Beast Cliff (Robin Hood's Bay) Special Area of Conservation

© Heather Davison-Smith

Beast Cliff (Robin Hood’s Bay) SAC is an important site for vegetated sea cliffs

The complex mixture of hard and soft cliffs along the SAC (which spans from Staintondale, through Ravenscar and towards Robin Hood’s Bay) creates one of the best examples of vegetated sea cliffs on the north east coast of England.

Vertical hard cliffs support maritime vegetation which specialises in colonising crevices and ledges, whilst the softer more gently sloping cliffs tend to be covered in scrub and small areas of woodland.  The continual slippage and erosion of these softer materials create constant change at the site, allowing new vegetation to establish and attracting a wide range of wildlife.


Map of the SAC

How is the protected area managed?

The SAC falls entirely within the Maw Wyke to Beast Cliff Site of Special Scientific Interest, which is also designated for similar geological, vegetation and intertidal features.  The extent and distribution of key habitats within the protected area are periodically monitored by Natural England and other land managers, such as the North York Moors National Park.  The dynamic nature of the cliffs and the underlying geology mean that minimal active management is required.  Although vegetation trampling and litter where the protected area is publicly accessible has been noted, it is not thought to have significant impacts on the features of the site.  Natural England has produced supplementary advice for the site, to support ongoing management.

Partners with direct responsibility or interest in the Beast Cliff (Robin Hood’s Bay) SAC can access specific advice and guidance from the YMNP’s Marine Protected Area (MPA) Management Group.  This group works to ensure that Yorkshire’s MPAs are managed appropriately, and that each protected area is considered both individually and on an ecosystem-scale.

Natural England Advice
© Heather Davison-Smith

Features of the SAC

The SAC is designated for vegetated sea cliffs of the Atlantic and Baltic coasts, which are classed as Annex 1 habitats under the EU Habitats Directive.  The site has five distinct areas of geological interest, in addition to the vegetation on the cliffs and the intertidal habitats on the rocky shore.  The vegetation is influenced by both the underlying geology and the salt spray from the North Sea, creating a mosaic of plant species.

More details

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