Scarborough to Kingston upon Hull

East RidingWe decided to take a weekend hotel break, and took advantage of a coastal base at Bridlington. It was not the most exciting venue in the country, but convenient for Flamborough Head and Spurn Point.

We were staying in a hotel that was past its sell-by date; the service and food were excellent but the rooms depressing. 90% of the guests were of the permed hair brigade.


Kilnsea This lovely, long coastline is continually in process of erosion with villages and towns that were thriving a few hundred years ago now beneath the North Sea. The thin sandy headland of Spurn Head has often changed shape by deposition and erosion whilst the area enclosed by the spit, called Sunk Island, has emerged from the sea.

The soft coasts of Yorkshire and Norfolk can be lost at the rate of one metre per year. But not all erosion on the coast is bad. The material washed away from one length of cliff appears along the coast as a sand dune or saltmarsh. Without erosion, dune and saltmarsh would be starved of new sand and silt - and in time would disappear.

Beach at Hornsea

Some defences are acceptable and sea walls and groynes protect valuable farmland and railway lines, at least in the short term. Some are ugly and would be out of place on an unspoilt stretch of coast. Other defences cut off the supply of sand and shingle vital to maintain features along the coast, so protection displaces the effects of erosion from one point to another.

Scarborough is in the moorland North Riding that stretches to the Pennines. Travelling south to Filey, you enter the flat, arable farming area of the East Riding that goes all the way to the Humber.


ScarboroughAt its northern end is the harbour which was originally the heart of the Viking settlement and has since grown into the modern resort town. The harbour still plays an important part in the life and economy of the town with its fishing industry and sailing activities. The far end of the bay is dominated by Scarborough’s Spa complex which provides seaside entertainment in the summer and an important conference venue.

Scalby NessScalby Ness rocks jut out above North Bay which is a venue for jet skiing. There are various amusement attractions around here: from the Sea Life Centre we took a narrow gauge railway trip to Peasholme Park with a boating lake and swimming complex and came back on the chair lift.

North BayMarine Drive runs around the bay and the cliffs are topped by graceful hotels.

The town is said to be founded by Norsemen and in medieval times traders came here for a famous 45 day fair. When mineral waters were discovered it became a stylish spa in the 18th century and the first seaside resort.

Scarborough CastleWe visited the large castle which stands on a headland separating the bays. Now in ruins, with a 12th century keep, it was once an ancient British camp and Roman signal station. From here, there is a good view over the red roofed town and small fishing harbour.

grave of Anne BronteThe grave of Anne Bronte is in the churchyard on the cliff.

Along the southern promenades are amusement arcades, theatres, eating places and two cliff lifts. At the top are museums, a large shopping centre and numerous hotels including the imposing Grand.

South BayThe South Bay and its stretch of golden sands has remnants of a past age with its Spa, bandstand and abandoned outdoor bathing pool. There are zigzag paths on the cliffs and a sunken Italian garden.

Black Rocks in 1992At Black Rocks, a car park has been built on the site of the hotel that slipped into the sea in 1992 when a geological fault caused the cliff to fall away overnight.

AliThis is one of the better traditional seaside resorts I have been to and I like the place.

(We have paid Scarborough several visits since this trip, mainly because daughter number two studied internet computing here, at a campus of Hull University.)

Cayton Bay

Cayton BayThe coast continues with sandy beaches interspersed by craggy outcrops with names such as White Nab, Casty Rocks and Cunstone Nab. The coast path follows the cliffs but the nearest road is the A165 with small roads that all seemed to end at caravan parks.

Pill boxCayton Bay is hidden behind a housing estate but is worth finding. We parked next to an aqua shop and the path down to the beach is fairly steep. On the beach are remnants of wartime pillboxes.


view from country parkThe North Cliff country park has nice views and access to the beautiful sandy beach from where small sailing boats were being launched.

Filey BriggFiley Brigg is a mile long coralline oolite reef jutting out at the top of Filey Bay and half is under water. Erosion has carved ledges and caves and it provides a natural pier and breakwater for Filey.

The walk along the Brigg was smashing, the sea on our left was crashing over the rocks but on our right was as calm as a millpond.

Filey BriggErosion has caused the final part of the path to be fenced off but you can still clamber down over the rocks.

Footpath markerThe 110 mile long Cleveland Way runs around the coast from the north and ends here on top of the cliff. There is a monument at this meeting place with the Wolds Way, where it swings inland and goes as far as the Humber Bridge.

Filey BayThere is a very large sandy beach and most of the town stands on the cliff overlooking the crescent shaped bay. It is now a modern holiday resort with a long promenade and the usual fun fairs.

FileyIt is a surprisingly nice town and there was an Edwardian weekend going on. We went for a coffee and were able to watch the Bradford Pipe Band marching and performing in the street (including women pipers and drummers). They were very good.

Primrose Valley and Reighton Sands are holiday villages.

Flamborough Head

Bempton CliffsWe took the road to Flamborough and found the RSPB visitor centre at Bempton Cliffs. It was very busy as the sun was shining and apparently it is a good time to see the nesting birds. There were some serious twitchers in their khaki shorts and sporting enormous camera lenses.

Bempton CliffsThe 400ft cliffs at Bempton are the best mainland breeding ground for sea birds in England, including gannets, kittiwakes, herring gulls, guillemots, razorbills and puffins. Not being able to tell a kittiwake from a sparrow we took a marginal interest, enjoyed the scenery, bought a map and moved on.

The chalky cliffs of the headland jut out where the Wolds plunge into the sea. Ships have often floundered here and it is known as Little Denmark having been taken by Vikings 1,000 years ago.

Flamborough HeadWe crossed the 2,000 year old Danes Dyke that was built as a fortification, an ancient deep ravine cutting across the headland for 2½ miles from shore to shore.

Thornwick Bay

It was £2 to take the road to Thornwick Bay (with caves) and we thought this was a bit cheeky so we drove through the village to the North Landing where a cliff top car park overlooks a bay used for unloading crab pots and looked perfect for smuggling. There are danger signs on the cliffs as the paths are eroding so much, but we strolled to the top.

Joke cornerOn the way we passed a corner full of boards displaying one line jokes in aid of a charity. We put some money in the box as we had such a good chuckle - £10,000 had already been raised. Good on them!

The best views were by the lighthouse on the headland overlooking Stottle Bank Nook and Selwicks Bay (pronounced Silex) - home to numerous birds on the ledges. The sea had eroded the cliffs into arches and stacks but was itself calm as a millpond today.

Old lighthouseNearby on the cliffs were two previous incarnations of the lighthouse - one a tower now surrounded by a golf course and the other a curious fire basket/beacon affair made of wrought iron.

The south face of the headland also has a landing but this was for the more boaty types and is an IRB station. There are fine views over Bridlington Bay from the cliff path. The chalk of the Yorkshire Wolds thrusts out into the sea and there are some lovely coastal walks.


Bridlington - southThis used to be the most genteel of the Yorkshire resorts and there are still signs of this in the buildings, although the place is now depressingly dull. It has long stretches of sand to the north and south of the harbour and is still a working port with fishing boats, yachts and pleasure boats.

Originally there were two towns - Burlington and The Quay. The former, a mile inland, is now known as the Old Town with a 12th century church Bayles Gate and some 18th and 19th century houses.

We went for an evening stroll and the place was almost deserted. The fun fair was closed up but we noticed that an astronaut had landed and impaled himself on the side of a large wall. There were several amusement arcades but only one was open - and empty. Perhaps the holiday season hasn't started yet. There were a couple of bored looking bouncers outside a disco club and someone singing Eddie Cochran songs in another.Bridlington - north

We went back the next morning and the prom (beautifully paved) was still empty. Despite the lack of tourists there were no parking spaces left...... maybe the tourists went to Filey because there was nowhere to park in Bridlington!


SkipseaWe drove south to Fraisthorpe Sands but it was £1 to park, raining and there was nothing much to see. There are remains of an old Norman castle at Skipsea but all we found were bleak caravan parks with numerous static vans surrounding fish and chip shops. .

At Atwick is the Hornsea British Gas storage facility where North Sea gas is stored in old salt mines.


HornseaThe old village extends to the sea with boarding houses and a sandy beach. First impressions as we drove in were good, but by the beach it was back to the ubiquitous caravans and amusements.

freshwater mereThe freshwater mere is only a mile from the sea and was formed by glacial deposits. It is a wildfowl sanctuary and has some rare plants on the two small islands. A path around it is 5 miles long. There were vast numbers of large ducks and geese by the lake and some were very interested in us when we lowered the car window, obviously used to being fed.

The main attraction is Hornsea Pottery and Freeport; we couldn't actually find the pottery but there was a small shop in amongst many other cut price brand name shops. Huge numbers of people were out bargain hunting at places like Laura Ashley, Wrangler, Sweater shop etc. We were rather disappointed with this purpose built complex but we had some lunch and bought a few books and sweaters. I overheard someone refer to it as a shanty town.

The Holderness Peninsula

This peninsula has 30 miles of coast terminating at Spurn Point with another 20 miles of river estuary coast to Hull. It is flat and fertile and the mudflats are a birdwatcher's paradise.

Erosion at Aldbrough

We passed a rifle range at Rolston Sands and saw a windmill at Mappleton with a roof that looked like a mosque. All along the shore there is a coastal path but the nearest road lies a mile inland separated by MOD property and a few roads leading to caravan parks.

The fields are very large, lacking hedges and animals and the main crops seemed to be wheat and barley.


tourist information centreThis is a quiet seaside town with the usual attractions and with the tourist information centre housed in an unusual castellated building that looked like a posh gateway to the beach. Photographs inside showed storm waves crashing over the top.

Withernsea lighthouseThe most unusual lighthouse - now a museum - was built in 1892 and is in the centre of town with houses right up close to it. As a resort, it was pretty dull but it might have been nicer in the sun.

gas terminalThe cliffs rise to their steepest at Easington where there is a large gas terminal with imposing blue structures and pipes behind big wire fences.

The first North Sea gas was pumped ashore here in 1967 - to Burton-on-Trent, where we live.

Spurn Point

Spurn - old roadWe stopped at Kilnsea at the information centre which was originally an inn and is now 300 yards nearer the sea than when it was built. We found that we were able to drive all the way to the lighthouse along the 3½ mile toll road for £2.50.

Spurn sea defencesThe spit is only 10 yards wide in places, lengthening by 2 feet a year and moving westwards. The road disappears in places and has been replaced by movable concrete slabs as it is constantly moving with the shore line. It now criss-crosses the footpath and the track of the old military railway.

Spurn - lighthouseAt the end are the lighthouse and a small community of houses servicing the permanently manned lifeboat station and pilots control tower. The view over the Humber was superb and a constant stream of vessels went past the mudflats from Grimsby and Hull.

Spurn PointWinding footpaths lead in all directions around old wartime shelters, through the marram grasses and there were some lovely patches of pink pyramidal orchids. The RSPB have set up a heligoland trap to catch and count the migrating birds. I hope it dosen't erode away completely.

We left wishing we had more time to walk some of the paths and decided on a more leisurely return visit, but this time we made do with a visit to the pub in Kilnsea.

The Humber Estuary

Sunk IslandPatrington was once an important market town and there is a magnificent parish church known as the 'Queen of Holderness'. Built in 1310, it has a tall spire which can be seen as far away as Lincolnshire. Sunk Island is an area of marshy farming land that has reclaimed itself from the sea.

There are no hedges at all but many long straight channels called 'Drains' and a few farms with names like Thorn Marsh, Near Marsh, Far Marsh and Green Marsh. We ended up at a dead end in one of the marshes losing our way completely.

Humber Bridge from PaullTo the south west the land merges into wide mudflats and we found a way through Thorngumbald to Paull where there is an excellent viewpoint to see the Humber Bridge.

We were able to photograph the bridge and the dockland skyline of Hull just as a thunderstorm broke. There were flashes of fork lightning and large hailstones and then a double rainbow signalled the start of a calm sunny evening.

Kingston Upon Hull

White phone boxBadly bombed in the Second World War and now largely rebuilt, Hull is one of the country's largest ports, running for seven miles down the north side of the Humber estuary and with the largest fishing operation.

Old Spurn lightshipWe noticed that the phone boxes are white as the municipality has had its own system since 1904. We ended this trip short of the city in sight of the vast Humber Bridge.

See more about Hull on the Humber page.