Flamborough Head has one of the most important seabird colonies in Europe. In summer the cliffs are packed with tens of thousands of breeding auks, gannets and gulls creating a memorable experience. The chalk grassland, especially in Holmes Gut, is rich in flowers attracting butterflies and a number of uncommon moths.
Flamborough Cliffs nature reserve consists of three sections, Breil, Holmes and Thornwick, each with their own character but all important for the seabird colonies nesting on the 100-foot high sheer chalk cliffs.
For a brief period in the summer the cliffs host internationally important numbers of breeding seabirds including fulmars, herring gulls, kittiwakes, guillemots, razorbills and puffins. A small number of shags also breed while gannets, nesting nearby at Bempton Cliffs, can be seen flying past in straggly lines. Landward of the cliff top footpath are grassland fields which host nesting skylark and meadow pipit whose numbers have increased as grazing has improved the habitat.
In Holmes there is an area of gorse scrub which attracts breeding linnet and yellowhammer. At Thornwick the two reed beds, though small, host reed warbler, sedge warbler and reed bunting.
Both the base of the steps into Holmes and near Thornwick cottages are fantastic spots for wildflowers. Growing here in the chalk grassland is bird's-foot trefoil, common spotted orchids and pyramidal orchids. Along the cliff edge there is a beautiful show of delicate pink thrift and occasionally Northern marsh orchid can bloom in profusion.
A number of butterflies are attracted to these flowers including small skipper and ringlet. The nature reserve is also home to the scarce burnet companion moth.
Catch up with puffins, seen easier here than at any other site in Yorkshire.
In autumn birdwatching interest switches to migration. Out at sea, all four skuas may be seen plus large numbers of common seabirds, divers, grebes and wildfowl. Clifftop fields attract short-eared owl, wheatear and whinchat, whilst berry-laden scrub and wooded areas in Holmes Gut attracts hordes of migrant thrushes, warblers and finches.
Scarce migrants are also frequently seen, including yellow-browned warbler. Throughout the year North Landing provides endless opportunities for rock pooling with starfish, crabs, fish and an array of marine molluscs to be found as well as a rich and varied carpet of seaweeds. Just be careful to watch the tides!
Living Seas Centre
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's Living Seas Centre at South Landing has information and education facilities.
Discover Yorkshire’s Wildlife
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Discover Yorkshire’s Wildlife book, which has detailed information on all of Yorkshire Wildlife and Sheffield Wildlife Trust’s reserves, is available to buy now from our online shop.
Regular bus service from Bridlington, closest train station is at Bridlington.
From Flamborough village follow the B1265 signposted for North Landing. The road terminates above North Landing with a car park on the left.
Want to see more of Flamborough Cliffs before your visit? Have a look below.