straw bales

Saltfleetby-Theddlethorpe Dunes National Nature Reserve

View over the marshes from Rimac

The Dunes

Theddlethorpe dunes began forming in the 13th century, and the processes of wind and tidal action continues dune formation on the site today. The dunes support a variety of flowers and grasses while saltmarsh and freshwater marsh areas are home to a wide variety of insects, amphibians, birds and mammals.

The Great Eau on approach to Rimac Carpark

The nearest access points to the Nature Reserve from Theddlethorpe are from the car parks at the east ends of Churchill Lane, Brickyard Lane or Crook Bank. There are formal trails established from the access roads further north. Full details are available in the National Nature Reserve brochure.


One of the excellent display boards on the nature trail at Rimac


On the dunes, spring and early summer see species such as mouse-eared hawkweed, cranes-bill, storks bill and cowslips supporting a range of butterflies, including the recently re-established brown argus.

Much of the fore-dune is covered with dense scrub, with sea buckthorn, hawthorn and elder being the dominant species. This provides breeding habitats for a variety of birds, including whitethroat, dunnock, linnet, willow warbler and chaffinch. During the winter the fruits of this scrub are an important food source for many birds, especially fieldfare and blackbirds. These birds are hunted by resident sparrowhawks and owls, with hen-harriers also on the prowl.

The path to Theddlethorpe beach from Brickyard Lane

The freshwater marsh area - with pools and dykes created by English Nature (now Natural England) - supports many interesting insects and plants, including water plantain, water parsnip, yellow flag and marsh orchids. Among the insect fauna are 11 species of dragonfly and damselfly, various water beetles and a water spider. The marsh area is also home to horse leeches, water voles, water shrews and the rare natterjack toad.

On the saltmarsh and foreshore a variety of specialised plants provide food, shelter and nesting cover for a range of birds, including meadow pipit, skylark, redshank, oystercatcher, ringed plover and little tern. In the winter months, flocks of Brent geese, shelduck, teal, wigeon and many waders feed here. Occasionally grey and common seals haul out on low tides in this area, although they are wary of people and will quickly move off if approached.

Hawthorn Berries at Theddlethorpe in November

Buckthorn Berries at Theddlethorpe in November


Theddlethorpe Beach

In the sea at Theddlethorpe

30 April 2011 - early Theddlethorpe bathers

To the Beach

It is rather ironic that of the three roads that lead east from Theddlethorpe St Helen, the one that doesn’t lead to the sea is Sea Lane – which terminates in a farmyard from which a public footpath does give access to the beach. Brickyard Lane and Crook Bank, on the other hand, each have Car Parks from which the beach is readily reached and it is usually a very pleasant half-mile walk across the beach to the sea. Both car parks have provision for padlocking bicycles and we choose to cycle to the beach more often than not.

No need to be self-conscious on Theddlethorpe Beach

The sky is magnificent and the beach is often deserted, even in high-season. It is useful to memorise a few landmarks at the edge of the dunes, so that on your return walk you can find the point where you started from.

The sand varies with small sandbanks and pools to negotiate. Beautiful patterns are left in the sand where shells shelter the wind. Groups of sea-birds congregate and patches of marsh samphire decorate the surface at the western edge.

Getting out at Theddlethorpe

Emerging after a bracing Theddlethorpe bathe


Although the beach is very broad, at the sea edge there is often a shelf and the water depth increases fairly quickly, making bathing quite pleasant. No use for a snorkel here! The water is a murky brown and swimming under the water is in complete darkness. This is caused by sediment from the Humber estuary – the water is not polluted but carrying tiny sand particles.

By August the water temperature is refreshing. You are likely to see seals close-up too.

The Tide comes in at Theddlethorpe

Brickyard Lane Highest Tide

Theddlethorpe spring tide at the Brickyard Lane path

Theddlethorpe Spring Tide

Visitors to Theddlethorpe Beach ask whether the sea ever actually covers the entire beach. Well this only happens at Spring Tides and then only on a couple of occasions in the year. When the high tide level is in excess of 7m the sea will cover the vast majority of the beach.

Highest Tide at Theddlethorpe

A rare sight - the tide has come in at Theddlethorpe

High tide reached 7.4m at 07:45 BST on 10 September 2010 and despite the rain there were a few folk braving the weather to witness this.