234. Bridlington to Hornsea

July 2011

This was a lovely walk along the coast of the East Riding of Yorkshire, starting from the large resort of Bridlington, which was mostly along beaches. Once again erosion was very much in evidence.

I was doing this walk from home, and this was the reason why I was starting from Bridlington. Bridlington is the first place since Hull on the east coast of Yorkshire that has a railway station, so I travelled there by train to start the walk.

I had earlier booked two single one from London to Bridlington and another back from Bridlington to London. By booking in advance this had reduced the cost to a grand total of £28.50 which wasn’t bad. I took the train to London Waterloo, two tube trains (to get between London Waterloo and London Kings Cross), then a train from London Kings Cross to Doncaster and finally a train from Doncaster to Bridlington. Whilst the trains were all busy they were punctual. After the long journey, I did not arrive until almost midday and so wanted to get going.

It was high summer though a cloudy day, so Bridlington was busy, but not overcrowded. I followed the road from the station down to the sea front. This bought me down to the sea front just south of the little harbour. Bridlington seemed to me a rather nice resort, with some grand buildings and I soon reached the first of these, Bridlington Spa.

Bridlington Spa

I didn’t stop of course, but it was clear this was once (and perhaps still is) a major and popular resort.

Bridlington Spa

It was clearly near high tide however, since the sea was lapping at the wall below the spa, with no beach to speak off. However just south of the spa I could take steps down onto the beach, away from the crowds of the promenade where there was now some sand between me and the wall at the back of the beach.

The beach at Bridlington

I soon came across the RNLI lifeguards, it reminded me a bit of Cornwall, to see the flags and the surf board of the life guards marking the patrolled part of the beach, something I’ve not seen for a while along the coast. I did wonder if this area is known for it’s surfing, but the waves did not seem unusually large.

I continued along the beach now past another traditional seaside attraction, donkeys.

Donkeys on the beach at Bridlington

It was feeding time as I passed so they weren’t giving rides and I was pleased to see they appeared to be well cared for.

I continued south along the firm sand of the beach, now with some impressive detached houses visible on the grassy cliffs above the promenade. Bridlington gave the impression of being quite a wealthy and desirable place.

Houses on the cliffs at Bridlington

As I headed south I could soon see the white chalk cliffs of Flamborough Head behind me. This walk was certainly proving good for memories, the view of white chalk cliffs reminding me of Kent and Sussex.

Flamborough Head, viewed from Bridlington

Along the promenade, I passed a row of neat and immaculate pastel-shaded beach huts.

Beach huts at Bridlington

However not a single one was in use, even on a Saturday in July (albeit, it was cloudy)! As I continued south I was nearing the edge of the town and enjoying the glorious beach that it has. A wonderful sandy beach, it is very clean and backed by the promenade and grassy cliffs.

The coast near Bridlington

The houses soon ended, though behind the beach were now numerous caravan parks, as this is a popular resort.

The coast near Bridlington

As I neared the end of that too, the people were becoming fewer and the beach was largely deserted and now peaceful. However some concrete blocks and an old World War II pillbox were a reminder that this coast was once the front line of our defences, thankfully it is peaceful now.

The coast near Bridlington

I do wonder how long such structures will last. They are a reminder of our sometimes difficult past of course, and after more than 60 years of exposure to the elements they are still remarkably complete.

As I continued south so too did the various concrete structures. Some of these would I presume have been at the cliff tops at one point, but this eastern code of Yorkshire suffers badly with erosion, so they had now all ended up on the beach.

The coast near Auburn

There was another reminder of the power of the sea ahead. I soon came to another beach car park at Auburn Sands. The map tells me this is “Medieval Village of Auburn (Site Of)”. The village was a victim of coastal erosion and was all lost to the sea, other than the farm (which was distant from the village centre) and so now the road just ends at the sea, but it makes a popular car park.

The coast near Auburn

The beach here was littered with the remains of concrete structures. I presume a mixture mostly old World War II defences, though I did wonder if some of it might also be the remains of the village buildings (though later I realised the village was abandonded about 250 years ago, and I don’t think concrete was used back then!).

The coast near Fraisthorpe

The car park had meant the beach was again busier for a while and I wasn’t the only one enjoying the beach and photographing the sea, this gird was using the old concrete “tank traps” as a convenient stepping stone to photograph the waves.

The coast near Barmston

The coast near Fraisthorpe

The beach was getting narrower now and there wasn’t much of a gap between the waves and the cliffs.

The coast near Barmston

I was glad it was not too far back to the road at Auburn, if I had to turn back, but fortunately that wasn’t necessary. The cliffs were clearly very soft with patterns soon appearing where even the wind had eroded the cliffs, whilst birds (Sand Martins, I think) had burrowed numerous holes into the top of the cliffs, leaving them looking a bit like Swiss cheese!

The coast near Barmston

I continued ahead and the cliffs soon got lower until there weren’t really any at all, just dunes and grass. In the middle of this was the stream called the Earl’s Dike. Thankfully the water disappeared through the sand before it even reached the sea, so crossing it was no problem. Beyond it, the cliffs began to rise again.

The coast near Barmston

The coast near Barmston

A track was marked along the cliff tops, but it is not marked as a public footpath or right of way, so I stuck to the beach. However I did see a couple walking it (as you can see below), so it looks like it might make a good alternative, if the tide is in.

The coast near Skipsea

Soon I regretted not having followed it myself, as the beach became difficult to walk on, with more concrete remains, this time eroded by the sea and taking up all the beach between the base of the cliffs and the waves. The cliffs here too had been eroded not by the sea but the wind, into the most amazing curving stripes. It was very pretty, but I did wonder how soft the cliffs must be if they can be eroded so much by just the wind!

IMG_0442

Getting over these rocks and debris was quite tricky, because they were also very slippery with sea weed, but I did make it around. Having done so the beach again widened and on the top of the cliffs were more caravans.

The coast near Skipsea

This is Barmston where once again the road simply drops off the cliffs. There did not seem to be any formal access to the beach from the caravan park, I suspect it was simply a case of trying to find a safe route down the eroding cliffs!

Footprints in the sand suggested others had been here this tide and I suspected they had come from the road or caravan park above. However heading south the other footprints ended and ahead I could see another obstacle. A concrete breakwater (which turned out to be a pipe on closer inspection) ran out from the base of the cliffs here. This was Barmston Main Drain.

The coast near Skipsea

Around this at the base of the cliffs were more rocks and boulders. These stretched right from the base of the cliffs to the waves, so I had to climb over them which was again tricky, with them being uneven and very slippery. You can see them below, as I looked back having made it around them.

The coast near Skipsea

Again the beach now widened, though there were more pebbles on the beach now, but not enough to make the walking difficult.

Just south of here I came across the remains of another building, just falling in great pieces off the low muddy cliffs, as the earth eroded from underneath it. Given the amount of concrete, I suspect this is another remnant from World War II.

The coast near Skipsea

I had another half mile or so along the beach before the next caravan park at Ulrome.

The coast near Skipsea

This time a rather ugly concrete sea wall had been constructed to provide some defence to the caravan park, with a metal staircase built over it, to provide access to the beach.

The coast near Skirlington

It certainly wasn’t pretty, and it appears it did not do it’s job well either! I did this walk in 2011. However the sea wall was badly damaged in a storm surge in December 2013. This washed away part of the wall (and at least one caravan above it). The wall was actually privately constructed and after the collapse the owners were served an emergency demolition notice in 2014, to remove the now dangerous remains. So now, it’s all gone, and the cliffs are again eroding at a rapid rate. Brian Williams has an interesting webpage that documents this erosion and the eventual destruction of the wall.

The tide being out I could continue below this sea wall though the beach was now covered with the debris that results from the rapid erosion of the caravan site above, presumably the concrete bases of the caravans and the remains of some out buildings are what I’m looking at.

The coast near Skirlington

Soon the debris gives way to shingle, making for harder walking.

The coast near Skirlington

Once the road ran along the cliff top here, but now it is a dead-end as sections have fallen over the cliffs. Along the cliff tops most of the way on to Skipsea was lined with caravans, but most were not visible from the beach and there was no access down. A few roads simply fell off the cliff!

The coast near Skirlington

The beach continued to be littered with debris as a result of the erosion of the road and buildings that once lined it. In places the sea was still very close to the cliff edge and I was getting a little worried about being cut off, though the presence of other footprints provided some re-assurance!

The coast near Skirlington

The geology seemed to have changed a little as soon the base of the cliffs had a darker earth layer, which the sea had eroded into patterns. At the top of the cliffs a few buildings could be seen in places, but I think most had been lost to erosion.

The coast near Skirlington

A little further along I passed a few people on the beach. I’m not sure where they had accessed the beach, but it was reassuring to see other people, as there isn’t a footpath along the cliff tops here, though I did see a few people walking up there too, so perhaps there is an unofficial path.

At one point the foundations of some sort of building could be seen hanging off the cliff, I think this is the remains of some of the buildings that were once on Hornsea Road, now lost to the sea. The collapse looked fairly recent, as the bricks were still intact on the beach below!

The coast near Atwick

The beach was soon deserted again as I left Skipsea (the main village centre is a bit inland anyway) and I continued along the now pleasantly sandy beach again, beside the waves.

The coast near Atwick

The coast near Atwick

In a couple of miles I reached Atwick. Again I think much of the village here has been lost to erosion. Certainly, the road just ended as it dropped over the cliffs, as with so many places along this part of the coast. Above I could just see the chimneys of a few of the houses, one defiantly flying the England flag from the top of it’s chimney. At the base of the cliffs could be seen areas of mud that had eroded off the cliffs and been eroded into little round balls of mud.

The coast near Atwick

The layers of the cliff were now clear to see with the lighter sandy soil at the top and darker softer soil at the base of the cliffs.

The coast near Atwick

In places too I could see caravans, though I’m not sure if these are of the holiday variety or used by the residents whose homes had been lost to erosion, since there weren’t rows of them, and they often had fences either side.

The beach north of Hornsea

As I neared Hornsea however there were soon lines of caravans peering over the cliff edge, clearly this one was a holiday park.

The beach north of Hornsea

The beach in Hornsea was quite nice, though with wooden groynes providing some sea defence.

The beach at Hornsea

Hornsea had a slightly run-down feel to it from this end I thought. I soon passed the towns hall, called Hornsea Floral Hall, though it did not look to be well used, there were a few posters advertising a production of Jack and the Beanstalk, but that was all, and it looked somewhat unloved.

Hornsea Floral Hall

The beach at Hornsea

I continued past the Marine Hotel and then turned inland to the little “bus station” for the bus back to Bridlington. I was against the clock a bit on this walk, as I had to be at Hornsea for 4pm, for the last bus to Bridlington, which departed then. Thankfully being a beach walk that was entirely flat, I made it with a little over 5 minutes to spare!

The bus ride back to Bridlington was interesting, because it took an hour, even though it was only a touch over 10 miles! The reason being that for much of the route the coast road had been lost to erosion. As a result, to serve the village the bus had to follow the main road (the B1242 and later the A165), but turn off it to the right to serve the dead-end roads to the various small towns and villages along the route, then make a U-turn and head back to the main road. If you’re not familiar with the areas (as I wasn’t) it can be a bit disconcerting that every time I saw a road sign for Bridlington, it seemed the bus turned a different way! However we eventually made it back to Bridlington after a scenic, but slow ride.

On reaching Bridlington, I headed back to the railway station. It is quite a grand station which has the appearance of having changed very little over the years and has a nice looking buffet, too.

Bridlington station

Sadly I didn’t have time to sample the latter as I only had 15 minutes before my train home. Instead I took the train to Doncaster and another from there to London, using the buffet on the latter for some food.

This was a very enjoyable walk, almost all the way along glorious sandy beaches, alongside the breaking waves. It was only interrupted by the odd bit of debris, rocks or sea defences that I had to get around. The other main memory of this walk is the sites of the battles between man and the sea – and it was clear from what I had seen on this walk that the sea always wins (eventually). It is a reminder of the power of the sea, and the evidence was visible throughout the walk, with the very soft cliffs that I was walking beside most of the time showing the clear effects of erosion by both the wind and sea.

Here are details of the public transport needed for this walk:-

East Yorkshire Motor Services (EYMS) bus route 130 : Hornsea – Atwick – Skirlington – Skipsea – Ulrome – Lissett – Barmston – Fraisthorpe – Bridlington. Twice per day Monday – Friday, increasing to three times a day on some days during the summer months (see the timetable for details). On Saturday and Sunday the bus runs twice per day during the winter and 3 times per day in the summer. It takes 1 hour and 5 minutes to travel between Hornsea and Bridlington. In addition, you can travel from Hornsea to Hull (there is a far more frequent service) and then take a train from Hull to Bridlington.

Here are the complete set of photos for this walk : Main Link | Slideshow

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