The National Trust

The National Trust was formed in 1895 with a very simple remit to protect places of historic interest or natural beauty and to allow access to them for people. This is essentially the core purpose of the National Trust Act of 1907 which still holds true today.

The first property of the Trust was Dinas Oleu, a small open hill above Barmouth in Wales, given to allow people of the town access to the countryside. From this small beginning the Trust has acquired coast over the last 115 years in England, Wales and Northern Ireland now owning 712 miles, nearly 10% of the coast in these countries.

Many coastal properties have been either given by generous patrons or purchased by the aid of the Neptune Coastline Campaign which was set up in 1965 to fundraise and buy ‘pristine’ coast that was rapidly being developed post war as seaside towns, caravan sites and leisure facilities expanded.

Neptune is still going strong and to date has raised £52m for acquisition and management. See about our work on the coast and latest film on climate change impacts at

The Trust looks after such iconic locations as the:

  • White Cliffs of Dover
  • Farne Islands off the coast of Northumberland and Lindisfarne Castle
  • Studland in Dorset; Needles and Tennyson Down on the Isle of Wight
  • Lizard Point, Tintagel, Boscastle and many other headlands, cliffs and dunes in the West Country
  • Orford Ness- one of the largest shingle spits in Europe
  • Giants Causeway and large areas of Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland
  • Durham coastline- the former ‘black’ beaches that are now clean again
  • Rhossili, Worms Head and Three Cliffs Bay in Gower
  • Much of the Llyn Peninsula in North Wales

Some of our properties are low-lying and made of soft materials which are susceptible to climate change and sea level impacts. We have been working with our local communities to understand these impacts in the future, trying to find sustainable solutions both for the land and the communities that live on our coastlines.

In 2006 our board of Trustees agreed the coastal policy of the Trust which can be read here.

Our current strategy is to ‘go local’ which means that there is much more autonomy for local staff to manage properties and the ‘Outdoors’ where we are pursuing camping, cycling and walking to encourage people to get active and enjoy the coast and the countryside. Link to ‘Outdoor Nation’


The Trust has been asked to contribute to the following consultations:

Coast Risk Assessment and Coast Adaptation

A basic guide to the coast risk assessment that the Trust has been undertaking of its properties (approximately 265 locations)

Where the coast risk assessment highlighted that the property needed to undertake a coast adaptation strategy we follow this project template and guidance.

We have some coast adaptation case studies which we are happy to share:

Other case studies are available and are still being developed.

CPN Newsletter:

For all the latest Coastal Partnerships Network news and events sign up to our e-newsletter today. NB due to a technical hitch the link here doesn't work so instead contact
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