Tag Archives: Coastal Erosion

East Yorkshire – Ducks and Puffins

We arrived at Skipsea Sands Holiday Park at the scheduled time of four o’clock, located our accommodation and began to unload the car.

Within seconds a family of ducks arrived at the caravan door.

These birds must be really smart, they know that four o’clock on Monday is new arrivals time and they hung around looking for food.  I imagine mother duck gets the baby ducks ready, tells them to look cute and do a bit of begging and they will be set for the week,

We didn’t have any suitable duck food (bread is not good for them apparently) so we had no offerings.  Five minutes later a car pulled up opposite and started to unload and they waddled off to try their luck there instead.  In five days we never saw them again.

Which brings me to Puffins.

Every summer Puffins arrive for the breeding season at nearby Bempton Cliffs and this year some bright spark at the Yorkshire Tourist Board came up with the idea of a Puffin trail in Hull and East Riding.

There are forty-three of them but we only found six…

I can only imagine it is quite a chore to try and find all forty-three, rather like searching for the Holy Grail.

Later a family arrived at the next door caravan, they moved in with what seemed enough supplies to last a whole month and an inflatable paddling pool.  After they went out some aquatic birds arrived and in view of the hot weather and the adjacent  dry stream were more (t)hen happy to jump in…

After evening meal we went for a walk along  the coastal path…

… and reflected on a very, very good day.

East Yorkshire – Withernsea, Erosion, a Pier and a Lighthouse

Leaving Spurn Head we travelled north along a road with more curves than Marilyn Monroe towards the seaside town of Withernsea.

On the way we drove through the unfortunate village of Easington and I say unfortunate because in the local Coastal Management Plan Easington is identified as a place not worth defending against the advancing sea and one day it will be gone.  It is called ‘managed retreat’.  I don’t know how long this will take but I noticed that the pubs were shut and there were no shops.

The advance of the sea is relentless.  The coastline here is the fastest area of erosion in the UK.  Every year six foot of land is swept away, an estimated average of two million tonnes which is moved south on the tides towards the Humber estuary and builds land there whilst it takes it away here.

On a previous visit I once came across an official looking man in a hard hat and a high visibility jacket who was taking photographs and making notes.  His name was Brian and I asked him about the erosion.  He explained to me that the problem is that this coastline really shouldn’t be here at all because it is made up of unconsolidated soft clay and small stones called glacial till that were scooped up from the sea bed by a glacier as it advanced south during the last ice age and dumped here as the ice eventually melted and receded north about ten thousand years ago.  It is just soft clay with the consistency and the look of a crumbly Christmas Cake that simply cannot resist the power of the waves.  In that time an area of land twelve miles wide has been eroded away and returned to the sea bed where it came from.

I didn’t have high expectations of Withernsea, I can’t explain why but I liked it immediately and we walked to the sea front and the Pier Tower entrance.  I say pier but there is no pier here anymore.   Built in 1877 it didn’t last very long as ships and boats kept running into it and by 1900 it had gone.

No one in England lives more than seventy miles* or so from the sea but when they get to the coast they have a curious compulsion to get even closer to the water and as far away from the shore as possible without taking to a boat. The Victorians especially liked piers and by the time of the First-World-War there were nearly two hundred sticking out all around the coastline.  If there had been satellite photography a hundred years ago then England would have looked like a giant pin-cushion.

English piers you see are rather fragile structures and over the years have had an alarming tendency to catch fire – Weston-Super-Mare, Brighton, Blackpool, Eastbourne, and Great Yarmouth have all suffered this fate but Southend-on-Sea is probably the most unfortunate of all because it has burned down four times which seems rather careless.

The problem with a pier of course is that they are generally constructed of wood and are highly combustible and a quarter of a mile or so out to sea they are also rather inaccessible to the fire service so once they go up in flames little can be done but to watch the blazing inferno from the safety of the promenade until the fire goes out by itself and all that is left is a tangle of twisted metal girders and beams.

There was once a railway line to Withernsea out of Hull which made it a busy seaside resort bringing visitors from South Yorkshire but it is long gone, swept away as part of the railway reforms of the 1960s, visitors stopped coming and today, tucked away on the far east coast it is too remote to attract holiday makers, they go to Bridlington a few miles further north which still has its railway line.

Pictures from the website https://withernsea1.co.uk/index.html

I always like to see how far a name has travelled and my research tells me that there is a Withernsea in Maryland USA, close to Washington DC and in British Columbia, Canada.

After a bag of proper Yorkshire chips and a Belgian lager we made our way now to the top visitor attraction in Withernsea – the lighthouse.  It is no longer used for its intended purpose, everything in Withernsea is redundant it seems but is now a museum with an energy sapping climb to the very top with some good views over the town and the North Sea.

* Based on a direct line drawn on an Ordnance Survey map from location to the first coast with tidal water, the village that is further from the sea than any other human settlement in the UK is Coton in the Elms in Derbyshire at exactly seventy miles in all directions…

On This Day – The Disappearing Coast of Yorkshire

While the current travel restrictions are in place I have no new stories to post so what I thought that I would do is to go through my picture archives and see where I was on this day at any time in the last few travelling years.

On 26th July 2019 I was in Skipsea in Yorkshire just a few miles north of where I live…

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…

The advance of the sea is relentless.

Every year along the Holderness coast nearly two metres of coastline is swept away, an estimated average of two million tonnes which is moved south on the tides towards the Humber estuary and builds land there where they don’t want it whilst it takes it away from here where they do.

Read The Full Story Here…

Yorkshire, The Cornfield at Skipsea Sands

Skipsea Cornfield 01

After a hard day on the beach at Skipsea Sands we liked to end the day with a walk through the cornfield and along the cliff tops…

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…

Yorkshire and a Disappearing Coast

Skipsea Beach Steps

I mentioned previously that there was no direct access to the beach from the caravan park at Skipsea Sands because coastal erosion has washed away the cliffs and the road and the pathways so the only way to get to the sand and the water was down a set of muddy steps that local residents have helpfully cut into the clay.

It is unlikely that these will be there next year because the village of Skipsea sits precariously on Yorkshire’s East Riding coast which is said to be the fastest eroding coastline in Europe. Since the Doomsday Book was completed in 1086 twenty-six villages along this stretch of coast have been lost to the sea. Cutting new steps to the beach is an annual job.

The advance of the sea is relentless.  Every year along the Holderness coast nearly two metres of coastline is swept away, an estimated average of two million tonnes which is moved south on the tides towards the Humber estuary and builds land there whilst it takes it away here.

erosion 01

Local residents persistently call for the local authorities to erect and maintain sea defences but this is just not financially viable (after all, it isn’t in the south of England), the area is officially designated as a zone of ‘no active intervention’ and it is inevitable that another twenty houses and a fish and chip shop will soon be lost to the waves.  The Local Council is like King Canute and cannot control the sea.

These are houses that were built as recently as 1985 and at that time had long gardens and a road running the front but that seems rather foolish now. There were once houses on the other side of the road too but they had already gone which should perhaps have acted as a warning to the people who bought these properties as holiday homes.  An especially violent storm in the winter of 2008 took the road away and the waves have gnawed away at the soft clay cliffs every year since.

Erosion is a problem along the east coast of England.  When I was a boy we used to have family holidays in a chalet at a place called Walcott-on-Sea in the county of Norfolk. Every year that we went there were a few cottages missing as they had fallen over the cliff into the sea during the winter storms.  Luckily ours, which was owned by a man called Mr Bean was furthest away from the cliff edge so each year before we left mum and dad could always book a week there the following year with some degree of confidence that it would still be there and they wouldn’t lose their deposit.

This is Walcott-on-Sea…

Walcott Norfolk

I came across an official looking man in a hard hat and a high visibility jacket who was taking photographs and making notes.  His name was Brian and I asked him about the erosion.  He explained to me that the problem is that this coastline really shouldn’t be here at all because it is made up of unconsolidated soft clay and small stones called glacial till that were scooped up from the sea bed by a glacier during the last ice age and dumped here as the ice eventually melted and receded north about ten thousand years ago.  It is just soft clay with the consistency and the look of a crumbly Christmas Cake that simply cannot resist the power of the waves.  In that that time an area of land twelve miles wide has been eroded away and returned to the sea bed where it came from.

He pointed north to Flamborough Head about fifteen miles away where there is an exposed coastline of white chalk cliffs and explained that that was the real coastline of East Yorkshire but where we were standing it was buried under several feet of the boulder clay.

At the bottom of the steps were the remains of Second-World-War coastal defences, concrete pill-boxes that seventy years ago were on top of the cliffs but are now on the shore-line.

As we walked along the beach we searched the base of the cliffs for any fossils and the children were delighted to discover a rock which easily split in two and revealed the remains of sea shells that had been left here by the glacier all of those years ago. I couldn’t help wondering what this beach might look like in another fifty years time and I suggested to the children that they remember to come back at that time to see how different it might be then. One thing for sure the caravan that was our temporary home this week is most unlikely to still be there.

Skipsea Fossils

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…