-like facilities to be relocated to the Lower Coombe site.

A feasibility study was undertaken and as a result the National Trust presented an updated option to the Parish Council Meeting on Monday 21 January 2019.

This option includes a small seasonal unit at Lower Coombe and a café and facilities in the Middle Beach Car Park. 

Feedback has been invited and, as requested, the National Trust has also agreed to provide more information on its proposals, which will be discussed at the next Middle Beach working group meeting at the end of March.

Once the new facilities are open, the failing defences will be removed, allowing the shoreline to adjust to a natural state.