Tag Archives: Skipsea Sands

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…

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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 – Flamborough Head and A Face in the Cliff

I Spy At The Seaside

I have mentioned before that when I was a boy I used to collect I-Spy books which were small paperback volumes that were popular in the 1950s and 1960s.  Each book covered a subject such as I-SPY Cars, I-SPY on the Pavement, I-SPY on a Train Journey, and so on and so on.

The object was to be vigilant and spot objects such as animals, trees, policemen, fire engines, sea shells etc. etc.  and they were recorded in the relevant book, and this gained points.  More points were available for the more difficult spots.  Once you had spotted everything and the book was complete, it could be sent to Big Chief I-SPY for a feather and an order of merit.

Why do I mention this here you ask?  Well, I-Spy books may well have been a bit of trivial pastime but I actually think that they were useful in developing an enquiring mind and even now I am always looking to I-Spy something interesting or different.

I spotted this at Flamborough Head – the face of a lady in the white chalk cliffs.  Can you see her?

Flamborough Head Face

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Yorkshire, A Return Visit to Bridlington and an Apology

Bridlingtonn Harbour

This post is going to be about a retraction and an apology and a very large slice of Humble Pie!

I first visited the East Coast seaside town of Bridlington in October 2015 and I didn’t enjoy it one single bit and ever since I have been rather harsh and scathing about the place. It wasn’t an especially nice day with no sunshine and  at the harbour the tide was fully out leaving it a horrible muddy mess with boats stranded on the clay and silt. Three children pestering to visit the beach front amusements didn’t help either so we had a very poor portion of fish and chips and an overpriced ice cream and then promptly left and moved on to nearby Filey which as I recall was a lot better.

I vowed that I would never ever return to Bridlington and ever since I have shared my unflattering reviews about the town and warned friends about going there – even those just thinking about going there.

Now I was in nearby Skipsea Sands and looking for something to do for the morning before inevitable beach time in the afternoon and I suggested to Kim that we take a ride to nearby Bridlington so that she could see for herself just what a dirty, ugly place it is.  Based on what I had said about the place she thought that I was crazy but agreed anyway.  It took about thirty minutes to drive there and then another thirty to find a car park with spaces available and I wondered why so many people would visit this place which from memory was somewhere to be avoided at all costs.

Bridlington Ganzee

Anyway, we parked up and walked to the harbour and I was shocked to discover a really charming waterside, the tide was in and the boats were lolling in the water, children were crabbing and people were strolling around the walls in the sunshine. Kim wondered if I had ever been to Bridlington before as it certainly didn’t match my unfavourable review of the place. It helped that the sun was shining, the tide was fully in and the children are older now and weren’t too bothered about visiting the funfair.

So we spent an enjoyable hour around the harbour, had an ice cream (still expensive but I was ready for it this time), watched the boats coming and going, rows of unsuccessful fishermen optimistically casting their lines and people avoiding the seagulls plotting attacks and looking to thieve fish and chips from unwary seafront diners and then we moved on.

The Old Town is about a mile away inland and I didn’t even go there on my last visit so we went there now. Free Parking! Where can you find Free Parking these days? Answer – Bridlington Old Town and by now I was feeling so guilty about what I had said previously.

Historical Bridlington

The historical centre of Bridlington is absolutely wonderful.

A cobbled street of rapid decay locked into a bygone age, the shop windows are grubby, the displays are many decades out of date, the window frames are flaking and pock-marked, no wonder then that they choose this location for filming the remake of the comedy series ‘Dad’s Army’ in 2014. Being a huge ‘Dad’s Army’ fan I was really happy about wandering along this special street and made a note to watch the film when I was back at home. And I did!

Bridlington Dad's Army

At the end of the High Street in the historical centre we found ourselves at Bridlington Priory soaring high into the blue sky and my burden of guilt got a whole lot heavier. What a wonderful place this was with a patient guide that helped the children with a hunt for difficult to spot mouse carvings, a prize even though they didn’t find them all themselves and a free cup of tea for Kim and me and lemonade for the girls.

In the days of its medieval glory, Bridlington Priory was one of the great monastic houses of England. Its wealth and possessions made it a key monastery in the North, one of the largest and richest of the Augustinian order.

The Priory is just a church now and a fraction of its previous size courtesy of the insistence of Henry VIII that it should be demolished in 1537 to remove the potential Catholic pilgrimage site of Saint John of Bridlington. St John enjoyed a reputation for great holiness and for miraculous powers and was the last English saint to be canonised before the English Reformation and Henry didn’t like that.

Saint John of Bridlington 1

We eventually left Bridlington and made our way to nearby Flamborough Head which, where it happens, is where the final scenes of the ‘Dad’s Army’ film were set. The fictional Home Guard platoon is based in the South of England and Flamborough Head provided a good alternative because it has the only ridge of chalk cliffs in the north of England. We spent an hour or so there down on the beach and climbing the cliffs before leaving and returning to the holiday park.

As I started this post I finish it with an apology to Bridlington, it is a fine place and I was completely wrong in my first assessment four years previously.

Flamborough Head

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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…

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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-un-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

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Yorkshire – a Cornfield, a Castle and a Church

Skipsea postcard

Skipsea is only a small village in East Yorkshire but there is more to it than just the beach so after we had tidied ourselves up and shaken the sand from our sandals we walked out now towards the village with a promise to the girls of some ice cream.  Funny how a simple incentive like that can convince them to go for a long walk!

We didn’t take the direct route but instead took a coastal path through a cornfield and dangerously close to the severely eroded cliffs.

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After a rather circuitous route we made our way into the village and after some helpful advice from local children found the church and the castle.

The church was closed of course.  I remember when I was a boy on holiday with my family that churches were always open and my Dad would stop and visit them all, but it is a sad state of affairs now and a reflection on modern society that churches are mostly locked to protect themselves against theft and vandalism.

The children were beginning to nag now about when they would get their ice cream so after a quick circumnavigation of the churchyard we carried on to the castle.

Not much of a castle it has to be said, just a huge grassy mound in a farmer’s field because it was demolished over seven hundred years ago on account of having no strategic or military value.  The children were not impressed and neither I suspect was Kim.

Close by was the village shop where the girls got their ice cream and next door was a pub where I got a glass of beer.

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East Riding of Yorkshire, Hornsea

Northumberland Seaside Painting

I live in the north of Lincolnshire.  I like Lincolnshire but I like Yorkshire even more.  Lucky for me then that it is only a thirty mile drive to cross the Humber Bridge and arrive in the East Riding.

School holidays mean visiting grandchildren so to save the house and garden from being trashed I booked a few days away in a holiday home (caravan) in a part of Yorkshire that I have so far never felt inclined to visit.  Tucked away in the south east of the county is a stretch of coastline between the city of Hull and the town of Bridlington and this was our destination.  A holiday park at Skipsea Sands.

East Riding

The UK was enjoying bizarre weather and an unexpected heat-wave as hot air swept up from North Africa and we set off with high expectations of a gloriously sunny week with the promise of record breaking temperatures and as we approached our first destination we were not disappointed.

I first visited Hornsea in February 2017 and I liked it so much that I vowed to return.  This is what I said about it then…

“On arrival I was immediately impressed.  I live near the resort town of Cleethorpes but although it is a popular holiday resort it has to be said that it is just a muddy estuary where the sea is barely visible for long periods of the day but this was real North Sea coast with a raging sea, barnacled groynes, pounding surf, churning water and a pebble beach clattering away as it was constantly rearranged by the tidal surge.”

It was different today of course as the midday temperature soared through the thirties, the sea was calm and warm and the beach was as busy as Benidorm in July.

fish-and-chip-shops-whitby

We started the visit with fish and chips because there is nowhere like Yorkshire for fish and chips, cooked properly in beef dripping and crisp crunchy batter, a real treat.  I lived for a few months in Richmond in North Yorkshire and would quite happily eat fish and chips every day.

Next we went to the beach.  I wasn’t so keen on this as the children.  I have just bought a new car and I didn’t want it filled with sand that is difficult to vacuum up but I had to give in of course and accept the consequences.

The beach was busy and a few yards away were a family of louts who were ignoring the summer beaches dog-ban rule with a scruffy animal that was causing mayhem.  I just hate dogs.

After half an hour or so they packed up and left but didn’t bother to take their litter with them, several beer cans and empty crisp packets and just wandered off with their obnoxious beast.  Kim was outraged and went across to where they were sitting and picked up all of the mess that they had left behind.  I was impressed by that.

Hornsea Litter Picker

And so with sandy feet and muddy clothes we left the beach but then ran into the moron beach littering family.  Kim couldn’t help herself and walked across to them and handed them the bag of cans and bottles.  I knew that this wasn’t a good idea.  The youth (obviously unemployable and living on benefits) was a tattoed yob (paid for by people like us who pay taxes) who clearly couldn’t be reasoned with or could see no wrong in his actions and responded with a tirade of abuse which shocked the passers-by.  I pulled Kim away but he followed and continued with his foul mouthed response until we were out safely of ear-shot.

Anti-Social behaviour and littering is a real problem in the UK as people seem to think that it is acceptable to dispose of rubbish in any public place and I find that so distressing.

After we had walked the length of the seafront we returned to the car park and continued our journey to out holiday home (caravan) destination at Skipsea Sands.  Caravan allocation is a bit of a lottery, sometimes you get a good one and sometimes you don’t.  This time we struck lucky with a van on the edge of the park overlooking a field of golden corn and the blue sea beyond.  It was quite perfect.

I have visited these caravan parks before and I am certain that the company keeps a database of clients and how they leave the accommodation when they leave.  I try to leave it in really good order and I am convinced that this results in an upgrade for the next visit.

As the girls moved in and chose their bedrooms Kim and I sat on the balcony and watched the monochrome kaleidoscope of grass as the breeze choreographed shifting patterns in the field of golden wheat.  We opened a bottle of wine and congratulated ourselves on our good fortune.

Skipsea Cornfield

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