Flamborough Cliffs Nature Reserve
Know before you go
Parking informationParking available in non-YWT car parks at North Landing and Thornwick Bay, charges apply.
Grazing animalsPonies, sheep and cattle.
The coastal footpath runs through the reserve.
Access on foot from car parks.
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitMarch to July
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.
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!
- Spring: Plants - Northern marsh orchid; Cowslips Birds - Migrant birds
- Summer: Invertebrates - Wall butterfly; Birds - Puffin; Kittiwake; Peregrine; Mammals - Harbour Porpoise
- Autumn: Birds - Sooty shearwater; Arctic skua; Woodcock
- Winter: Birds - Peregrine; Lapland bunting; Snow bunting
Regular bus service from Bridlington, closest train station is at Bridlington.
The nature reserve can be accessed by walking along the clifftop footpath northwest from Flamborough Head lighthouse or by following the B1265 from Flamborough village, where a large private car park and café exists. There is a small car park at Thornwick which has an admission charge.
As part of your trip to Flamborough Cliffs, do take time to visit Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's Living Seas Centre, located close by at the beautiful South Landing beach, offering a wealth of information about Yorkshire's fascinating marine and coastal wildlife and education facilities for visiting school groups. Find out more below.
Living Seas Centre
The Living Seas Centre is open every Sunday year round and daily from Saturday 10th February until Sunday 25th November.
Exciting events are run from the centre across the year for all ages: Seashore Safaris, talks, marine-themed crafts...it's the perfect place to discover the weird and wonderful creatures to be found hidden below the waves and find out how we can all do our bit for marine wildlife all whilst enjoying a cup of tea or an ice cream.