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Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Walk 56 Withernsea, Aldbrough, Mappleton, Hornsea and Skipsea

Walk 56   Withernsea, Aldbrough, Mappleton, Hornsea and Skipsea. (Yorks)

(First leg of English coastal walk – Broadstairs in Kent to Berwick at the border with Scotland).

Parts of this section of the Yorkshire coast are difficult to access without long diversions inland. Erosion has made some of the beach walking dangerous. I visited the places mentioned above in my car and walked around them but, apart from Withernsea and Hornsea, public transport for such short visits is not really viable.

Map: L/R 107
Distance: about 6 miles or 4 if visiting Hornsea and Withernsea only.
Difficulty:  quite easy, some inclines.
Terrain: paths and pavements
Access: see above
Public transport: see above

Withernsea has an attractive seafront with its wide promenade, sandy beaches and striking inland lighthouse. No longer active, it was built in1892 and would have originally had just mudflats and sand dunes in front of it. The lighthouse now houses a museum for Kay Kendall, the actress, who was born in the town.  Another major landmark is a replica of part of Conway Castle (in Wales) and is known as Pier Towers. It was built in 1875 to form the entrance to a new pier, unfortunately the pier was destroyed by a storm in 1882. A plaque near here shows that one mile offshore lies the site of the 13th century church of St Mary the Virgin – lost due to erosion in the 15th century. 

The next stop is Aldbrough and a drive down from the village to the coast. St Bartholomew’s Church in the village is a listed building and has a 13th century tower. Near to the coast the settlement has bungalows and some temporary looking buildings. If you want evidence of erosion look no further. The remains of buildings, recent victims to the wind and sea, were clear when I visited. Access to the beach appeared difficult for the same reason.

From Mappleton there is a good view of the sand in both directions. Again there is clear evidence of erosion – this is one of the fastest eroding coastlines in  the UK.

Hornsea has another attractive seafront. As you walk along the promenade look out for the post that marks the end of the Trans Pennine Trial which goes from Southport on the west coast of England to here. At the back of the town is Hornsea Mere which is Yorkshire’s largest natural freshwater lake. It has 170 bird species. The town is also well known for its pottery.

The area has been ravaged by storms over the years including one in 1871. In 1880 a pier was built for £10,000 (about one million pounds today). The structure was about half a kilometre long and boasted a 600-seater pavilion. During the autumn of the same year it was severely damaged by a gale then a ship hit it. It was sold in 1893 for scrap. A sad story about a pier - similar disasters carried up to modern times.

The last stop is Skipsea. The end of the road to the beach is blocked off due to erosion. The shore here has retreated 2 miles since Roman times and up to 23 nearby villages have disappeared. There was a cold war observation post here for some time and this was restored by an enthusiast in 2008.

Phtos show: a view of Withernsea, Hornsea, Ulmore Sands and the erosion at Aldbrough getting ever nearer.

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