It was a slightly stressful start to the day as we awaited the first of the week’s exam results.
A level results
Phew! Eldest teen got the grades she needed for her future plans. We all breathed a sigh of relief that it was OK to go out and enjoy the day.
My plan was to explore the North Yorkshire coast between Robin Hood’s Bay and Bempton Cliffs. Possibly not the most efficient planning on my part as we were staying almost an hour’s drive inland!
RSPB Bempton Cliffs
During the summer months Bempton Cliffs support England’s largest population of seabirds. Strictly speaking you can access them via a free public footpath that runs along the cliff top. However as we were making use of the car park, viewpoints and toilets we were happy to support the RSPB and pay an entrance fee.
RSPB Bempton Cliffs
There are six viewpoints, the furthest of which is a 10-15 minute walk from the visitor centre, unless you’re distracted by birds. Indeed it was hard not to be distracted as we made our way to the furthest viewpoint, Staple Newk.
Although we were too late to see the puffins we were instead treated to the sights, sounds and smells of the only mainland gannet breeding colony in England. There are an estimated 11,000 breeding pairs at Bempton Cliffs; incredibly they return to the same nesting spot each year. My usual view of a gannet is either diving or flying far out over the sea so it was great to see them at close quarters. However the fishy smell was too much for my son who retreated from the cliffs.
One thing I loved about RSPB Bempton was that the viewpoints were surprisingly accessible, not something easily achieved on a cliff. Several of the viewing platforms had ramped access for wheelchairs, mobility scooters and prams.
We wandered between the viewpoints, primarily watching the gannets but also keeping an eye out for the other species that inhabit the cliff; kittiwakes, guillemots and razorbills.
My only disappointment was the lack of the black browed albatross. I’d normally never expect to see an albatross in England but Twitter had been alive with the sightings of this extremely rare visitor from the southern oceans. It appears to have taken up temporary residence at Bempton Cliffs but was out for lunch on the day of our visit.
I had plans for lunch but they weren’t to be. We ended up sat in a supermarket car park in Filey eating a bap from a nearby chain bakery. To be fair, it was actually pretty good.
From Filey we drove north to Ravenscar. This is a quiet coastal village, famed as the seaside resort that never was. Victorian developers planned, and started to create, a resort similar to Scarborough. However a stand off between investors and the development company plus the lack of accessible beach meant the resort never materialised.
Nowadays it is best known for its colony of around 300 common and grey seals. The seals bob around in the water offshore, and also haul themselves up on the rocks that form the beach.
It was a very steep walk down to the beach, across the golf course and down the cliffside steps. Fortunately there’s a good seal viewing point (if you have binoculars) about halfway down the cliff, near a National Trust information board. The rest of the family stopped here to check out the seals whilst I continued down to the shoreline.
As it was low tide most of the seals were hauled out on a rocky promontory. I stayed well away from them, although did come across a lone one unexpectedly whilst exploring the seaweed strewn rocks and pools closer to the cliffs. This area is also known for its fossils, particularly ammonites, but I didn’t have luck finding any.
The return climb up the cliffs was hard going. I’m pretty fit but still had to stop a couple of times!
Robin Hood’s Bay
From Ravenscar we drove to Robin Hood’s Bay. Despite its name it’s doubtful that Robin Hood actually visited, even though a ballad recounts his supposed encounter with pirates.
We arrived late afternoon and found most places closed or in the process of closing. We therefore contented ourselves with a wander around the narrow streets until we discovered a snack kiosk that was still open. Here we drank coffees, and the teens ate doughnuts, looking out to sea.
As with the other villages along this stretch of the coast it was a steep walk back to the car park at the top. A word of warning; don’t waste your 30p in the public toilets in the car park, they were grim!
Back to our fabulous Airbnb in Pickering. We were late returning so no evening walk.