Monday, October 22, 2007

Spurn Head and Flamborough Head

Sean and I set off early from Manchester especially early so that we could paddle across the mouth of the Humber Estuary to Cleethopes via a couple of old fortifications. Spurn Head is an important site for migrating birds and is designated SSSI so we searched for any relevant advice or guidance from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust but found no restrictions for launching kayaks on their website. When we arrived at the Spurn Head Nature Reserve a friendly warden took our entrance fee and said that there wouldn't be any problem. He also mentioned that a chap called 'Noel' had been staying with them for a number of days waiting for favourable conditions to cross the Humber.

Sean and I made our way to the point and got ready to put on at a beach beside a car-park the warden's boss turned up and told us that we weren't allowed to launch. He refunded our entrance fee. We didn't argue but instead looked for other places to launch.

Our search was unsuccessful. There was just too much soft estuary mud, which in places made for pretty circles around boat moorings. We decided that it was still early enough to go somewhere else and still get some paddling done so we headed north for Flamborough!

Flamborough Head is on the East Yorkshire coast between Bridlington and Filey and is a monumentous headland made up of chalk and limestone. Cliffs of almost 100 metres rise vertically from the sea at the northern edge and there are a multitude of caves and gullies closer to the end.
Our route started at a small cove with a lifeboat station and RNLI shop on the southern edge called South Landing.

Despite many preceeding days of calm weather it wasn't long before long we encoutered swell breaking on the reefs that extend a mile or so out to sea.

Our plan was to stop at a small beach on the northern edge called North Landing, for no more than a butty and a bit of cake but our plans got disrupted due to someone with greater needs than ours. As we paddled into the beach we spotted an ambulance arriving. The paramedics had been attending a casualty for a while when a local coastguard came to clear the beach in preparation for the arrival of a helicopter. We moved our kayaks our of harm's way into a small cave and waited near the carpark above the beach. The casualty was eventually winched aboard the helicopter and taken to hospital. I hope he makes a good recovery.

In the late afternoon sunshine we continued on our way from North Landing, along the coast towards Bempton where the tall cliffs play host to thousands of nesting seabirds during the spring and summer.

Failing light forced us to turn back and not a moment too soon as our late return to South Landing was after the last of the sun's rays could be seen.

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