Monday, 10 August 2009

Day 29 - English East Coast - Yorkshire - Bridlington and Hull - Finding the gems...

One of the interesting things about my trip (so far) is that I had no idea what to expect before I started. I'd never travelled to the coast of Britain. For sure, I knew something about the areas I was going to travel to. But names were just names, and I didn't associate "good" or "bad" with any of them. And because I'd booked into towns quite randomly, without knowing too much about them, I've been exposed to a wide range of travel experiences.

I've seen some places which at first don't look very enticing, and then - on digging a bit deeper - I've found one or two things which redeem the area.

Bridlington is one of these places. In it's Georgian heydey, it was one of the most visited towns on the coast of Britain...thanks in part to its sophisticated cultural scene. However, it's not a naturally pretty spot. Bridlington wouldn't rank too highly on my list of "The Most Beautiful Places on the British Coast That I've Seen". (I'm going to compile one at the end of my trip.) The beach is brown, and the sea not as colourful as other spots I've seen. The town's buildings are not as quiant and lovingly cared-for, and the geography of the area doesn't lend itself to panoramic, elevated views.

So when air-travel in the 50s kicked in, the wealthier folk who usually flocked to Bridlington ended up travelling further afield to Europe...and the town lost its lustre.

Bridlington in its prime...

There is one thing though, which might make Bridlington famous for you. The Spa (not a health spa) is a small music venue that has hosted every single rock band since the 1950s. And it continues to do so, with Oasis, Travis, Kasabian, White Stripes, Placebo and Beautiful South all playing recently.

In the old days, only the Beatles never played at The Spa. Otherwise, all the other big names did...The Rolling Stones, The Who, Cliff Richard (big name?!?)...they all did. And thanks to this musical history, modern acts use Bridlington Spa as the venue for their one "intimate" performance. This August, Oasis is playing at Wembley to 40 000 people, and the week after they are coming to Bridlington to play to 3 500 people...the only small venue to be used by them on their tour.

With all due respect to Bridlington, you'd never expect to find a music - and theatre - venue of this high quality. It's the best thing about the town - so check out the Spa's website for upcoming music and theatre shows.

The view from Rags Hotel & Restaurant, where I stayed in Bridlington. Rags is right on the harbour.

Just north of Bridlington at Flamborough is a lighthouse's a stock-standard offering, however it is fun if you've got a rainy afternoon to spare. And it's educational for kids (and adults!) interested in maritime matters. For me, the technology is fascinating. The lens weighs 3,5 tons, yet is powered by two small electric motors; because the lens rests on half a ton of frictionless mercury, it can swivel around with the minimum of force. And because there are 500 different prisms in the lens, only a 1000 watt bulb is required to emit a light beam that extends about 45 kilometres out to sea (essentially to the horizon).

The Flamborough Lighthouse near Bridlington...

Futher south in Hull, The Deep is the biggest - and best - tourism attraction in the region. It's an award-winning aquarium which is not only fun and informative, but also scientifically respected (The Deep's marine biologists have been invited by the Cousteau Organisation to study marine life in the Red Sea.)

The highlight of The Deep would probably be the 10 metre-deep shark tank, in which divers periodically feed the 50 rays, sharks and other big fish (check out the video below). But there's so much else to see that it'd be hard to choose. After seeing some pretty shoddy aquariums on my trip (eg. dirty tanks, lack of educational info), The Deep is a bright blue star. It's a super slick experience, and one I'd trust to educate my niece properly about marine conservation. You could easily spend a whole morning here - just try and avoid the crowds, because it can get very congested.

The Shark Tank at The Deep in Hull....

And divers feeding the sharks...


  1. Beautiful images you have to watch those videos because that's like paradise, I'd like to be there in order to see those beautiful fishes.m10m

  2. Beautiful divings,very rich flora and fauna!!