The gorgeous walk on the dog-friendly beaches missing out on Blue Flag Awards

Kiteboarders riding the wind and waves between Bridlington South Beach and Fraisthorpe Beach
-Credit: (Image: Hull Live)


Dog owners are shunned from East Yorkshire's "best" beaches in the summer months - it is one of the essential tick boxes for winning a prestigious Blue Flag award.

Bridlington South Beach and Fraisthorpe Beach have both missed out on Blue Flag awards, which were awarded to Hornsea and Withernsea, and also failed to get the Seaside Award for the 2024 bathing season. Bridlington South's rating continues as poor this year because of its average score over the last four years, with efforts currently underway to improve water quality there.

Blue Flags are awarded to beaches which meet a criteria covering 30 standards including water quality, proper management and cleaning and having litter bins and seasonal dog bans. So what is it like visiting one of these "brown flag" East Yorkshire beaches?

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I decided to walk from Fraisthorpe Beach (which has a "good" water rating, despite missing out on any awards) to Bridlington South Beach, nearly 3km and a gentle walk on flat sands. Both these beaches remain open to dogs throughout summer.

The road to Fraisthorpe Beach is single track with passing places which were fine; the main issue was very deep potholes, some of which seemed to appear out of nowhere. Luckily, the car's tyres didn't burst and we made it to The Cow Shed, a dog-friendly cafe next to the beach, all in one piece.

Parking is free for cafe customers but people exploring the beach need to use Fraisthorpe Beach Top Parking. It was £1 for one hour and £3 for three hours with payment by cash, card, and mobile app all accepted.

Before setting off for the walk, I stopped at The Cow Shed for breakfast. It was clean and efficient, operating more like a takeaway than a traditional cafe: you pay at the counter and are given a buzzer that alerts you when your food is ready to collect.

A 'vegetarian sausage sandwich' at dog friendly cafe The Cow Shed
A 'vegetarian sausage sandwich' at dog friendly cafe The Cow Shed -Credit:Hull Live

Coffee is served in disposable cups and food comes in plastic bags. It prides itself on sourcing quality meat from local butchers but the vegetarian options are limited and nothing special.

It was very popular with dog walkers and there must have been more than half a dozen well-behaved dogs resting under tables while their owners chowed down on bacon butties. As always, a few dogs were of the small and yapping variety - which probably helps to clear tables in busy periods.

Once I'd eaten, I made my way down to the beach to start the walk. Fortunately, the tide was out and there was plenty of space meaning the yaps and squeals from noisier dogs soon faded out to be replaced with the soft lapping of waves.

I was struck by how beautiful the beach was, the stretch of sand seemed to go on forever and wasn't broken up by groynes like you find at Hornsea Beach and Withernsea Beach.

The sea defences it did have reminded me of the Sci-Fi film Dune. These gigantic cuboid blocks were identical and evenly spaced, presenting the perfect opportunity for photographs.

These sea defences at Fraisthorpe Beach reminded me of the film "Dune"
These dramatic square sea defences at Fraisthorpe Beach reminded me of the film "Dune" -Credit:Hull Live

A Cadbury's Wispa wrapper I picked up was the only litter I found on this overwise spotless beach. There was no dog poo, no broken bottles or disposable barbecues of any kind - it was the kind of beach you might find on a holiday brochure.

Some happy dogs bounded past on a few occasions, despite the excitement of being at the beach they had good recall. Other than the dog walkers and kiteboarders, the beach was fairly quiet and I got the impression it was mainly visited by locals rather than holidaymakers.

Despite the "no swimming" advice, there were still some people in the water at Bridlington South Beach. Were they crazy or did they know something?

A close-up of the water at Fraisthorpe Beach - sea foam is created by the breakdown of plankton and other marine critters
A close-up of the water at Fraisthorpe Beach - sea foam is created by the breakdown of plankton and other marine critters -Credit:Hull Live

The latest Environment Agency data shows seawater samples taken from Bridlington South Beach on May 6 would be classified as "excellent". There were 18 colony-forming units (CFU) of E. coli in 100ml and fewer than 10 CFUs of Intestinal Enterococci colonies in 100ml.

"Excellent" is fewer than 250 CFUs of E. coli and 100 CFUs of Intestinal Enterococci per 100ml. Bridlington South Beach has come a long way from August 13, 2020, when a 100ml sample of seawater had 320 CFUs of E. coli and 220 CFUs of Intestinal Enterococci.

In a nutshell, the latest samples show little evidence of raw sewage in the water. Throwing caution to the wind, I took off my shoes and socks and went for a paddle on the way back.

Would I return? Definitely. And if you've got dogs in tow, there's even more reason to visit these almost-perfect beaches.