Know before you go
Parking informationParking is available alongside the B1340 (take care not to block the footpath/cycleway, or access to the properties). Parking is also available in Beadnell and Seahouses.
Grazing animalsAnnstead Dunes is grazed by Exmore ponies.
There are paths across the reserve and to the beach between each of the gates/stiles, and these are generally narrow and undulating. The easiest path leads from the kissing gate opposite Annstead Farm. This is quite level and generally over 100cm wide. However, at the seaward side it narrows and the gate to the beach involves an awkward step up onto the decking area. Beyond this there is a steep drop down to the beach.
The reserve is accessed in multiple locations through kissing gates which may not be suitable for people with special access needs. Please contact NWT for further information if required. The site consists of mostly narrow grass tracks with undulations and steep climbs onto some of the dunes. Access from the beach requires a steep climb through the dunes on soft sand.
When to visit
Best time to visitDuring spring and summer for wildflowers
About the reserve
The reserve, which lies between Beadnell and Seahouses, consists of a strip of mature sand dunes. The foredunes at the seaward edge are up to 10 metres high and slope steeply to the beach below. The fixed dunes to the back vary greatly in height and are at their highest towards the southern end of the site, while at the northern end, near Annstead Bridge, they are lower than the foredunes. These fixed dunes once hosted important flora which has diminished through the development of marram grass and scrub. Northumberland Wildlife Trust has fenced areas of the dunes to enable grazing using Exmoor ponies and this has helped to open up the grass to allow more of the dune flora to thrive. Selective removal of the scrub, concentrating on the sycamore, is also undertaken to preserve the dune conditions. Plants to look out for include bloody cranesbill, lady’s bedstraw, bird’s-foot-trefoil and restharrow.
Other plants that occur on the reserve include hemlock and houndstongue, and the site is well used by narrow-bordered five spot burnet and cinnabar moths. There is also a colony of common lizards on site. The foreshore beach and Annstead Rocks are outside the boundary of the reserve. However, they are a part of the Northumberland Shore SSSI and have been identified as a potential wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention and a Special Protection Area (SPA). The beach down as far as the lower water mark provides an important feeding site for many waders, including redshank, curlew, sanderling and ringed plover. The rock strata of Annstead Rocks dip from north to south resulting in numerous rock pools being formed at low tide which contain a rich variety of inshore marine flora and fauna.
A viewing platform is situated looking over the beach just beyond the entrance opposite Annstead Farm, on the seaward side. Toilets, shops and parking are available in Beadnell and Seahouses which are to the south and north of the reserve respectively.