End of the road in Yorkshire


Photo:  Richard Miles

Spurn Point is a unique, astonishing place – a sandspit stretching 3½ miles into the Humber estuary, for much of its length hardly a hundred yards wide.  The access road is uncertain, because the spit is literally on the move, gradually repositioning itself to the west as the sea coast erodes and sediment builds up in the calmer waters of the estuary.

The entire peninsula is a nature reserve, administered by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust [www.ywt.org.uk/nature_reserves.php?id=51] with free admission for pedestrians and a small charge for cars.  It’s a delicate environment, and dogs are strictly prohibited.

The last pub in Yorkshire is the Crown & Anchor, Kilnsea, which has a superb setting and has had a variable reputation over the years.  (The reviews are patchy, but the last time I visited we were well looked after.)

Up the lane on the sea coast are the shattered remains of the Goodwin Battery, a First World War installation which was finally abandoned in 1957.

Some distance north, standing back from the coast, is a sound-mirror, an acoustic precursor of radar, designed to focus the sound of advancing aeroplanes before they became visible over the horizon.  (A practical demonstration of this ingenious technology can be found at the Jodrell Bank Telescope in Cheshire.)

The road down to the Point repeatedly crosses railway lines, often to the puzzlement of modern visitors.  The Spurn Railway was laid by the Army in 1915 to carry supplies from the pier at the end of the peninsula up to the Goodwin Battery.  It was never connected to the main railway system, which approached no nearer than Patrington.  As well as steam locomotives, the line operated petrol railcars and a railed racing car, as well as sail power, there being no shortage of wind. The line was scrapped in 1952-3.  [www.skeals.co.uk/Articles/Spurn%20Railway.html]

Spurn Point is the base of the only fully-manned RNLI station in the British Isles.  Because of its remoteness and its strategic importance the Humber Lifeboat has a long history dating back to 1810 and a proud record of lives saved.  Two of its coxswains retired with outstanding records of service:  as well as their RNLI awards, Robert Cross was awarded the George Medal and Brian Bevan the MBE.  Details of the station can be found at www.spurnpoint.com/lifeboat.htm.

Last time I took a group to Spurn the Coxswain, Dave Steenvorden, and his crew showed us round and told tales of the estuary over tea and biscuits, until suddenly Dave clapped his mobile to his ear, declared “It’s a shout!”, and the crew disappeared down the jetty and sped off in their lifeboat.

Nothing I could say would persuade my group of Nottingham University students that I hadn’t set it all up.

The 80-page, A4 handbook for the 2016 ‘Humber Heritage’ tour, with text, photographs, maps and a reading list, is available for purchase, price £10.00 including postage and packing.  To order a copy, please click here or, if you prefer, send a cheque, payable to Mike Higginbottom, to 63 Vivian Road, Sheffield, S5 6WJ.

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