It would seem that as a nation, we do all love to be beside the seaside. In a recent survey by the National Trust in partnership with YouGov, 76% of people agreed that ‘being by the coast really makes me feel alive’, and 94% that ‘it's important to me that Britain's coast is kept beautiful for future generations to enjoy.’

However, the coast is in need of help. As Rob Joules, General Manager for the National Trust North Devon Countryside and Coast, explains, “our coastlines are increasingly under threat from erosion, rising sea levels, loss of wildlife habitat and over development.”

He continues, “the coast is important, it gives people a place to reconnect with nature, to find peace and solitude, or be active walking or running. It’s the canvas people can paint their experiences onto.”

As the nation’s largest coastal landowner, with over 775 miles of coastline in England, Wales and Northern Ireland currently under its care, the National Trust is working hard to conserve and protect ever greater areas. It takes a lot of time and resource to do this. “Every mile of coastal footpath costs the National Trust £3,000 a year to maintain. And that’s just the footpaths!” notes Rob.   

“Caring for the coastline and countryside is about more than just fences and paths. We want people to know they’re on National Trust land by the quality of the experience they have, the accessibility, how natural it feels, the richness of the wildlife they see and the sounds they hear.”


Game changers


As with most charities, the challenge is finding the money. But Rob thinks that with gifts in Wills and donations to our coastal projects, there is hope for the future. “Gifts in Wills are game changers. More than 90% of donations to the coast (between 1965 and 2015) came from people leaving a gift in their Will. Gifts come in all sizes, as do the projects we tackle, so every gift helps.”

Rob gives some examples of where gifts in Wills have made a difference. “Take Trevose Head in Cornwall. Thanks to gifts left in Wills and other donations, the National Trust was able to buy this famous stretch of coast, a once in a lifetime opportunity to protect and manage this beautiful headline for wildlife to flourish and people to enjoy. But buying it is just the first step, now we need to raise funds to start the work needed to permanently protect this area for people and wildlife for ever – doing bio-surveys, managing habitats and creating environments where coastal wildlife can flourish. And of course, caring and repairing footpaths and fencing so that everybody can enjoy the stunning views.”

Pictured: Visitors on the coastal path at Woolacombe, North Devon. Photo credit: Solent News and Photography Agency © National Trust Images

One of the challenges


Ensuring access to the coastline is an ongoing challenge. “The award-winning beach at Woolacombe is an incredibly popular spot,” says Rob, “it can have 15-20,000 visitors on a summer’s day. We recently used a gift to create a new ‘Tramper’ vehicle route, replacing steps with a sloped path so that everyone can enjoy this beautiful part of the world.”  

Another example is Golden Cap in Dorset: England’s only world heritage site, and the highest point on the south coast. Rob picks up the story, “one of our supporters loved the view from the top so much, she left a gift in her Will to be used there. Her generosity meant we had the £1,000 needed to replace the last stile with a new kissing gate. Last Saturday we went for a walk with friends, up to Golden Cap from Charmouth. We could push the buggy, with my five-month-old baby, all the way to the top without having to clamber over stiles. It was amazing to be able to experience the view all together.”


All kinds of gifts


“We rely on gifts of all kinds,” explains Rob. “From gifts in Wills to gifts of time from our volunteers. We have a Bunkhouse in Exmoor that sleeps up to 18, where volunteers on working holidays can stay. A donation from one kind supporter’s Will meant we could improve the Bunkhouse facilities, making it more comfortable for the volunteers donating their time to help the local wildlife habitat.”

Asked for a final word, Rob sums up, “our coastlines are forever changing. Gifts in Wills enable us to be able to react to natural circumstances, protecting and conserving these special places and their natural habitats for generations to enjoy.”


Learn more

The National Trust is a conservation charity, dedicated to protecting and restoring special places and buildings for ever, for everyone.

The nation’s largest coastal landowner, the National Trust cares for more than 775 miles of coastline. It also looks after over a quarter of a million hectares of land, and thousands of historic buildings and monuments. These places and spaces are where memories are made, minds refreshed and friendships strengthened. It’s also where wildlife habitat is protected. By leaving a gift in your Will, big or small, you’re directly helping to protect precious coastline for generations to come.

If you’d like to know more, or are considering leaving a gift to the National Trust in your Will, visit