Nature on the East Yorkshire Coast

As often as we can, we heed the call of the East Yorkshire coast and head for the cliffs to indulge in a spot of wildlife and nature photography.

As well as being the largest county in the UK, Yorkshire is also one of the most beautiful. The East Riding offers stunning landscapes and incredible wildlife. 

My husband traveled the Pennine Way and completed the Coast to Coast Walk in his 20s, but we are both somewhat older now, so stick to shorter routes. 

The East Yorkshire coastline stretches from Spurn all the way up to Flamborough and offers all sorts of landscapes: from long sandy beaches to dramatic cliffs.

Spurn Point - the start of the East Yorkshire coast

Egret behind the visitor centre, Spurn Point

Spurn Point (also known as Spurn Head) marks the start of the fast-eroding Holderness Coast. As the sands drift, so does the point, a narrow spit of land with the Humber on one side and the North Sea on the other.

The mix of mudflats and sand attracts many birds between September and March and is a great place to visit if you're a birdwatcher, or just enjoy seeing huge flocks of birds on the move. From the Point you can look out over the huge expanse of the Humber estuary and on clear days can see across to the Lincolnshire coast.

It is no longer possible to drive down to the point, but it is a lovely walk as long as you keep note of the tides. However, there are shorter walks around the village of Kilnsea if you don't feel like the 7-mile walk across the sands. Birds are plentiful and other wildlife such as hares, roe deer, and foxes often make appearances in the area.

Flamborough Head

Danes Dyke beach, around the corner from Flamborough Head

Flamborough Head has not one but two lighthouses (as does Spurn Point). You pass the older one, alongside the road, as you approach the Head. Built from chalk in 1674, it was never used however it was restored in 1996. 

Taking pride of place on the Head is the "new" 1806 building, which was manned by a lighthouse keeper until 1996, and is still in service. You can park your car, enjoy some refreshments at the cafe, then take a footpath down past this lighthouse to the end of the head.

Flamborough is also famous for its chalk cliffs, which have been eroded by the sea to form arches on either side of the beach. You can choose to descend via the roadway or climb down the cliff path, but whichever you decide on, the walk back up will test you!

As at Bempton, you enjoy watching seabirds during the breeding season from mid-April to mid-July. The best time to go is during those months when you can see puffins and razorbills amongst the guillemots. Don't forget your binoculars.

From Flamborough you look out across Bridlington Bay and on a clear day can see as far as Whitby on the coast of North Yorkshire.

Bempton Cliffs

Bempton Cliffs, a couple of miles further up the coast, is home to thousands of seabirds. Here you can view the largest Gannet colony in England between March and September. Puffins, Guillemots, Razorbills, and Fulmar also visit for the breeding season. Viewpoints are situated along the top of the cliffs allowing for a wonderful wildlife photography experience. 

As you can see the birds from land, you avoid the risk of booking a sea trip only to find it canceled due to bad weather, which can happen elsewhere. There is still the option to go out on a boat trip from the seaside resort of Bridlington to see the birds from sea level if you wish.

My advice is if you are in the vicinity for more than a day, leave the boat trip till the end if you are at all frightened of heights! When you look up at the viewpoints atop the cliffs they seem a VERY long way up which might put you off going up there afterward!

The RSPB visitor centre at Bempton provides information about the birds, along with a shop, cafe, and conveniences. Seating is provided outside so you can still enjoy birdwatching while you eat your lunch. Watch out for the Tree Sparrows with their black cheek spots, but keep a careful eye on the Jackdaws or they may steal your food.

 Writing this page has made me yearn for a trip to the East Riding of Yorkshire again. Maybe soon. 

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