Flamborough Head - a beacon of light and one of our coastal treasures

PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
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A lone figure with binoculars raised to his face, stands silhouetted against a spectacular late summer sunset.

The burnished embers of fading daylight, like a distant fire, make one last hurrah before being swallowed by the inevitable inky darkness.

The man is not alone. Behind him stands a lighthouse, it, too, cast in shadow as evening approaches. This is, of course, Flamborough Head, one of Yorkshire’s great coastal treasures that has beguiled countless visitors over the years.

Nestled between the bays of Bridlington and Filey the headland is home to two standing lighthouse towers, one was built in 1806, and was Grade II listed by English Heritage back in 1952.

The other has stood for even longer. Completed in 1674, the chalk tower at Flamborough is the oldest complete lighthouse still standing in England today.

It was the brainchild of Sir John Clayton, who had a Royal Charter to build five lighthouses along the east coast. Unfortunately, the deal he struck stipulated that he could only collect dues from passing ships when all five had been built.

Sir John ran out of money before the project was ever finished and as a result, Flamborough’s chalk tower was never lit once.

Even so, it would have certainly provided a prime viewpoint for the Battle of Flamborough Head in 1779, which saw the American Navy pitched against the British in the inhospitable North Sea during the American War of Independence.

These days it is better known as a thriving nature site which led to it becoming a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest for both geological and biological reasons.

It is also Britain’s only northern chalk sea cliff. The chalk is estimated to be between 70 and 100 million years old, which has led it to become identified as being of international importance in the Geological Conservation Review.

And, as any visitor to here will tell you, it’s not a bad backdrop for a photograph either.

Technical details. Nikon D3s, 24-70mm Lens, ISO 400, F/6.3 at 1/640s.

Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Words: Chris Bond