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Withernsea Beach: 12 fascinating facts

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Withernsea Beach is a fascinating place, but what makes this tourist destination so interesting? Read on to find out…

Things to know about Withernsea Beach

Did you know that Withernsea Beach has a long history of coastal erosion? And the name itself speaks volumes about the town’s relationship with the sea—it literally means “Against the sea.”

So, it comes as no surprise that this town proudly stands against the waves. With a tenacious spirit, it wholeheartedly embraces its coastal roots. But there’s so much more to discover in the town beyond its breathtaking coastline.

Withernsea is steeped in history and dotted with stunning landmarks that reflect the shadow of the Vikings. Today, we will take you on an exciting ride where you will learn about 12 fascinating facts about Withernsea Beach and its surroundings.

So let’s begin!

1. The Name “Withernsea”: A Reminder of The Town’s Viking Past

12 fascinating facts about Withernsea Beach

I’m sure that you are already familiar with the Viking settlements in Europe. But here’s a fascinating nugget of information: Yorkshire, including the town of Withernsea, was home to many of these settlements.

Long ago, when the Vikings ruled the seas and left their mark on the lands they conquered, they came across a place that would later be known as Withernsea. These seafaring Scandinavians were known for their raids and settlements in England.

And most likely, they named the town after the withern trees that grew on the headland where it stands today. Over time, the original name Viðernæs transformed into the familiar Withernsea we know today.

The town is situated along the picturesque Holderness coast in East Yorkshire. With sandy beaches and a lively seaside vibe, it has become a go-to spot for tourists seeking sun and fun.

2. A Town That Has Produced Some of the World’s Most Famous People

Withernsea is a town that has produced some remarkable individuals. Dick Davis, a poet, and translator of Persian poetry, grew up in Withernsea during 1950s. Charles Hotham, who served as the town’s vicar in the 1600s, made his mark in the religious field.

The small town along Withernsea Beach is also proud to be the birthplace of jazz musician Kenny Baker and actress Kay Kendall. People of Withernsea also celebrate footballer Stuart Gray as one of their own.

And let’s not forget The Ruby Red Performers, a group of talented dancers who wowed audiences on Britain’s Got Talent. These famous people highlight the diverse talents that have emerged from Withernsea over the years.

12 fascinating facts about Withernsea Beach

3. Keeper of the Coast: Withernsea’s Lighthouse

Withernsea Lighthouse, standing tall in the heart of the town, is a fascinating landmark in the East Riding of Yorkshire. This magnificent structure was built between 1892 and 1894 and stands 38 m high.

Initially, it served as a guide for ships navigating the perilous waters around Withernsea Beach. The lighthouse’s powerful light could be seen up to 17 miles away. The tower is made of sturdy brick and features a square base and an octagonal design.

And topped with a cast iron lantern that houses an impressive 8-foot (2.4 m) Fresnel lens, weighing 2 tons. Today, Withernsea’s lighthouse serves as a historical museum. It showcases exhibits that shed light on its rich history and the vibrant town of Withernsea.

When you visit, you can check out the displays by the RNLI and HM Coastguard. You can also learn about shipwrecks in the area and enjoy looking at old pictures from Victorian and Edwardian times in the local history room.

4. Withernsea: A Haven for Birds

Withernsea is a fantastic place for birdwatching, thanks to its coastal location and diverse range of habitats like beaches, mudflats, and salt marshes. When you go to Withernsea Beach, you can see many different kinds of birds in their own habitat.

Some of the common ones you might see are gulls, terns, plovers, waders, and ducks.

Gulls are a familiar sight along the coast, and Withernsea is home to herring gulls, black-headed gulls, and lesser black-backed gulls. Terns are skilled divers that can be observed swooping and diving for fish.

Look out for common terns, sandwich terns, and Arctic terns.

Plovers, small shorebirds, can be found on beaches and mudflats. Keep an eye out for ringed plovers, golden plovers, and sanderlings. Waders, a group of birds adapted for soft mud and sand, are also present.

Ducks, such as mallards, teals, and wigeons, are commonly seen swimming and feeding in the waterways of Withernsea.

Moreover, Withernsea is not only a habitat for the birds mentioned earlier but also home to various other bird species. You may encounter majestic herons, egrets, swans, geese, and mysterious owls.

To make the most of your birdwatching adventure, try to go out early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Wear comfy shoes and bring binoculars. And stay patient and quiet to avoid disturbing the birds.

You may even be treated to the extraordinary sight of some rare and elusive bird species with some luck!

5. Valley Gardens: Home to the Annual Carnival and Flower Show

Just off the lively promenade and Withernsea Beach, you’ll find the magical Valley Gardens. Once a big pond, this sunken garden is surrounded by grassy slopes, the famous Pier Towers, fun arcades, cozy cafes, and shops.

The gardens have a big stage with a roof, perfect for music shows and family events. During the summer, many fun things are happening here, like rides for kids, annual carnivals, flower shows, and lots of stalls.

People can book the gardens if they want to organize their own events outside. There’s a large paved area with seats facing the stage, a big open lawn, and a space for everyone to enjoy the show. 

12 fascinating facts about Withernsea Beach

6. The Story of St Nicholas Church: A 500-Year-Old Landmark

St. Nicholas Church has a fascinating story that spans over 500 years. It was constructed in 1448, replacing the old St. Mary’s church that was destroyed by Withernsea Beach. Over time, the church faced decay, and a powerful storm in 1609 left it in ruins.

After 200 years of neglect, restoration work began in 1859 following the collapse of another church into the sea. The tower was restored in 2000, and the church gained a Grade II listing in 1987 for its historical value.

Unfortunately, due to maintenance costs, the church closed in 2014, and its congregation joined St. Matthew’s Church.

Today, St. Nicholas Church holds memories of worship and is a remarkable landmark, even as it awaits a new chapter in its journey. Its story intertwines with the rich heritage of Withernsea, a coastal town known for its beautiful Withernsea Beach.

7. The Greenwich Meridian: Line That Divides The World

The Greenwich Meridian holds a significant role in measuring time and dividing the world. This imaginary line passes through Greenwich, England, serving as the reference point for all time zones globally.

As it reaches the coast of England, approximately 2 miles northwest of Withernsea, a small marker on Withernsea Beach commemorates the crossing of the Prime Meridian.

This marker, a red and white painted metal post standing at about 3 feet tall, bears the inscription “Prime Meridian.”

Established during the International Meridian Conference in 1884, the Prime Meridian is also called the Greenwich Meridian or the Zero Meridian. It’s the basis for the Coordinated Universal Time system used globally.

Crossing through 18 countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Morocco, and Mali, the Prime Meridian remains a captivating destination for tourists who come to visit Withernsea.

8. Yorkshire Coast: A Beautiful Stretch of Coastline

12 fascinating facts about Withernsea Beach

The Yorkshire Coast, including Withernsea Beach, is a stunning stretch of coastline worth exploring. Withernsea, located about 20 miles south of Hull, is part of the Holderness Coast, known for its breathtaking cliffs and beautiful beaches.

You’ll find other towns and villages along the Yorkshire Coast, like Bridlington, Scarborough, and Filey as well. One of the highlights of the Yorkshire Coast is its magnificent beaches. 

These long stretches of sandy shores are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and building sandcastles. The coast also has tall cliffs made of limestone that can reach up to 330 feet high.

Wildlife enthusiasts will be delighted by the diverse wildlife found along the Yorkshire Coast. Keep an eye out for seals, dolphins, and various bird species.

The Bempton Cliffs, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are particularly renowned for their large colony of gannets. If you are a history buff, you will love the Yorkshire Coast too. Castles, abbeys, and churches along the coast have stories to tell about the past.

9. Fountains Abbey And Studley Royal: Just a Short Drive From Withernsea

Just a short drive from Withernsea Beach, you’ll find the magnificent Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal.

Located in North Yorkshire, England, Fountains Abbey, and Studley Royal have been recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Spanning 800 acres, the estate features the remains of Fountains Abbey, a 12th-century Cistercian abbey, and the Studley Royal Water Garden, an enchanting 18th-century landscape garden.

The abbey is one of the biggest and best-preserved ruined monasteries in England. Founded in 1132 by monks from Rievaulx Abbey, it endured until 1539 during the English Reformation.

Meanwhile, the water garden, created by a wealthy landowner named John Aislabie, is filled with lakes, canals, and fountains. It’s a great example of an old-fashioned water garden.

10. North York Moors: A Land of Legends

The North York Moors stretch out to the west of Withernsea Beach, covering a vast area of about 55 miles in length and 25 miles in width. Its highest point rises to an impressive 1,483 feet above sea level.

But what truly makes the North York Moors captivating are the legends and stories woven into its landscape. One such legend involves the mischievous Boggart, a creature that is said to roam the moors.

They say it can shapeshift into various animals like dogs, cats, or even sheep. Spooky, isn’t it?

Another tale tells of the fearsome Worm of Lambton, a gigantic serpent that once dwelled in the River Wear. It was eventually defeated by a brave knight named John Lambton. But the North York Moors aren’t just a realm of mythical creatures.

They are also home to remarkable wildlife, including the rare Duke of Burgundy butterfly, with its most northerly colony found here. The moors also hold a treasure trove of history. 

They feature historic sites like Rievaulx Abbey, Helmsley Castle, and Fylingdales Moor, where radar stations watch over the land.

11. Withernsea Through The Years: Historic Picture Boards

12 fascinating facts about Withernsea Beach

Created by local artist and historian John Ward, these 25 wooden boards were installed in Withernsea in 2000. Each board showcases different aspects of the town’s past, capturing its rich heritage.

You’ll discover scenes depicting Withernsea’s thriving fishing industry, showcasing the brave fishermen and their boats. The boards also showcase the town’s railway, which arrived in 1845, with images of trains and bustling railway stations.

As you explore the boards, you’ll step back in time to Withernsea’s days as a popular holiday destination. See the grand hotels, charming boarding houses, and vibrant amusements that once dotted the town.

So, stroll along Withernsea Beach and embark on a visual journey through time.

12. Rose With The Thorns: Withernsea Beach Erosion

With each passing year, the relentless power of the waves and tides is taking a toll on Withernsea’s coastline, causing it to shrink and lose its precious land.

Over the past century alone, the town has sadly bid farewell to more than 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) of its once vibrant coastline. The erosion has been incredibly strong, so it was necessary to move the town’s lighthouse to a different location.

Originally standing by the shore, the lighthouse had to be moved inland in 1921 to safeguard it from relentless erosion. There are a few reasons why this erosion is happening.

First, Withernsea has soft boulder clay along its coast, which easily gets worn away by the waves and tides. Then, the wind, primarily from the northeast, pushes the coastline in a southern direction.

And lastly, rising sea levels contribute to erosion by making the waves stronger. This erosion is causing a big impact on Withernsea. The coastline is shrinking, and it’s important to find ways to protect Withernsea Beach and ensure its beauty remains for everyone to enjoy.

Bottom Line

So, there you have it! Withernsea is full of exciting stories and natural beauty. From the famous lighthouse to the stunning beach, there’s so much to discover and enjoy. I hope these 12 fascinating facts about Withernsea Beach and its surroundings have sparked your curiosity enough to experience the town’s beauty firsthand!

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