Dynamic and Wild: Spurn Safari

It was my birthday week – cause who only sticks to a day?! So, we decided to go on holiday to Scotland making a pit-stop at my parents on the way. This provided the perfect opportunity to finally visit my dad’s workplace: Spurn Point. After over three years as Heritage Officer at the Nature Reserve, my dad was able to showcase his pride and joy to me as we joined one of his Spurn Safaris.

Spurn Point sits at the very tip of the Humber Estuary along the coast of East Riding of Yorkshire. An important habitat for bird migration in the spring and autumn months, Spurn is a key area of conservation. But it is also very susceptible to the elements.

During the tidal surge of 2013, the road to the point was washed away creating what is now known as the wash-over. At certain tide times, this turns Spurn Point into the only island in Yorkshire. With the loss of a road down to the point, the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust invested in a Unimog to cross the sandy beach with passengers. This created the opportunity for Spurn Safaris: guided tours of the nature reserve.

Today, it was our turn.

A quick briefing and we were off across the sand. It was interesting to see the difference between the Humber Estuary on the right and the North Sea to the left. I don’t know of anywhere that offers such an insight into coastal diversity.

Spurn Point Lighthouse
Spurn Point Lighthouse

It wasn’t long before we reached the newly refurbished lighthouse: the tallest in the north of England. Here we were given the history of the lighthouse’s use in shepherding vessels through the mouth of the Humber Estuary. As we climbed the spiraling stairs, we found the rooms on each floor displayed the current shipping radar and how the landscape of Spurn has shifted over the years.

View from the top of the Lighthouse
View from the top of the Lighthouse

The Trust also houses an Artist in Resident who is showcased in the lighthouse. This season’s artists had created wild charcoal images of the nature reserve and a group of students had contributed some wonderful poetry. Dynamic, raw and ever changing being a common thread.

From the top, you are granted incredible views of Spurn and the surrounding area. Even on one of the windiest days of the year, the landscape was breath-taking. I fully understand why my dad loves it here so much!

View from the top of the Lighthouse
View from the top of the Lighthouse

Venturing further onto the point, we came to a number of buildings. Some were once the homes of the lifeboat crew and their families, these cottages now only house the on-duty staff since being cut from the mainland. Yet, it was good to see the RNLI still operational at Spurn.

Old army barracks and a VTS Tower also sit at the point but are now disused. A tour around this area revealed the artillery batteries positioned during the First World War as a line of defense. This expanded our understanding of Spurn as a military base, highlighting its position as more than a nature reserve.

Artillery Battery from World War I
Artillery Battery from World War I

Following our guide through the thick shrubbery, we were instructed on the significance of such a military history and Spurn’s importance in securing the Humber as a port. We also uncovered the natural prominence of this place as we spotted redstarts and chiffchaffs beginning their autumn migration.

Earthstar Fungi
We even came across some Earthstar Fungi

Thoroughly tired out, we bundled back onto the Unimog to return to the mainland. On route, a lovely grey seal decided to say hello. We watched him dancing in the waves as we crossed the wash-over.

A quick bite to eat at Spurn’s quaint café, the Blue Bell, and we headed back to the warmth of home.

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My favourite place to holiday: Robin Hood’s Bay

On a recent trip back up north, I visited one of my favourite places in the world: Robin Hoods Bay. It’s a place that always takes me back to childhood camping holidays at Middlewood Farm campsite, which has a well-trodden track down to the beach. The area around the beach is a complete honey pot with cute gift shops, holiday cottages and plenty of places to eat and drink.View from the beach at Robin Hood's BayThe drive through North Yorkshire to reach the bay, which is close to the seaside town of Whitby, is beautiful in itself, but nothing quite beats the view from the top of the cliffs. There is a carpark at the top of the hill (which is usually incredibly busy) where you can walk down the many steps to reach the beach.View from beach at Robin Hood's BayThe beach is a haven for children and I spent many holidays rock-pooling with my Dad and sister, finding crabs and anemones – even a lobster once! This time we stopped for ice cream from the van which is always there and it was wonderful. We sat with the sea creeping in and the last families packing up their beach towels in time for tea. View from the cliff top at Robin Hood's BayAfter eating our ice creams, we went to discover whether our favourite place to eat was serving. Unfortunately, a Tuesday evening after a bank holiday Monday, Ye Dolphin was only offering drinks. We still sat in the lovely old bar lined with beer bottles and quirky pictures, taking in the atmosphere. Beginning to feel hungry, we wandered through the cute back alleys between holiday cottages back up the hill to eat at the Victoria Hotel, which has a beautiful view along the coastline.View back towards Robin Hood's Bay

Fed and happy, we headed back home, stopping to take in the view as we went.

Off the beaten track: North York Moors

To rise swiftly from the valley of cars,
Scything the heather in mud-spattered arcs,
With boots crushing broken straws of bracken,
In peat which darkly preserves our passing,
– Christopher Woodall

After my stay in Leeds, I travelled across to my hometown of Hull to see my family. Whilst I was there, we decided to head out to the North York Moors on an, unfortunately, less pleasant day than my trip to Ilkley.

Image of Daffodils on North York Moors with a river running through treesDespite the overcast skies and spots of rain, we had a wonderful exploration of the moors around Rosedale, seeing a part of the landscape we’d never been to before. Wild daffodils were in their droves around the base of trees and little Coal tits fluttered through their branches. It was a little haven away from the roadside, the only pull back to the real world being the slight whoosh of traffic in the distance.Image of river running through trees on the North York MoorsRosedale is known for its beautiful Abbey ruins and remnants of the industrial revolution as the area was used for its richness of iron with ironstone mines, kilns and the moorland railway scattered across the landscape.
Image of River on North York Moors near Rosedale

We wandered along the river bank before coming to a series of stepping stones across to the opposite bank. It was either cross or turn back, so we ventured forward – making sure my mum was in the middle, just in case!

We made it across the river to climb up a Image of View through the pines on North York Moorspath through the dense heather, our intention to make it to the highest point of the moor. The higher we climbed, however, the more apparent it became that there was no obvious peak and we could continue indefinitely.
Turning back, we realised how far we had gone as we were now well above the trees on the opposing valley.Image of View on North York Moors After returning to the car, we headed to Rosedale where we found a lovely café, the Abbey Tea Room and Store in Rosedale Village. There is a large picture window looking onto the quaint village green and I can highly recommend their gluten-free Chocolate Cake!

The day was drawing to a close, so we took the scenic drive back home passing over the top of the moors and down through the seaside town of Whitby.Image of View on North York Moors

Ramble over Ilkley Moor

Wheear ‘as ta bin sin ah saw thee,
On Ilkla Moor baht ‘at?!
Wheear ‘as ta bin sin ah saw thee?
Wheear ‘as ta bin sin ah saw thee?
On Ilkla Moor baht ‘at?!

At the end of March, I travelled to Leeds to visit a couple of my best friends from University. The sun was out so we decided to explore West Yorkshire with a trip to Ilkley Moor.

Image of White Well's Spa Cafe on Ilkley Moor
Looking up to White Well’s Spa Cafe

Despite the very ill-suited footwear (note to self: always bring trainers), we managed to scramble up a muddy slope to reach White Wells spa café. Upon reaching the top, we realised there were two pathways to the café we had completely missed! Google had not lied and the muddy shoes were completely avoidable!

Image of view across the valley from White Well's Spa Cafe on Ilkley Moor
View from White Well’s Spa Cafe

Nevertheless, the view was incredible and we spent a while with our mugs of coffee catching up in the gorgeous spring air. The daffodils were in full bloom and everything seemed bright and fresh in the early afternoon sun.

The path continued on from the café, which also houses an old bath house we decided not to take a plunge in! The view just got better as we climbed higher onto the moors and after walking for a while we saw the famous Cow and Calf in the distance.

Image of White Well's Spa Cafe on Ilkley Moor
White Well’s Spa Cafe on Ilkley Moor

The Cow and Calf are a large outcrop of rocks sitting high on Ilkley Moor, so named because one of the boulders is large, with the smaller boulder sitting close to it, like a cow and its calf. However, we agreed that it definitely takes a lot of imagination to see this!

According to local legend, the Calf was split from the Cow when the giant Rombald was fleeing his wife and stamped on the rocks as he leapt across the valley. The legend also states that his angry wife dropped the stones she held in her skirt to form another local rock formation, the Skirtful of Stones.

Image of view towards Ilkley
View towards Ilkley

We were still a good way away and it was already mid-afternoon, so we decided to head back the way we’d come, dodging the puddles and tackling some rather precarious steps along the way. Descending by the marked path, we reached the road into Ilkley. We wandered through the quaint high street before finding another café to sit and talk for hours until heading home for pizza and movies – because, of course, we had earnt it.

Image of View from Ilkley Moor down towards Ilkley
View from Ilkley Moor down towards Ilkley