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The east coast: Filey to Bridlington

The east coast: Filey to Bridlington

Postby nigheandonn » Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:36 pm

Date walked: 29/12/2018

Time taken: 2 days

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Last year I made it as far as Filey at the end of the Cleveland Way, but although I'm not quite sure where my wanderings round the coast will end, Filey Brigg, with Flamborough Head still showing ahead, wasn't a satisfying place to stop - I knew I had to get round the next headland at least, so the gap between Christmas and New Year saw me back on the Yorkshire coast.

Friday was mostly spent on a circuitous journey to Scarborough, via York and Helmsley, where I wanted to visit one of the earliest Trafalgar monuments, and then on to Scarborough in the early evening, through a string of dark stone villages scattered with Christmas lights, and it was Saturday morning when I took the bus down to Filey, since all the trains were cancelled again.

Saturday 29th December

I arrived in Filey about quarter past 9 - quite a windy morning, and not very bright at first, but not nearly as cold as it might have been.

To the north the headland ending in Filey Brigg was quite close, but to the south the bay stretched away at more of an angle.

Filey Bay

Getting out of Filey proved more difficult than expected - the map suggested that I should be on a path at the top of the cliffs, and some steps appeared in the right place, but after crossing a small park which seemed to contain a model Nessie, more steps just led down to the shore again.

Right by Filey the water had been touching the sea wall, but here there was plenty of wet sand, and the tide looked to be on its way out, so rather than trying again for the path the best solution seemed to be to walk the beach as far as Hunmanby gap - a lovely sweep of sand, empty except for occasional dog walkers.

Walking the beach

A muddle of buildings were perched about the shore, some of them looking in moderate danger of sliding down onto it, but above Hunmanby gap it was more of an organised park.

Hunmanby Gap

Beyond here the clifftop path did start up again, although it was a bit odd on the map - right of way for half a mile or so, then continuation as unofficial path, and then back to right of way again. On the ground there was no difference, not even a field boundary at the change - it was all quite different up here, smooth and green, although more cliffs were in view ahead.

Fields and cliffs

At Reighton Sands the path ran out properly - I thought there was probably an unofficial way through, but the official inland detour through two villages seemed like a nice change from scrubby cliffs and holiday parks.

Reighton was an odd place, a decent size but just a sprawl of houses with no centre, and no shop or pub or cafe to gather around. The church was a bit up the road, Victorian rebuilding of a Norman foundation, but without the usual Victorian excess - a nice plain stone building which looked quite Georgian, and beyond that was a more attractive cluster of houses round a corner, which looked like they might have been the original core of the village.

A path avoided the road, but it had been cold in the wind, and I decided to walk up to the pub at the road junction for a cup of tea, only to find it not only closed but closed down. So I kept to the road for another half mile to a rival establishment, open and with a real fire, then cut back over to join the path as it headed for Speeton.

The inland scenery was not particularly inspiring, but as sometimes happens in flat places, the sky was doing its best to make up for it.

Big sky

Speeton was only a little cluster of houses, but had far more sense of being a coherent place, and also had a village pond and a tiny beautiful Norman church.

Speeton church

From Speeton church a path led down a fairly steep grassy slope to the edge of the cliffs again, and a glorious view back towards Filey and moors rising behind.

View north

A signpost pointed out a permissive path back to Filey, so I was right about there being a coastal route, but I'd quite enjoyed my detour, and my cup of tea.

I ate my lunch on a bench here before heading on - the path was quite a way above the sea, but there wasn't much of a view of cliffs. Inland the view was back to flat green fields and decorative sky.

Grass and clouds

Beyond the trig point were the first glimpses of white cliff, and then the ruined buildings of the RAF Bempton base.

Old RAF station

The viewing platforms at the RSPB reserve gave the first really good views of the cliffs - there were more people about here than there had been anything else, but the toilets were locked up despite the signs saying that they should be open.

Cliffs in view

As the ground began to descend to the lower ground around Flamborough Head itself there was an odd statue of a kind of guardian puffin.

Guardian puffin

Apparently this is also the end of the Danes Dyke earthwork which runs across the headland, although I didn't realise at the time that I was past the dyke until I found myself looking back through the band of trees to the sunset.

Lower cliffs mean odder shapes, inlets and arches.

Flamborough Head

An assortment of buildings and paths around Thornwick bay made the end of the walk more confusing, and I had to turn unexpectedly far inland to skirt one little inlet. I'd hoped to get round to the road at the North Landing, but I didn't think I'd make the 4.15 bus that way, so followed the track from Thornwick Bay down to the Viking pub, only to find that there was no stop there and I had to hurry a bit up the road to where the bus was waiting anyway.

Flamborough was a nice little place, although of the two pubs which my landlady recommended for food, one was almost empty with no eating going on and the second so full I couldn't get a seat, so that I ended up in the third pub - which did feed me perfectly well.

Sunday 30th December

No Sunday buses to the North Landing, so I had to walk up the mile or so that I had skived off the night before, turning off to follow the track back down and skirt Thornwick bay with its oddly shaped headland and then the dramatic slit in the land below High Holme.

Thornwick Bay

The busier paths around here were slippery with mud in a way that I hadn't met the day before - I slipped at one point and landed in brambles, and I was glad I hadn't tried to hurry over the next bit of path the night before, as it descended into a valley and climbed out again.

The North Landing itself was a deeper horseshoe of a bay, still used by a few local boats, and with a fair number of people out walking - it was a lovely day for the time of year, far less windy than the day before and almost warm in the sunshine.

The north landing

The path wound on round the wiggly edge of the cliffs, a bit less muddy once it got beyond the range of the casual strollers, and another bay had a sharp little stack in the middle of it.

Sea stack

I seemed to be sneaking up on Flamborough Head by a slightly circuitous route, so that it took a while to get much closer, but eventually I climbed up again to a good view of the 17th century Chalk Tower, a famous sea mark although it may never have been used as a lighthouse.

The chalk tower

The true lighthouse is a bit further down towards the point of the headland, and is really another historical monument, built by Trinity House in 1806.

Flamborough Head lighthouse

The toilets here were open, unlike all the others I'd passed, which was a pleasant surprise, but I resisted the lures of the cafe and headed on past the fog station and an inaccessible little bay with arches.

Inaccessible bay

The south side of the headland was farmland again, but seemed more deliberately planted rather than left to grass - all fairly muddy, but there was generally some grass to walk on.

Through the fields

But there were more exciting things to look at as well - four sea kayakers went past way below me in colourful boats, and now I was round the headland I had the first views down towards the south.

The South Landing wasn't a bay, just a worn place in the cliffs which gives access to a stony beach, and before it there was a strange kind of monument, decorated with odd symbols and with writing on the back which you could only read by standing in a hawthorn bush, about St Oswald's church and a man buried there who died by swallowing a toad which ate his heart and killed him!

The south landing

After another sculpture in the shape of a longsword lock the path climbs down to the landing, and a bench gave me a nice place to sit and eat my lunch, before I had a short wander on the white stones in the sunshine.

South landing beach

Steps climbed back to the top of the low cliffs on the other side, past a third sculpture of a fisherman. It was a bit more up and down along here, but it wasn't far to the trees which marked the southern end of the Danes Dyke, where I followed a path up to the carpark in the hope of getting a view of the dyke itself.

Danes Dyke

A track led back down to the beach, which seemed to be popular even in winter, but it didn't look very good to walk, so I headed up onto the cliffs again.

Danes Dyke beach

I was more or less on the fringes of Bridlington by now, and was soon looking across a cricket pitch to the Georgian Sewerby Hall.

Sewerby Hall

The house belongs to the local council, and the grounds are open free of charge in winter, so I wandered up to the cafe, although I was mildly disappointed that they had sold out of scones and I had to eat an enormous slice of cake instead.

By the time I came out it was just getting dark, but I only had to follow a good path along until it joined the promenade, and then follow that into the town and try to figure out where I was staying.

I walked quite a long way back up to the north of the town to a pub which was supposed to have both food *and* good beer, only to find out that its website was lying and it didn't do food on Sunday evenings, so that I ended up quite late on in Wetherspoons, which seemed to have sold out of at least half the food on its menu...

Monday 31st December

I spent most of Hogmanay travelling home, but had time in the morning for a bit of a prowl round the town and a visit to the harbour - a down to earth kind of place, but without the half dead feeling of a lot of coastal places in winter, so that I quite liked it.

Bridlington harbour

I don't know if I go on from here or not - I'm quite tempted to head on to Hull and have covered the whole coast of the old Northumbria, the land north of the Humber - but if I do I'll want to go on to Grimsby, and then... So maybe I'll be sensible and start heading north instead - or maybe I won't!
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