Saltfleetby-Theddlethorpe Dunes and Gibraltar Point

Our work covers the two largest sand dune systems in Lincolnshire: Saltfleetby-Theddlethorpe Dunes and Gibraltar Point. Both are Sites of Special Scientific Interest, National Nature Reserves and are connected by 26.5km of coast. The sand dunes have built up slowly here because the prevailing wind is an offshore westerly one, and dune accretion can only happen when easterly onshore winds carry sand inland from the beach. Unusually for this area, these dunes are growing and a major new dune ridge has developed at Gibraltar Point in the last 20 years, making it a really exciting environment for us to work in. If you visited this beautiful slice of the Lincolnshire coast some years ago, make sure to come back soon to see how the landscape is changing naturally!

Our project on the Lincolnshire coast will help rejuvenate sand dune systems at Saltfleetby-Theedlethope, Gibraltar Point and Cleethorpes. Work here is jointly led by Natural England and Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust.

Our team will restore the wildflower-rich fixed dunes and grey dunes by creating areas of bare sand, clearing some scrub, and removing non-native species which have escaped from nearby gardens to choke the dune scrub, such as traveller’s joy (clematis). This will help a wide range of plants, mosses, lichens and animal species that need short grassland with areas of bare sand. To support the populations of natterjack toad and the rare crucifix ground beetle, the dune slacks will be rejuvenated and areas of bare sand will be created to support rare plant and moss species.

Photos from the Lincolnshire Coast

Ponies and cattle also graze the dunes at Saltfleetby to keep the growth of sea buckthorn low. This spiky plant can overtake dune habitats and stabilise dunes. Its growth was once limited by dune-dwelling rabbits, but their population has dramatically declined so the ponies and cattle now fill that role, allowing biodiversity to flourish. Grazing will also help us re-discover important WW2 architecture hidden in the dunes!

We will also help to re-create the historic landscape along the Great Eau, linking the floodplain grazing marshes to the dunes in an area known as The Washlands. We will re-create a dune ridge which was flattened for agriculture in the 1950s and create new pools and wetland scrapes, offering breeding or overwintering birds more safe refuge areas.

As part of the project, the building of new accommodation is proposed at both Saltfleetby -Theddlethorpe and at Gibraltar Point for long-term NNR volunteers or apprentices helping to manage the habitat, monitor wildlife or conduct scientific projects. We hope that these will empower the next generation of conservationists and enable more people to explore this incredible habitat.

Cleethorpes Dunes

Further along the Lincolnshire Coast at Cleethorpes Dunes, we will be undertaking scrub clearance between the main blocks of scrub so that the dune grassland can flourish. Previous scrub clearance by North East Lincs Council has resulted in flower-rich wet grasslands where each summer hundreds of orchids bloom.

Wildlife you might see on the Lincolnshire Coast

Amphibians in the dune slacks include the natterjack toad and the smooth newt. In the drier grassland you may also be lucky to spot a common lizard - although they do move fast! Rimac is a great place to see water voles; keep an ear open for the plop of one entering the water about our easy access trail.

Among the many species of bird which use this coastline as a breeding site, keep your eyes open to spot turtle dove, singing skylark and marsh harriers. In the autumn / winter the site is an important stop-off for feeding and resting waders / wildfowl which use the saltmarshes and flood plain grazing marsh. We also get a several rare species which draw in bird enthusiasts.

On a warm sunny day you are likely to see a number of bees, dragonflies, damselflies and ground beetles. Butterflies too, can be found flitting between a range of flowers, including small heath, green hairstreak and wall. Watch for the crucifix ground beetle along the edges of the wet and dry dunes.

Sea buckthorn is easy to spot with its spiky bushes and bright orange berries. Other plants you might see include beautiful bee marsh and orchids, harebells, bird’s-foot-trefoil, common centaury, yellow-rattle, viper’s-bugloss and fairy flax.  The shorter rabbit-grazed grassland also supports a number of mosses and lichens which give the area an interesting texture.

Tish Cookson - Lincolnshire

Meet Your Friendly Face in Lincolnshire

Tish Cookson
People Engagement Officer, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust

My background is in zoology and conservation, but my heart is in finding ways for communities to connect with nature. I’ve come to realise that people find it easier to protect what they care about, and often only care about what they have experienced. I’m thrilled to be a part of this project because it's an opportunity for more people to learn the benefits of the outdoors, discover wildlife wonders on their doorstep and help protect Europe’s most threatened habitat.

You can get involved!

We are planning a whole host of events, guided walks, nature talks, citizen science projects, volunteering and training or work experience opportunities for the whole community to get involved in.

We’ll also be offering opportunities for local schools to explore the dunes and learn about the importance of sand dune habitats and species. We will regularly update our events page on this website, so remember to check back often to see what we’ve added to our exciting calendar!

hero 20190626_145532