Summer would be incomplete without a visit to Bempton Cliffs – home to over 200,000 seabirds! The spectacular 400ft high cliffs and rocky shores attract a great variety of species. ‘Sea-Bird City’ is tremendously popular with all ages, and the RSPB has cause to be proud of its amazing improvements.
This centre, combined with a stunning walk and local refreshments makes a great day out you’ll long recall.
Buckton, with its nearby village of Bempton is about five miles north of Bridlington. Arriving in Buckton, park as convenient in the Main Street near the lovely village pond beside Hoddy Cows Lane.
Leaving Main Street, wander up Hoddy Cows Lane to read firstly, an information board detailing the area. Why was the lane so-named? The broad public footpath gently ascends to a high metal gate. Enter the adjacent kissing gate and keep straight ahead along the hedged track. Far-reaching views over fields unfold.
Passing a pond to your left, reach a wide, open gateway and turn left as indicated on a finger-post. Broken bricks provides a brief track, from where your grassy footpath continues beside the left hedgerow of gorse etc, with cereal field opposite.
Nearing the cliff-top, a vast expanse or red campion is a glorious sight, as it extends to the far right horizon. Wonderful against a bright blue sky!
Reaching the coastal footpath, turn right and almost immediately you read a notice regarding gannets on the 400ft cliff face. Gannets are easily recognised, being the largest seabird in the UK. Their white plumage with black wing-tips, and cream/buff head are obvious, and the massive two metre (6ft) wingspan confirms identity. Watch them plunge into the water to catch fish!
From the viewing platform at Jubilee Corner we had superb views of nesting guillemots, with brown/black upper parts and snowy white bellies. They resemble penguins when sitting upright, and may be confused with the very similar razorbill. The beak is pointed. Guillemots lay their eggs directly onto a rocky ledge. As the eggs are pear-shaped, if they’re knocked they roll round in a circle and don’t fall off.
The viewing platform at Jubilee Corner also revealed a few razorbills, which look so very similar and are easily confused. They are jet black, however, and have more razor-like bills with a conspicuous white line running vertically across.
From Bartlett Nab you’re about 10 minutes’ walk to the RSPB centre. Keep seeking the popular puffin, with its parrot-like coloured bill. Though only about 30m tall they’re smart little birds and can cram a lot of fish into their beaks. Did you know that baby puffins are called pufflings? Read the notices ‘1 to 6’ in bright lettering, relating some amazing details. We failed to see this bird peering from burrows in rock crevices, but you may be more lucky.
Your interesting cliff walk includes Mosey Downgate view point, and Grandstand – a large, popular stand providing excellent views. Apart from numerous kittiwakes throughout, and several jackdaws, we failed to see puffins, at least only out at sea with rapid wing beats.
Kittiwakes are white with black wing tips. Listen carefully and you’ll hear them call out the name, “kitti-wake”.
Beyond, you may choose to bear right to the RSPB centre for refreshment, toilets, information, and camcorders of nesting birds or stroll along to a further couple of view points at New Roll-up and Staple Newk. The latter are 10-20 minutes’ extra walking towards Flamborough. You may well observe the shag where this bird nests at Staple Newk. Look out for these large, dark-coloured birds as they fly low over the sea. When resting on a rock you’ll notice in summertime they are a dark glossy green. You’ll love their punky-looking head crest, which readily identifies them.
Bird-watching completed, follow the good footpath to the recently updated RSPB visitor centre, providing all you may require.
With indoor or alfresco dining, leaflets and information on hand, it’s proving a great success. Read the small outdoor message where the ground awaits development near the dining area: “One day this won’t be earth it will be heaven”. Return at a later date to see its completion!
Leaving the centre, explore nearby ponds, picnic area, and the bird feeding station which attracts many local birds.
Departing via the car park, access the lane to Bempton village, named Cliff Lane. Keep to the left where you’ll appreciate a fine footpath. This lane is busy during the summer, and there are passing bays, to avoid congestion.
At the foot of Cliff Lane features the White Horse Inn to the right. Turn right along the road to return to Buckton. There’s an antique shop to your left towards the church, a shop, the smart village hall on the left, and nearing Buckton seek the Gallery Tea Room. It’s a super little spot for refreshment, art and crafts galleries and Richard Burton Art Centre. It’s open daily from 11am to 4.30pm and sells eggs too!
Enjoy a grand day! Take an extra layer of clothing for cliff-top breezes, binoculars and bird identification book.
Distance: 5 miles to 5.5 miles to include all viewpoints.
Refreshment: The Seabird Centre (RSPB) and the White Horse, Bempton, Gallery Tea Room, Main Street, Buckton.