TRAVEL NORTH - 28: Keep Your Head on 'The Head'!

These cliffs have witnessed millennia of change...

The tourist's view of the south landing, Flamborough Head
The tourist's view of the south landing, Flamborough Head | Source
Flamborough Head East side
Flamborough Head East side | Source

Flamborough Facets

Ever heard of the phrase 'Greedy gannet'? This is the real thing, whereas...
Ever heard of the phrase 'Greedy gannet'? This is the real thing, whereas...
This one's unlikely to go scoffing fish - a very basic carving of one of these birds on the Sculpture Trail
This one's unlikely to go scoffing fish - a very basic carving of one of these birds on the Sculpture Trail
The old chalk lighthouse - unused yet still imposing
The old chalk lighthouse - unused yet still imposing
Hollowed-out chalk cliffs of Flamborough. The sea 'eats' rock just the same as summer holidaymakers eat the candy variety at the seaside.
Hollowed-out chalk cliffs of Flamborough. The sea 'eats' rock just the same as summer holidaymakers eat the candy variety at the seaside.
Overlooking Flamborough Village and the Head from the landward side...
Overlooking Flamborough Village and the Head from the landward side...
... Flamborough Head and Village from seaward
... Flamborough Head and Village from seaward
An RAF Air-Sea Rescue 'copter overflies Flamborough Head past North Landing - people often underestimate the strong current along this coast, and in places the tide rises rapidly
An RAF Air-Sea Rescue 'copter overflies Flamborough Head past North Landing - people often underestimate the strong current along this coast, and in places the tide rises rapidly
Where Flamborough Head is located on the coast of East Yorkshire
Where Flamborough Head is located on the coast of East Yorkshire
Selwick Bay near Flamborough - trace earth's geological progress on the 'diagrammatic' cliff faces
Selwick Bay near Flamborough - trace earth's geological progress on the 'diagrammatic' cliff faces
The newer of the two lighthouses. This one still works, blazing its light across the sea every 55 seconds
The newer of the two lighthouses. This one still works, blazing its light across the sea every 55 seconds
Another watering hole, the Ship Inn at Flamborough. Come in for a proper Yorksher fish'n'chip dinner and pint
Another watering hole, the Ship Inn at Flamborough. Come in for a proper Yorksher fish'n'chip dinner and pint

A bracing walk that will suck the cobwebs from you and put the bounce back in your stride!

Catch an earful of the sea's roar below you on the massive chalk headland that is Flamborough Head. This is where the sea 'carves' caves, arches and isolates stacks of rock from the cliffs close by. Listen also to the high-pitched scream of gulls that wheel around above you, dive steeply into the green-blue vastness in the near distance and show again with silvery-white fish struggling in their strong bills.

Flamborough Head, the chalk headland juts eight miles out into the North Sea from the coast of the East Riding. Two lighthouses guard the coast at the eastern end of this natural monument. One, built in 1806 and still in use, emits four light fashes every fifty-five seconds. The old - chalk-built - tower stands only a few hundred yards away. It is the oldest surviving lighthouese structure in England, built in 1674 and was meant to have been topped with a fire beacon. There is no evidence this older tower was ever used in anger, however.

Start off from the car park and walk to the right of the newer of the lighthouses towards the fog signal station and aerial masts. There is a Headland Way sign where you turn right and follow the path towards the South Landing, which is parallel to the cliff edge. In 1779 crowds took to the cliff to watch the naval battle off the Head between a Franco-American fleet - led by john Paul Jones on his flagship the 'Bonhomme Richard' - and a British fleet under the command of Constantine John Phipps, 2nd Baron Mulgrave. Two British vessels were captured in the engagement.

There is a sign after a board bridge that points you along the coast and by steps across two gullies. The path takes you inland a little way, where you come across a piece of sculpture on part of the South Landing Sculpture Trail that was opened in 2002. You are at the 2 1/4 mile stage. Bear left, following the track and turn right up the wooded dale at a junction near the viewpoint. Turn left at a fork in the pathway, take a left again over the bridge - dedicated to whales and whalers - and pass through the car park onto the road. Turn right and stride into flamborough village, taking a route straight on at a crossroad. A green, once the village mere, is on your route. Bear left at a signpost in the High Street that leads you to the North Landing. Go right, following the street northward and cross a junction after which continue along North Marine Road to a signposted footpath at the end of the houses on the left past Thornwick Cottage.

At the four mile point follow the hedge on your left to a path beside a fence. You are at a Holiday Camp now, where you follow the road on past Reception. Where the camp road goes left turn right to pass behind the farmhouse here and continue on a waymarked path between fencing. At the next crossroad crossroad pass straight through and carry on left along a path that takes you downhill to the coast. Take a right turn up some steps and follow the cliff path... On behind bungalows, the cliff path again and over a stile where you take the path. over another stile and then there is a bridge over the dale and the 5 1/2 mile stage of your walk.

Climb some steps to the car park at North Landing. along with south Landing this was one of few safe anchorages on Flamborough Head, famous for many caves that were used once by smugglers. It was also once used by the Flamborough village fishing fleet. There are a few of the local Yorkshire Cobles to be seen on the slipway. These cobles are the 'direct descendants' of Viking ships, built using the same clinker method of boatcraft. Make your way towards the large building ahead of you and passing it to the left. Follow the Headland Way sign with the fence on your right to its end. Turn right here, following the clifftop path towards the lighthouses, by the golf course and back to the car park, six and a half miles (10.5km) from where you began your walk. Not that you should time yourself, but the walk is moderate and you could complete it in two and a half hours.

The terrain is mostly clifftop paths, some stepped descents and climbs, and a short way over roadways through the village of Flamborough. The South Landing Sculpture Trail is also accessible to people with pushchairs and wheelchairs. you can park at South Landing.

Getting there by road: public transport routes from Scarborough or Hull via Bridlington are by East Yorkshire Motor Services bus 510 to flamborough Village or North Landing. Flamborough Head lies to the north-east of Bridlington on the east Riding coast. Flamborough Village is reached by the B1259, signposted as 'Flamborough Head'. The car park is next to the lighthouse.

By rail: Bridlington is on the Yorkshire Coast railway route from Hull to Scarborough, continue from Bridlington by bus.

The Headlands Cafe is at Flamborough Head, YO15 1AR, ph. 01262 851020;

Cliff End Cafe is also at Flamborough Head, YO15 1AN, ph. 01262 859671;

Copperfield's Restaurant is at 4 Chapel Street, Flamborough Village, YO15 1LH, ph. 01262 850495

There are several public houses available in Flamborough: www.innway.co.uk , such as The Seabirds Inn, The Viking Inn, Queens Head, The Caravel, The Rose & Crown and the Royal Dog & Duck. Your choice...

For finding your way about refer to Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 301, Grid reference: TA 255 706

Search: Yorkshire Coast and Countryside www.discoveryorkshirecoast.com ;

as well as Yorkshire Tourist Board www.yorkshire.com ;

and for Forge Valley near Scarborough visit: www.naturalengland.org.uk

or: www.dinocoast.org.uk

*See also the Hub TRAVEL NORTH - 10: 'Seafarers and Smugglers on the 'Yorkshire Main'

Additionally you could visit Bempton Cliffs to the north-west of Flamborough Head. This area is a haven for seabirds. Shags, Guillemots, Herring Gulls, Gannets by the thousand, Shearwater, Skua, Puffins (the seaside clowns), Razorbills and Fulmar.

Period guide for a visit to the North and East Ridings of Yorkshire. Things have changed a bit since 1884 - like traffic - but not a lot, except we're mostly decimalised these days. Much of the scenery hasn't changed. Take a look if you don't believe me, I dare you. Rolling countryside, charming inns and hotels in the Yorkshire Wolds and on the coast, gulls and gannets wheeling over your head at Bempton Cliffs where the RSPB have their reserve, then soaring into the blue before diving like arrows for their dinners. Now travel north to North Yorkshire and see what's on offer!

Imagine it!.


From Spurn Head to Bridlington...

The East Riding coast is under threat from the sea. Soft rock on its seaward-facing cliffs have allowed the North Sea to eat into farm and residential land. Some places have been allocated a protection order at the expense of others, measures such as concreting the seafront only lasting a few years, even with reinforced concrete and ferrous cross-hatched bars to resist the forces of nature. Ordnance Survey maps have to be regularly re-drawn to accommodate change. This book shows the coast as it was before publication. Even during the production process it may have changed noticeably.

Gordon Home's guide to the coast and moors of Yorkshire. Wide vistas on the tops, high cliffs between Saltburn and Filey, wide bays as in the Tees Bay, Whitby, Robin Hood's Bay, Scarborough and Bridlington, sheltered 'wykes' and deep river clefts such as at Staithes, Hayburn Wyke, Runswick and Port Mulgrave.

Yorkshire Coast

Bempton Cliffs near Flamborough Head is a wildlife nature reserve monitored by RSPB
Bempton Cliffs near Flamborough Head is a wildlife nature reserve monitored by RSPB | Source

"Read all about it, the Americans have attacked our ships off the coast of Yorkshire!"

How about that for a newspaper headline? You can read about it in this book, a unique event in history when Americans hit back when we weren't looking, in our own back yard. It doesn't get much more personal than that, does it? There's 'Farmer George', off his head, talking to trees whilst his generals have to fight his battles for him to get his back taxes, and up comes John Paul Jones in the 'Bonhomme Richard' to cock a snook at Britannia..

History in the making:

When Lord Cornwallis and his Redcoats were fighting George Washington's 'Continental Army' in North America, John Paul Jones brought the struggle to Britain. The Battle of Flamborough Head was a victory for Jones, although it could easily have proved disastrous for him. The British naval commander was doughty in the defence of his small fleet, although not imaginative. That was the difference.

A Gilkerson painting of the Battle of Flamborough Head. The British ships guarding a convoy of merchantmen were commanded by Captain Richard Pearson
A Gilkerson painting of the Battle of Flamborough Head. The British ships guarding a convoy of merchantmen were commanded by Captain Richard Pearson | Source
At 3pm on September 23rd, 1779 Commodore John Paul Jones aboard Bonne Homme Richard engaged Pearson aboard 'Serafino' '
At 3pm on September 23rd, 1779 Commodore John Paul Jones aboard Bonne Homme Richard engaged Pearson aboard 'Serafino' ' | Source

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Comments 8 comments

SommerDalton profile image

SommerDalton 4 years ago

Wow! This is so detailed and informative. Looks absolutely amazing and i loved all your beautiful photographs! Voted up and more!


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Thanks Sommer, it all adds to the effect but I can't take plaudits for the pictures - especially not the painting!

Maybe one day you'll come across the'Pond' and see these places for yourself. We get lots of US tourists up that way (they like the golf courses around Yorkshire as well). Spend a week getting some ozone-rich North Sea air into your lungs!


John Holden profile image

John Holden 4 years ago

Unfortunately even six and a half miles would prove too much for me these days so thanks for the virtual walk.


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Just keep taking the Hubs. Hello John, enjoy the visits even if you can't go there walking - all the same, it's mostly accessible by wheelchair if that's the problem.


John Holden profile image

John Holden 4 years ago

No, not wheelchair bound (yet). Since I had a stroke a couple of years ago I've just lost all my staying power. It's slowly coming back but I fear it will never fully return.


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

I know someone who had a stroke several years ago. He's got a few other issues now, but by and large he's mobile if not able to walk distances. He's just a year or so younger than me, and was an RSM in the Grenadier Guards before taking a similar job in Oman and motor-cycling as far afield as Route 66 and Australia, so he's had a good innings so far. He drives around in a small car these days.


Vellur profile image

Vellur 12 months ago from Dubai

Flamborough looks stunning, you have described the place so well with great images. Enjoyed reading and hope to visit one day.


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 12 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Vellur, it's easy: fly in to Leeds-Bradford Airport, hire a car, take the M62 east to Hull, A165 north to Bridlington, B1255 to Flamborough (easy route, you'd need a compass otherwise).

Why not try TRAVEL NORTH 27: Follow the Infant Nidd (west from L-B Airport, a lot closer) or 29: Eskdale Railway from Middlesbrough-Whitby (Durham-Tees Valley Airport, train to Middlesbrough, no parking problems).

You know it makes sense - happy 'travelling'!

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