Guide to Visiting Thornwick Bay and Little Thornwick, Flamborough

Our goal for this summer is to visit as many beaches as we can. If they start getting too busy we will have to slightly abandon this goal as I’m not going to sit on a busy beach. Recently I have written about our visit to Fraisthorpe Beach near Bridlington.

I do have a few others I can write about but I would like a couple more photos and a few more hours in the day. Today I bring you our guide to visiting Thornwick Bay and Little Thornwick in Flamborough, East Riding of Yorkshire.

There are four beaches in Flamborough all with varying degrees of steepness and accessibility. Although I will write separate posts for each I’m also going to write one post for all four comparing them. The beaches are South landing, North landing, Selwick bay (Flamborough head) and Thornwick Bay. Each provides a very different experience.

Guide to Visiting Thornwick Bay and Little Thornwick, Flamborough

Visiting Thornwick Bay Beach in the East Riding of Yorkshire

This is now our second visit to Thornwick Bay since Covid 19 reared its ugly head. The first time the access to the car park was closed so we parked at North Landing car park and walked the coastal path. This does disappear at one point so if you choose to walk from here please don’t ignore the sign telling you the path is closed. Don’t worry though there is another path going slightly inland.

Guide to Visiting Thornwick Bay and Little Thornwick, Flamborough
Walking the coastal path from North Landing

Sitting at the top of Thornwick Bay beach is a gorgeous spot for a picnic. There’s plenty of benches or you can just sit on the grass. People come here for the day just to sit at the top fo the cliff and watch the world go by. If you don’t fancy the walk down I can highly recommend doing this.

Guide to Visiting Thornwick Bay and Little Thornwick, Flamborough
Can you spot the cars?

Thornwick Bay beach has one of Haven’s larger parks behind it so it can get quite busy when the caravan park is open. We visited on a hot summer’s day in June while many people were still furloughed. The car park was busy but not full and although we saw lots of people on the beach for most beaches in the UK it was actually quiet. We had no problems with social distancing. We passed a few people on our way back up but everyone kept out of the way.

Parking at Thornwick Bay Beach

When the car park/access is open it costs £1.50 for all day parking which is great value for money. To get there you simply take a left off the B1255 to the North Landing n Flamborough.

If you set your sat nav to Thornwick Bay Haven don’t take the turning for Haven instead carry on a bit further down and take a left just before the Viking Pub. There’s a grey metal shack on the lane you turn down and this is where you pay for parking so have £1.50 in change ready. They don’t take cards! They also don’t take cards at the cafe.

You then have two options to park. The first smaller parking area to your left is the closest car park to the longer but less steep path down to the beach. If you keep going you will come to the much bigger car park where you can park wherever is safe and accessible on the grass. We chose to park next to the cafe and walk down from there.

A bit about Thornwick Bay Beach

The beach allows dogs all year round, there is no lifeguard and no soft sand. It’s a mostly rocky beach with huge rocks and boulders over all of the shoreline. There is some shingle in both Thornwick Bay Beach and Little Thornwick. The larger area for shingle is at Thornwick Bay itself. It’s a popular spot with snorkelers.

Crossing the rocks at Thornway Bay

It’s a good beach for spotting sea birds as many nest on the righthand side cliff. We even spotted a puffin which made my day.

Thornwick Bay derives it’s name from “Thor” the God of Thunder because of the roar of the breaking waves on the rocks during a North Easterly gale There are quite a few caves along the shoreline although not all are accessible by foot – even when the tide is out. Selwick Bay has caves that are much easier to access.

The Caves at Thornwick

There are three large caves, Smugglers Cave, the largest on the east coast of England, Church Cave and ThornWick Cave. It is possible to get to the caves by scrambling across the rocks, but only when there is a really low tide.

Our Visit to Thornwick Bay Beach and Little Thornwick

As well as the access point down to the beach that I mentioned above you can also access it via a relatively steep cliff just a short walk from the cafe. You can’t even see it from the top of the cliff, you wouldn’t know it was there. Basically if you are facing frontwards to the door of the cafe walk to your right. You will reach some benches with flowers. Walk to the edge and you will see the way down.

Guide to Visiting Thornwick Bay and Little Thornwick, Flamborough
This brown path is one of three main ways down

The way down to Little Thornwick is pretty similar in that you just can’t see it. It’s also equally steep and perhaps easier to walk up this one than it is down. If you walk as far left as you can on the cliff top you should then spot this access point down.

Little Thornwick Cliff Access

My son was a bit more nervous walking down than he needed to be. Although you are essentially walking down the middle of a cliff point you can’t fall to either side because of the depth of the foot well.

We started by heading off to the right onto Thornwick Beach. Here you have to walk over rocks of all sizes plus many boulders. It’s a real challenge and one my son loved. He came away saying it was his favourite thing to do.

Taking a break

If you don’t want to walk across these then the acess point I mentioned about from the smaller car park will be a better option. They rocks can be a bit slippy, just watch out for anything green or brown. It’s worth the walk though and we had a wonderful view for our picnic.

We made it!!
Lovely view for a picnic

When the tide is out there are a huge number of rockpools. Perfect for paddling in and when the sun is out they are lovely and warm. We didn’t find any crabs, just lots of snails.

The caves are on the right side of this beach. As mentioned above they aren’t always accessible. Lots of people were turning up in wetsuits and swimming out to explore them. We even spotted a puffin here! After exploring what we could safely explore without the correct gear we set off all the way back along the beach.

Can you spot the puffin?

This time we decided to go around the headland. Again this is only possible when the tide is out. Make sure you check the tide times. Walking around this part is better when low tide is about an hour way. That way if you decide you can’t make it all the way around you can get back the way you came.

Walking around the headland
The view back to Thornwick Bay

We loved this part of our day out. It was very challenging but equally rewarding. Not just for the views but for the adventure in working out which way to get around to Little Thornwick. Being at this part of the beach is like stepping back in time. The rock formations are astounding and there’s a couple of caves to peer in.

What a view!

Little Thornwick is aa cute little beach with a couple of small caves. Again the beach area is shingle with no sand. It wasn’t as busy as Thornwick bay per square metre but that’s probably because it’s harder to get to. We had to basically climb over the top of the right hand cliff and scramble down to get there from the headland.

This was our way back up and over! It’s all rock of varying heights

It’s not as difficult from the car park but it’s quite steep in places with slippy dirt and nowhere to grip your feet. I saw one lady opt to go down on her bottom.

Little Thornwick
Little Thornwick
Little Thornwick
Down on the beach at Little Thornwick

Facilities at Thornwick Bay Beach

When access to the car park is open the cafe is also open. This does have tables indoors but right now these are closed off and they are only allowing a maximum of three people in at a time to order. They currently have hot and cold drinks, limited hot and cold food menu and ice-creams available for take-away. There’s plenty of grass and benches to sit at once you’ve made your purchase.

The only toilets here are in the same building as the cafe. There are no other facilities.

We felt very safe during our day out here and I hope it won’t get too busy once Haven opens again. I hope you enjoyed my guide and it will help you to plan a visit here.

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Guide to Visiting Thornwick Bay and Little Thornwick, Flamborough

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