This rates as one of the best walks I did on the east coast of England. It is a stunning stretch of coast with a huge variety of scenery and places of interest and it was helped by the fact the weather was just about perfect for my walk. It is also my last walk wholly in the East Riding of Yorkshire.
I did this walk as a day trip from home. A few months prior to doing this walk I had booked train tickets from London to Bridlington for £14.85 on the way there and £11.15 on the way back, so I was able to get a good price. I took the train to London Waterloo, two tube trains to get from there to London Kings Cross. A train from London Kings Cross to Doncaster and another train from Doncaster to Bridlington, where I ended my previous walk. Despite the complicate journey I arrived more or less on time, just before midday.
My previous walks on the coast of the East Riding of Yorkshire had been characterised by very soft badly eroding cliffs clay cliffs, which meant I’d walked most of the coast along the beaches because any footpaths that might have existed along the coast had long since been lost to erosion. On this walk the geology changes, as the soft clay cliffs give way to harder chalk cliffs (though chalk is still quite soft).
I made my way from the grand railway station down to the sea front, to the point I left it on my previous walk.
I turned left and followed the promenade to the small harbour. The harbour is quite busy with boats but because the tide is out, they are all resting on the sand.
On the far side of the harbour below a path are numerous little “lock ups” I assume used by fisherman to store their equipment, though some lobster pots are also stacked up in front of them. It seems that there is still a reasonable fishing industry here.
On the other side of the harbour I can look over the harbour wall to the beach beyond and the white chalk cliffs of Flamborough Head. I had been looking forward to this walk and the scenery ahead was looking wonderful.
The beach north of the harbour, the imaginatively titled North Sands is before me.
This is one of those beaches which doesn’t exist at high tide, as I can see the waves go right back to the sea wall at high tide and so all the beach that is visible is still wet. However it does look as if it might have built up, as there are wooden groynes all along the beach, but they are very short and I suspect they are mostly buried and I am only seeing the tops, presumably because there is now more sand then when they were built.
Bridlington seems to have both an upper and a lower promenade for a while so I stick to the lower one, as it is closer to the sea. I can see what I suspect were once hotels lining the road above (perhaps they still are hotels, but I don’t see any names).
I continued passing a small fairground with a few rides and arcades. After a while I decide to leave the promenade and head down onto the beach. It is less crowded and the firm sands are more comfortable to walk on than the tarmac of the promenade.
A land train also makes it’s way along the promenade, a sign this is a popular resort.
After a while at the back of the beach I start to see white chalk pebbles washed up from the chalk cliffs of Flamborough Head ahead.
The promenade now runs low right behind the beach and is lined with rows of beach huts, though brightly coloured they look a little like a block of garages (with colourful doors) from the beach.
As I near the start of the chalk cliffs of Flamborough Head I need to leave the beach and head up via a zig-zag path onto the cliffs, as I can see that the beach ahead now ends.
There is now a footpath right along the cliff tops. This is a proper long-distance walking route this time called the Headland Way, which rounds Flamborough Head.
The path runs along the edge of the cliffs, alongside numerous benches looking out over the sea.
I soon pass the small village of Sewerby, a separate place from Bridlington (just) the village is separated from the cliffs by a nice green which the path runs along the coastal side of.
There is another steep access point cut into the cliffs here to the beach however it looks rather difficult as you have to climb over chalky boulders to get to the sea!
The green on top of the cliffs ends to be replaced by a cricket pitch (though it is not in use today) and then a golf course just beyond that.
The path has been climbing steadily with the cliffs and now I am quite high up, the people on the beach look tiny!
It is a long time since I’ve come across high cliffs. Norfolk being perhaps the last time!
At the end of the golf course the path enters a wooded valley and is lined with bluebells, it is quite pretty.
Sadly I have to lose all the height I’ve gained to descend into the valley (Dykes End). There is more access to the beach here, so I can’t resist taking it.
Once again you must climb over chalk pebbles at the back of the beach, but it is sandy below these.
In fact I decide to make this my lunch stop. Heading further out on the beach (the tide seems to have gone out even further) I can look back at these pretty cliffs.
The scene reminds me a bit of Kent or Sussex which is the coast I tend to think of when seeing chalk cliffs, but as I’m finding there are fair amount of chalk cliffs on the coast of Yorkshire, too.
Now back to the walk I headed back up into the valley and up the steps of the path on the other side. Soon all the height I lost is regained, but not without some effort!
Now Bridlington is behind me and the scene inland is more rural, as the path runs along the edge of fields, rather than on greens, golf courses and cricket pitches.
A short distance ahead there is another little valley to cross, but this one is shallower, so I don’t have to descend all the way down again. The path then climbs to the top of the cliffs and this gives me a fine view of the beach of South Landing ahead.
The village of Flamborough lies in the middle of Flamborough Head. Around half a mile to the south of the village a road reaches the shore here at South Landing, whilst to the north of the village it is about a mile along another road to North Landing (where I’m going to end the walk today). I think I can see how they came up with those names!
This is another beautiful bay backed by the white chalk cliffs and again there is a line of chalk pebbles at the back of the beach whilst it becomes sandy nearer to the shore. The black is I think areas of chalk on which sea weed has grown.
The path then descends into the valley that serves the beach, where there is a lifeboat station and a small car park, providing access to the beach. Once again I can’t resist heading out onto the sands of the beach to enjoy the view back to the cliffs.
Now I can confirm the black areas are indeed sea weed growing on the chalky rocks left from the eroding cliffs. It is a spectacular location.
Now returning to the coast I once again have to climb up all the steps on the other side to get back onto the cliff tops.
The path now turns right to follow the line of the cliffs along the east side of the bay, giving a lovely view.
There are another couple of small valleys to get past, where the cliffs are showing signs of erosion (like so much of the East Riding of Yorkshire). However, I never have to head far inland to get around these.
The next mile of so is a magnificent walk along the top of the now level chalk cliffs, reminiscent of walks in Kent.
I’m now nearing the eastern end of Flamborough Head, and as I near this point the scenery becomes more spectacular.
These chalk stacks are known as High Stacks and I’m surprised to see that steps have been cut into them giving access to the rocky beach here, but this time I don’t bother to go down, it’s a long way and I can see there is no sand at the bottom.
At some point I expect these will break off from the main headland, forming chalk stacks as seen on the Dorset coast. Caves are already forming at the base of the cliffs which will likely one day collapse.
Continuing a little further along the coast I look back and am surprised to see this magnificent natural arch cut into the chalk cliffs by the sea.
This is much higher than others I’ve seen on the coast and looks almost like a church window, it is quite beautiful.
I stopped to take plenty of photographs, but eventually I must drag myself away.
Curiously just beyond this, there are what appear to be rail tracks heading down the top of the cliffs that just end part way down. What they were used for, I don’t know.
There is a car park ahead and I can soon tell, because there are now a lot of people about again.
Now I’m starting to see something else that Flamborough Head is famous for – birds. The cliffs are almost vertical, but there are a few chalk ledges sticking out and on seemingly everyone the sea gulls have made their nests. I wonder what start in life the chicks born here must have – one wrong move and they will fall off the edge!
Ahead I come to the old signal station which I have to head inland to get around, but it is only a short diversion.
In fact I suspect it is still in use as there are two metal aerials erected beside it. Looking around the coast I can see the coast ahead gets a little lower and there are numerous caves cut into the soft chalk cliffs by the waves.
This is a lovely stretch of coast with numerous spectacular little bays and the cliffs tops lined with pretty “sea pink” flowers.
Soon I reached the rather grand lighthouse at the end of the headland. This one is plain white with a large building at the base.
Unusually it is open to the public, but only via guided tours. The times of the tours are on a chalk board, but I have a wait for the next one and need to get to North Landing in time for the bus, so I give it a miss, sadly. But it does have a fine view!
At the lighthouse there is also a souvenir shop, a large car park and a cafe. I take plenty of pictures of the lighthouse up close and the rugged cliffs beyond it that I was just walking over.
Just beyond the lighthouse steps lead down to a path just below the lighthouse.
A sign warns against using this path, stating that it is dangerous due to erosion. But that is like a red flag to a bull for me – it looks fine, so I head down to follow it (and don’t notice any problems – the usual health and safety nonsense).
This leads to Selwick Bay. There is not much of a beach here, just the remains of the base of the chalk cliffs, covered in seaweed. Great for rock pooling, mind you.
The path soon climbs back up to the main cliff top path. This now runs along the edge of another golf course.
The path is spectacular and right along the cliff top (I guess you need to have a head for heights here) and once again the narrow ledges in the cliffs are being used by nesting gulls.
There are more wildflowers on the cliff top, though I can’t recognise these ones, I’m afraid.
I’m now on the north side of Flamborough head and heading west. Once again the coast becomes spectacular, as the chalk cliffs have been eroded at different rates, leaving deep bays, inlets, caves and little rock stacks.
Below the cliffs you can see rocks that were once the base of the cliffs, where the cliffs have eroded further inland.
The path is spectacular and right along the cliff tops and I soon round East Scar to reach the sheltered cove of North Landing, my destination for the day.
It is a pretty place with a concrete path cut into the steep cliffs, providing access to the beach and a large car park above the beach. There is also a lifeboat station here with the boat launched down a steep concrete ramp, with rails in the centre.
I headed part way down to the beach but unfortunately, I don’t have the time to spare to go all the way down, as I need to head back to the road to catch the bus, which only runs once every 2 hours (mind you, I’m impressed such a small place has a bus service at all). I did this walk back in 2011 and often when writing them up I have to report buses no longer run, or run less frequently. Unusually in this case, the bus now runs more frequently than it did then (every hour).
Back in Bridlington I have a bit of time (almost an hour) before my train home is due, so I head back down to the sea front to see that now the tide is coming back in and there is little beach left at all.
Still the promenade is busy and many people are still out enjoying their time in Bridlington.
The harbour too is now prettier, with at least some of the boats now afloat again, rather than resting on the sand.
Though further back the tide has not yet reached them and they are still high and dry. It is pretty in the early evening sunshine.
Heading down to the beach at the south of the harbour the waves seem to have got bigger and created a bit of foam, and I enjoy the nice views of the town about the waves.
Curiously, south of the harbour the tide seems to have come in far less than to the north, and there is still a huge expanse of sand! (I assume the beach must be higher on this side).
Soon it was time to head back to the railway station and my train home.
The journey as far as Doncaster was OK but sadly the train from there to London had a large number of football supporters on board, so it was far from a quiet journey (despite having booked seats in the supposed “quiet carriage”).
It had been a wonderful and very varied walk and I had enjoyed exploring the spectacular chalk cliffs of Flamborough Head. It is somewhere I’d heard of, but never before visited and it was very enjoyable. It reminds me a bit of the Kent coast in a way but feels more rural. North Landing was a very pretty little place to end the walk, too.
Here are details of the public transport needed for this walk:-
East Yorkshire Motor Services (EYMS) bus route 14 : Bridlington (bus station) – Sewerby – Flamborough – Thornwick Bay – North Landing. Hourly Monday – Saturday. No service on Sundays. It takes around 25 minutes to travel between North Landing and Bridlington.