Spurn

From Academic Kids

Spurn is a narrow sand spit on the tip of the coast of Yorkshire, England that reaches into the North Sea and forms the north bank of the mouth of the Humber estuary. It is over 5 km long, almost half of the width of the estuary at that point, and as little as 45 metres wide in places.

Spurn, a designated Heritage Coast, is a nature reserve, owned since 1960 by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and covering 113 hectares (1.13 km²) above high water and 181 hectares (1.81 km²) of foreshore.

The mud flats are an important feeding ground for wading birds, and the area has a bird observatory, for monitoring migrating birds. Their migration is assisted by east winds in autumn, resulting in drift migration of Scandinavian migrants, sometimes leading to a spectacular "fall" of thousands of birds. Many uncommon species have been sighted there, including once a Black-browed Albatross. More commonly, birds such as Wheatears, Whinchats, Common Redstarts and flycatchers alight at Spurn on their way between breeding and wintering grounds elsewhere.

The peninsula is made up from sand and shingle eroded from the Holderness coastline washed down the coastline from Flamborough Head. Material is washed down the coast by longshore drift and accumulates to form the long, narrow embankment in the sheltered waters inside the mouth of the Humber estuary. It is maintained by plants, especially Marram grass (Ammophila arenaria). Waves carry material along the peninsula to the tip, continually extending it; as this action stretches the peninsula it also narrows it to the extent that the sea can cut across it in severe weather. When the sea cuts across it permanently, everything beyond the breach is swept away, only to eventually reform as a new spit pointing further south. This cycle of destruction and reconstruction occurs approximately every 250 years.

The second of the Six Studies in English Folk Song for Cello composed in 1926 by Ralph Vaughan Williams, the Andante sostenuto in E flat "Spurn Point" celebrates this peninsula.

It was featured on the television programme Seven Natural Wonders as one of the wonders of Yorkshire.

World War I

In World War I two 9.2" batteries were added at either end of Spurn Head, with 4" and 4.7" QF guns inbetween. The emplacements can be clearly seen, and the northern ones are particularly interesting as coastal erosion has partly toppled them onto the beach, revealing the size of the concrete foundations very well. The Information Centre has a useful leaflet describing the defences.

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