Big skies and ever changing wildlife make the evocative landscape of Spurn one of the Trust’s most iconic nature reserves. Whether you go by foot, bike or aboard a Spurn Safari (sorry – no vehicular access down to the Point) visiting is always an adventure.
High tides transform Spurn Point into Yorkshire’s only island – so please check the tide times in the Downloads section below carefully to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable visit.
Spurn is truly a site for all seasons, but arguably one of its best wildlife highlights is the spring and autumn spectacle of bird migration. Due to the exposed and recognisable coastal location, visible migration can be often be seen in action as birds head south along the peninsula, with some days seeing ‘falls’ of birds measured in their thousands.
Strong currents and soft sand underfoot mean that it is very dangerous to enter the water – please do not make any attempt to cross the wash-over until all the water has gone. Make sure you get the most out of your day by checking the tide times carefully before you go and pay close attention to the latest information on display once you get there.
For birdwatchers, autumn is the arguably the best time to go - alongside the usual migrant willow warblers, chiffchaffs, whitethroats, lesser whitethroats, reed warblers, goldcrests, stonechats, wheatears and redstarts on route to the winter haunts, there is the ever present chance that a real rarity will be blown off course. Offshore, Manx and sooty shearwaters, arctic and great skuas can be seen migrating along the coast, and the very lucky few may spot a whale on its autumn migration - even a humpback whale has been seen off Spurn!
Spring sees the northbound migration, with the first signs being the movement of black redstarts and meadow pipits, soon followed by the arrival of more familiar springtime migrants of sand martins, swallows, and wheatears.
Spurn is no less impressive in the winter months, with wading birds like knot, dunlin and bar-tailed godwits gathering together in huge swirling flocks numbering in their thousands as they gather to feed on the rich mudflats of the Humber Estuary. These large gatherings in turn attract aerial predators such as peregrines and merlins, with the occasional hen harrier drifting by as they venture out from their winter feeding areas on the salt marshes of the Humber. The bracing walks, unique estuary views and seascapes are among the very best in the region.
Come the summer months, the scratchy song of whitethroats can be heard from the bush tops, whilst pink pyramidal orchids add their colour to the yellow rattle and bird's-foot trefoil that grow in the grasslands, notably along Chalk Bank. These grasslands are cared for by conservation grazing – keep an eye out for the diminutive black Hebridean sheep flock grazing, or even one of the wild roe deer that pick their way carefully through the grass. Butterflies are joined by day-flying moths such as cinnabars, burnet moths and occasionally hummingbird hawk-moths among the dunes and grassland. Dragonflies, including the UK’s largest, the emperor, and the rare red-veined darter can often be seen in the wet scrapes. Look out to sea for the rare little tern flying past on its way to a local breeding site, or even the inquisitive stare of a grey seal as its head bobs above the water.
It’s not just the wildlife that fascinates visitors to Spurn – every step reveals an insight into its rich maritime, cultural and defence history, which stretches right back to the 7th century! The remains of the old railway track, built in 1915 stretch along the peninsula, whilst WW1 gun emplacements are hidden amongst the sea buckthorn scrub. In 1819 lifeboat men came with their families to live on the Point, and did so until 2012.
The most obvious historical feature is certainly the Spurn lighthouse, which is currently undergoing a full restoration and will be opened to the public in late 2015.
Tides and shifting sands
Spurn is a dynamic place in the past people have tried to fortify Spurn against these dynamic natural processes, but largely these have failed. The most dramatic of these was during the tidal surge of December 2013 which ripped out a section of the road, leaving Yorkshire with a newly created island at high tide. You can find out the times when not to cross the wash-over section from our downloads section on the right hand corner of this page. The Trust tries to work with nature, rather than against it, to allow the natural processes to take place. As a result there is no vehicular access to the Point – access is solely on foot, bike, or aboard the specially equipped vehicle on which the Trust runs Spurn Safaris.
Spurn Safaris take place aboard a giant ex-military Unimog vehicle which acts as a giant mobile wildlife hide - so even regular visitors will enjoy this new vantage point. These regular two hour safari events include full commentary throughout, a guided walk and a chance to climb to the top of the lighthouse (opening later this year). Take a look at the What’s On pages for more details and to book.
Bluebell Cafe opening hours
- Monday 10.30am - 3.30pm
- Tuesday Closed
- Wednesday Closed
- Thursday Closed (during summer (beg June - end Sept) the cafe is open on a Thursday afternoon)
- Friday 10.30am - 3.30pm
- Saturday 10.30am - 3.30pm
- Sunday 10.30am - 3.30pm
Important Visitor Information
- Strong currents and soft sand underfoot mean that it is very dangerous to enter the water on the wash over area as the high tide comes in and recedes – please do not make any attempt to cross the sands until all the water has gone. Make sure you get the most out of your day by checking the tide times carefully before you go and pay close attention to the latest information on display once you get there.
- In the scrub around the base of the lighthouse, and along into Chalk Bank, you may notice what look like tents stretched between branches, which are in fact the overwintering silk tents of the brown tail moth caterpillar. Whilst for many these caterpillars are harmless, they can cause itchy allergic skin reactions or respiratory issues for those with asthma or hay fever – so please don’t touch the caterpillars or the tents.
Dogs are not allowed on Spurn, in order to protect the sensitive wildlife and habitats
High tide at Spurn National Nature Reserve
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.
Spurn is located c.30 miles east of Hull. From Easington follow the B1445 to Kilnsea. From the village of Kilnsea, the nature reserve begins on the road past the Blue Bell cafe. Parking is available at the Blue Bell Cafe, Canal Scrape and there is a limited car park just beyond the reserve entrance for those less able.
Want to see more of Spurn National Nature Reserve? Have a look below.