Nature walks on the Yorkshire coast: Nine of the best places along the Yorkshire coast to find wildlife


The region’s coastline is vibrant with some of the most beautiful and unique wildlife and includes the UK’s largest and most accessible population of northern gannets nesting on the mainland at Bempton Cliffs. The cliffs, 400 feet high, are also home to the popular colonies of puffins.

Nature lovers, birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts travel from far and wide to the Yorkshire coast to spot wildlife in their natural habitats.

Whales, dolphins and even some species of sharks migrate to some of these waters every year, especially in the warmer waters in September when they migrate south for the winter.

Black-browed albatross flying over the cliffs at Bempton RSPB. (Photo credit: James Hardisty)

Along with the beautiful walled gardens, forests and waterfalls of the coast, there are also plenty of nature reserves to see.

Here are the best places along the Yorkshire coast to see wildlife, from common to rare, according to Google.

This secluded cove between Scarborough and Whitby also has a rocky and shingle beach and woodland where you can explore nature or even have a picnic.

Selwick Bay to Flamborough Head. (Photo credit: Bruce Rollinson)

The name ‘Hayburn Wyke’ comes from the Anglo-Saxon words: ‘Hayburn’ meaning ‘hunting enclosure by a stream’ and ‘Wyke’ meaning the Norse word for ‘creek or creek’.

There are relaxing walks around the forest, where you can spot wildlife including deer, badgers and foxes that commonly roam the area. You can also keep your eyes peeled for nesting birds such as redstart, blackcap, willow warbler, woodpecker and pied flycatcher.

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A puffin at Bempton Cliffs, near Bridlington. (Photo credit: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

This limestone prairie is located in the beautiful Dalby Forest in Pickering.

There are many colorful butterflies flying around this nature reserve, such as small copper and butterfly butterflies, as well as brightly colored meadow flowers.

From frequent visitors like rabbits, foxes, badgers and deer to rare sightings of certain species of orchids, there is plenty of wildlife to watch here at Ellerburn Bank.

Stoats can also be seen poking through the stems during the day, while pit vipers are occasionally spotted around the dry stone wall. Butterflies also breed here and birds including larks and finches are seen during the winter months.

Danes Dykes Beach near Flamborough. (Photo credit: James Hardisty)

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These white chalk cliffs at Bempton are popular all year round in all four seasons, but from April to October they are heavily populated with England’s largest seabird species including puffins, gannets, kittiwakes and guillemots.

Nearly half a million seabirds flock to the cliff ledges and the surroundings heighten all your senses and provide great panoramic views for photo taking.

Not only can you spot migrants such as redwings and goldcrests in winter, but the cliffs are also the destination where rare species appear out of the blue, including short-eared owls and barn owls.

Autumn is also a great season to visit Bempton Cliffs due to its coastal location and promontory.

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Burton Riggs consists of large open lakes where wild birds and wading birds migrate, especially during the fall and winter months.

Great crested newts have been seen swimming in the ponds surrounding the lakes for many years.

You can also observe various species of birds in fall and winter, including the green sandpiper, gray heron, tufted duck, orchard, goldeneye, and short-eared owl.

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There is so much to do in Danes Dyke; from exploring a beautiful wooded ravine to discovering its ancient history to observing nature and wildlife with its woods and trees.

Just steps from Bridlington Beach, families with children will have a great time exploring the area.

The name comes from the old ditch and earthwork of the bank which crosses the reserve; Danes Dyke stretches 4km across the whole of the Flamborough Headland where nature thrives.

The bank was made up of dirt, piled turf, and chalk rubble, believed to come mostly from the ditch.

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Flamborough Head is one of Europe’s most famous seabird habitats and in the summer it is particularly populated by tens of thousands of penguins, gannets, gulls and nesting puffins.

The stunning views and wildlife sightings make it the perfect place for photographers and visitors to snap photos.

In the spring and summer, visitors can expect to spot northern marsh orchids, primroses, migrating birds, wall butterflies, puffins, kittiwakes, basking sharks and harbor porpoises.

During the fall and winter months, you can observe birds such as the sooty shearwater, arctic skua, woodcock, peregrine falcon, Lapland sparrow and snow bunting.

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There are many different plant species to look out for in Chafer Wood, including bluebells and ramons.

The environment is particularly idyllic on a morning walk during the autumn months; across the valley you may spot deer and the beautiful views from the top of the woods over the Pickering Valley will take your breath away.

In spring and summer, you will find different plants including wild cherry, primrose, bluebell, pyramidal orchid and cistus, birds including redstart and green woodpecker and invertebrates such as crane flies.

During the fall and winter months, you can find foxes, roe deer, and birds such as sparrow hawk and creeper.

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This tranquil freshwater marsh is the last of its kind and attracts migrating birds and is also a natural habitat for plants, small mammals and amphibians.

Filey Dams contains large freshwater lagoons which are populated with birds such as the broad-bodied huntsman, willow warbler and sedge warbler, as well as mammals such as the water vole in the spring.

In summer, you can observe amphibians like the great crested newt, birds like the green sandpiper and the wood sandpiper and mammals like the nathusius pipistrelle and the daubenton’s bat.

In fall and winter, visitors can find invertebrates including common darter, bird species such as ruffe, green redhorse, dunlin, green-winged teal, water rail, and tree sparrow .

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Filey Brigg is a narrow peninsula about a mile north of Filey and its steep cliffs consist of a range of materials including pure sandstone and pure limestone.

The rocks attract a variety of bird species, including oystercatchers, redhorses and purple sandpipers

Legend has it that the formation of the long ridge of rocks was built by the devil, who lost his hammer in the sea but when he caught it, he caught a fish instead. The Devil shouted: ‘Hah! Dick!’, which is supposed to be the name of the fish (haddock) and since then Filey Brigg has carried the marks of the ‘devil’s grip’ on his shoulders.

Another folk tale from the Brigg is that the rocks were the bones of a dragon which was drowned by the townspeople after diving into the sea to wash a Yorkshire cake from its teeth.

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