A weekend in East Yorkshire

Recently returned from a wonderful weekend in East Yorkshire. After flying back from Greece late last Thursday, I spent the night in Gatwick Airport before catching an early morning train back to Devon. At the flat, I changed backpacks, threw in a few clothes and jumped on a long train bound for Hull on the east coast of England.

I arrived in Hull around 21:30 after a 6 hour journey that included changing in Taunton, Somerset and Sheffield, South Yorkshire. In Hull, I took a taxi into the town and stayed at the lovely independent Trinity Backpackers, a hostel I highly recommend. Next morning I got a lift back to Hull train station and met up with my best friend, Will, a school friend of some 30 years and began our adventure! Will is blind in one eye and has a dodgy left foot and hand. He lives alone and is completely independent – a great bloke, very funny! :). Because he can only see out of his left eye, when he guides me, we always go around in circles!

Will found a bus and we headed to the charming seaside town of Withernsea, roughly an hours’ journey from hull. This part of Yorkshire is known as the East Riding.

Once at the beach town, we went for a wander, Will following the streets and I following the sent of the salty sea air. We had brunch in a nice cafe before going to search for Withernsea’s white, tall, inland lighthouse. After stumbling around the busy streets for several minutes, Will spotted the way to its museum. We entered by the back door, not unusual for us, and had a quick nosy around. The museum is largel dedicated to 1950s actress Kay Kendall, who was born in the town. However, as everything was in glass, there was little of interest apart from a few old photographs. We paid the UK£4.50 entry fee, located the door to the lighthouse, entered and began the ascent of the 127 feet (39 metre) cylindrical building. The first hundred steps were easy enough, but to reach the highest platform, we had to climb a narrow, vertical metal ladder. that was fun! Once at the top, Will admired the view and I enjoyed the fresh air. Several minutes later, we descended. Back on terrafirma, it was yet another tea stop before taking one last bus to the village of Holmpton, our base for the weekend.

Incidentally, the Prime Meridian crosses the coast north-west of Withernsea.

Holmpton is a small spread-out village situated approximately 3 miles (5 km) south of Withernsea town centre and 3 miles (5 km) east of the village of Patrington. It lies just inland from the North Sea coast.

Holmpton parish had a population of 228 in 2011. St Nicholas parish church is Grade II listed. The Greenwich Prime Zero meridian line passes through the parish, but we didn’t know this at the time of visit.

The village is home to RAF Holmpton, built originally as an early warning radar station, and now refurbished to act as museum and archive in Cold War built buildings, including a command bunker which is about 100 feet (30 m) below ground.

On a ramble around the quiet village on our first evening, Will noticed a round stone memorial to the crew of RAF Avro Manchester bomber L7523 that crashed just south of the village on the night of 14 January 1942, killing all 7 crew. The bomber was returning from a rade on Hamburg, Germany.

Our reason for staying in Holmpton for two nights was to visit and walk around Spurn Point and climb its lighthouse.

Coordinates: 53.575955°North 0.111454°East. Spurn is a narrow sand tidal island located off the tip of the coast of the East Riding of Yorkshire, England that reaches into the North Sea and forms the north bank of the mouth of the Humber Estuary.

The island is over three miles (five kilometres) long, almost half the width of the estuary at that point, and as little as 50 yards (45 metres) wide in places. The southernmost tip is known as Spurn Head or Spurn Point and was, until early 2023, the home to an RNLI lifeboat station and two disused lighthouses.

It has been owned since 1960 by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and is a designated national nature reserve, heritage coast and is part of the Humber Flats, Marshes and Coast Special Protection Area.

Will and I caught an early bus from Holmpton to the start of Spurn on the Sunday morning, alighted at the final stop, headed to the nearby visitor centre, had a drink, listened to a short audio infromation screen about Spurn, its history, nature and lighthouse before setting off to find the trail that would, eventually, lead us to the lighthouse. However, finding the rocky trail was difficult. We ended up following a grassy trail that lead onto the large sand dunes. As this was soft giving sand, we slid our way to the left, slid down on to harder flatter sand and followed the off-shore sea around the tidle island for, supposedly, 3 miles (5 km). The atmosphere was idilic, we were almost the only people there. The wind blew cool and strong and the sun made the air warm but not hot. We trudged along, enjoying the peace and nature. The sound of the sea was delightful. I had to stop every 0.1 mile to rest my legs, but otherwise, we made steady progress. Will could see the lighthouse in the distance to our right most of the time and he used that as a baring. After roughly 3 miles walking, Will said we need to go up by way of the sand dunes, but judge them too steep. Thus we continued to the point, another 1.5 miles or so, maybe more. As we neared the point, the terrain became more rough and rocky. Stones and rocks everywhere, pieces of wood, clumps of seaweed. Walking became difficult. We both tripped and stumbled. But, eventually, we reach the point. Then we trekked up onto higher ground, found a wooden seat and had a rest. 20 minutes later, we set off again, this time to reach the lighthouse. Several buildings were spotted, including offices of the heritage trust, the former lifeboat station, the broken pier, from where the lifeboat was launch, and a World War II gun emplacement. 15 or 20 minutes later, after trekking along a few more rough roads, we reached the lighthouse. We ascended two stone steps, entered, chatted with the friendly guys on the ticket desck and began the climb of 144 steps. Like the lighthouse in Withernsea, the first sets of steps had handrails and were fairly easy. But the last two levels were reached by vertical ladders. First a brass ladder of some 20 vertical steps, followed by another ladder of 4 runs. Finally, we were at the top. The gentleman who’d followed us up, pointed out various viewpoints to Will, whilst I simply enjoyed being there. This lighthouse is 1 foot (30 centimetres) taller than Withernsea Lighthouse. A quick rest before we descended to the ground. The other gentleman at the lighthouse, kindly gave us a lift back to the start of the tidle island, by the visitor centre. We grabbed a final drink before taking the last bus back to Holmpton. A great day successfully completed. A second night of Chinese take-away was followed before a good nights’ sleep was taken. The following morning, the Monday, 24th June, we packed our bags, took the first bus back to Withernsea, then another bus to Hornsea, one more bus to Bridlington before wandering through that town to the train station. I headed to Sheffield and onwards to Exeter and Teignmouth, Will caught a bus to York and onto Leeds. A fantastic weekend with lots of walking and climbing. What fun. Cheers, Tony :).