Hornsea is a small coastal town on the Holderness Coast, located between Bridlington and Withernsea. A 2.9km stretch of shoreline fronts the town of Hornsea. Hornsea consists of a high-density urban development containing residential and various tourist related properties. Hornsea’s local economy is dependent on tourism and recreation as well as incorporating a small fishing industry.
Geology of Hornsea
Hornsea lies upon boulder clay. This material is unconsolidated till was deposited by glaciers during the last ice age 18,000 years ago. The boulder clay consists of about 72% mud, 27% sand and 1% boulders and large pebbles.
Coastal Features at Hornsea
The groynes on Hornsea beach ensure wide and relatively steep beaches. The beach material is made up of sand and shingle. The exposed boulder clay cliffs to the north give way to seawall along the front of the town. To the south of the town, the boulder clay cliffs are once again exposed.
AQA GCSE Geography Hornsea Fieldwork Booklet
Coastal Erosion at Hornsea
Coastal erosion at Hornsea has been limited by a range of management techniques. The map below shows a range of management strategies and the impact these are having further along the coast.
Coastal Management at Hornsea
The position of the coastline at Hornsea has been artificially fixed since existing coastal defences were erected in the early 1900s. The current coastal management plan is to hold the line at Hornsea. This means coastal defences will be maintained and replaced in order to protect the town.
There are a number of reasons why planners have chosen to hold the line at Hornsea. These include:
Hornsea Mere, Yorkshire’s largest natural lake, is an important recreational site for both visitors and residents, and one of the key features for the marketing of Hornsea. It is also of special wildlife interest and is designated a European Special Protection Area (SPA);
Its high population density with a population of 8432 (2011 Census); and
the wide range of infrastructure already in place in the town.
Hard defences in the form of a concrete seawall and timber groynes afford protection and an ongoing refurbishment programme ensure this has continued. The image below shows groynes to the south of Hornsea.
Coastal management at Hornsea
The videos below show the importance of the seawall at Hornsea, particularly during a spring tide combined with strong winds!
More recently a stone and steel gabion and a concrete revetment have been erected to the south of Hornsea. This helps protect the caravan park.
The image below shows coastal defences to the south of Hornsea. These include groynes, extending at right angles out into the sea, rock armour can also be seen to the south.
View north from the south of the defences
Where the defences end rates of erosion have rapidly increased. The reason for this is because the downdrift beach is starved of material, as it is trapped behind groynes. Therefore, the unprotected, soft boulder clay is rapidly eroding. There is little beach material to the south of the defences so even neap tides (low high tides) reach the base of the cliffs.
The image below shows the impact of the terminal groyne.
Terminal groyne, rock armour and cliff slumping
The photograph below was taken to the south of Hornsea. The camera is pointing northeast. You can clearly see the impact of erosion to the south of the coastal defences.
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Use the images below to explore locations along the Holderness Coast.
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