The special and unique qualities of the Colourful Coast area have been recognised through many national definitions and designations, both on land and at sea.  Below are some of the definitions with links to follow where you can find more information.

Site of Special Scientific Interest


An SSSI is a legal nature/geological conservation designation. Usually these describe an area of interest due to rare species or geological features.

The St Bees Head SSSI is an 8km stretch of coast that was designated in 1995 for its biological and geological interest.

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Heritage Coast


Heritage Coast designations were established to conserve the best stretches of undeveloped coast in England.  St Bees Head was designated in 1992 and is one of only a handful without the extra protection of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or National Park.

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Read more about our work to extend the St Bees Head Heritage Coast further North in towards Whitehaven.

Marine Conservation Zone

Waves crashing on rocks, Colourful Coast, Cumbria

MCZs protect a range of nationally important marine wildlife, habitats, geology and geomorphology.  The Cumbria Coast MCZ reaches from Ravenglass up into Whitehaven.  It was designated in 2013 as it supports some of the best, most extensive and important examples of rocky shore habitats on the coast of north-west England.

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Scheduled Ancient Monuments

Saltom Pit beneath the cliffs, Whitehaven

Scheduled Ancient Monuments (SAMs) are nationally important archaeological sites.  Within the Colourful Coast areas there are several SAM sites including Saltom Pit, Haig Colliery buildings and Barrowmouth Gypsum and Alabaster mine.

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Geological Conservation Review


Geological Conservation Review (GCR) sites are nationally important sites which show all the key scientific elements of the geological and geomorphological features of Britain.  There are five GCR sites along the Colourful Coast found at Barrowmouth Beach, Fleswick Bay, Saltom Bay and St Bees.

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