The sea fret threatens to shroud the beach as we near Filey
The 'sea fret' threatens to shroud the beach as we near Filey

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Route No. 219 - Saturday 2 June 2007
Train from Filey to Bempton,
then walk to Bempton RSPB reserve,
cliff path to Speeton, descend to the beach,
return to Filey along the beach - 15km
(check the tide times!) . . .

Map: OS Explorer 301 Scarborough, Bridlington & Flamborough Head at 1:25000
Route Map on 'Landranger' base from OS Open Space service
Open this route in Google Earth

Tide tables from the BBC wb site
Tide tables via the Scarborough Borough Council web site


Our train arriving at Filey station
Our train arriving at Filey station

The fare was £2.60, a few pence cheaper than it was when we did this walk a few years ago. The journey took about 15 minutes and we started walking from Bempton station at about 10.30.

This morning we met a small group of friends at Filey station in time to catch the 10.14 train to go two stops down the line to Bempton.

Leaving the train at Bempton
Leaving the train at Bempton

Bempton church
Bempton church

Boats brinning visitors from Filey and Bridlington to see the nesting colonies on Bempton Cliffs
Boats bringing visitors from Filey and Bridlington
to see the nesting colonies on Bempton Cliffs

We had an early coffee stop at the RSPB visitor centre and then made out way to the various view points along the cliffs.

We followed the road through Bempton village past the church and out to the RSPB reserve on Bempton Cliffs.

A flock of twitchers at one of the view points at Bempton Cliffs RSPB reserve
A flock of twitchers at a view point at Bempton Cliffs RSPB reserve

Bempton Cliffs looking towards Flamborough Head
Bempton Cliffs looking towards Flamborough Head

Bempton Cliffs looking towards Flamborough Head
Bempton Cliffs looking towards Flamborough Head

Some of the kittywakes had chicks already and some were gathering mud from a wet patch on the bank at the top of the cliff.

At this time of year there are thousands of birds nesting on the cliffs. There are gannets, guillimots, razorbills, kittywakes, fulmars and puffins, although the puffins are just arriving.

Bempton Cliffs looking towards Filey
Bempton Cliffs looking towards Filey

Razor Bills roosting on Bempton Cliffs
Razor Bills roosting on Bempton Cliffs

Kittywakes on their nests on Bempton Cliffs
Kittywakes on their nests on Bempton Cliffs

Gannets on Bempton Cliffs
Gannets on Bempton Cliffs

Gannets on Bempton Cliffs
Gannets on Bempton Cliffs

Cliff top path towards Filey from Bempton
Cliff top path towards Filey from Bempton

As we left the reserve and headed for Speeton there was an occasional glimpse down the cliff where every ledge was occupied by a nesting seabird.

The meadows along the cliff top are left uncut and provide a habitat for all kinds of small birds - you know, the small brown jobbies that are so hard to identify!

Red Campion by the cliff top path at Bempton
Red Campion by the cliff top path at Bempton

A razor Bill and a kittywake on their nests at Bempton
A razorbill and a kittywake on their nests at Bempton

Ragged robin by the path at Bempton
Ragged robin by the path at Bempton

Kidney Vetch - a  plant that likes the seaside
Kidney Vetch - a plant that likes the seaside

There were all kinds of wild flowers, some we could identify and some we just didn't know. After lunch we continued along the cliff top path for a few hundred metres to map ref. TA 159750.

We stopped by the trig point near Speeton for our lunch there was hardly any view out towards Bridlington because of the sea mist known locally as 'Sea Fret' that was sitting cold and damp all along that part of the coast, whilst we basked on warm sunshine.

Lunch stop near Speighton
Lunch stop near Speeton

Filey Bay from the cliff top near Speeton
Filey Bay from the cliff top near Speeton

Path down an old land slip to the beach at Speeton
Path down an old land slip to the beach at Speeton

The path is at the bottom of a steep slope so great care is needed to avoid being impaled on the barbs. At map ref. TA 153753 the path crosses a stile to continue down to the beach across the old landslip

The path took us down a steep field to the top edge of a huge old land slip. The path followed the edge of the land slip for several hundred metres with a barbed wire fence very close to the path.

Path down an old land slip to the beach at Speeton
Path down an old land slip to the beach at Speeton

Path down an old land slip to the beach at Speeton
Path down an old land slip to the beach at Speeton

Crossing Speeton sands for a paddle
Crossing Speeton sands for a paddle

Walking along Reighton sands toward Filey
Walking along Reighton sands toward Filey

All that remains of a shipwreck - the ship's boiler
All that remains of a shipwreck - the ship's boiler

Remains of war time east coast defences slowly eroding into the sea
Remains of war time east coast defences eroding into the sea

An ailing guillimot
An ailing guillimot

Once we were down to the beach I took my shoes and socks off to walk in the water's edge for the remaining 5km back to Filey. It's a wonderful beach and even on this hot sunny day at the end of the county's half-term school holiday the beach did not seem crowded. As we walked back to Filey the sea fret threatened to roll in over the beach but then just evaporated and left us in the sunshine. When we reached Filey we stopped in a cafe on the promenade for a coffee before returning to the station to collect our cars to go home. The walk had been about 15km and had taken us five and a half hours including a couple of breaks and quite a bit of time peering over the cliffs at Bempton. I had checked the tide times from the BBC web site when planning this walk and low water today was around 11am. This month we were joined by two ladies who had not walked with us before, Lynne and Dot. I hope you enjoyed the walk (and the company) and maybe we'll see you next time?

The promenade at Filey as we returned to the station
The promenade at Filey as we returned to the station

Background Notes:
This walk is about 15km from Bempton Railway station to Filey. The plan is to park in Filey and get the train to Bempton. It costs under £3.00 and takes about 15mins. On Sundays there are just two suitable trains, one leaves Filey at 11.26am and the other at 12.22pm. From Bempton station you walk out along the lane for about a mile and a quarter to the RSPB reserve at Bempton Cliffs. This is a good time to visit the reserve. All the regular nesting seabirds are there now and there will already be gannet chicks and other birds sitting their eggs. As well as the gannet colony there are kittiwakes, guillimots, razorbills and fulmars, all nesting on the cliffs and puffins nesting in their burrows along the cliff edge and in crevices further down the cliffs. Don't forget your binoculars - there are a number of viewing points along the cliff edge, but they will be busy at this time of year. You can hire binocculars from the RSPB shop but of course you have to walk back there to return them before setting off on the rest of the walk. The RSPB manage the cliff top fields for the benefit of wildlife and in addition to the sea birds there is a variety of farmland birds in the fields along the cliff top. From the reserve the walk continues along the cliff top path almost to Speeton. Bempton Cliffs are part of the Flamborough Head peninsular and as you walk along the cliff top path with the cliff edge and the sea on your right you can look left across the peninsular to Bridlington Bay on the other side of the peninsular with the coast line heading southeastwards towards Spurn Point. Just before Speeton the path turns right to descend to the beach down an old land slip. As you reach the beach you can see Bempton Cliffs to the right with a rocky boulder strewn shore and to the left the wide flat sandy beaches of Filey Bay. I picked today for this walk because the tides are right for it. It was High Water at about 8.20am and Low Water about 03.00pm so there was plenty of time to walk along the beach, but do not start the beach walk before about 1.00pm and be sure to reach Filey before about 5.00pm. That way you should stay well clear of the tide, which does come right up to the foot of the clay cliffs along most of the bay. There's an important detail you should be aware of about these tide times. The times I have quotes are in British Summer Time (BST), but most Tide Tables are quoted in the international time standard called UTC which confusingly stands for Coordinated Universal Time. The initials come from the French version I think. This is the standard time based on an atomic clock and in 1986 it replaced Grenwich Mean Time (GMT) which was the old international standard. The route follows the sandy beach all the way back to Filey passing the holiday villages at Reighton Sands and Primrose Valley. I can never resist taking my boots off and paddling in the water's edge for this part of the walk. At Filey there are tea shops on the promenade and in the main street to round off the walk. If you do this walk on another day do check the tide times. There are tide tables on the BBC web site and on the Scarborough Borough Council web site. On both sites the information is listed under the heading "Weather & Tides".
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