Headland Walk

A linear walk of about 20 miles from the Priory Church in the Old Town of Bridlington to the Coble Landing in Filey. (An alternative start can be made from the harbour.) 'Headland Way' signposts are present between Sewerby and Seaton. No other special waymarking is used. Take care along the cliff tops. Erosion can be a problem. High tides in Filey Bay can cause a delay or the use of a difficult in parts cliff top path. Check the tide times. Limited parking is available between the church and the interesting Bayle Gate.

Take the path on the right hand side of the church. Ignore other paths to the side and follow the road reached, Priory Walk, between houses. Cross straight over Jubilee Avenue and continue along the path between fences alongside a cemetery. A short path on the opposite side of St. Aiden Road leads to Priory Crescent. Follow the bend to the right and walk through St. Oswald Road to Queensgate. Cross to Queen's Park. The path half-left reaches Forty Foot close to a railway bridge. Cross the road, pass under the bridge and soon turn left down First Avenue, NOT the road to the left near the start of this. Reach the sea front on North Marine Drive.

Turn left towards Flamborough, soon along the cliff top. Sewerby Hall is soon reached. The Hall and Gardens are popular, with much of interest. The cliff top path is unfenced, and passes a golf course before reaching Danes Dyke. The path bears inland to a path junction. Turn right, downhill to reach the beach.

Part of Danes Dyke is natural, but much consists of an Iron Age earthwork and it extends right across the headland to form a defence for the Head itself. We will meet the northern end later, still a long way off for us. Here we are in a nature reserve and there is a pleasant nature trail.

Take the steps upwards on the opposite side and continue along the cliff top. We pass Beacon Hill, very close to Flamborough village, before arriving at South Landing after another descent.

In 1993, a new lifeboat station replaced that at North Landing. The track inland leads to the Heritage Coast Centre.

Take the steps opposite upwards to reach a picnic area, and continue along the cliff top. The lighthouse comes into view as we near Selwicks Bay. (Pronounced 'Silex') If foggy, the siren may be a little loud. Use the path round the cliff side of the lighthouse . Walk round the top of the bay, eventually bearing right, down a few steps and then up towards the next stretch of cliff top.

Selwicks Bay has several points of interest. The lighthouse was built in 1806 by John Matson, who used no scaffolding. The older octagonal lighthouse, which was 'coal fired', is nearby and has been restored. Both are open for viewing on occasions. We pass a topograph almost opposite a café. This is a reminder of the first ever battle of the American navy. John Paul Jones in the Bonhomme Richard, attacked a British convoy. It outgunned the 2 British warships guarding it. One of the British ships was taken, and when his ship was sinking, the Americans transferred to it. The convoy escaped. It has not been confirmed that divers have now found the wreck.

There are many caves and blowholes in the chalk cliff side and an increasing number of birds are seen during the summer. Kittiwakes, jackdaws and rock doves on the cliffs, other species, including puffins, over the sea below.

We follow the cliff top to North Landing.

Robin Lythe's cave (Smugglers' Cave) to the right when descending, is worth exploring if the tide is out.

Walk along the cliff top in front of the car park. Steps help us to descend into a gulley. Ascend the path opposite, reach a stile, cross and walk to the left. Pass either side of bungalows and reach steps down into and up from a second gulley. Turn right to reach the left hand side of the café at Thornwick Bay. Here, at the time of writing, the steps down have been closed due to cliff erosion, so it may be necessary to walk round the end of the gulley. A path has been waymarked round. Continue up the grassy slope at the opposite side, just a little way from the cliff top. Soon we have to walk on the outside of a fence for a short distance before reaching the easier path up to the northern end of Danes Dyke.

Here the obviously man-made mound has been built as the dyke on its West side was excavated.

The R.S.P.B. Bird Sanctuary at Bempton Cliff is reached. An Information Centre is close by.

Here, during the early spring and summer months, the display of birds is astounding. The gannets must have pride of place, this being the only colony actually on the mainland.. Viewing areas enable us to watch in safety as a huge number of birds compete for space on the steep chalk cliffs. The reserve has steadily expanded.

Past the reserve, the path continues to rise right up to the trig point on Buckton Cliff, with good views of the headland. We start to generally descend slowly until the path turns sharp right, down a shallow gulley, and a stile, just before a fence, on the left takes us safely into a field. Erosion is a clear problem on the opposite side of the fence. Follow the inside of the fence, apart from a very short section where 2 stiles are crossed, and reach the junction with the path, which comes down from Speeton. Cross the stile, pass an unusual stone seat, and now, if the tide is safe, follow the path carefully down, sections of which are stepped, to reach the beach. Take care not to get stuck in the short section of clay just before the beach.

Filey Bay provides easy walking along firm sand once a few chalk boulders are overcome, though some very small and shallow streams may have to be crossed. For over 3 miles, the going is easy and the sight of yachts, birds and holiday makers, helps to pass the time. Steps lead up from the cliff side of the promenade to lead us to our final section.

** If the tide is, or is likely to be too high, then a cliff top path is your challenge. A fairly clear path can be followed to reach the Reighton Gap caravan camp. Keep on the roads, tracks and paths as near to the cliff as possible. Gorse may be a problem in parts, but generally the route is fairly obvious, though definitely harder than the beach. Not all the route will be on rights of way, but will generally be permissive otherwise. Scarborough Council is aware of the problem, and should be encouraged to try to solve their problems in trying to open a definitive path. The right of way alongside the golf course leads to a way down to the promenade.

Follow the promenade along its length, keeping left at the paddling pool, and reach the Coble Landing and our finish, not only of this section, but of the Way. The boats and the stalls provide a colourful finish. You may wish to reward yourself with a little of the sea food. Personally, I prefer icecream!