Flamborough Head & Bempton Cliffs

A one day weather window provided a great opportunity for a close look at Flamborough Head and the Bempton Cliffs.
Numerous caves and arches as well as the last of the year's puffins, kittiwakes and their chicks and gannets galore all made for a memorable trip, while the unusual absence of North Sea swell meant it was possible to get close and explore every corner of this intricate coastline.
A fresh breeze pushed our group rapidly past Sewerby Rocks and on along the South Cliff; Flamborough Head itself arriving almost unnoticed except for the growing interest of the cliffs and caves, in places the mud and clay deposits topping the chalk cliffs, left by retreating glaciers is clearly visible.
Only in Shetland have I found arches such as these, backed by pebble beaches, the water washing the white pebbles the colour of an alpine river as the hard chalk is gradually eroded.
Paddling in awe beneath the folded formations of the Bempton cliffs, their 100m vertical height dwarfed even the most boisterous personalities on the trip. At sea level, the rock is approximately 100 million years old; further south fossils of hippopotamus and straight tusked elephant tell us that these creatures once roamed the wolds of East Yorkshire, some 120, 000 years ago.
Bird numbers may well also have been higher one hundred millennia ago, but the gannets and kittiwakes still provided a fantastic spectacle, soaring above equally impressive arches. Spotting a puffin amongst the gannets on the cliff face itself seemed odd; it seems though that the 6000 puffins that do nest here, do so in crevices on the cliffs rather than the usual burrows.
Interest during the rather lengthy paddle back to North Sands was maintained amongst the caves, high water now allowing access to almost all passages, including a few decidedly better suited to plastic boats...