Why is Flamborough Head a European marine site?
Flamborough Head was awarded Heritage Coast status 20 years ago in recognition of its natural heritage. The landscape is dominated by the rolling Yorkshire Wolds countryside which drops off spectacularly into the North Sea creating chalk cliffs, stacks, caves and coves. The cliffs along Bempton and around to the southern side of the headland were designated as a Special Protection Area in 1992 with a Special Conservation Area following in 1993. Together these form a European Marine Site, which is also known as a Natura 2000 site or a Marine Protected Area.
In 2010 a No Take Zone was established on the southern side of the headland. This designation, between Danes Dyke and Sewerby Steps, means that nothing can be taken from the area and is enforced through a byelaw. The aim of this Zone is to allow the seabed and intertidal habitat chance to return to a natural state with no damaging human activities. The Management Scheme and the North Eastern Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authority regularly carry out research in the area to monitor any changes. More information can be found on the NEIFCA website.
The local history is just as interesting, being dominated by the legacy of the Vikings, smugglers, lighthouses and centuries of fishing.
The marine waters off the headland are a popular diving site because of the reefs and shipwrecks. These habitats and productive waters have also supported the local and regional fishing economies for many centuries. Coble boats, an ancient design dating back to the fifth century, are still used by some of todays fishermen and can be seen at North Landing.
The nearest seaside resort of Bridlington boasts miles of sandy beaches to the south and north, where they are backed by the chalk cliffs of Sewerby and the Headland. The working harbour supports a thriving fishing and tourist industry, with recreational angling, yachting and sightseeing off the Headland being a major activity.
The RSPB Reserve at Bempton Cliffs attracts thousands of visitors each year. People come to experience the sights, sounds and smells of over 200,000 residents of this seabird city, which include kittiwake, puffins, razorbill, guillemot and gannets. Bempton Cliffs is Englands only and the UK's largest mainland gannetry.
RSPB promote the conservation of the seabirds and their associated marine habitats through guided walks/events and providing information at the visitor center. RSPB staff also play an important role in monitoring seabird numbers to gain information on productivity, as seabird colonies are effective indicators of the 'health' of the marine environment.
Flamborough is also home to the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's brand new Living Seas Centre. This marine education centre offers a wide range of activities including guided walks, arts and crafts, visitor information, school visits and lectures from wildlife and photography experts. The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust also operate a reserve on the headland which is accesible at all times from North Landing.