By Vicky · Published Sep. 15th, 2023 · Updated Jan. 7th, 2024
On this fantastic circular walk from Bempton Cliffs around Flamborough Head you’ll see birds, cliffs, beaches, a lighthouse and much more.
This walk starts from the car park at RSPB Bempton Cliffs. It’s a 30-minute drive from Scarborough, an hour from York, or 1.5 hours from Leeds.
Bempton Cliffs & Flamborough Head Map
Get the route by downloading the .gpx or .kml file below. For navigation with Maps.me on your mobile phone, simply download the .kml file and open to add it to the Maps.me bookmarks.
- The car park and nature reserve at Bempton Cliffs are open dawn-dusk.
- The visitor centre, toilets and shop are open 9:30am-5pm, or 4pm Nov-Feb. The cafe is open 10am-4pm daily.
- The entrance fee to Bempton Cliffs is £7/3.50 per adult/child in Mar-Oct, or £3.50/2 Nov-Feb. First child & under 5’s are free.
- You may see puffins from April to July.
- The map to take for this hike is the Ordnance Survey Explorer 301 of Scarborough, Bridlington & Flamborough Head*.
- For other hikes nearby, try the short hikes up Beamsley Beacon, Almscliffe Crag, Sharp Haw and Flasby Fell, or Embsay Crag.
- You can find other Yorkshire ideas in our Yorkshire Guide.
Bempton Cliffs & Flamborough Head Walking Route
From the car park at RSPB Bempton Cliffs, pay the entrance fee, then take the path cutting across the field to the clifftops.
Once you reach the cliffs, turn left. Walk along the clifftops for about 700 metres before returning the way you came. This is the best section of Bempton Cliffs where you can see the impressively high cliffs along with hundreds of seabirds. These include gannets, kittiwakes, fulmars, and many more. If you’re lucky, you’ll see puffings nesting here at Bempton Cliffs from April to July.
There are several little viewpoints jutting out above the cliffs, and plenty of benches to sit and watch the birds and ocean far below. Bring binoculars if you have them! It can be quite windy on the clifftops, which is actually a good time to see the birds as they hover in the breeze, but make sure to bring warm clothes.
When you’re ready, head south along the cliffs. There’s a lovely, quiet section of cliffs here between Bempton Cliffs and Flamborough Head. Keep a lookout for birds and sea life such as dolphins.
A few kilometres further on, the coastline becomes more jagged and you’ll find a series of cute little beaches tucked away in little coves. This is the beginning of Flamborough Head, which is famous for its sandy beaches backed by impressive white cliffs.
There are so many beaches here that it’s very hard to choose the best. You can visit most of them by walking down easy trails. In summer the water is (almost) warm enough for swimming. You can also spend a while sitting on the beach having a picnic, reading, or sunbathing. The sand is also a good consistency for building sand castles.
This walk around Flamborough Head follows the clifftop path, from which you have gorgeous views of the beaches below as well as the cliffs. However, remember not to go too near the cliff edge which can be unstable. After the first few beaches, you’ll pass a Golf Course and then reach Flamborough Head Lighthouse.
Flamborough Head Lighthouse
At the lighthouse, there’s also a restaurant and toilets if you need them. The lighthouse itself was built in 1806 to guide ships as they sailed around the British coastline. You can take a tour of Flamborough Lighthouse for £5.20/4.20 per adult/child (children must be over 1.1 metres tall to climb up the lighthouse). The lighthouse is open on weekends May-September and also Tue-Thu in late July and August.
Shorter Walk Options
For a shorter walk, you can just stroll around Flamborough Head. A nice circular route here is 4 km and fairly flat. For a longer walk, you can continue further along the coastline and visit South Landing Beach (see below) before returning via inland country lanes. This is 8 km.
After going on a tour, or just walking around Flamborough Lighthouse, continue walking around the coastline. Keep on the paths nearest the ocean for the best views. You’ll soon come to another lot of buildings, the Flamborough Head Foghorn Station. In heavy fog, ships can’t see the lighthouse. Instead, the Foghorn Station emits loud blasts with a pattern unique to Flamborough, so ships can still tell where they are.
Along the Clifftops to South Landing
The route now continues onwards along the easy clifftop trail. You’ll pass another beautiful cove and then a rather straight section of cliffs. After a few kilometres the path descends into a little valley and you’ll reach the beach at South Landing. Explore the beach a little, then continue walking onward.
Walking back to Bempton Cliffs
After about 600 metres from the beach, the circular route back to Bempton Cliffs heads along a path leading inland. This route leads through some fields into the town of Flamborough itself. When walking through town you’ll pass the old ruins of Flamborough Castle, then walk along the main street.
When the road bends right at the far end of town, take the path to the left. This leads through some more fields, past the edge of Thornwick Bay Holiday Village, and back to the coastline. Turn left here and in about 3 km you’ll be back at Bempton Cliffs and the end of the walk around Flamborough Head.
Guidebooks to explore more of Yorkshire
The Rough Guide to Yorkshire* is a great little guidebook and has a section on Ilkley and things to do nearby. The Yorkshire Dales Pathfinder Guide* has a good collection of short hikes suitable for the entire family and the Guide to North Yorkshire Pub Walks* has some fun walks in the Dales for those who are hungry and thirsty.
FAQS: Bempton Cliffs & Flamborough Head Walk
You can go on a variety of walks at Bempton Cliffs, or lengths ranging from a couple of kilometers to over 20 kilometers. By walking 2 km you’ll see part of the cliffs with the most birds. On longer walks, you can also explore Flamborough Head and its lovely cliffs and beaches.
To visit Bempton Cliffs it’s £7/3.50 per adult/child in Mar-Oct, or £3.50/2 Nov-Feb. The first child & under 5’s are free. RSPB members also get in for free at Bempton Cliffs.
Flamborough Head has some of the most impressive seacliffs in England, as well as many seabirds, beautiful beaches, and lovely clifftop walks.