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Flamborough, Bempton Cliffs and Flamborough Head

cliffs at Flamborough head Flamborough's one of the great gems of the Yorkshire Coast, and has so much going for it, and so much variety to offer this could be rather a long page.

So let's start with what it is.  It's a head, or headland, which is bypassed by the main coast road. At its heart is the village of Flamborough, to the North is the North Landing, to the South the South Landing, to the East the lighthouses and to the West, Dane's Dyke, an ancient defensive earthwork stretching from one coast to the other.

And that's for starters, let's not forget to throw in the famous Bempton Cliffs bird reserve, the delightful Sewerby Hall, and, oh yes, it's also the birthplace of the American Navy. 

With so much to go on, the question is where to start, and the answer must be Flamborough Village with its fine collection of hostelries.

Flamborough Village

As I mentioned in the introduction, Flamborough Head is bypassed by the coast road, which means the village has still retained a semi-rural feel. It's nice, it's gentle and it's peaceful. It's not unspoilt, there's too many cars for that, but the pace of life is slow, and the tourists are mainly young families or retired folk staying at the caravan parks nearby. Because of that they tend to be on foot which means there isn't too much traffic about.

So what is there in the village? Well, there's a useful assortment of shops including an excellent greengrocers, a couple of nice cafes, lots of holiday accommodation, two chip shops virtually next door to each other, a really good chinese takeaway, and to cap it all a selection of pubs to please everybody. All the pubs serve good real ale, don't ask me to remember which served which, that's asking too much, but rest assured I had an excellent weekend investigating them all. So here it is, the non-definitive hazily remembered guide to the pubs of Flamborough.

The Seabirds The Seabirds
This is just a few yards outside the village centre and at first glance looks a little less attractive than some of the others. But don't be fooled; it has a restaurant attached as well as serving meals in the bar, and serves excellent food well above the usual run of the mill pub grub. It's just a little bit upmarket, but not pretentious or stuffy in any way. The staff were very friendly and very efficient, even the waitress that thought fish was a vegetarian option!  I had a vegetarian pudding here, a sort of giant suet pudding crammed with spinach, pine nuts, cheese and all sorts of stuff. Obviously it wasn't suet, but it was first rate and very filling. After that we repaired to the bar for a quiet pint before waddling home. Highly recommended for the food, but not the cheapest option in town.
The Royal Dog & Duck The Royal Dog & Duck
A huge pub right in the middle of the village. It's a sprawling place with a big courtyard as well. When I last visited (2007) it was under new ownership and they allowed dogs and children in. The food was of the cheap and cheerful pile it high variety. Very large portions, except that we both made the mistake of ordering vegetarian lasagnes, which were half the size of the meat ones. Shame really, as I had tried to order a meat one but the waitress got very confused at taking the order for one meat and one vegetarian.
The Ship The Ship
Right opposite The Royal Dog & Duck, The Ship is a long thin pub where they often have bands on a weekend. We stayed here a couple of years ago in an attic bedroom with a sloping ceiling. The thought of it still brings a smile to my face today. Food as I recall was typical pub grub, the Heavy Metal covers band were mind-numbingly loud and the atmosphere and beer were good.
The Rose & Crown The Rose & Crown
Half way down the main street, The Rose & Crown has traditionally been a local pub, but is now positioning itself as more mainsteam. It's very much like a local, with a nice atmosphere and good beer.  They had a steak night last time I visited and fine indeed it was.
The Flaneburg Hotel The Flaneburg Hotel

A hotel rather than a pub, located just outside the village on the road to North Landing. I had Sunday lunch here one weekend and it was jolly good. Nice ingredients well cooked.

The Thornwick Sea Farm Centre The Thornwick Sea Farm Holiday Centre

This is a holiday camp just off the road to North Landing after the Flaneburg. It has three bars, all Tetley's as I recall, and has "turns" and bingo and such like. It also has big screen TVs; so if you're in Flamborough and need to see the big game, it's the only place to be. There's also a half decent cafe and a chippy. If you're on foot, use the footpath in from the corner of the site.
The Viking Hotel The Viking Hotel
A few minutes walk outside the village, this is a huge pub aiming itself largely at the nearby caravan site. It has a children's room and the main room itself is cavernous. The beer is cheap but it's Sam Smith's, and the food is typical cheap pub grub. There's a climbing frame for kids, and last I knew they ran a minibus service to get merry campers back to the caravan site - what a good idea that is.  There's a kids playground and now they've built some little bungalows round the back.
The North Star The North Star

More a hotel than a pub, and the only one on this page I haven't yet visited. It looks well kept though, and that's always a good sign, and it had quite an exciting menu on view. The hotel is outside the village, almost at North Landing. Popular with birders visiting Bempton, and the website has some good information for birders.
The Caravel Bar The Caravel Bar
This isn't in Flamborough village at all, it's actually at North Landing. Like a refugee from the 1970's it perches there doing its very best to impersonate the Concert Room of a Working Mens Club. It's dated, dated, very, very dated. But it does have the most magnificent view, and when the wind is howling and the spray flying it's a wonderful place to be. And the beer's good too.  Don't think they do food, but there's a 1970's retro cafe next door. Note - quite a few people have added very supportive comments about both the Caravel and the cafe. They can't all be wrong.

North Landing

flamborough North landing we've already mentioned North Landing. It's the home of the Caravel Bar(above), and used to be the home of the lifeboat. This rigid lifeboat  was replaced in 1992 by an inflatable which now operates from South Landing. The replacement caused a huge schism in the community, but time seems to have vindicated the RNLI's decision. The original crew argued that the heavy seas here were not suitable for an inflatable, but with the decline of fishing and the increase in leisure the new boat seems better suited. In fact, the dispute was so bitter that most of the original crew resigned.

There's a council car park here, or for cheaper parking go to Thornwick Bay (signposted from the road), and use the footpath to  walk round to here. It's a lovely walk but you do need to be fit and active.

The beach at North Landing is all pebbles, and there are some magnificent caves to explore. There's a small sort of sandy beach just round the corner at Thornwick Bay, but if you're looking for a beach you're in the wrong place, you should be at Filey or Bridlington. There's also generally a bloke selling shellfish.


South Landing

bridge on South Landing sculpture trail This is a lot less spectacular than North Landing, but just as nice in a gentler sort of way. It doesn't have the dramatic scenery of North Landing, but it has a lovely wooded ravine leading down to the beach. It's home to the new lifeboat which can generally be seen practicing around ten on a Sunday morning. And just as importantly, the lifeboat station is open for a large part of the summer, and they sell ice cream.  There's a large car park on the cliff top with steps down to the beach, or you can follow the lane down to the lifeboat house and the beach. You can easily walk from here round to Dane's Dyke or all the way into Brid.

In 2002  South Landing was declared a local nature reserve, and to mark that, a nature trail come sculpture trail was opened. This is a really nice walk, particularly on a Summer's day.  The trail is circular, and you can join opposite the lifeboat station or at the botton of the car park. The sculptures are interesting, nicely done, and have amazingly withstood vandalism for six years now.

In fact it forms one of my favourite walks. Park at the Southern end of Dane's Dyke (see below), walk over the clifftops to South Landing, round the nature trail and back again along the beach - tide permitting. Makes a nice gentle short walk with plenty to keep kids interested.

Dane's Dyke

Southern end of dane's dyke, Flamborough This is hard to miss if you're on foot, but travelling by car you may not even notice it. It's a massive earth bank and ditch, about three miles long  running the full width of the headland from North to South. The picture shows the Southern end. Obviously it was a defensive structure, but just how much manpower must have been needed to construct it?  Archaeologists are pretty much undecided about its origins, except that they do agree it wasn't built by the Vikings. The two current theories are that it may be Neolithic (circa Stonehenge), or possibly post Roman.

Anyhow, most of it is on private land, but the part to the South of the Bridlington Road (B1255) is a nature reserve with a car park, a small council run cafe and lots of nature trails. It's possible to walk on the part to the North of the Bridlington Road, but it's not a public footpath so discretion is required. It's worth a visit though as there are deer in the woods and it's remarkably beautiful. According to Wikipedia it's also used for satanic rituals, so carry a cross and a stake if you walk there on Halloween. Just goes to show, don't believe everything you read in Wikipedia.


Flamborough old lighthouse Flamborough new lighthouse

There are two lightouses at Flamborough, located at the tip of Flamborough Head, to the east of Flamborough village. The first one is a white octagonal tower dating from 1674. This is probably the oldest surviving lighthouse in England and was erected  by Sir John Clayton as a money making scheme. He was given permission to build it by Charles II and planned to charge vessels passing the headland. Sort of a toll lighthouse. How he intended to actually achieve this I have no idea, especially as lighthouses are only useful when you can't see. He went bankrupt before it came into use, so it's quite likely it was never used at all.

The second lighthouse (the new lighthouse) was built in 1806 and vertically extended in 1925. I went on a guided tour a couple of years ago and it's highly recommended. The construction looks as if it's made of giant blocks, but instead it's like a shingle wall that's been rendered and grooved to look like blocks. A most unusual construction method even for its day.

There's toilets and a decent cafe here, which makes it a nice stopping off point if you're walking round the headland.

Bempton Cliffs

Flamborough old lighthouse The RSPB reserve at Bempton Cliffs is on the North coast of Flamborough Head. You can get there by driving (it's signposted from Bempton) or by walking in either direction along the coast. The reserve is on top of the massive chalk cliffs, but they are all fenced, so it's reasonably safe for children. There's official viewpoints everywhere, and the cliffs are literally covered in different types of seagulls. There are Gannets, Kittiwakes and Guillemots by the thousand, and quite a few puffins. If you're not a birdwatcher it's basically a lot of people staring at a lot of seagulls. Watching the people with their huge binoculars, telescopes and cameras is definitely more interesting than watching a bunch of seagulls flying about. The one exception to that is the puffins, because they're undeniably wonderful. You will be able to see them with the naked eye, but binoculars are pretty much de-rigeur. And the place smells something rotten; very little kids can be a bit put-off by that. Apart from the cliffs, there's a visitor centre here, which is stuffed with cuddly puffins, carved puffins, pictures of puffins, books about puffins and puffin memorabilia. No oven-ready puffins though; think they're missing a trick there. It costs a couple of quid to park, but if you've walked entry's free. And here's a film of the eggs being harvested in 1908


Flamborough waymarker

Flamborough is really good for walking. For openers it's flat which is always good, but at North Landing, South Landing and Dane's Dyke trails have been laid out and well signposted. Most of the trails have carved signposts to show you the way.

Apart from that there's a footpath going right round the headland, and you can walk along the cliffs all the way to Bridlington in one direction or Filey in the other.

The only real disappointment is that you can't officially walk all the way along Dane's Dyke. Now wouldn't that make a great lottery project. Or it would if the lottery weren't spending every penny on building white elephants for the 2012 olympics.

If you only have time for one walk, visit the car park at the Southern end of Dane's Dyke. That way you get a mixture of cliffs and woodland with plenty of parking and a cafe.

Featured Accommodation

Flamborough and the surrounding area is packed with holiday cottages, hotels and guest houses. A Google search will pull up plenty of individual ones, but here's some of the big players:

Images of Flamborough

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Comments (50)
Thanks for the tip about the cheap accom at Thornwick Bay, we had a lovely hol
posted by Anne Walmington, Crewe 07/06/2008 14:41:16
Recently visited The North Star for Sunday lunch. Have had good meals here in the past, but not this Sunday. Processed carrots, shop-bought desserts. V. disappointed.
posted by Bev McHugh, Manchester 01/10/2008 16:38:40
Thanks for the great job on this! I lived with my family in Flamborough Village, Flamborough Head and then Bridlington from 1947 to 1955. Went back for a visit last year after 50 years - it's amazing how little has changed!
posted by Kay Lidster (now Bousquet), Toronto 07/01/2009 18:40:29
im really excited now reading about the puffins cant wait to get there
posted by danielle higgins 28/03/2009 01:24:15
i have a hoilday van on lighthouse road site. and visit flambro most months for a week at a time.
the webb pages on this site are great.

posted by john whitehead 12/04/2009 14:42:32
we used to go to Flamborough (from Doncaster)alot in the 80's, out of season (my aunts caravan). I fell in love with the place as a child but have only been back once.
I am going back their tomorrow & hope i can find a cheap room for the night in one of the pubs.
posted by ww 06/05/2009 14:04:28
i am visiting with school on a geography trip and from what you have told me i can't wait to get there and explore thank you!!
posted by name not given 02/07/2009 16:06:17
hi my wife and i went to flamborough head for the day did the walk from lighthouse to north landing beatiful rugged scenery would recommend to all.
posted by bri & aud drake 24/08/2009 22:05:44
My wife and I walked the cliff path from the lighthouse North to an area called "The Billiard Table", which is about 1/4 mile south of Bempton Bird reserve, the walk is easy if you are fit and well, with magnificent views,and lots of wildlife..... Dont go too near the cliff edge,its a long way down if you cannot fly.The only downside for me was the Dog Salami which some thoughtless idiots had allowed to grace the footpaths.
posted by D &R Craine 13/10/2009 20:50:15
FLAMBOROUGH RULES!! it is amazing because it has a heritage coastline, lighthouses, wildlife and beautiful cliffs and stumps (old harry rocks)! :-)
posted by AMAZING 25/02/2010 19:00:47
Old Lifeboat House, South Landing, was where I went each holiday, from 1954 to 1964. we rented the old building for ten pounds a year from the Smith family and put a floor in one end, for living quarters. Great memories of a wonderful place.
posted by Stephen Kirkby 31/03/2010 20:26:44
I visited flambourough as a child and we lived at Brid for a short time. I am now 56 and feel the need to go back there every year at least 2 or 3 times. I am staying for 4 days in May and cannot wait whatever the weather.
posted by m Scholefield 01/04/2010 16:09:11
This a great web site I just found today. I enjoyed many Summer's there from my early childhood into my early twenties. I was able to re-visit Flamborough two years ago and it was like a time trip back into my past as the village and beach areas are the same as in my memories from 30 years ago. Even the cafe' on Thornwick Bay cliffs is still there - Imagine seeeing something like that in Los Angeles.
posted by Nigel. 20/04/2010 23:03:53
Some beautiful scenery but the caravel bar is not for anyone born before 1960's.
posted by Liam Potter 21/04/2010 13:55:00
can yo take dogs down to the rock pools???
posted by sarah 19/05/2010 12:45:52
love flamboro been goin since i was a child 40 now still goe 5 to 6 times a year highly recomend the viking pub cottages great value and the pub is 20 yds away the cottages overlook the sea and are a great base for the delights of the area
posted by Darren Baff 19/05/2010 22:53:49
Yes Sarah, you can take dogs down to teh rock pools
posted by Mick 20/05/2010 09:48:41
the cavavel bar, i think your comments on the building are a bit viscious its one place that takes you back to your childhood the building is magnificent and homely and next door in that 70s cafe they knock out a great british breakfast with a homely style to it run by a dear old lady futher more i take it your not a yorkshire man so i guess you dont understand thank you Sir Stephen Selby.
posted by Sir Stephen Selby 19/06/2010 21:51:44
its well good, i mean the coast is well fit ;)
posted by chaz & megan. 08/07/2010 13:34:04
The Caravel is a fantastic pub/bar. The atmosphere is family friendly, with a family room and an adults bar with the most breath-taking view particularly at sunset. Bar staff are charming, old charm and old values! Well recommended
posted by StevieG 19/07/2010 22:28:22
went to flamborough last sunday for the first time in 30 yrs i am now 42 my husband said why do you want to go there. he is now converted we love cornwall but flamborough is just as scenic if not more so we are going again tomorrow its got an atmosphere that just gives you that feeling of escapism amazing.we had a meal at the headlands cafe restaurant and i would reccomend it.
posted by vicky 01/08/2010 00:10:14
Were saving Flamborough coastguard station, If you wish to help or sign or petition look for us on facebook or on the internet Google: save flamborough coastguard station or Email me on GTRAVESDGSA@AOL.COM and I will send you the links to our petition and home page
posted by G Traves 30/09/2010 13:56:19
Petition link to Save Flamborough head coastguard station Click Here
posted by G Traves 30/09/2010 14:00:44
i am doing a case study of flamborough for part of a geography project and i just wondered how long is the actual headland ? oh and it actually seems like a lot of fuss sor a cliff and some pubs !
posted by bored 29/10/2010 13:50:34
Not an easy question! Where do you measure from? The North coast of the Headland is approximately 8 miles long while the southern part is about 3 miles long. Best thing you can do "bored" is to come and see the place and see what all the fuss is about. I've been going years and think the whole headland is great. Plenty to do if you like walking, fishing, birdwatching, playing golf, dining out and having a generally non boring time. Hope the project goes OK the Geology is also brilliant.
posted by Stephen Nixon 01/12/2010 12:48:59
I stayed at Flamborough about 2 years ago and thouroughly enjoyed my time there.
posted by J Johnson 26/01/2011 10:35:59
Hi.I came over from Belfast 17 months ago as i had enough of city living back home and when i saw Flamborough and Flamborough village (where i now live)i said this is for me stayed and the rest is now history.
posted by Johnny Valentine 04/03/2011 21:38:51
is there any touring caravan sites nearby? with storage ideally..thanks linda..
posted by linda 08/03/2011 20:41:16
there are Quite a few touring sites Linda and I know for a fact the one on lighthouse road has storage this is Next to "Greenacers"
posted by Rod Newton 16/03/2011 20:33:33
my girlfriend went to lanzarote and left me in flamborough, the bitch! i couldnt get my chair down onto the beach due to the steep steps. then some chav pushed me and i fell down all the steps, waking up in hospital, even more disabled than i was before. now i am addicted to heroin and cannot go to the toilet without help :(
posted by stephenhawking 17/03/2011 15:07:46
yo man! i fort yu woz dead wen me n mi boiz threw yu darn them steps. am so sorry man, but we woz just buzzin off m-khat, didnt know what we woz doing anywayz i hope you getz well soon man you dirty spaz.
posted by lee.nelson! 17/03/2011 15:16:27
i went there the other day it was terrible
posted by bob 04/04/2011 15:22:09
depends what you expect, we love it, because its not meant to be fancy, your there to appreciate whats outside, if the weather is terrible its somewhwere warm and friendly to go, if you dont appreciate that and you cant see beyond the decor , the beauty of this working fishing village is lost on you anyway, sounds like blackpool or skeggy may be more up your street.
posted by storm6tiny 15/04/2011 20:59:04
We went there last year and took our dog into Headlands cafe where we, and our dog, were made to feel very welcome. We had a lovely meal and our dog was even made a couple of sausages at our request! very nice place and will be going back there this Easter.
posted by Jacquie 17/04/2011 19:54:26
what a lovely little article. great job! i'm going tomorrow and can't wait.
posted by Jessica 30/04/2011 23:06:28
Just returned from another week at Flamborough, Its my most favourite place ever!!! Wont have a bad word said about it. Just breathe in that sea air!!! Love it, cant wait to return with the family soon. Great site, plenty of info for the first-time visitors.
posted by Kaye 02/05/2011 19:50:11
What a lovely site. Gives everyone a good insight into Flamborough. If you're thinking of staying please stay with us at Cameron Court Hotel, North Marine Road, Flamborough. www.cameroncourthotelflamborough.co.uk Regards, Susan
posted by susan lawson 03/05/2011 20:45:17
I worked at the Caravelle Restaurant back in the mid 60,s.Fried scampi was the best
posted by Peter Watkins 19/05/2011 00:13:34
We have been coming to Flamborough as a family for over 40 years now and NEVER get tired of the breathtaking views, good food and very friendly people. pick up a crab from North landing sea food (house). Well worth the run from Barnsley.
posted by Ian and Ruth 23/05/2011 15:54:54
Flamborough is having another gala this year on the 14th Aug 2011 starting at 11.00am, following last years success. There will be live bands, a live magic show, hog roast, BBQ, bar, ice cream, rides, fun dog show, sword dancers, children's games, archery, teas and cakes, craft stalls, junior football tournament, flower and gardening stalls, bowling alley, bouncy castles, hook a duck, swing boats, roundabouts, pet portraits, RNLI stall and much more. Admittance is free and is well worth a look.
posted by Craig Readhead 31/05/2011 16:04:31
im going on friday with my class and i dont know how the weather is going to be so
posted by monica gill 30/06/2011 22:54:53
im going on friday with my class and i dont know how the weather is going to be so
posted by monica gill 30/06/2011 22:55:23
The boat the yorkshire belle which works out of bridlington harbour runs 3hr trips along the coastline to filey. As well as the fantastic views of the cliffs,caves and birdlife there is a large amount of information provided on points of interest. Very recommende d.
posted by john,charlotte and reece 05/08/2011 10:03:47
Had a trip up to south landing a few weeks ago. Blogged here: http://www.grahamwarsapphotography.co.uk/blog/2011/08/26/road-trip/
posted by Graham Warsap 26/08/2011 13:24:23
visted, lots of times but now i wont to kayak and look at caves anybody know best place to start from and is it alound thanks trev.
posted by trev 02/10/2011 13:21:56
it was really helpful for my school project i visted flambrough a few weeks ago
posted by hamza hanif 10/11/2011 09:32:23
Great article . Food at north star is great . Only one chip shop in village now other one empty and up for sale
posted by Adrian 11/12/2011 20:43:26
Sad to hear about the chippy here, I guess a sign of the times these days. Hopefully the Pubs can survive?
posted by Nigel. 12/12/2011 23:08:12
can we bring our 2 jack russells in Viking hotel for lunch?
posted by lou 05/01/2012 09:22:04
had meal at the Dog and Duck pub Flamborough, food very average ,YOU MUST PAY FOR IT BEFORE IT ARRIVES AT THE TABLE,find this quite insulting they must think you are going to run off without paying, land lord seemed quite sullen no pleasant small talk , his clothing were not the cleanest , looked as though we had anoyed him with our presence , as he was doing DIY when we entered the pub. Need I say any more !!!!!!
posted by jim bob 05/02/2012 11:39:42
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