Flamborough Outer Headlands Nature Reserve
Welcome to Flamborough Outer Headlands Nature Reserve
This Local Nature Reserve is a special place with stunning sea views. Somewhere to blow away the cobwebs! This unique triangular headland pointing out into the North Sea is an extension of the Yorkshire Wolds and the most northerly outcrop of chalk in Europe.The combination of hard chalk overlain by glacial material gives rise to a coastal landscape type found nowhere else in Britain.Together with the North Sea, these factors give rise to the presence of wildlife habitats and communities that have unique characteristics.
Flamborough Outer Headland was declared a Local Nature Reserve in 2002 in recognition of its wildlife value and its importance to the local community. Local Nature Reserves aim to protect places of special interest and provide opportunities for research, education and informal enjoyment.
The reserve is part of one of the finest stretches of coastland on the east coast, and is the most northerly outcrop of coastal chalk in the British Isles. This unique sea and cliff environment is protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and its seabird colonies mark it as a Special Protection Area. The offshore environment has been identified as a Sensitive Marine Area and a Special Area of Conservation. In 1979 the area was designated a Heritage Coast due to its rich history and landscape.
Discover this spectacular nature reserve on Flamborough Head Heritage Coast. Take your time gazing out to sea, strolling down to the shore, or purposefully striding out across the sweeping landscape. It is the most northerly outcrop of chalk in the British Isles, and is one of the finest stretches of coast in the east.
The Outer Headland, which covers 220 acres, was declared a Local Nature Reserve in 2002 in recognition of its wildlife value and its importance to the local community.
The Outer Headland is managed by the council’s Countryside Access Team. Our goal is to balance recreational activities with conserving wildlife. The open field landscape is managed by the farmer in a beneficial way for wildlife. Some areas are sown with bird-friendly seed mixes of millet, barley, forage rape and triticle. This provides valuable food for birds through the winter when other fields are ploughed. Ponds have been created and new hedges planted.
Areas of maritime coastal grassland have high ecological value and are managed as traditional meadows, cutting them just once a year so biodiversity is enhanced. Old Fall Plantation gives shelter for migratory birds arriving in this exposed landscape. Working with Flamborough Bird Observatory, the woodland has been enhanced by adding native trees and a pond.
Watching wildlife out at sea
Scan the sea surface for porpoises and seals. In late summer Minke whales are occasionally spotted off the Headland.
Many of the seabirds flying over the sea are travelling back to their nests on the cliffs after feeding out at sea. The charismatic puffin is popular to see here from March until July. These are the most southerly nesting puffins on the British mainland. Look at the burrow-shaped holes on the slopes around the cliffs, there may be a puffin sitting in the entrance staring back at you!
Birds are swift to make use of the Headland. It is the first land that many migrating birds encounter after flying hundreds of miles. Some birds live here all year, others only stay for a season, and many simply refuel before continuing on their journey. Discover the full story of migration on the storyboard panel by the Fog Station.
Watching wildlife on dry land
Farmland birds love our wildlife friendly farming practices. Skylarks often nest in the middle of fields, so relish open country like this. Their nests survive long enough here for the chicks to fledge because the grass is cut late in the season. Listen to the glorious sound of summer as the skylarks sing high up in the sky. The hay meadow south of the Fog Station is rich in delicate flowers. Here you can see harebells, bird’s-foot trefoil, creeping cinquefoil, common knapweed, yellow rattle and common dog violets.
On the cliff slopes there are wild flowers that are now less common elsewhere due to agricultural intensification. Gems include restharrow, carline thistle, lady’s bedstraw, marsh orchid and kidney vetch.
Visit the lighthouse
In summer there are guided tours around the Lighthouse. The 20 minute visit includes a climb of 119 steps to the top, where you are rewarded with breathtaking views. The present lighthouse was built in 1806, becoming automated in 1996. It shows four white flashes every 15 seconds.
Code of Conduct
You are welcome to visit this site on foot. Please note that we do not allow camping, barbeques, horse riding or motorbikes. You can bring your dog but you should pick up after it and it should be kept under close control. Not everyone is comfortable around dogs so please be aware of this when exercising your animal.
Nature Reserves are special places for wildlife, please help keep them beautiful by picking up litter and avoid disturbing wildflowers.
This site has a large car park.
There is a selection of coastal walks along the headland, with stunning views. It is possible to get down to the beach but this is via a long flight of steps. Please note the site has toilets open all year round, and a cafe and shop open in the summer months. Picnic benches are provided.