Filey is the smallest of the Yorkshire coast resorts. It has a small but prosperous shopping centre with few of the big chains present. It has all the essential facilities and does not normally seem too crowded. It has a beautiful sandy bay with the rocky finger of Filey brig protecting it from Northerly winds and seas at one side and Flamborough head to the south. It has not got a harbour but their are still boats on the coble landing where you will find a concentration of eateries, one amusement arcade, the lifeboat, a few children’s rides and the donkeys. Once home to a thriving fleet of large Yorkshire cobles launched off the beach with a tractor there is now just a few smaller boats left on the coble landing.
Filey Beach is without doubt one of the best beaches in the country. The beach extends about 5 miles from Filey Brigg to the start of Flamborough Head both of which shelter Filey Bay from the worst of the rough seas allowing a shallow sandy beach to form which gently slopes into the sea. The seafront has no harbour and only one small amusement arcade. Many people fall in love with Filey as children and are now bringing back their children and grandchildren. A walk along the beach to the Brigg is a must for most visitors. Filey is by far the smallest of the major Yorkshire Coast resorts like Scarborough and has a much quieter less developed feel
Filey bay, beach and seafront
Filey beach has good quality sand for several miles. It is generally very safe for bathing. To the North is the rocky promontory called the Brig and if you go far enough south you eventually get to the chalk cliffs of Flamborough. There is plenty of room to walk on the beach providing the tide is not in. On large tides there is very little beach above high water mark. The central part of the beach is backed by a sea wall and part of this has RNLI lifeguards. There are also donkey rides in summer
To the South you can walk along Filey beach to the start of the chalk cliffs passing Primrose Valley, Hunmanby Gap and Reighton Gap. Filey beach is backed by clay cliffs which cannot be climbed to the top in many places and if the tide is coming in you can get cut off. Heavy surf and dangerous currents can build up to the South of Filey if there has been a Northerly wind so take care.
Filey sea front has a crazy golf course with a new fisherman sculpted out of steel standing guard. Note the rat trying to eat the fish he has caught. (I have had a rat trying to eat my bait when night fishing so its very true to life.)
Along Filey seafront there are a few shops , ice cream kiosks and take away food shops with toilets at both ends of the seafront and in the middle.Filey has a small area for children’s rides and a bouncy castle which are very popular.
The coble landing is where the Filey fishing fleet was based along with the two lifeboats. There is very little commercial fishing done here now although back in the 1960s there were over twenty full time fishing cobles.
Filey currently has an RNLI all weather lifeboat and a small inflatable inshore boat both of which launch across the beach.
The all weather lifeboat is due to be replaced by a much faster RIB in a few years time. All the filey lifeboat news can be found at the RNLI website
Filey Bay extends all the way to Speeton cliffs. At Reighton which is just short of Speeton there is access to the beach. Walking along the beach towards Flamborough from Reighton you will start to see patches of dark gray clay and shale in amongst the brown boulder clay in the cliffs. These were put here by the ice sheet spreading down the North Sea during the ice ages.
It was at Reighton that a unique lower Cretaceous complete plesiosaur fossil was found. The cliffs at Reighton are eroding particularly in winter or after any northerly gale. You never know what you might find. There are imprints of ammonites (food of the plesiosaur) in places in the shale as well as whole specimens in places. There are Belamnites and devils toenails on the beach as well.
The plesiosaur is now displayed in the Rotunda Museum in Scarborough, worth a visit if you are interested in fossils and geology.
The rocky promontory of Filey Brigg sticks out into the North Sea and has wonderful rock pools and is good for bird watching, fishing and just taking in the views.
You can walk along the beach and out onto the rocks of Filey Brigg. Do be aware of the tide and what it is doing if you do go. At high water it is not possible to walk off Filey Brigg back onto the beach. You will have to go up the cliffs or wait for the tide to go out. The cliffs are really dangerous in places and the few ways up are not easy foot paths.
Possibly the biggest danger on Filey Brig is the slippery rocks. Beware wet smooth rocks or the concrete path with green or brown slime on . They can be as slippery as ice in some places. The “Path” leading onto Filey Brigg from the beach is actually the concrete cover over the sewer pipe, hence the strange angles it is at. In some places it is safer to walk on the rock which if not covered in weed or slime gives excellent grip. Keep an eye open for seals . Just a grey head out at sea, easily missed and most visitors are oblivious to them. Occasionally seals steal a salmon from one of the nets set in the bay and can then be seen throwing them in the air. Tired young seals can sometimes be seen on the Brig or even on the beach. Just leave them alone and they will be off when it suits them. Do not get close they might bite if cornered. There is a small breeding colony between Filey Brig and Cayton Bay.
There are the remains of a foot path up the Filey bay side of the Brig . The bottom part has collapsed. I still walk up it. A harder way is the sharp edge of the clay from the point behind the bird watching hut. It is badly eroded and very slippery if wet and there are signs saying no access. There are steep cliffs to either side and a slip could be fatal. Not a place to take children. There are 10m vertical iron ladders around the back of the Brig where otherwise you can get cut off but these are unsuitable for many people and children. Once up the ladder it it is a scramble up a clay cliff. There is no real path.
You can walk out to the very end of Filey Brigg but be careful as it is quite deep on the Northern side with a strong current. You can get cut off here and people occasionally do. It happens if the tide is coming in and you stop too long so make sure you understand the tides.
Another danger if you go round the back of Filey Brigg towards Scarborough where most people go fishing is the danger of being swept off the rocks by large waves into very deep water. It can be windless and the sea can look calm but there can be a swell (very long low wave) coming from the North which rears up against the rocks and then sucks back into the sea with you in it. The swells are not all the same size and you can suddenly get a big one which reaches a ledge no others have, so beware and watch the sea carefully. They normally get bigger as the tide comes in reaching a peak at high water although they can just suddenly start at any time. There have been fatalities. Swell conditions are forecast a few days ahead very well by the magicseaweed web site.
There is a lot to discover on Filey Brigg from the ancient harbour, the bomb craters from the second world war (when German bombers mistook the white wash around the Brig for the wake of a large battleship) to the huge range of sealife that can be found at low water. Maybe you will be lucky and see some of these monsters.
The Filey bay research group has some interesting articles, including information on Spittals a possible Roman or medieval harbour and the search for the wreck of the Bonhomme Richard.
Filey is an attractive prosperous compact little town with a good selection of shops. Most of the big chains do not have branches in Filey which means there are lots of good local shops. Good butchers and green grocers plus a couple of supermarkets. Dixons has a small frontage but spreads out inside and goes through to the next street and could be called a small department store. They sell clothes, shoes, DIY, household goods and electrical. They also have a cafe and hire mobility scooters. Sterchis is a classy chocolatier much beloved by regular Filey visitors. There are many other superior shops and eateries to discover.
Much of the oldest part of Filey has been redeveloped. Filey museum is in a very old house and is well worth a visit. Queen street is also worth walking down for the views over the coble landing. The fisherman used to meet here on a morning to discuss the sea conditions. St Oswalds church is a very attractive building and was built in the 12th century. It is a grade 1 listed building and many locals including many in my family have been married and buried here.