The Holderness coast refers to a section of the East Coast from Flamborough Head to Spurn Point. The total distance of this coastline is 50 kilometres from the North to the South. The rocks in this area consist mainly of softer rocks, such as Chalk, Boulder Clay, Gravel and Sand. This one of the reasons why the coastline is eroding at a very fast rate. The other reason is because of the powerful effect of the artic ‘long fetch’ where the energy of 3000miles of sea is dispersed onto the coastline.

Due to longshore drift, the material is gradually being taken from the North and deposited at the South, at Spurn point. This is the reason why Spurn point was formed, because of long shore drift. There is only around $250,000 to protect the whole of the coastline, which is hardly anything considering the cost of sea defences and the 50km stretch of coastline that this money has to protect.

From the fieldwork I did at 3 locations on the Holderness coast; Barmston, Hornsea and Mappleton, hopefully I have sufficient data to produce a report on the Holderness coast’s sea defences and see what consequences it has on the Holderness coast.

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At each of the 3 beaches we did 3 separate tasks

  1. A beach profile – Pebble survey, Angles of the beach between different sections.
  2. A beach observation map – Drew a map of the area to show the types of land use, sea defences and cliff management.
  3. A coastal visions survey – Environmental survey, Bi-polar.


Beach profile

Firstly, 3 sections of the beach are decided upon; North, South, and the central area of the beach.

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Then each one is visited in turn. A quadrant is thrown, around 5 metres away from the cliff/wall. This is measured by using metre rules. Then where the quadrant is thrown, 5 pebbles are picked up (if possible). They are then measured. They are measured on their long and short axis’ and also their ’roundness’ is decided upon using a chart in the resource booklet. After the results for each one of the five stones have been recorded, the quadrant is thrown another five metres down the beach and the process is repeated.

The beach survey measures the angles between different sections of the beach. A tape measure is used to measure the size of each of the sections of the beach. Then long poles are placed in the ground and are used to work out the angle of the beach. As an angle device is aligned to the points of each pole. Then the average angle is worked out by looking at it from its foresight and backsight. Also the beach is looked at to see what type of material is used e.g. Sand, sand and pebble, etc.

Beach observation map

A basic map of the area is drawn up and land uses are analysed. Cliff management is assed, beach management is also assed. The basic area is drawn down onto the map.

Coastal visions survey

A bi-polar survey is carried out at the beach. It assesses many things, such as litter, noise, greenery, etc. The scoring system works by determining if something is high quality (5 out of 5) or low quality (1 out of 5)

An environmental impact survey is carried out in the same area as the bi-polar survey. It measures the impact of the coastal schemes on that particular beach. Questions, such as; what is the impact on natural vegetation? What is the impact on the accessibility to the beach? Are asked. The scoring system is out of 20. 20 being very high impact, 15 being high impact, 10 being medium impact, 5 being low impact, 0 being no impact. A few questions of your own must be added onto the survey. The total can then be added up, and then divided by the number of questions to work out an average impact score.

Task 1


During the last ice age, much of Europe was covered in ice. Barmston was one of these places. This brought rocks from all different parks of Scandinavia. The glaciers left behind Glacial till, which is very soft, almost soil like in constitution. Barmston is affected by the ‘long fetch’, which is a 3000km stretch of ocean which hits land on the Flamborough head coastline.

Barmston is protected slightly by Flamborough head, which gives it some sheltering from the long fetch

  • Land use (referring to the beach observation map)

About 80% of the land use in this area is for agriculture, leaving the remaining 20% mainly to the caravan site. There is also a small car park to the south of the caravan site, near the access road. As the cliff is constantly eroding, the caravan site has to be gradually moved back.

  • Coastal Defence and Cliff management

Rip Rap below the access road, protects this area of the cliff by stopping coastal erosion. It does, however, prevent long shore drift. This has the effect of eroding the coastline after this point at a much faster point, as the waves will have more energy due to carrying no sediment (and there is also no beach)

There is a Concrete groyne around 900 metres south from the rip rap, which stops longshore drift and creates a beach in that area, giving it protection.

There is no cliff management present.


By looking at the land use map and information on this page, Barmston is not considered an important enough place to protect, so little is being done to protect it. The caravan site has limited protection. The agricultural land is not being protected as coastal management coasts a lot of money. The agricultural land does not hold any significant economical status; therefore coastal management in this area will not take place.


Hornsea is a coastal town with sufficient importance, enough to provide it will expensive coastal defences. Without these defences, the area would rapidly start eroding. It receives a lot of high energy waves from the North Sea. It is not sheltered by Flamborough head.

  • Land use (referring to the beach observation map)

Around 35% of the land use in this area is Residential housing, 20% is Amusements, Retail, Businesses and a Leisure centre, 10% of it is flood gates and boat yards and the remaining 35% is a recreational area and a caravan site (residential)

  • Coastal defence and cliff management

Concrete sea defences which acts as a wave barrier and also protects the area behind it from flooding. These are very expensive, about �2500m�. The ones in Hornsea also have steps/ramps for easy beach access.

The picture to the left is what the coastal defences at Hornsea look similar too

Wooden groynes are also along the beach to prevent longshore drift and also act as a windbreaker.

When the sea wall comes to an end, the coastline drops back slightly and rip rap is placed along that stretch of coastline to protect it.


By looking at the land use map and information on this page, Hornsea is a place that is worth protecting due to the nature of what is there. I.e. Commercial areas and large residential areas. If erosion of the cliff were allowed to take place and Hornsea eroded away, many people’s lives would be affected and their jobs maybe affected too, as Hornsea relies quite a lot on tourism. It is obviously considered as an important area by the council and also by us, as geographers. Residential and business areas are protected by a 3m high wall. The main problem with the sea walls, apart from money issues, is that it isn’t a very aesthetically pleasing to look at. As far as maintaining the area goes, I believe this will happen as long as Hornsea remains economically viable and enough people live there.


The cliffs beyond Mappleton are eroding at an astonishing rate of around 10metres a year. The rock in this area is mainly clay and other soft rocks; it also receives a lot of high energy waves from the North Sea. It is not sheltered by Flamborough head.

  • Land use (referring to the beach observation map)

Around 15% of it is residential with a church and small local shop, 5% is a car park with toilets, 20% is a Ministry of Defence firing range and the remaining 60% is Agricultural. The main reason why Mappleton receives protection is due to the B142 road that runs 100metres away from the coastline. It is a very important road, which links up all the settlements in the area. Without it, travel around this area would be very hard, and many people would leave the areas as they need to have good transport links to get to their job

  • Coastal defence and cliff management

A huge amount of rip rap has been very carefully constructed in this area to provide coastal defences. It is constructed in an ‘L’ shape as shown on the diagram. Also there is another rock groyne further up north around 150m away from the ‘L’ shaped one. This will slow down the processes of longshore drift and provide the area with a larger beach to protect the cliffs. �1million was spent on these coastal defences.

The cliff has been angled and graded. The cliff has a layer of plastic under the soil, wire mesh and grass seeds. These, together, hold the cliff together so that that erosion hardly takes place due to the grass holding the soil in place and the plastic sheets prevent erosion by stopping the water seeping into the ground and becoming loose. Instead all the water runs off on the surface.


Mappleton as a village isn’t really a village that is viable for protection. But due to the road and most probably, the MOD site. The area has been protected. The agricultural land south of Mappleton hasn’t had any coastal defences/cliff management money invested into it. The cliff has been graded and rock armoured in areas that are most important. A lot of money has been spent on the Mappleton protection plan, which would not have been spent if it wasn’t for the B1242, which is the backbone transport link for this section of the coastline. Without it many settlements would eventually disappear, as people would not be able to get about. The Mappleton sea defences are a solution to a major problem, but in turn this has made the cliffs past the sea defences, much more susceptible to erosion, creating another problem along the Holderness coastline.

Task 2

Analysing the Pebbles

As we are not geologists, it was hard to determine the rock type at many areas. So the rock type results become insignificant during this report as there isn’t enough data. Attrition is a process that occurs at all three beaches

Barmston Central

At Barmston central, there seemed to be a pattern occurring. The larger rocks/pebbles were found near the cliff, they were also the least rounded of all of the pebbles. The reason for this is that the rocks/pebbles won’t have been weathered a lot in comparison to the other stones, and would have fallen off the cliff. The ones nearer to the sea would have been broken down by the action of waves, which make them become rounder. The stones also become smaller as they are broken down by weathering and the action of the waves.

The largest rocks were found nearer to the cliffs. The average size was 10.9cm x 7.4cm with a roundness of 3.2. These are very big rocks. The smallest stones were found nearer the sea, with the average size of 2.6cm x 0.4cm and a roundness of 4.

Hornsea Central

As there were no cliffs, the first 10 metres was only covered in sand. At about 15 metres, very small rocks were found. With a high roundness of 4.3. At 20metres the rocks became bigger and even more round (4.7), another 5 metres down from that the rocks were very round, with a roundness of 5.4, at 30metres the rocks became very jagged, 2.3 was the average roundness there.

Mappleton Central

For the first 15metres, it is sand. After that there is some medium to smallish sized rocks found here, the average size being 3cm x 2cm. But these were very round, with a roundness score of 6 and were made from granite. In the next 10metres the rocks are very similar to each other 2.5cm x 1.7cm being the average size of them both, but with a roundness of 3.8 and 4.8 respectively, they are not as round as the previous stone. Some very small granite rock is found 35metres from the cliff. With a roundness of 6, these are equally round to the other ones. The sharpest rocks are found near to the sea, being a medium size.


It seems like the smaller rocks are found near to the top of the beach when cliff weathering isn’t taking place. This is due to the fact that a smaller amount of energy is needed to take the smaller rocks up the beach. The larger ones stay nearer to the sea, but are usually less round as they are not always in direct contact with waves, and do not get weathered/action of the waves as much as the ones below the average tide line.

Coastline visions – Bi Polar


Barmston seems to be a quiet area of the coast, where hardly anyone uses the beach there. Mainly only the residents of the caravan site or for people taking a walk would use it. The access to the beach is poor, and it looks like the path has been made by people repeatedly walking over the area. There seems to be little income, as there are hardly any services except for a chip shop and an occasional ice cream van. It is relatively a natural area compared to the other 2 beaches.


The Bi-polar vision seems to indicate that Hornsea is there for tourist purposes. There are many facilities and things to do for tourists. Such as: bins, toilets, amusements, ice cream shops, parking, etc. The beach is clean but the sea wall isn’t very aesthetically pleasing to look at. So it is more likely to attract younger people. The money brought in from tourism can be directed back into the community, making it a sustainable economy.


Mappleton is quite a nice beach in my opinion. Although it isn’t there to attract visitors, it has ice cream vans lots, toilets, parking provisions. However, due to the MOD’s warning about “You could be killed”, it has the detrimental effect of deterring potential tourists. It is quiet there, and the area is clean apart from the odd bits of litter. There seems to be hardly any sort of wildlife. Mappleton has not got a sustainable economy; most of the people who live there have to commute a long way, or are retired.


Firstly, I have already made my conclusion on which is the best-protected coastline; Hornsea is by far the most protected, followed by Mappleton and finally Barmston.

The amount of protection an area of the coastline receives is usually dependent on what areas of value are there. Places such as Barmston do not have many factors going for it when it comes to coastal defences. It has a small local economy, which is heavily dependent on commuting to work for the residents of the area. There is hardly any tourism or many facilities. The land isn’t worth much and there is nothing particularly special in this area to make it viable for coastal protection. Hornsea on the other hand has relatively large local economy, plenty of tourism (meaning a source of income for the town), plenty of facilities and the land, has much higher value than that of Barmston.

Factors which could affect whether coastal defences are invested in:

  • Economic value (Local Economy)
  • How appealing that area is
  • Facilities
  • Commercial value
  • Tourism
  • (optional)Special factors e.g. Roads

All the above factors, apart from the special factors, are all to do with money.


Does not have much to offer with regards to needing coastal defences. The land use in Barmston is mainly for agriculture, which is not worth much as the United Kingdom already over produces. The caravan park, which isn’t particularly busy as there isn’t much entertainment. As it isn’t very busy, there isn’t much money coming into the area. It does not have any factors which make the area worth considering for protection, so no coastal defences will be built here.


Has a lot to offer. It attracts a lot of money to this area through tourism (it is an appealing seaside resort) which increases the money in its local economy, meaning that more money is invested back into the area. Hornsea satisfies all of the factors which make the area worth considering for protection.


Mappleton does not have much to offer, but there are 2 special factors that mean that Mappleton has coastal protection. The fact that it has a major road running near by; this road has high economical value, as it connects all the villages near by. Thus allowing people to travel to work. Also the MOD shooting range and explosives testing sight is another reason why it may have been protected. Mappleton has a very nice, sandy beach. However, the sign that says ‘Danger of death due to explosives’ is very off putting to tourists. Mappleton does not have high economical value.


Cite this page

The Holderness Coast. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

The Holderness Coast

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