Spurn National Nature Reserve
Know before you go
Grazing animalsHebridean sheep and longhorn cattle
Footpaths are open all the time (unless bad weather closes the nature reserve).
For safety reasons the nature reserve may on occasion be closed to the public in bad weather.
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times (unless bad weather poses a risk to visitors). Please see Spurn Discovery Centre for opening times of the centre.
Best time to visitMarch to November
About the reserve
Spurn Point is Yorkshire's very own Lands End - an iconic and constantly moving peninsula which curves between the North Sea and the Humber Estuary. At over three miles long but as little as 50 metres wide, this landscape is unique and ever-changing.
Spurn has an extensive human history, leaving a legacy of fascinating but derelict buildings and hidden structures. But Spurn remains, and will always be, an utterly wild place. Always at the mercy of the elements, no two days at Spurn are ever the same.
Plan your visit
Nestled in among the ever-changing landscape, Spurn Discovery Centre is the perfect base to begin your adventure. With toilets, cafe, education hub, events and more, visit the Discovery Centre page to plan your visit.
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.
Spurn is an iconic National Nature Reserve, famous for bird migration, but also for a wide range of other important wildlife and cultural heritage. Birds are the most visible migrants, but impressive movements of insects, including hoverflies, ladybirds, dragonflies and butterflies can occur.
A long, narrow, crooked finger of sand reaching 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.
Due to its prominent position, huge numbers of birds pass through Spurn during the year. The numbers and types of birds varies from week to week and is 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.
Spurn is similarly rich in other 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 seabuckthorn bushes. On the Humber side of Spurn, a strip of saltmarsh exists between the land and the mudflats, supporting colourful flowering plants including sea lavender, sea aster and sea rocket, along with common glasswort and eel grass. Curlew, grey plover and knot use the saltmarsh to roost at high tide. Look out for merlin and peregrine which cause panic among the flocks of roosting wading birds when they start to hunt. Shelduck and brent geese are conspicuous on the mudflats during the winter.
In spring and summer a range of wildflowers appear in the grassland areas which the Trust manages by grazing with sheep and cattle, and also by cutting.
Magenta pyramidal orchids grow here and closer inspection of short grass may reveal the rare suffocated clover. Sea holly grows 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. A look over the sea will not only reveal passing seabirds including locally breeding little tern in the summer but also a chance of a harbour porpoise or even a minke whale.
- Spring: Birds - Whimbrel; Wheatear; Ring ouzel; Plants - Scurvy grass
- Summer: Invertebrates - Red-veined darter; Birds - Little tern; Mammals - Harbour Porpouise; Plants - Suffocated clover
- Autumn: Birds - Woodcock; Wryneck; Whinchat; Yellow-browed warbler; Great grey shrike
- Winter: Birds - Brent goose; Shelduck; Merlin; Snow bunting; Mammals - Harbour seal
None available direct to Spurn.
Follow the A1033 from Hull to Patrington. Turn off (right) to the B1445 towards Easington and Kilnsea. Turn right at the T junction in Easington and continue along the minor road to Kilnsea. Turn right at the crossroads towards the Spurn Discovery Centre. Car park is on your left.
Drones, kites and other filming
Please remember that this is a nature reserve and that it is managed first and foremost for the wildlife that lives here. As part of the Humber SSSI/SPA/SAC, Spurn Point is legally protected for its breeding, migrating, and wintering bird populations. For this reason, we do not permit activities – for example, kite flying – that might disturb the species that make this place so special.
It is not permitted to fly drones at Spurn without a licence from Natural England. Please contact email@example.com for more information.
Filming at Spurn is considered on a case-by-case basis and there may be a charge. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your request.
Jutting out into the mouth of the Humber, Spurn is very much exposed to the elements. Visitors should be aware that there is a 1km 'washover' section of sand which is covered by water at high tide, effectively cutting the end of the peninsula off from the mainland, creating Yorkshire's first 'island'!
Strong currents and soft sand underfoot mean that it is very dangerous to enter the water over the washover section (marked 'Danger' on the map below) – 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.
Walking your dog at Spurn
We're happy to welcome dogs to certain areas of Spurn, but we restrict access to other areas. We've explained why some areas are off-limits, and given you some ideas for dog-friendly walks which still allow you to enjoy the Spurn experience!
Why are some areas of Spurn restricted to dogs?
We know most dog owners are conscientious, and will keep their dogs on leads and pick up their dog poo. However, even the most well-behaved dogs can cause upsets in the natural environment. Here's why:
- Dogs are a disturbance to birds. Spurn is home to a fabulous array of protected birds and other species. These animals are increasingly threatened, so protecting areas of land like Spurn, where they can thrive, is really important.
- Spurn National Nature Reserve is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest. This means that, by law, we have to ensure the delicate ecosystems of the reserve are kept in balance. Dogs can upset this balance by rooting around undergrowth and disturbing animals. Dog poo can change the quality of the soil, which can encourage the wrong sorts of plants to grow.
- We have livestock grazing our land. Not only can dogs disturb or even threaten livestock, there are several nasty diseases which can be transmitted to sheep and cattle via dog poo. At the same time, seal poo can infect dogs with similar nasty illnesses.
Where can I walk my dog?
We're more than happy to welcome canine friends into our Spurn Discovery Centre, so please drop by for a visit! Look out for signs on the reserve which show you where you're able to walk your dog.
If you're after a good beach walk, you can head north from the Discovery Centre along the beach. Enjoy the sea air, big views and spot wildlife on the cliffs and in the water. Just turn around and head back for a cuppa when you're ready!
If you want a circular walk, you can do the Kilnsea Wetlands trail. Head north towards the Blue Bell and continue along Beacon Lane. Then follow the cut paths to the historic sound mirror and Kilnsea Wetlands. See waders, wildfowl and views over Kilnsea. Walk for a short distance along the grass verge until you reach Kilnsea village, and continue back along the path to the Discovery Centre. You'll need to keep your dog on a lead for this walk.
Where's off-limits for my dog?
You can't walk your dog down to Spurn Point, which is part of Spurn National Nature Reserve. There's a gate as you walk towards Spurn Point from the Discovery Centre - this is where the National Nature Reserve starts. You can't take your dog beyond this point.
If you have any further questions, please contact the team based at Spurn Discovery Centre on 01964 650144.
Make a full day of your adventure and take the opportunity to explore and enjoy other wild places close by.