Doctor Who and coastal designations

by Jayne Glass

Southerndown Beach was designated as part of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast in 1972, as part of the designation system that was designed to protect the coasts of England and Wales.   A few decades later, Southerndown has featured several times  in the successful BBC television series ‘Doctor Who’ as Bad Wolf Bay (supposedly in Norway) and, more recently, as the alien home world of the Aplans.  This very picturesque stretch of beach is twenty miles to the west of Cardiff, with good surfing conditions (thanks to the Gulf Stream) and grand cliffs of sedimentary rocks.  The environment boasts unique coastal habitats such as sand dunes, cliffs, maritime grassland, and rocky and sandy beaches.

Earlier this month, an article about the Glamorgan Heritage Coast was published in The Geographical Journal.  Phillips et al. share in detail their findings of an ‘Incremental Scenic Assessment’ that was carried out on this 500km stretch of coastline.  Using a checklist of 26 human use and physical parameters, assessments were carried out at 500m intervals along the coastline.  Of the 47 sites assessed, only 3 were classified as attractive natural sites with high natural landscape values, demonstrating distinct variations in scenic quality along the coast.  This research casts some doubt on the validity of the current designated boundaries.

Read about the filming of Doctor Who on Southerndown Beach (BBC website)

Visit the Glamorgan Heritage Coast website

Read Phillips, M.R., Edwards, A.M. and Williams A.T. (2010) An incremental scenic assessment of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast, UK. The Geographical Journal (early view).

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