Learn more about the work of the different organisations that protect and improve this area, and why Blackhall Rocks is special.
There are many different organisations that work to protect and improve this area:
- Durham County Council’s Countryside Service
- Durham Wildlife Trust
- National Trust
- Limestone Landscapes Partnership
- Durham Heritage Coast
The Durham coast was dramatically changed by the coal industry in the 20th century. It was restored as a result of work carried out through the Turning the Tide Project. For historical information see the Durham Heritage Coast Partnership website.
The coastal views are stunning and every day is varied; the wind, sunshine and sea fret alters the mood and can make it feel like a completely different place.
Magnesian Limestone Grassland communities – they are rare and they are here
The underlying geology at Blackhall Rocks is Magnesian Limestone rock, the thin soil on top is of poor quality with a high lime content. A rich and unique group of wildflowers and grasses, known as Magnesian Limestone Grassland, grows on this type of soil.
Plants found on the coastal grassland include cowslip, thrift and common rockrose. Most of this grassland has been destroyed in Britain over the past century and two thirds of what remains can be found in east Durham and Tyne and Wear. These meadows are best seen in June and July when they are in full bloom. The cliff tops contain the wildflowers greater knapweed, bloody cranesbill and birds-eye primrose.
A bird watcher’s paradise
These vast areas of wildflower-rich meadows and grasslands which are ideal for bird-watching. The coast has one of the highest densities of breeding skylarks in County Durham (populations have reduced nationally by 70%). Merlins often appear in the winter, attracted from the uplands to hunt small song birds. Other birds include short eared owl, stonechat, meadow pipit, reed bunting, kestrel and numerous sea birds.
Mammals and amphibians
There are brown hares, voles, foxes, stoats and weasels and one of the largest populations of toads in County Durham. In spring, an impressive sight are the large numbers of toads crossing back to their breeding ponds.
Volunteers are at the heart of our work. You can help manage this area by assisting the organisations below:
Help us to protect this special area
Magnesian Limestone grassland is sensitive and does not respond well to being trampled on, please stick to existing paths.
Clean up after your dog – dog poo which is left to rot on the ground increases the nutrient levels in the soil which means wildflowers cannot survive.
Keep your dog on a lead during the bird nesting season (March to August).
Thank you. Enjoy this special area.