It comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb.

It’s the perfect description of March, the month in which (hopefully) winter takes its final bow and somewhere, somehow, suddenly, there are signs of spring everywhere – a joyous process which will accelerate when, on Sunday March 31, British Summer Time starts and the clocks go forward, giving us precious hours of extra daylight.

And this year, that’s a doubly significant date – it’s also Easter Sunday, a time when we celebrate rebirth and new beginnings (and some of us eat our own body weight in chocolate, but that’s a whole other story).

Right across the Yorkshire Coast, properties are currently being spruced up for the onset of the main holiday season. Attractions are getting a fresh coat of paint and festival organisers – the main festival season starts in April – are putting the finishing touches to their plans.

Lambs are gambolling, wild flowers are blooming, and beekeepers are eyeing up sites to move their hives to for the first, early season, honey of the year – later in the year, some of them will send their bees for a brief holiday on the purple-clad North York Moors to produce that extra-special heather honey.

Great British Life: Spot the birds at Bempton. Spot the birds at Bempton. (Image: Tony Bartholomew)

If you want to easily see nature at her brilliant, chaotic best at this time of year, take a trip to Bempton Cliffs – how lucky are we to have this natural display right on our doorstep? These magnificent 400 foot high white chalk cliffs are home each spring to one of the UK’s greatest wildlife spectacles, and it all starts about now as over half a million birds, many of which have spent the winter months out at sea, head back to their precipitous nesting sites.

Visit this RSPB reserve (there is an entrance charge if you’re not a member) in the spring, and you’re pretty much guaranteed great views of penguin-like razorbills, guillemots, kittiwakes and fulmars, along with everyone’s favourite, the colourful puffin. King of the cliffs, though, has to be the glorious gannet, the UK’s largest seabird – Bempton is home to the country’s largest mainland colony. Seeing this huge bird (it has a 1.8 metre wingspan) hunting is truly awe-inspiring – it folds back its wings and plummets into the sea from heights of up to 30 metres like a heat-seeking missile.

And Bempton isn’t just home to seabirds – keep your eyes peeled on the walk down to the cliffs for spectral barn owls and short-eared owls with their glaring yellow eyes skimming the fields. It’s also around this time of year that skylarks start their tumbling song.

Bempton Cliffs is one of the most accessible seabird colonies in Europe, with an accessible visitor centre, toilets and pathways. The site also has two Tramper mobility scooters for disabled visitors to use.

Great British Life: Avocets at Filey Dams. Avocets at Filey Dams. (Image: Tony Bartholomew)

It’s not the only great venue for birdwatchers in this area – look out for incoming migratory birds at this time of year all along the coast, especially on the cliffs that line the Cleveland Way just above Scarborough, and at Filey Brigg, the rocky peninsula that defines the town’s bay. And while you’re at Filey, seek out Filey Dams, a hidden gem of a nature reserve in the care of our friends at the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust – it’s a haven for wildfowl and waders: last year, it was home to a pair of avocets who successfully raised three chicks.

All along the coast, this month is a good time to keep an eye out for hares – and not for nothing do we use the expression ‘mad a March hare’ to describe someone’s unpredictable behaviour! We’re bang in the middle of the hares’ breeding season, and right now, many a young buck’s fancy is lightly turning to thoughts of love.

Great British Life: Mad March hares? Mad March hares? (Image: Tony Bartholomew)

Unfortunately for him, the female hare (she’s known as a doe, or a jill) isn’t always quite as enthusiastic, and is quite capable of standing up for herself, so things can turn a bit combative – which is why we sometimes see pairs of hares ‘boxing’ in the fields at this time of year.

And all this talk of nature reminds us – it’s only a matter of weeks now before the first swallows of the summer arrive…

For more information on what else is on across the Yorkshire Coast and the North York Moors this month, please visit

Great British Life: Centuries ago the site of what we now know as Whitby Abbey was at the heart of debate about the date on which we mark Easter. Centuries ago the site of what we now know as Whitby Abbey was at the heart of debate about the date on which we mark Easter. (Image: Tony Bartholomew)

Easter – it’s complicated…

Have you ever stopped to wonder why the dates of Easter can seem so random? Last year, for instance, Easter Sunday was on April 9; this year, it’s on March 31. In 2025, it will be somewhat startlingly late, falling on April 20. In fact, Easter has a pretty wide window of opportunity – it can occur any time between March 22 and April 25.

But why? After all, Christmas Day never strays from December 25, and all those saints stick religiously to their assigned days. We wish we could tell you there was a simple answer. There isn’t – and it’s all down to a long ago meeting right here on the North Yorkshire Coast.

In an (Easter) eggshell: back in the 7th century, there was deep division between two factions within the church – Roman and Irish – as to when this most important festival in the Christian calendar should take place. In 644, a meeting was called at the monastery at Streaneshalch, on the site of what we now know as Whitby Abbey (although the building of the spectacular structure we know and love wasn’t started for another 600 years or so). The conference of senior church administrators became known as the Synod of Whitby.

They agreed that Easter should be the first Sunday after the full Moon that occurs on or after the spring equinox. Simple? If only! We really don’t have room to go into the complexities of it here (and, if we’re honest, don’t really understand it), but if you’re interested, head to the website of those masters of time at the Royal Museums of Greenwich (, where you’ll find an absolutely mind-boggling explanation including an algorithm that’ll leave you needing a lie-down and a lot of chocolate…

Great British Life: It's the time of year when holiday cottages at the coast get a spruce up so they're spick and span for a new season of visitors.It's the time of year when holiday cottages at the coast get a spruce up so they're spick and span for a new season of visitors. (Image: Charlotte Graham)