Managed retreat at Birling Gap

National Trust Places

Perched on the cliff above the beach at Birling Gap, the all-in-one National Trust café, shop and information point welcomes an estimated 350,000 visitors a year. Whatever the weather, you can recline in the sun lounge, enjoying views towards Beachy Head in the east and the iconic Seven Sisters in the west.

Seven Sisters and Birling Gap © Howard Bristol Seven Sisters and Birling Gap
© Howard Bristol

But the cliffs hide a worrying truth; they are eroding by on average 0.7m per year, giving the sun lounge itself an estimated life span of 12 years.

As the National Trust is keen to work with (not against) natural processes wherever possible, the property team at Birling Gap are following a policy of managed realignment, and have come up with some creative ways to adapt to coastal change.

Firstly, they have been busy converting the building’s unused rooms, which are furthest away from the shore, into a comfortable beach…

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