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Reighton, Speeton and Hunmanby Gap -  a Circular Walk

Walk Summary
Distance:About 5½ miles (8k)
Difficulty:Easy - bit of a steep descent to the beach, but great for kids
Start:St Leonard's Church, Speeton (TA 151 746)
Time:four hours gentle ambling

St Leonard's Church at SpeetonThis is one of my favourite walks, a gentle ramble taking a good half day in decent weather. It's just over five miles in all, so allow about four hours.

The walk starts at Speeton, a small village on the North side of Flamborough Head. If travelling by car, take the Flamborough turning off the  coast road at the Dotterel onto the B229, then turn left through Speeton village and park at the church. You're welcome to park there for free during the week, but if it's a Sunday with a service on, be considerate and park back in the village. For public transport, buses go past the village from Bridlington and Filey, so get off at Speeton and walk through the village to the church.

The church of St Leonard's at Speeton, is a gem. It's a tiny Norman chapel, probably built on the site of a earlier Saxon one. When I say tiny, I mean tiny. The church is always open, so take the time to wander in and look round a truly ancient place of worship.

There are several things worth looking at. The font is Saxon. Now isn't that an incredible thought; an artefact made around about a thousand years ago still in use today. There's a couple of lovely stone carvings from Norman times, one of them an Angus Dei (a depiction of Christ as the lamb with a cross), and the other a simple stone cross. But overall, the feeling is of intimacy and peace. The church has a donations box, as does the car park, so be generous and leave a few bob.

Speeton BeachFrom the church, take the footpath towards the coast across the fields. This is well marked and easy to follow, diagonally across the first field, then following the field fence.  As you're going, notice the old coastguard cottages on the top of the hill. Probably one of the world's windiest places to live.  At the end of the field fence the path goes straight on across open country to meet the coast path. Again well marked and easy to follow. Notice the pillbox to the left - this area is riddled with WWII coastal fortifications, so if that's your bag, take a look. If you're really into that sort of thing detour South along the coast path to Bempton Cliffs, where there's a couple of disused installations. I'm not certain, but they look like acoustic radar sites.

Where it meets the cliffs, the path goes down the cliffs to the beach. This is the trickiest part of the walk and can be a touch difficult underfoot, though still suitable for all but the smallest children.

The beach at Speeton is the far end of Filey Bay, and you should be able to see Filey on the far side. At low tide this is a magnificent stretch of sand, and there's a couple of shipwrecks to be seen, and the remains of more WWII fortifications.  To the right the cliffs become massive and steep. These are the famous "Bempton Cliffs", now an RSPB bird sanctuary,  home to some of the biggest seabird breeding colonies in the UK. If you're at all into birds or just want to see Puffins and Gannets nesting, then it's well worth a visit. There's no access from the bottom of the cliffs, so you have to either follow the coast path or drive there through Bempton village.

But, back to the walk. Amble gently North along the beach towards Filey. At first the beach is generally deserted, but after about a mile there's a small  break in the cliffs, and there's generally people about. This is Reighton Gap, leading to Reighton Sands Holiday Village, a massive collection of caravans and chalets.

The Beach at Hunmanby Gap Passing Reighton Gap, keep walking and after another mile or so is Hunmanby Gap. This is hard to miss as it's bigger then Reighton Gap and has a cafe perched just above the beach. The cafe is a godsend, bacon butties and hot chocolate in Winter, and Ice Cream in Summer; who could ask for more. The Gap is quite popular in Summer so expect a fair crowd here, but as the beach is so big it's never overcrowded.

Coastal erosion here is a real problem as the cliffs are soft boulder clay, and parts of The Gap regularly fall into the sea. At the moment there's a good path off the beach which was built to replace the previous steps that washed away. Apart from the cafe, there's also some clean and well maintained public toilets, so it really is a good place to break the walk. And if you've come by car there's cheap parking in a field.

From here the walk heads back the way we've come but along the cliff tops. Take the steps up the cliff side, heading back the way we came. This gives a good view of the houses: ponder the location and dwell on just how much longer they'll be around.

The clifftop is remarkably pretty. It's good arable land so's farmed, but there's a good field margin meaning you're not squashed up against the cliff top like on some of the coastal paths up near Whitby. Follow the path all the way back to Reighton Holiday Village. As caravan sites go, I quite like this one. It's peaceful, hidden from the road, has direct access to the beach and no bingo or karaoke. Nice.

Poppies near SpeetonDon't go into the main part of the site, head up the road towards the main gate. At the gate the road bends to the right. Leave the road here and follow the track straight ahead going towards Moor Farm. Continue straight up the track until you reach the steep embankment at the back of the fields. This is a permissive path and as such is not marked on OS maps, but for peace of mind there's a notice all about it at the end of the track.

Cross the fence at the end of the track, then climb the steep slope (Speeton Hills) heading about 45 degrees to the left. As you climb the hill, there's a small unmanned military installation next to Beacon Hill; head for that and go round the front of it. We're still on permissive paths here, so don't worry about being on MOD land or anything. In case you're feeling remarkably stupid, don't be tempted to climb the fence into the MOD installation as they're all protected by remote alarms and the MOD Police are not likely to offer tea and sympathy.

From here, follow the field edges back into Speeton. The path isn't so well defined  (again a permissive path) but it is quite charming and in season comes with a lovely display of wildflowers. And that's it, the walk's over.  A nice gentle amble which could only be improved by Speeton having a pub. If you've worked up a thirst, any of the pubs in Hunmanby Village or Flamborough would be a good choice. Or perhaps try the Dotterel on the coast road, it's under new ownership so might be worth a look.

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Comments (10)
can't wait to do this walk but it would be nice to know the distance without having to buy the OS map; We search walks speculatively and don't want to get the map for everywhere.
posted by Celia 03/10/2007 14:09:53
good point, well made. Problem now sorted site wide. Personally speaking I would never walk anywhere without a map and compass but on a gentle walk like this why not.
posted by Mick 17/01/2008 00:43:17
hi guys ive been to reighton sands loads of times and its a great place to chill , also you cant get lost there if you follow the roads in the site. By the way its good such a good view of the sea
posted by steven clayton 24/12/2008 09:07:41
I enjoy walking from Filey to primrose to reighton to Dane Dyke - a very long , challengimg walk - worthwhile.
posted by Esthael 21/03/2011 10:44:49
from steven crowther itis nice there,
posted by steven 30/05/2011 22:55:42
Hi, can dogs go on the parts of the beach in the walk? thanks
posted by Kelly 05/07/2011 13:16:57
this from steven crowther here in leeds 9 hi just like to say hi hope you are all haveing over at reighton yes it is nice there one of the best here in the uk ,
posted by steven crowther 07/08/2011 19:03:10
hi hope you all haveing fun by the way that what you go there for,
posted by steven 07/08/2011 20:21:00
hi kelly hi hope you are haveing fun too
posted by steven 07/08/2011 21:06:17
one problem dont take a child in a pram as i have just found out its hard going !
posted by murphy 02/01/2012 13:26:57
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