Picture Post: Ancient Yorkshire coastline brought to life by setting sun

PIC: Gerard Binks
PIC: Gerard Binks
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Cowbar Nab looms over the lifeboat station and harbour like a giant fist.

This rugged headland is a spectacular sight at any time of the year but pictured here, bathed in the brilliant light of a late winter’s afternoon, its ancient rocks take on a dramatic rust-like hue.

This is one of the most stunning stretches of coastline you will find anywhere in the country, never mind Yorkshire, and the towering cliffs are home to a host of wild flowers and orchids as well as a sea bird colony that erupts into life during Spring.

You’ll find the rowdy herring gulls pretty much all year round, as well as kittiwakes, fulmars, razorbills and even house martins. These might not be the kind of birds you normally associate with sea bird colonies, but house martins return to breed here every year between May and August.

Nestled far below this imposing headland is, of course, Staithes. With its higgledy-piggedly cottages and clutter of winding streets, walking
through this pretty coastal hamlet is a little like stepping back in time to a quieter, simpler world.

Not that it’s always been quite so tranquil. It’s perhaps hard to believe but Staithes was once one of the largest fishing ports on the north east coast and in its heyday almost 300 people made their living from the fishing industry here.

They would head out to sea in locally-built boats known as “cobles” and their catch was then loaded on to trains bound for Whitby, Redcar and Middlesbrough.

Its nautical heritage doesn’t stop there. Staithes was also home for a couple of years to a certain Captain James Cook and takes the credit for starting what became his life-long fascination with the sea.

These days the village’s unique charm entices artists eager to capture the light and crashing waves, as well as geology enthusiasts keen to explore our very own “dinosaur coast”. It’s popular, too, with those who simply want to come and enjoy one of the jewels in Yorkshire’s crown.

Technical details: Nikon D3s, 80-200mm lens, 500th sec @ F11, ISO 200.

Picture: Gerard Binks

Words: Chris Bond