The Lighthouse Trail

Type:Cross Country Driving Route

Spurn point beach and lighthouse in East Yorkshire.

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The Lighthouse Trail begins at Spurn, a sandy spit of land at the mouth of the River Humber, and travels north through Withernsea to the chalk cliffs of Flamborough. The entire trail is about 45 miles. You can enjoy the trail whilst learning the history of the region's lighthouses.

Our trail begins at Spurn where there are two lighthouses situated close to each other at the southern end of the Point. There have been lighthouses on Spurn since 1427 because of the dangerous currents and sandbanks that lie beneath the Humber's surface. There is little record of what Spurn's earlier lighthouses looked like, but we know they have been built in pairs since 1674 and at least eight have been swept away in storms. They were built in twos (called high and low lights) to help sailors navigate in the Humber estuary. In 1852 the last, and still standing, low light was built. However when the present lighthouse was built the low light was no longer needed as three additional lamps were placed in the body of the lighthouse instead. It has since been used as an explosive store and a water tower. Now it stands deserted.

Thomas Matthews designed the present lighthouse in 1895 when the previous one was discovered to be cracking. It stands on an artificial rock foundation that goes down 22 feet (7m) and took nearly two years to build. Later the oil lamp was converted to electricity (1941) and gas (1957) on which it ran until 1985 when it was last used.

First Lighthouse built: 1427
Current lighthouse built: 1983-95
Height: 128ft (39m)
Steps: 145
Made of: 300,000 Staffordshire bricks
Designed by: Thomas Matthews
Built by: Strattens of Edinburgh
Last day of use: 31st October 1985
Location: End of Spurn Point
Access: No public access inside. Sited on National Nature Reserve. Charge for vehicle entry to reserve. No dogs on reserve.

Travelling north from Spurn for 15 miles to Withernsea you will come to the third lighthouse on the trail. This lighthouse was built because of the large number of shipwrecks that were occuring at Withernsea when vessels were failing to see either Spurn or Flamborough's lighthouses. It is unusually situated quarter of a mile back from the coast with the majority of the town closer to the sea than it is. When the light was built there were only sand dunes and a mere in front of it. The houses you see today were all built after the promenade was extended along the sea front.

Withernsea's octagonal lighthouse was not designed to be lived in, the tower has no dividing floors only the spiral staircase leading to the Service and Lamp Rooms at the top. Attached to it are two cottages, these were the lighthouse keepers' homes and now they contain a museum with displays about the lighthouse and town. In 1936 the oil light was electrified it had a range of 17 miles.

Built: 1892-1894
Height: 127ft (39m)
Steps: 144
Made of: Brick & Concrete
Designed by: Trinity House
Built by: Strattens of Edinburgh
Last day of use: 1st July 1976
Location: Hull Road, Withernsea
Access: 13:00 to 17:00 weekends (April to October) and
11:00 to 17:00 (daily mid June to mid September).

The final two lighthouses can be found at Flamborough Head. The old lighthouse is set a short distance back from the sea, the new one is built on the cliff edge. The chalk tower is the oldest surviving light tower in England; Spurn's Seventeenth lighthouses may have looked light this. It was designed for a brushwood fire to have been burnt on top, although it is unknown whether or not it was ever lit. The octagonal tower has several windows and a ground floor fireplace so it was possible to be lived in.

It was 130 years before a lighthosue was built on Flamborough. The lighthouse was built after over 170 ships had been wrecked off the headland in 36 years. In 1925 it was made taller to fit a new 15 foot lens and converted from oil to electricity in 1940. It has a range of 24 nautical miles and it one of only 72 lighthouses still in use around Britain's coast today. Now it is fully automated.

The Light Tower
Built: 1674
Height: 78ft (24m)
Steps: 98
Made of: Chalk
Commissioned by: Sir John Clayton
Location: Flamborough Headland
Access: Open in summer.

The Lighthouse
Built: 1806
Height: 88ft (27m)
Steps: 119
Made of: Brick
Designed by: Sir Samuel Wyatt
Built by: John Matson of Bridlington (Without the use of external scaffolding)
Location: Flamborough Headland
Access: Still in use, open to the public Easter to October.

This is the end of the Lighthouse Trail, however, there has been other lights on the East Yorkshire coast. In 1588 the time of the Spanish Armada, there were 45 beacons lining the stretch of coastline from Spurn to Flamborough. Each beacon had five watchmen, two by day and three by night. The beacons were to be lit if enemy ships were seen off the coast, passing on a warning message to both the navy and local people. Today there is very little left of beacons from the Sixteenth Century. However, you can still find places named 'Beacon Road' or 'Beacon Hill' - a relic from that era.

There have been many other beacons on the coast since then, acting as warning lights to passing ships. There was one until 1940 at Beacon Lagoons just North of Spurn. Today many beacons have also been made redundant by advances in technology, as the lighthouses have.

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Guide Prices

The trail is free.



  • Children welcome

Meeting, Conference & Wedding Facilities

  • Grounds for outdoor activities

Property Facilities

  • Dogs Accepted


  • Description of route - Spurn Point > Withernsea > Flamborough
  • Length of route (miles) - 45


Map & Directions

Spurn Point, Kilnsea, HU12 0UB

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