Of all the Yorkshire seaside resorts, Filey is the one that has kept most of its period charm. Essentially it is a Victorian and Edwardian resort built in a sheltered bay. Filey is still a busy resort today and as well as seaside holidaymakers it is also a popular destination for walkers.
No less than four long-distance walks finish in Filey. First, the Headland Way covers nearly 20 miles from Bridlington. Second, the Centenary Way threads an 83-mile path from York across the Howardian Hills and Yorkshire Wolds. Third, the 79-mile Wolds Way which crosses the chalklands of the Yorkshire Wolds from the Humber Estuary. Finally, the Cleveland Way, a journey of 107 miles starts in Helmsley and follows the Northern edge of the North Yorkshire Moors and then south from Saltburn along the coast. Two of the walks are marked by a stone monument and seat at the end of the Wolds Way and Cleveland Way on top of Filey Brigg. A happy (and exhausted!) walker often occupies the seat.
One of the towns famous characters was the walking parson Canon Arthus Neville Cooper. He was born in 1850 and served at Filey’s St. Oswald’s Church from 1880 until 1935. He was famous for walking from Filey to London in a week, walking 741 miles to Rome in 6 weeks and 653 miles to Venice. The fact that he died at the age of 93 serves as proof that long-distance walking is good for your health!
Filey has good bus and rail connections. The Yorkshire Coast Line runs from Scarborough, through Filey, Bridlington, Beverley and finally to Hull. Additionally, The East Yorkshire Coaster bus service connects the town to Scarborough and Bridlington.
Filey is covered by the Ordnance Survey Map of Scarborough, Bridlington & Flamborough Head. OS Explorer Map 301 covers the east coast of Yorkshire around Scarborough, Bridlington and Flamborough Head. Highlights of the area include the Cleveland Way, Yorkshire Wolds Way and North Sea Trail. With the map you also get a code for use on your iOS or Android smartphone or tablet. The map is available in both the standard paper version and the weatherproof ‘Active’ version.
Filey beach is always highlighted as an exceptional attraction. Consequently, it regularly features in top beach listings. The long sandy beach extends nearly 5 miles, all the way from Filey Brigg south towards Speeton Sands where a long line of chalk cliffs extend all the way to Flamborough Head. As the beach slopes gently and has lifeguard patrols in the summer, it is ideal for children to enjoy. The stretch of beach in front of the town, where our walk goes, has a dog ban between 1st May and 30th September. If it’s summertime and you have a dog you can walk along the promenade instead and join the beach at the Cobble Landing. There are excellent views from the beach all the way south to the cliffs of Bempton and Flamborough Head.
Filey Brigg is a rocky platform that extends a long way out to sea at low tide. This provides shelter for the bay and town, protecting them from northern gales. The Brigg has a rich geological history going back 150 million years. It is made from hard calcareous grit laid on top of Osmington Oolite. Both of these geologic formations preserve fossils from the Jurassic Period. You can see the formation at low tide by looking at the slender rock finger that extends beyond the cliffs. This eventually disappears below the waves at Briggs End. The cliffs are made of softer boulder clay. This continues to erode and collapse as it bears the brunt of the elements.
The Brigg is a natural pier and at Briggs End water surrounds it on three sides. Stand here and Filey looks very distant, Briggs End is a long way out to sea. Take care though, as the Brigg completely disappears for two hours on either side of high tide. The town’s lifeboat is often called out to rescue people cut off by the incoming tide. If you are venturing out on the Brigg, check the tide times before you go. There is usually a tide timetable at Cobble Landing.
Briggs End can be a bit of a wild place when the sea is rough, it is very exposed. The Brigg was where one of the first recorded shipwrecks happened in a storm in 1542 when the Scottish ship Martin came to grief.
You should only walk to Briggs End if the sea is calm. To get to the end does require scrambling over some very slippy rock and boulders
Look northwards from the Brigg and there is an excellent view along the cliffs to Scarborough and beyond.
Filey Country Park occupies the area on top of Filey Brigg. As well as a large car parking area the Park is an excellent spot for flying kites, dog walking and bird watching. Out at sea, you might see seals, dolphins and whales. It has fabulous views of the beach, town, Bempton Cliffs, Flamborough Head and northwards to Scarborough.
The Brigg has a rich history going back as far as Roman Times. On Carr Naze on the north side of Filey Brigg are some faint remains of some of the earthworks of a Roman Signal Station. This was one of five that were built along the Yorkshire Coast, all the way up to Huntcliffe near Saltburn. These acted as a defence against attacks by invaders from the North Sea, principally Picts from Scotland. A beacon here would be lit to warn the other stations. Manned by a small garrison of soldiers it was in use from 375-410 AD. Sadly, two-thirds of the remains disappeared over the cliff in a recent landslip. The rest of the site looks likely to go the same way in the not too distant future.
When the station was built, Carr Naze was at least 200 feet wide and the coastline was further out than it is today. The signal station site is the very narrow neck of land about halfway along the promontory and marked by an information board.
St Oswalds Church
St. Oswalds Church has been at the heart of Filey life for 900 years. The church is a wonderful example of 12th Century architecture. Dedicated to St Oswald, King of Northumbria, it sits on a hillside overlooking the town and the bay. King Oswald was one of the founders of Christianity in the North of England. You can look around inside the church between March and September, Wednesday to Saturday.
The nearby Church Ravine which separates the church from the town used to be the boundary between the East and North Ridings of Yorkshire.
Glen Gardens were originally planted around the 1830s and formed part of the private estate of Ravine Hall. The Hall was demolished in 1974 and replaced with the current cafe and toilet block. At the same time, the grounds were developed further with the addition of the boating lake and play area. The Gardens also have plenty of open space for ball games and picnics.
Circular Walk around Filey, Filey Brigg and Country Park
The circular walk of about 8km is mostly flat with just a couple of climbs to the top of the Country Park on top of the Brigg and the return up through Glen Gardens to West Avenue. The walk takes in some of Fileys’ best features, the beach, Filey Brigg, Country Park, St Oswald’s Church, Cobble Landing, Seafront Promenade and Glen Gardens.
Walk from West Avenue to Filey Brigg via the Beach
For the first part of this walk, you need a low tide. This is when there is the most beach and when the Brigg is accessible. The Brigg is totally submerged for two hours on either side of high tide. Also, check the weather forecast as the Brigg is not the best place to be in bad weather. You can check the tide times here.
The walk starts from the pay and display car park at the end of West Avenue. This has plenty of spaces except maybe on the busiest bank holiday. In wintertime, the car park is free from November through to February. If you are lucky during the summer you might find a space on West Avenue where the parking is free.
Once you’ve parked or walked from the station, head down Martins Ravine which runs between Glen Gardens and the Pitch and Putt golf course. The Ravine is full of birdlife and squirrels. Once you reach the bottom you’re at the end of the beachfront promenade. Follow the slope down onto the beach and turn left in the direction of Filey and the Brigg. If the tide is out or falling you’ll have a huge expanse of sandy beach to walk along.
The walk along the beach follows the line of the sea wall to reach Coble Landing. A few fishing boats still operate from here. Coble Landing houses the Filey lifeboat along with a few cafes and Filey’s only seafront amusement arcade. Continue along the beach passing the small row of beach huts and the sailing club to arrive at Filey Brigg.
Almost next to the cliffs is an obvious path that leads along the Brigg. Follow this to the end of the cliffs. As you reach the end of the cliffs you might find that the weather and wind strength suddenly changes. This is because the Brigg acts as a barrier against the prevailing winds and weather. You’ve now left the shelter of the cliffs and much more exposed to the weather.
The building on Spittal Rocks is a bird hide, the Brigg is often the first landfall for migrating birds and is also a great place to watch seabirds. Sometimes you can see seals lazing about on the rocks next to the Brigg or swimming close to the shore.
If the sea is calm, continue along the path right out to Briggs End where it dives under the sea. This can be quite a distance, especially if you time your walk right on low tide. However, there is a large patch of slippery rocks and boulders that must be negotiated in order to get to the end. Please take care if you decide to scramble over these. The views from Briggs End are absolutely stunning and you do feel very exposed being so far out to sea. Occasionally there are fishing boats nearby, it also seems popular with canoeists.
Walk from Filey Brigg to the Country Park and Glen Gardens
Walk back along the Brigg to the cliffs when you’re ready to return. There are two paths climbing up to the Country Park.
The first is at the end of the cliffs, the rather obvious path running up the cliffs next to the bird hide. This is quite narrow and exposed. It once had a sign saying it was closed due to erosion but this seems to have disappeared.
If that path looks a bit too airy or dangerous for you, walk back along the Brigg at sea level to another path up the cliffs about halfway to the beach. This climbs diagonally up to the Country Park on top of the Brigg.
Once you’ve reached the top of the Brigg follow the path landwards. As you near the end of the Brigg look out on your right for a path running north towards Scarborough. This is the Cleveland Way and it passes a stone monument marking the end of the walk. There are excellent views at this point along the cliffs towards Scarborough and beyond. Continue northwards for about 500m until you see a path on the left. This leads back to the Country Park.
Follow this to a small copse. Walk through the copse back into the Park and follow the track to the main road where there is a parking meter. Turn right here, walk past the ravine on your left and then turn left at the cafe to head towards the clifftops. Turn right to follow the path along the clifftop. Once you reach the woodland, the path descends down to Coble Landing. Before going down the path, another path to the right leads to St Oswald’s Church if you want to make a small detour.
Promenade and Glen Gardens
From Coble Landing where there are toilets and cafes, follow the promenade to the right (or beach if you prefer) along the seafront. Walk past the crazy golf, fisherman statue, the Compass Rose Fountain and seafront apartments. Once you reach the children’s outdoor paddling pool, look for a small ice cream shop at the foot of the cliff and follow the path upwards next to the shop.
This leads to Glen Gardens. Follow the path around the gardens past the boating lake, and when you arrive at the cafe turn left. Walk past a play area to return to West Avenue car park.
Whilst I take every care to ensure the accuracy of the route descriptions, I cannot accept responsibility for errors or omissions. The route described may be pleasant for walking in fine weather but can become slippery, boggy and dangerous in wintry or wet weather. On days when visibility is impaired by fog, rain, cloud or mist, some landmarks used as direction aids in the route descriptions may not be visible.
Other Walks Nearby
Filey Bay – The Perfect Beach Walk, Walk the length of Filey Bay to Speeton Sands
Walk the Cleveland Way, Scarborough to Filey section. Catch the bus or train to Scarborough and walk back to Filey along the clifftop.
Walk the last section of the Centenary Way. Catch a bus to Hunmanby and walk back to Filey.
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