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Spurn in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England - September 2013

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posted by Saffy H alias SaffyH on Wednesday 16th of October 2013 07:51:39 AM

www.spurnpoint.com/Spurn_Point.htm Spurn is a very unique place in the British Islands. Three and a half miles long and only fifty metres wide in places. Extending out in to the Humber Estuary from the Yorkshire coast it has always had a big affect to the navigation of all vessels over the years. Help to some and a danger or hindrance to others. This alone makes Spurn a unique place. Spurn is made up of a series of sand and shingle banks held together with mainly Marram grass and Seabuckthorn. There are a series of sea defence works built by the Victorians and maintained by the Ministry of Defence, till they sold Spurn to the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust in the 1950s. The defences are in a poor state, breaking down and crumbling. This is making Spurn a very fragile place wide open to the ravages of the North Sea. One of the most striking features of Spurn is the black and white lighthouse near to the end of Spurn. Now just an empty shell not used since it was closed down at dawn on the thirty first of October 1986. There have been many Lighthouses on Spurn over the years the first recorded at around 1427. The present light was built from 1893 TO 1895. The small tower on the beach on the Estuary side was originally the low light. It was built and put in to operation at around 1852. This light was no longer needed when the present lighthouse was opened in 1895.At a later date the light was removed and it was used as a store for explosives and later as a water tower. The tank can still be seen on the top. When it was operational there was a raised walkway from the shore to the lighthouse so it could be reached at all stages of the tide. The present lighthouse was built to replace an old lighthouse that was positioned just to the south of the present one. You can still see the round perimeter wall surrounding the old keepers cottages and the base of the old lighthouse which had to be demolished due to it settling on it's foundations making it unsafe. The only light on Spurn today is a flashing green starboard light on the very end of the point and the fixed green lights marking the end of the Pilots jetty. Because of Spurns ever moving position there have been many Lighthouses over the years. There is a very good book by George.de.BOAR, called History of the Spurn Lighthouses, produced by the East Yorkshire Local History Society. This is one of a series of books on local history. www.spurnpoint.com/Around_and_about_at_Spurn.htm Around and about there are plenty of places to eat and drink. Starting from the north of Spurn at Kilnsea there is the Riverside hotel offering good quality food drink and accommodation. Coming south towards Spurn and still in Kilnsea there is the Crown and Anchor pub. A welcoming place serving bar meals fine beers and offering bed and breakfast at very reasonable rates. At the crossroads before you turn towards Spurn there is the Spurn heritage coast visitors centre. Where there is a small cafe and exhibition. At the entrance Spurn point nature reserve is an information centre and bird observatory selling books pamphlets, etc., and the last toilet on Spurn. Past the lighthouse is the last car park. Two hundred metres further on you find the Humber Lifeboat and Pilot stations. Near the houses is a Small caravan selling tea, coffee, cold cans, hot and cold food, crisps and sweets. All are open all year round apart from the heritage centre which is open thought the season. BIRD WATCHING. Is a very popular pastime as Spurn is internationally famous for birds. There are up to two hundred species recorded at spurn every year. Some of which are extremely rare. The Marmora's Warbler seen at Spurn In June 1992 was only the third recorded in Britain. SEA FISHING. The beaches of Spurn provide some of the best sea fishing in the area, with Cod and Whiting and Flats being caught through the winter and Skate, Flats and Bass through the summer. There is sport to be had all the year. At the very end of Spurn is deep water ideal for Cod but this only fishes best two hours either side of low water, the tide is to strong at other times. All along the seaward side of Spurn is good for all species of fish at all times though over high water being the better. The riverside of Spurn is very shallow and only produces Flats and the bass over high water. THE BEACH. The beaches at Spurn are of soft sand and shingle. Whichever way the wind is blowing you can just pop over the dunes to the outer side. There are fossils and all manners of things to find beach combing. Swimming is not safe any were near the point end as there are very strong tides at up to six knots at times. But in side Spurn around the point car park is perfect at high water. The beach does not shelf to fast and very little tide. You can have the place to your self at times, as Spurn is never really busy weekdays.# A very popular pastime at Spurn is Fossil hunting. There is a good abundance of fossils to be found in amongst the pebbles and shingle. The Shark Trust has a very interesting PDF file tell you all about Shark Skate and rays the mermaids purses you find on the beach are egg shells from sharks and Rays. Click the link to down load the Shark Trust Brochure. WALKING. Walking or strolling at spurn is very easy, as there are no hills. There are various sign posted paths up and down the point. For the fit a complete walk round the whole point is about 8 miles, taking in all the point round the point end and back to the "warren" information place at the start of Spurn. You will need good footwear, as much of the paths are sand. There is limited access for disabled, but not to the point end, as you have to go via the beach. You can park your car at the point car park and walk round the point end and back to the car park about a mile, or just stroll around the point were you choose. The only place you are not allowed to go are down the pilot's jetty and the centre square of the Lifeboat houses. In spring and early summer Spurn is covered with a large amount of wild flowers of all species. There are common to the not so common; from Orchids to bluebells. I must remind you Spurn is a nature reserve and the picking of all flowers is prohibited. When visiting please enjoy Spurn, as it is a very beautiful place and leave only your footprints. Horse Riding. There is riding available nearby at the North Humberside Riding Centre. The stables are ideally located with rides along quiet country lanes, by-ways, plus miles of sandy beach and riverbanks. The cross-country course offers a variety of fences for both the novice and the more experienced rider. www.spurnbirdobservatory.co.uk/ A Brief History of Spurn Bird Observatory Following visits to Spurn by several members of the Yorkshire Naturalists' Union in the late 1930's, a communal log for ornithological observations was instituted in 1938. This included a roll-call of species, the beginnings of a recording system, which later became standard in bird observatories. Realising the potential of the Spurn peninsula for the regular observation of bird migration a group of enthusiasts, notably Ralph Chislett, George Ainsworth, John Lord and R.M. Garnett, had the idea of setting up a bird observatory, with the Warren Cottage at the northern end of the peninsula as an ideal headquarters. Unfortunately the outbreak of war forced them to put their plans on hold but shortly after hostilities ceased a lease for Warren Cottage was obtained from the War Department and the observatory was established shortly afterwards under the auspices of the Y.N.U. with the four members mentioned above forming the first committee. A preliminary meeting was held in September 1945 to decide on the site for a Heligoland trap, work on which was begun almost immediately and the first bird (a Blackbird) was ringed on November 17th. The first minuted committee meeting was held on March 9th 1946 and the observatory was opened to visitors at Whitsuntide that year. Initially coverage was limited to the main migration seasons, being extended to winter weekends in the early 1950's to trap and ring some of the large numbers of Snow Buntings which used to occur at that time of year and gradually coverage was increased (whenever possible) to cover the late spring and summer. In 1959 there was an important development when the Yorkshire Naturalists' Trust (now the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust) became the owners of the peninsula and thus the observatory's landlord. In 1960 a full time warden was appointed by the Trust, and although having no official connection with the observatory the fact of having an observer on the peninsula year-round inevitably helped to improve the ornithological coverage. This was especially the case from 1964 when the current warden, Barry Spence, was appointed, in conjunction with the fact that an interest in birds and their migrations was steadily growing and more bird-watchers were staying at the observatory, often for longer periods. When the observatory opened there was accommodation for seven visitors in Warren Cottage and facilities included two chemical toilets, the Warren Heligoland trap and an ex-army hut as a ringing hut. Over the next ten years a further five Heligoland traps were constructed along the peninsula, although today only three remain in existence. In 1959 the observatory gained the use of the Annexe, one of two ex W.D. bungalows built at the Warren during the early 1950's, thus increasing the accommodation capacity to seventeen and providing much improved toilet facilities. Over the years the accommodation and facilities have been gradually improved to try to make the visitor's stay at Spurn as comfortable as possible. Other improvements have also taken place, in 1968 part of one of the derelict buildings at the Point was converted into a ringing laboratory ready for the first B.T.O. Ringing Course, held in autumn of that year and in 1971 part of one of the derelict buildings at the Warren was also converted into a ringing laboratory. The other part of this building became a laboratory for the use of students of Leeds University but this also became available to the observatory in the mid 1980's when the University no longer had a use for it. Subsequently it was converted into a self-contained accommodation unit for two, complete with kitchen facilities, and although officially known by the somewhat unimaginative name of Room F (the rooms in the Annexe being known as Rooms A, C, D & E, - whatever happened to Room B?), it was somewhat irreverently christened "Dunbirdin" by regular visitors to Spurn. In 1965 a sea-watching hut was erected east of the Warren beyond the line of the former railway track. Due to coastal erosion it became necessary to move this in late 1974, when it was hoped that it would last at least as long as it had in its first position. Alas this was not to be, as the rate of erosion increased dramatically in the mid 1970's, necessitating a further move in early December 1977. In that year a clay bank had been built across the field behind Warren Cottage (Clubley's field) to prevent the flooding of arable land by wind-blown sea water, but on January 11th 1978 Spurn suffered its worst flooding ever when a strong to gale-force north-westerly wind combined with a spring tide. In late 1981 due to extensive construction works at Easington a large quantity of boulder clay became available and this was used to build up and extend the bank across Clubley's field, south towards Black Hut and north beyond Big Hedge to join up with an existing bank (which had been built in 1974) behind the scrape. In 1982 the sea-watching hut was repositioned on top of this bank, where it remained until the bank itself was washed away in the early 1990's. A number of other changes to the observatory recording area began to take place from the early 1970's, including extensive building operations at the Point, commencing in 1974, with the construction of a new jetty for the Humber Pilot boats, new housing for the Spurn Lifeboat crew and the conversion and renovation of various existing buildings for use by the Coastguard and the Pilots. In 1978 following damage to the existing road south of the Warren area a new tarmac road was laid to the west of the original one, this lasted until 1988 when a second "new road" loop had to be laid, followed in 1991 by the construction of the existing loop road running along the Humber shore from just south of the Warren to just beyond Black Hut. The construction of this road resulted in the destruction of the actual Black Hut, although the area still bears the name. In 1981 the lines of wartime concrete anti-tank blocks running from the seashore to the Canal Zone were removed to fill in a breach at the Narrow Neck. This resulted in the southward extension of the Scrape field by the farmer up to Big Hedge and the start of a gradual decline in the condition of this hedge and its attractiveness to birds. In 1982 a local resident excavated a pond for shooting purposes in the wet area adjoining the Canal Zone. This never really proved successful and the land was later purchased by the Y.W.T. and the pond enlarged to become what is now known as Canal Scrape. In 1984 a famous Spurn landmark, the Narrows "Hut", a wooden migration watch shelter which had stood at the Narrow Neck for twenty-three years, was set fire to by person or persons unknown and completely destroyed, it was replaced the following year by a more solid construction made from breeze-blocks. A period of considerable change began in 1988 when the Spurn peninsula was designated as part of the Spurn Heritage Coast. Projects undertaken include the enlargement of the Canal Scrape mentioned above and the erection of a hide overlooking it, a hide overlooking the Humber wader roost at Chalk Bank, a public sea-watching hide alongside the observatory one, provision of additional car-parking space, the restoration of the short-turf habitat in the Chalk Bank area, provision of footpaths, etc. A major project was the renovation of the Blue Bell in Kilnsea for use as offices, an information centre and a small cafe, which became fully operational in 1995. Another fairly recent project has been the creation of another scrape/pond on Clubley's field. In 1996 the observatory celebrated its fiftieth anniversary, and for the first time in its history SBO employed a full time seasonal warden. This position has since been expanded and the observatory now enjoys the services of a year- round warden. In 1998, with a view to the future, a small bungalow in Kilnsea was purchased with money bequeathed by the late John Weston, a long time committee member, who regrettably died in 1996. This was followed in 1999 by the purchase of a strip of land adjacent to the property and is now known as the ‘Church Field’, this is planted with a sacrificial crop every year, and has also had several groups of trees planted and a feeding station placed in the north-east corner. Access to this field is available by becoming a member of ‘Friends of Spurn Bird Observatory’, a venture set up in 2003 to eventually help with the building of a new observatory when the old one falls way to the sea.



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