Puffin on cliffs

Photo credit: Martin Batt

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, gulls and puffins, creating a memorable experience. The chalk grassland, especially in Holmes Gut, is rich in flowers attracting butterflies and a number of uncommon moths.

Location

Flamborough Cliffs,
North Marine Road

Bridlington
East Riding of Yorkshire
YO15 1BJ

OS Map Reference

North Landing car park - TA238719
Thornwick Bay car park - TA234719
A static map of Flamborough Cliffs Nature Reserve

Know before you go

Size
36 hectares

Entry fee

Free

Parking information

Parking available in non-YWT car parks at North Landing and Thornwick Bay, charges apply.

Grazing animals

Sheep and cattle.

Walking trails

The coastal footpath runs through the reserve.

Access

Access on foot from car parks. More information below. 

Dogs

On a lead

Facilities

Picnic area

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times

Best time to visit

March to July

About the reserve

Stunning sea views and excellent views of nesting puffins can be seen from the cliff tops from mid May to mid July. Look out too for fulmar, kittiwake, guillemots and razorbills. It's a great place for bird and sea-watching during spring and autumn migrations.     

About

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-browed 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!

Seasonal highlights

  • Spring: Plants - Northern marsh orchid; Cowslips Birds - Migrant birds
  • Summer: Invertebrates - Wall butterfly; Birds - Puffin; Kittiwake; Peregrine; Mammals - Harbour Porpoise
  • AutumnBirds - Sooty shearwater; Arctic skua; Woodcock
  • Winter: Birds - Peregrine; Lapland bunting; Snow bunting

Directions

Public Transport
Regular bus service from Bridlington, closest train station is at Bridlington.

By car
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.

Find out more and plan your trip.

Living Seas Centre - Flamborough

Living Seas Centre - Flamborough

Accessibility 

Many of our reserves are beautiful but remote. Visitors will have different access needs and abilities and we want to provide some basic information about the reserve to help you decide whether this is a place you would like to visit and to help you plan. 

Walking at Flamborough Cliffs 

The reserve is accessed by the linear coastal public footpath running east (1km to Breil Nook) and west (2km to North cliff) from North Landing car park.

The cliff top terrain is fairly hilly with steep slopes to beaches and through coastal ‘guts’ or narrow valleys. Paths away from the car park  are grassy or worn to clay and can become muddy in wet weather. Some small sections of path are surfaced with chalk gravel. There are benches near the car park but none along the cliff tops further into the reserve.

There are no gates between North Landing and Breil Nook. There are two standard pedestrian gates into the field at Thornwick Cottages and to the most westerly cliff top meadow at North Cliff. There are numerous steps surfaced with chalk gravel along steep sections of the paths and small bridges crossing streams. The path to Thornwick Bay is steep with steps and small raised boardwalk sections.

Transport 

There is a large tarmacked non-YWT car park with a sea view and hardcore overspill area at North Landing. Charges apply. There is also a smaller car park on grass along the track to Thornwick with seasonal charges. This parking area is often muddy and rutted in winter. There are no disabled parking places marked in either car park.

Facilities 

There are cafes and pubs next to and on the road leading up to the reserve. Other shops and facilities including public toilet can be found in Flamborough 1 mile away.  

There is mostly a good mobile phone signal. 

The What3Words code at North Landing is climber.crust.outwards 

Nearby