Barrowmouth Bay fire

We were so saddened to see the damage a moorland fire did at Barrowmouth Bay on Sunday evening.  The circumstances around why the fire started are not currently known.

Not only will the impacts of the fire be felt environmentally but the emergency services, who are already stretched, had to attend an unnecessary call.  We would urge you to be considerate and act responsibly when you go outside. Ensure that you follow government advice to maintain your social distance, only go out if absolutely necessary and wash your hands regularly.



Coronavirus cancellation

In light of the government’s advice about the Covid-19 outbreak we’re cancelling our St Bees beach clean due to take place on 26 March, and our events which were due to take place in April and May. We’re really sorry about this but hope you understand. We’ll update the website, our Insta and the National Trust Whitehaven Coast facebook page with any future event information regarding postponement or cancellations as soon as we can. This doesn’t stop you collecting litter if you visit the beach, just keep your distance from other beachgoers and make sure you wash your hands. We hope to be back out on the beach soon – see you there!

We’ve been busy getting Cumbria buzzing

Over the winter months we’ve spent several days with our fabulous volunteer team working at the entrances to Haig planting for pollinators so there will be some bare ground over the next few months.  Last autumn we planted a variety of native bulbs and this year we’ve used seeds to create some wildflower areas.  We hope some of these will flower in the summer and bring colour alongside vital food for our pollinators, but the best show will be next spring (2021!) after everything has had a year in the ground.

It might seem like planting wildflower seed and bulbs might be a simple task but it actually involves a lot of hard work.  First the areas of long grass are cut and the cuttings have to be raked off and removed.  Luckily we have our trusty ‘bank commander’ mower which we use to cut the uneven ground, and our team of volunteers get stuck in to rake the grass off to the side to make sure the ground is as clear as possible.


Then we clear the plots ready for seed sewing or bulb planting.  We’ve decided to create lots of smaller plots similar to a chequer board rather than one large area.  We hope that the wildflowers will self seed and spread over the coming years, and having the wildflower areas more spread out will help this process along.


Then comes the exciting task of spreading the seed or planting bulbs and covering the plots with turf to give some protection from the wind, rain, frost and inquisitive birds!  And then the waiting begins.  We hope that we might see some signs of wildflowers this summer but it’s possible not everything will flower this year so it may be a long wait until summer 2021 to get the full, colourful effect!

This is all part of our work with Cumbria Wildlife Trust to ‘Get Cumbria Buzzing’ and increase the amount of food available for pollinators across the county.

Our wild pollinators are in trouble.  More than half of UK bee, butterfly and moth species have declined in the past 50 years, and 30 species of bees face extinction. Over the last 75 years we’ve lost 97% of our flower rich meadows, 50% of our hedgerows, and 60% of flowering plants are in decline.

There are many reasons for this decline, including the intensification of agriculture, the increased urbanisation of our villages, towns and cities, and the construction and expansion of major road networks. Much of the remaining flower rich habitat which our pollinators depend on is now seriously fragmented or degraded.

To combat this loss we’re working with local Cumbria Wildlife Trust and a host of other organisations to take action.  More information can be found here.  We’ll be doing more work as part of this project throughout the year so keep an eye on the events page and facebook site for details of how you can join in.


West Cumbria Mining local liaison group

West Cumbria Mining Local Liaison Group

Our Project Officer, Sophie, is part of the local liaison group that has been set up by West Cumbria Mining (WCM).  This group was established in September 2015 and its membership is made up from a cross section of the local community, including representatives from WCM’s senior management team, relevant local authority officials (councillors or ward members), representatives from the local community including residents and representatives from environmental backgrounds.

The objective of the Group is to encourage discussion between interested parties of issues relating to the construction and operation of the new Woodhouse Colliery in Whitehaven.  Members of the group are able to make suggestions, raise questions and pass on feedback or comments from the wider community to the WCM team.  The group meets every two months at WCM’s Haig Colliery offices.

If you would like Sophie to raise questions, feedback concerns or get more information at the next meeting then please get in touch via email

Nurdles, nurdles, nurdles

A handful of plastic nurdles

At our last beach clean in St Bees we were shocked by the amount of small plastic that we found washed up.  The recent stormy weather and high tides has pushed all of this right up to the back of the beach.  Mixed in amongst the usual debris of rope, bottles, caps, cotton bud sticks and unidentifiable plastic were hundreds of tiny nurdles.  But what are nurdles I hear you cry?

Nurdles are small plastic pellets about the size of a lentil.  Billions of these tiny plastic pieces are used every year to manufacture almost all of our other plastic products.  Many are washed down the drains due to mishandling during production processes or lost during spills so they end up in the marine environment and we end up finding them washed up on beaches or riverbanks.


Unlike larger items such as rope, bottles, wood, buckets and wellies, nurdles can often go unnoticed at beach cleans because they are so small.  So, at our beach clean this week we will have jam jars and we’ll be collecting all of the nurdles we can find, counting them up and submitting our results as part of the Great Nurdle Hunt.  We’ll be sure to let you know how we get on!

Art on the Copeland coast

A major art programme for Copeland is to include a nationally-significant piece of public art.

Copeland Borough Council has appointed curators Aldo Rinaldi and Deborah Smith to develop art projects for the Connecting Cumbria’s Hidden Coast (CCHC) scheme, which the Colourful Coast is part of. The Hidden Coast will create a ‘challenge route’ between Whitehaven and Millom, incorporating events, artworks, attractions and activities.

The art curators will invite communities to get involved in developing a series of remarkable artworks along the 40-mile stretch of coast, responding to the spectacular landscapes. This part of the Hidden Coast project is being funded by the Coastal Communities Fund and Sellafield Ltd.

It will include securing a nationally-significant artwork for the borough, developed with world class artists. The piece will be influenced by the dynamic landscapes and natural beauty of the coast and the western Lake District fells.

Deborah Smith said: “We will engage with communities and stakeholders over the coming year to develop the programme in collaboration with the Hidden Coast Steering Group. This will include events where the public can get involved and influence the project.”

The first community events are:

  • Monday February 3: The Beacon Museum in Whitehaven from 2pm until 4pm
  • Tuesday February 4: Haverigg Lighthouse from 7pm until 9pm

Residents are invited to come along, ask questions and contribute their views. Further events are planned.

Copeland’s Director of Growth and Inclusive Communities, Julie Betteridge, said: “We are thrilled we have received funding for this unique project. It is an exciting opportunity to develop and diversify the economy, and in doing so, connect our coast to the Lake District National Park. The project will not only create a physical challenge route, but will enable people to explore Copeland’s art, culture and heritage using the natural environment. It will also provide improved footpaths and cyclepaths, giving residents a sustainable way to travel for work or pleasure.”

Aldo Rinaldi added: “We are delighted to have been appointed to curate this project for Copeland and its spectacular landscape. We are looking forward to working with the project team and communities to develop a vision and bring artists here to generate new ideas. The programme will also play a role in the creation of new attractions and activities, contribute to tourism, and enhance the cultural and artistic offer for locals and visitors. It is an opportunity for Copeland residents to be involved in and inspired by their cultural heritage through the eyes of artists.”

The Connecting Cumbria’s Hidden Coast project has attracted more than £1m from the Government’s Coastal Communities Fund and Sellafield Ltd is contributing £600,000 towards the scheme, which includes wider improvements and capital projects including a new café hub at Silecroft Beach, a climbing wall at Muncaster Castle, 1.4km of new cycle path and 1.8km of new and improved footpaths.

2019’s beach cleans – our efforts to help the Copeland coast

Volunteers and litter collected from Whitehaven North Shore

Throughout 2019 we have run beach cleans at Whitehaven and St Bees. With the help of nearly 400 volunteers, over 100 bags of litter have been removed from the Copeland coastline this year and we want to say a big thank you to all those people who have helped.

It’s great that so many people want to do something to tackle the marine litter crisis. There’s such an interest in the marine environment and coastal pollution that we have no shortage of volunteers whatever the weather.  We’ve had lots of interesting finds this year.  Plastic Smartie lids are a regular find and they often look like new, but in fact Smarties began to use cardboard caps in 2005 so when we find a plastic lid it illustrates how long plastic might be in the oceans for before it washes up and can be removed.


Alongside the fun finds there are also some saddening finds too. Dead sea birds have been seen on some occasions.  None of them have been tangled in litter, so it’s more likely that have died in rough seas or bad weather.  In November there was also a sad sight when a harbour porpoise washed up St Bees beach.  However, it did give a rare opportunity to get close to one of the marine mammals we know are out there, using our coastline but normally only catch glimpses of.

Alongside the time that people give us by coming along to help out, our beach cleans wouldn’t be as successful without the help of Carvetii Coffee in Threlkeld who donate hessian coffee sacks so we have less plastic going to landfill. A huge thanks must also go to the waste team from Copeland Borough Council who collect all the non-recyclable litter that we find.

We will be holding our last beach clean of the year on Thursday 19th December at Whitehaven North Shore and everyone is welcome to come down and join in, there will be mince pies and chocolates to help celebrate a successful year of beach cleaning.

The results are in…

Beach litter collected from Whitehaven North Shore

The results of this year’s Great British Beach Clean weekend have just been released by the Marine Conservation Society.  Over 10,000 volunteers took part in beach cleans across the UK, from Scotland down to the Channel Islands.

We organised a beach clean at Whitehaven’s North Shore as part of the GBBC activities and were lucky enough to have 8 volunteers coming along to help us collect and record all of the litter we found on the day.  While the majority of what we found was plastic (almost 53%) a lot of what we were collecting was fast food rubbish and waste which we were removing from the shoreline before it had the chance to make it into the sea and become part of the marine litter crisis.

We may have only found 1.7 pieces of litter per metre of beach, which is a lot less than the national picture of 5.5 pieces of litter per metre, but that doesn’t make our efforts any less worthwhile.  As always, we want to say a big THANK YOU to all the volunteers who give up their time to help us remove plastic, wellies, buckets, glass, paper, rope, food wrappers, trolleys, cotton bud sticks, tyres and everything else we find while we’re beach cleaning.  Our last beach clean of 2019 will be back in Whitehaven on the 19th December – come along and join in, there may even be mince pies!

Copeland coast boasts safe, clean waters

Winter sun over St Bees beach

St Bees beach is one of four managed beaches in Copeland which have once again been recognised for their clean, safe swimming water.

In DEFRA’s annual figures, Silecroft and St Bees were found to have ‘excellent’ water quality, Seascale has ‘good’ and Haverigg’s is ‘sufficient.’

The results mean locals and visitors to these picturesque areas can enjoy swimming and other activities in confidence.

The Environment Agency tests water at specific sites every week from May to September, to ensure the water is safe and clean for swimming and other activities.

These results lead to a rating of excellent, good, sufficient or poor from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The annual rating is based on an average over four years.

Copeland’s Chief Executive, Pat Graham, said: “It is great news that we have maintained these levels of cleanliness at our managed beaches.  I hope it will encourage people to come and enjoy our beaches – even in winter, they provide fresh air, open space and spectacular views.  Maintaining the highest-possible level of water cleanliness for St Bees and Silecroft is fantastic, and is part of our growing attractiveness to tourists. This stunning coastline is one of Cumbria’s hidden gems and we are proud to celebrate it.”

More information about designated bathing waters and how they are tested can be found here: