The Wildlife column with RSPB Bempton Cliffs communications officer Maria Prchlik: The delights of taking a RSPB seabird cruise on the Yorkshire Belle

A puffin tip-toeing on water? A gannet plummeting into the waves? A fluffy chick teetering on wobbly legs?

By The Newsroom
Friday, 29th April 2022, 10:23 am
Black-browed albatross Albie is pictured above the Yorkshire Belle. Photo courtesy of Phil Palmer.

There’s no telling what magical moments you might experience aboard the Yorkshire Belle on an unforgettable trip to Bempton Cliffs, in the company of the RSPB.

Setting out from Bridlington, on the last of the resort’s famous pleasure cruisers, passengers sail beneath the towering chalk cliffs, for an up-close view of almost half a million seabirds living life on the edge.

Around and about, gannets dive, fulmars soar, kittiwakes swoop and puffins bob on the water. The sights are incredible and the noise is unbelievable. You’re right at the heart of one of nature’s truly remarkable spectacles.

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A puffin skips along the water. Photo courtesy of Pete Hewitt

Kim Smales, RSPB Cruise Co-ordinator, believes a cruise is a must-do for visitors and locals alike.

Kim said: “Looking up at the cliffs is equally as impressive as looking down – they seem to rise forever. And from the deck of the Belle, you see the seabirds in a different light.

“Some, like puffins, spend most of their life on water and only come to land to breed, so they’re waddling walk is comical but they’re like Olympic athletes when it comes to swimming.”

So that no-one misses spotting a puffin scooping up sand eels or a gannet fledgling balancing on a ledge, an experienced commentator from the RSPB team will point out what’s happening where throughout the three-hour voyage.

RSPB Bempton Cliffs’ site manager Dave O’Hara reckons a cruise is a sure-fire way to get once in a lifetime images for keen photographers.

He said: “From the sea there are unique views of the seabirds. In some instances, it’s almost as if the birds are posing for the camera – amateurs and professionals alike come away with stunning shots.

“Last year, there was a fly-past of the black-browed albatross which made its home on the cliffs during the summer and the photos of that were just amazing.”

Dates and times of all RSPB Seabird Cruises can be found at