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Filey Brigg, All You Need To Know

Filey Brigg is a fascinating headland stretching into the beautiful Filey Bay. This rocky promontory is capped with glacial clays and is so worth visiting.

Not only is Filey Brigg a great place to learn and explore, but it’s also a fantastic spot for a coastal walk. You will find all you need to know about Filey Brigg in this article.

What is Filey Brigg?

Filey Brigg

Filey Brigg is a peninsula situated to the north of Filey town centre. Its cliffs reach a height of 20 metres and consist of a variety of material, from sandstone to limestone. It is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest due to its geological significance. 

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While exploring the Brigg, you’ll come across a stone sculpture. This sculpture marks the end of two National Trails. The Cleveland Way from Helmsley to Filey and the Yorkshire Wolds Way from Hessle (near Hull) to Filey. Along with the names of places along each trail, the sculpture also features a carving of the National Trail acorn.

Location: Filey Brigg, 6P5V+QQ

The Ancient History of Filey Brigg

The ancient history of Filey Brigg.

In 1857, a local antiquarian, Dr. Cortis (MD), discovered a Roman signal station. During a lecture to Filey’s antiquarians, he presented various findings by “Wilson,” a painter from Filey who had unearthed significant amounts of Roman pottery, bones, and charred wood in the Carr Naze region on the northern side of Filey Bay.

After the initial discovery of the Roman signal station, further excavations were carried out, leading to the unearthing of five large stones that were believed to be either altars or bases of pillars. One of these stones was intricately carved with a dog pursuing a stag on one. Later investigations conducted in 1920 suggested that these stones were the foundations of a watchtower. Unfortunately, no other remains can be seen today due to cliff erosion. It is believed that the signal station was built in the late 4th century and was either abandoned around 400 A.D. The five stones are currently on display in the Filey Crescent Gardens.

Filey Brigg Geology 

The formation of Filey Bay and the Brigg is due to the movement of rocks on the south side of the Brigg. This movement caused the clay to be exposed to the sea, which then eroded it to create Filey Bay. Meanwhile, the hard rock on the northern side protrudes to form the Brigg. Unfortunately, the structure is still eroding. There have been instances of large rock slips caused by the rapid erosion of the clay cliffs of Carr Naze. The most recent one happened in 1869 and resulted in several hundred metres of the Naze being lost.

Fossil Hunting at Filey Brigg

Fossil Hunting at Filey Brigg.

The limestones and grits found here are rich in fossils. They dip at a steep angle under the Brigg, creating a unique appearance on both the north and south sides. Many people search the foreshore for fossil bivalves near the Brigg. Remember to check the boulders as well. On the south side of the Brigg, you can spot the upper beds of the Hambleton Oolite, which boasts very fossiliferous limestone containing well-preserved ammonites and bivalves. The south cliff, made up of boulder clay, also contains fossils such as belemnites, ammonites, and brachiopods that are loose in the clay. These are erratics that were brought down by the last ice age from the north. The north side tends to be less fossil rich. You can find fossil plants just south of the Brigg.

Fossil Hunting safety

It’s essential to exercise caution when collecting fossils and to be aware of the tide times. The coastline in this area can be particularly hazardous due to tidal conditions, so it’s best to plan your visit accordingly and ensure you return safely. It’s also vital to stay clear of the base of the cliffs, as rock falls are common. Wearing a hard hat is advised as an extra precaution. Hammering the bedrock is not permitted; for full information about the reasons for the site’s status and restrictions, download the PDF from Natural England.

Birdwatching at Filey Brigg

Cormorant on Filey Brigg.

The Brigg is an excellent place if you enjoy watching seabirds and waders. The rocks of Filey Brigg and the intertidal zone attract numerous species of birds. It is important for wintering waders such as Purple Sandpiper and breeding seabirds such as Atlantic Puffin. You can also see many migrating passerines in Spring and Autumn.

Visit Filey Bird Observatory & Group (FBOG) to learn more about Filey’s birds and how they protect and enhance local habitats for local wildlife.

Filey Brigg myths and legends

Filey Bay Plesiosaurus
Crescent Gardens Plesiosaurus. Image Credit: TripAdvisor

Local folklore has several stories about the origin of Filey Brigg. According to one of them, it was built by the Devil, who, having lost his hammer in the sea, reached for it with his hand but caught a fish instead. Since then, Filey Brigg has carried the marks of the Devil’s grasp on its shoulders.

Another tale suggests that it is the skeletal remains of a dragon that was killed by a tailor named Billy Biter. Our final story involves Ralph Parkin and his wife, Mary Brumfitt, who allegedly fed the dragon some Yorkshire sticky cake to lure it away from the Brigg. The dragon enjoyed the cake so much that it ate too much. It got its jaws stuck together and fell into the waves, drowning in the process. This is said to explain why the Brigg is shaped like a dragon’s back and how Yorkshire sticky cake came to be known as Parkin.

It is possible that Billy Biter and Ralph Parkin were the same person. It was common to give local fishermen nicknames to differentiate them from relatives with the same name.

Filey and Filey Brigg walk

Filey Brigg Walk

Length: 3.9 km | Elevation gain: 97 m | Route type: Circular

This moderately challenging trail offers the perfect mix of terrain and is a great way to enjoy the area. Remember that the trail can be difficult in some areas and unsuitable for wheelchair users or those with limited mobility, as the original path is not maintained. However, if you’re up for the challenge, the views across Filey Beach are worth it! Follow the full route here.

Things to do nearby 

Enjoy Filey Beach 

Filey Beach

With a length of approximately five miles, there is plenty of room for beach games, picnics, sandcastle-building, and kite flying at Filey beach. Public toilets are available in Filey and along the beachfront, including accessible options. Additionally, there are a variety of other amenities, such as first aid stations, deck chair rentals, and beach hut hire. All public restrooms in Filey can be easily located using the provided map.

Find more information about Filey beach here.

Visit Crescent Gardens

Crescent Gardens Filey

In front of The Crescent, a charming row of Victorian townhouses, there are gardens that host an array of beautiful flowers. These gardens are an excellent location for a picnic, particularly during the summer months when live music performances take place on the bandstand. Visitors can enjoy free admission to these gardens, which are open daily.

Find further information about Crescent Gardens here.

Filey Bird Garden and Animal Park

Filey Bird garden and animal park
With new additions every year, there’s always something new to see. Image Credit: Facebook

If you have young children, Filey Bird Garden and Animal Park is an ideal destination. This attraction opened in 2008 and is a unique blend of animals, nature, exotic birds, and gardens. Recently granted a zoo license, the park has expanded its collection to include more exotic animals. Whether you’re looking for a fun-filled visit with children or a peaceful place to spend an afternoon, it’s a fun and educational experience for all.

Find more things to do in Filey here.

Where to eat, drink and stay nearby

Where to eat, drink and stay nearby.

For fish and chips, Inghams Fish Restaurant is a favourite in Filey, with more than 1,000 reviews on Google. There is indoor seating, too, if it gets chilly! We also love The Boat Shed, with pizza and gin on the menu. This venue is ideal for those seeking a night out, drinks or a meal, such as tapas or pizza. The welcoming atmosphere and friendly service are perfect for locals and holidaymakers looking to unwind.

If you’re looking for a place to stay, The Bay Filey is a fantastic option. It’s situated on the former Butlin’s holiday campsite and is a dog-friendly resort located south of the town centre, with stunning views.

At Filey Brigg, you can experience diverse natural beauty, from dramatic cliffs and rock formations to sandy beaches and plenty of wildlife. Whether you’re looking to explore the geological wonders of the Brigg or soak up the sun on the beach, we’re sure you will enjoy every minute of your visit!

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