The Coast

From just north of Staithes down to the tip of Spurn Point the Yorkshire coast has been measured at 116 miles and includes 3 stretches of Heritage Coastline (designated as being of exceptional scenic quality)

  • North Yorkshire and Cleveland (36 miles) from Saltburn on the Sea to Scalby (near Scarborough)
  • Flamborough (12 miles) from Reighton Gap to Sewerby (just north of Bridlington)
  • Spurn (12 miles) from Easington to Kilnsea)

Along with the Holderness coast which stretches from Flamborough in the north all the way down to Spurn Point the above typify the main stretches of the Yorkshire coastline

Main Habitats & Top Sites (map top right)

Rocky Beaches & Cliffs -  the coastline from Saltburn in the north down to Flamborough Head is rocky and in geological terms mainly jurassic in nature, with several well known fossil beaches (Runswick Bay, Staithes & Kettleness). Like most shorelines the beaches and rock pools of the north yorkshire coast are species rich and easily investigated at low tide. Boggle Hole near Robin Hoods Bay is a classic example with Blennies and Butterfish sharing rock pools with Dog Whelks, Periwinkles, Limpets and Green Shore Crabs. The chalk cliffs of Flamborough are a designated SAC (Special Area of Conservation) and along with RSPB Bempton Cliffs support important nesting colonies of Puffins, Gannets, Shag, Fulmar and Kittiwake. Both Flamborough and Filey are bird migration hotspots and both have recognised bird observatories.

Sandy Beaches & Dunes - the Holderness coast stretches from Bridlington in the north down to the Humber Estuary and, in contrast to the rugged North Yorkshire cliffs, the coastline here is predominantly low lying boulder clay and subject to high levels of erosion with up to 2 metres of land lost every year in some places eg Mappleton. The beaches are sandy and away from the holiday resorts quite unpopulous with the stretches either side of Hornsea being typical. Large numbers of wading birds and sea ducks / divers congregate here in the winter months including Sanderling, Dunlin, Common Scoter, Red Throated Diver and Wigeon. Hornsea Mere is the largest freshwater lake in Yorksire and a SSSI site. Spurn Point, consisting of a narrow peninsular with several dune systems is arguably the best bird migration site in the whole of the UK and apart from the many rare birds spotted here the reserve boasts an impressive list of moth species plus mammal species such as Fox and both Grey and Common Seal.

Marine - beyond the shoreline of Yorkshire the waters of the North Sea are some of the most diverse in Europe and support a rich eco-system that now benefit from the extra protection of 3 Marine Conservation Zones - Runswick Bay, Holderness Inshore and Holderness Offshore. Fish stocks are recovering well with Mackerel and Herring being the most abundant; Sea Anenome and Sea Slugs flourish along with several varieties of shellfish and there are vast underwater forests of Kelp and other seaweed species. No wonder with all that food about that the North Sea is becoming one of the best places to see large marine mammals such as Minke, Sperm, Pilot and Humpback Whales as well as White Beaked and Bottlenose Dolphins. Sea going birds such as Common and Arctic Terns, Great and Arctic Skuas, Manx and Sooty Shearwaters, Great Northern and Red Throated Divers to name but a few all rely on the rich pickings of the North Sea.

Find out more (external links)

Yorkshire Coast visitor information (Visit Yorkshire)

Bird Observatories

Yorkshire Coast Nature - Information & tours including whale watching trips

Whitby Whale Watching - tours.

Marine Conservation Society

See my Wildlife Groups pages for a comprehensive list of marine wildlife links.


Header Image - Scale Nab, Flamborough