Road to Spurn

Spurn Point, E Yorks

Ex-Road to Spurn Point, E Yorks

All the way along the M18, M62 and beyond to Kilnsea, recent rain had left standing water in many fields. Night fell; being north and east of Bristol, East Yorkshire loses its sun early. I had to search for my B&B in darkness and succeeded just as a sharp shower coincided with my dash between car and front door.

“You timed that well,” said the landlady.

I’d heard that phrase before, but in better circumstances.

Our introductory chat veered to the reserve on Spurn Point. “You’ll need to check the tides,” she said. “Where the road’s been washed away, the waters meet at high tide.”

“Since when?” I didn’t remember this from June 2010.

“December.”

Of course, a tidal surge had hit the east coast – potentially worse than 1953 but mitigated by flood defences and advance warning systems since. Even so, it did enough damage and Spurn was one of its casualties. I was curious to see how that would play out next day.
New Road to Spurn Point, E Yorks

Well, the second picture shows the route that 4WDs take to the lifeboat. On the face of it, sand has washed over the original road. It was only when I tramped the few yards to the edge of the North Sea that the truth emerged. My headline image depicts the road there crumpled into its component sections.

That stopped me: a great deal of energy must have gone into this destruction. Rising sea levels are clearly not going to be a gentle process of water lapping over coastal defences; there will also be violence and damage. And winners too: no more tourist vehicles at Spurn Point must be a Good Thing.

Nearly a year later there’s still no news on the future of the road. If it doesn’t get rebuilt, it will join the growing roster of evidence for collapse and how it proceeds – little by little, bit by bit.

The seawatching hide though is still drivable and I spent a couple of hours in the company of Yorkshire stalwarts on a pleasant November day. The action at sea was quiet, especially compared with recent reports of little auks, pomarine skuas and the like. Red-throated divers and common scoters did make an appearance to send my 2014 list up to a record-breaking 205. So I was happy.

Happier still to log number 206 up the coast at Hornsea Mere, thanks to a Slavonian grebe. By then it was only 2.30 but the light was fading and thoughts turned to the night’s accommodation. Bridlington beckoned – the more so because it would give me a second shot at seawatching from Flamborough Head the next morning.

This provided guillemots, razorbills, shags and fulmars but was otherwise no more successful and I turned west again and back to longer evenings.

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