Spurn National Nature Reserve
Spurn is now open to visitors but please note the road remains closed to vehicles. Access to the point is now on foot only. Please ensure you pay attention to any information given on site regarding the tides at Spurn. See times when not to cross during summer 2014 here.
A long, narrow, crooked finger of sand reaches out from the Holderness coast across the mouth of the mighty River Humber.
This is Spurn, one of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's most iconic nature reserves. It is a wildlife-rich mosaic of beach, mudflats, saltmarsh, dunes, grassland, open water, saline lagoons and native sea buckthorn scrub.
Spurn has formed from the sediment, sand and gravels washing down the Holderness coast and by the interaction between the North Sea and the River Humber. In the past, people have tried to fortify Spurn against these dynamic natural processes, but largely these have failed. The Trust now tries to work with nature, rather than against it.
Spurn is rich in wildlife but this may not be obvious at first glance. Plants are the first feature noticed, with the marram grass-topped dunes interspersed with stunted elder and orange-berried sea buckthorn bushes. On the Humber side of Spurn, a strip of saltmarsh exists between the land and the mudflats, supporting colorful flowering plants including sea lavender, sea aster and sea rocket, along with common glasswort and eel grass. Curlew, grey plover and knot also use the saltmarsh to roost at high tide. Look out for merlin and peregrine which cause panic among the flocks of roosting waders when they start to hunt. Shelduck and brent geese are conspicuous on the mudflats during the winter.
Spring and summer sees a wide range of wildflowers appear in the grassland areas which the Trust manages by grazing with rare breed sheep and also by cutting. Magenta pyramidal orchids grow here and closer inspection of short grass around the visitor centre may reveal the rare suffocated clover. Sea holly can be seen close to the road and amongst the dunes. Roe deer are a regular sight in these grassy areas, particularly early in the morning, which is also a good time to see a fox. An hour watching the sea will not only reveal passing seabirds including locally breeding little tern in the summer, but also harbour porpoise and for the very fortunate, a minke or even humpback whale.
Spurn is famous for migration. Birds are the most visible migrants, but impressive movements of insects, including hoverflies, ladybirds, dragonflies and butterflies can occur. Due to its prominent position, huge numbers of birds pass through Spurn during the year. The number and type of bird varies literally from week to week and are influenced by the weather conditions. The adjacent Humber Estuary is of international importance for its vast numbers of wildfowl and wading birds which can be seen on passage in spring and autumn and during the winter.
Enjoy a brisk walk on a bright winter afternoon to experience a host of birds of prey - short-eared owl, merlin, peregrine and hen harrier which seek prey among the thousands of wintering wildfowl and waders on the Humber mudflats.
This is a dynamic site, constantly changing, moving in a westward direction, as the North Sea and Humber meet. Grazing by Hebridean sheep takes place to manage the habitat ensuring a diversity of species. Regular winter beach cleans also take place to keep the beach free from litter - volunteers are always welcome to take part!
Evidence of Spurn's historical past still exists, including the remains of a railway track, built by the army in 1915 and maintained by them until the 1950s. Old gun emplacements can also be found on the point dating from WWI. Going right back, Spurn was first referenced in the 7th Century!. Since then we know people have set up home here on and off. In 1819 lifeboat men came to live on the point with their families and did so until 2012. The station is still manned, however, will full crew.
Spurn has been recognised as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) since 1957, designated as such shortly before the Trust took over the ownership in 1960. The nature reserve has since received further designations including Special Protection Area (SPA), Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and National Nature Reserve in 1996 showing just what a special place this is.
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. The car park for the reserve is reached by driving down the side of the Blue Bell. There is no car parking currently on site due to the effects of December's tidal surge.
Want to see more of Spurn National Nature Reserve? Have a look below.