Start: Bridlington (parking at long stay car park near the train station)
End: Bempton (catch the train back to Bridlington)
Terrain: Cliff top coastal path - muddy in places depending on time of year. Lots of ups and downs
Good for: Bird watching
Refreshments: Plenty of places on the way.
Distance: Roughly 11 miles
You start this walk in Bridlington. From the long stay car park near the station, head to the seaside, past the amusement arcades and funfair rides. This is a quintessential English seaside town, with an air of faded glory and the feeling that just a bit more love, attention and sunshine could restore it into something lovely.
But on the day I did this walk, it was a blustery, overcast April day with a hint of summer on offer. I wanted headspace, so was keen to get away from the people strolling along the beachside promenade. I followed the track that runs alongside the little landtrain, ferrying passengers from Sewerby Hall to the beach. A row of memory benches lines the other side of the path. I couldn't help but imagine that the people in whose memories those benches were left must have been the sociable type as they were packed in one after the other with plenty of seats to be had should you need one at this early stage. Just past Sewerby Hall you pass a cricket club that has got to have the most spectacular setting of all cricket clubs in England. Hit a six and you could well send your ball over the cliff top and onto the beach below.
Leaving the cricket club and crowds behind, I at last had the path to myself. The sea to my right lay grey and brooding under a heavy sky while the chalk cliffs marched onwards to the north. I love the feeling of being alone on a cliff with just the circling seabirds and the occasional sheep for company. The path dipped down to Danes Dyke, a pretty little nature reserve that at one point drops down to the sea. You can access the beach here and be free from the busier Bridlington beaches. Danes Dyke actually runs for 4km across the whole of Flamborough Head and is thought to be some kind of defensive structure from the Dark Ages or Roman period.
Climb up the steps on the other side and make your way towards South Landing of Flamborough Head. As you follow the path, you will start to see the rock formations formed by coastal erosion at Flamborough Head, which is made of sheer chalk cliffs that have gradually had bites taken out of them by the sea. Take your time here and enjoy the waves crashing in and around the rock formations.
Head up past the Flamborough head lighthouse. If you need refreshments, there is a cafe near the carpark too. Keep following the path until you reach the north landing, where once again you can get refreshments and a public toilet and not far beyond that, is Thornwick Bay, where you can access the beach depending on the tide. There are old smugglers caves and the famed Thornick Nab (a rock arch) to be explored if the tide is out. And yet another cafe is on offer if you want a nice cup of tea.
Ignoring the busy holiday park to your left, keep following the path, looking out and back over the rock formations. Depending on the time of year, keep your eyes peeled for seabirds. All along this stretch of coast, the RSPB has built little bird watching landings from which to view Puffins, Gannets, Kittwakes, Guillemots, Herring Gulls, Razorbills and Shags. I passed a young chap who was packing up a long range lens camera. I asked him what he'd been doing. He explained that he was counting puffins for the RSPB. Apparently they have just two days in which the puffins sit on the sea, feeding, before they head off to lay their eggs. So time is of the essence. I noticed many more people all doing the same as I walked along the path. I did wonder how on earth they count a bunch of tiny black dots bobbing about on the sea!
I took plenty of time looking at the birds from the various platforms before heading inland. There is a RSPB centre at Bempton with another cafe (seriously, no need to take a lunch with you for this walk). I then walked the mile from there into the middle of Bempton to catch the train back to Bridlington.
A lovely walk with plenty of wildlife, geology and beaches.
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