Blow the cobwebs away with a refreshing stroll along Blast Beach. Today this stretch of the Durham Coast is known for its spectacular wildflowers, with the likes of bloody cranesbill, dyer’s greenweed and devil’s-bit scabious providing a colourful backdrop for the birdsong of the local grasshopper warblers. But it hasn’t always been so vibrant. The area was once home to the biggest coal mine in Europe and to some of the world’s worst coastline pollution, before a clean-up project involving the National Trust and thirteen partner organisations cleared the way for people and wildlife.
It remains pleasingly atmospheric though, and the beach is perhaps most famous for its use in the opening scenes of David Fincher’s 1992 film Alien 3, where Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley crash lands onto the dystopian, industrial coastline of the planet Fiorina 161. Whether you’re drawn by its cinematic heritage or the flora and fauna, head towards Nose’s Point for free parking, and take the accessible path from there — but be careful, the National Trust warns that the path is steep and uneven in places.