Maps: OS Landranger 101; Explorer 301
Start: Muston All Saints Church (098797)
Finish: Dotterel pub Reighton (131747)
Distance: 6.6 miles (along the beach to Reighton Gap)
Natural England NCA: 26 (Vale of Pickering)
Special interest: Filey and Filey Bay
Make certain to check tide times before setting off on this section of the walk.
In January 2017, there was no legal escape from the beach between Primrose Valley (E) and Hunmanby Gap (F). At the time of writing, the stretch of the England Coast Path between Filey and Reighton has not been officially declared open. Look for notices, therefore, that may suggest slight variations to the route outlined here.
From All Saints Church in Muston, walk eastwards to the village green by Carr Lane (A). Here mount the steps and continue on the YWW across two fields to the A165. Cross straight over and carry on to the edge of Filey (B). A right turn on the grassy track leads back to the A1039. Turn left; go over the level crossing and bend right.
The Coastliner bus stop is at the bus station just to the right of the roundabout but carry straight ahead on Station Avenue, past the Methodist Church, down Murray Street and Cargate Hill to the promenade road, which is actually called ‘The Beach’ (C). Turn right. You can either walk on the sand or, perhaps with better views, on the promenade itself.
Just after the last of the buildings (D), turn right up Martin’s Ravine. Soon on the left, climb the steps on the Centenary Way and at the top bear left. The path clings to the top of the slumped cliffs and makes its way round the golf course to Primrose Valley (E). Here fork left down to the sands at Mile Haven. At the time of writing there is no p.r.o.w. on the cliffs at Primrose Valley Holiday village, so it is necessary to walk on the beach at least as far as Hunmanby Gap (F). If the tide is high and you need to leave the beach at this point, you should climb up the cliff and follow the path to its junction with Sands Road (H).
However, if the tide is still favourable, you can stay on Reighton Sands until Reighton Gap (G). Look carefully for the path rising up the cliff and then becoming a hard surfaced track – it was part of the World War II defences*. It leads into the Holiday Camp; go straight on along the road to the sharp bend at (H).
Turn left on the signed footpath and go past Moor Farm to the path junction at (I). There is an attractive concessionary route going ahead but it can become extremely muddy further on, so the recommended walk turns right along the side of the field to join the road called Watson’s Lane. Follow this to Reighton village.
Turn left; walk on the road up the hill; pass St Peter’s Church; bend right and the Coastliner bus stops are just before the Dotterel pub.
(* If you miss the path, you could use the more obvious track some 200m further on which leads to Reighton Sands Holiday Village. But this is not a p.r.o.w. and it will land you in the middle of the caravan park.)
Filey Bay and Coastal Erosion
Walking along Filey beach, it is immediately obvious that coastal erosion is a very serious problem along this stretch of the nation’s seaboard. In 2001 a BBC report highlighted some of the research work being done to understand the problem more fully. In a pilot project at Filey, where the land is disappearing at a rate of 25 cm (10 inches) each year, scientists are compiling the first detailed map of Britain’s receding coastline.
A team from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne is building up a 3D model of coastal erosion in the area. Jon Mills, who is leading the project, said the information would be used to decide where to locate sea defences. ‘The traditional techniques involve watching wooden posts falling into the sea to estimate how much the coast is eroding’ Dr Mills told the BBC. ‘What we’re doing is using satellite technology, digital aerial photography and ground-based global positioning systems to build the most accurate model ever of coastal erosion.’ The researchers will use the data to create a 3D computer model of an 8 mile stretch of coastline. By comparing the model with monthly satellite photographs provided by the European Space Agency (ESA), they hope to be able to predict when and where coastal erosion will occur. The new methods have the potential to be applied to the entire British coastline. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/1475905.stm
Emphasing the serious nature of the erosion problem, Yorkshire Coast Radio made the following statement on 15th February 2017:
‘Urgent work to protect access to the community of Flat Cliffs near Filey is to go ahead. There’s only one road to get to and from the 45 properties there, and it’s at risk of coastal erosion. It’s hoped the work approved by the borough council’s cabinet will protect the road for at least 20 years. The £572,000 to fund the work is coming from the Environment Agency. Councillor Mike Cockerill said: ‘It will be absolutely super for the residents, it will give them greater confidence in their ability to continue living there. There’s a lot of people there who are retired, and they want to see their days out down there, looking at that gorgeous view of Filey Bay and the Brigg.’
Filey Beach and Flying
There seems no doubt that early ground-breaking aeronautical work was carried out at Filey. The Wright brothers had excited the world with their heavier-than-air powered flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903 and there was a drive to develop this new mode of transport commercially.* At about this time the aircraft designer Robert Blackburn recognised the potential for Filey’s extensive sands for the testing of early aircraft and, establishing the Blackburn Flying School, he designed and tested a number of different aeroplanes. He introduced the first scheduled air service in Great Britain, offering half-hourly flights between Leeds and Bradford.
One of his chief test pilots was B.C.Hucks who completed a night flight round trip from Filey to Bridlington and Scarborough, landing back at Filey guided by bonfires lit on the beach. As a popular attraction at aviation shows, he would loop the loop over Filey and it is believed that he was the first English aviator to fly upside down. The company that Robert Blackburn started is now more commonly recognised under its present name, British Aerospace, Brough. www.fileybay.com/fileyflying/
* Sir George Cayley is now recognised as the designer of the world’s first aeroplane which flew at Brompton, near Scarborough, in 1853, fifty years before the Wright brothers’ success.
Filey Beach and Whales
For many years, Hunmanby Beach (and the rights on the foreshore) belonged to the lords of the manor of Hunmanby and in about 1280 Gilbert de Gant upheld his claim to take whales washed up at Hunmanby, although the heads and tails had to be reserved for the Crown. The limit of fishing rights extended from Filey Brigg to Reighton Gap and was traditionally established by a man riding into the sea at low tide with a pair of horses and flinging a javelin towards the sea. This ceremony was last performed in 1928.