As a family we love a day at the beach, whether it’s a walk with the dog along the sands at Cayton Bay, surfing at Scarborough’s North Bay or meandering through the ginnels in Staithes.
The Yorkshire coast has it all from quaint fishing villages to sweeping sands – there’s a beach to suit everyone and every season…
Staithes is a good place to visit in both summer and winter. It is still a working fishing port with ageing lobster pots stacked by its harbour wall, a busy fishery at the top of the village and quite a few long-term residents. We head up there for its tranquil atmosphere, to potter about on the beach, collect fossils or visit Staithes Art Gallery (lots of local artists’ work). Take a walk up out of Staithes and enjoy the view over the rooftops of the higgledy-piggledy cottages stacked up on the hillside. The Cleveland Way passes through and you can follow this for a clifftop walk to Runswick Bay. Also check out The Staithes Festival of Arts and Heritage Festival in September (10th & 11th 2016).
At the end of a long sandy beach stretching from Whitby, you come to Sandsend, one of the prettiest fishing villages on this coastline. The inlet on the beach, which seems to change direction every year, offers endless fun for building dams and rowing inflatable boats – there is a little shop selling them and you can sometimes get your own dinghy inflated there. Do wander up to the Valley at the western side of the village with its pretty cottages either side of the beck. There is an interesting walk up to the ruined Mulgrave castle (leave from the car park by the café after you cross the bridge). Check opening days and times with the Mulgrave Estate. There are several cafés in Sandsend including the beachfront Sandside Café, the longstanding (at almost 100 years old) and one our favourites Wits End Café and Walled Garden and Bridge Cottage Bistro on the bridge, which also does a Thursday evening Sandsend Supper Club for £15.
Who couldn’t be sucked into Whitby’s atmospheric charm? The cliff top abbey ruins looking forlornly out across the crashing waves of the North Sea were enough to inspire Bram Stoker to stay and pen his famous Victorian novel Dracula from a hotel here. The old town beneath the abbey has some lovely streets to explore and the wide, sandy beach on West Cliff, with its backdrop of colourful beach huts, stretches for miles. We like Sanders Yard Café for its informal atmosphere – no problems heading here in sandy, wet wellies.
Fabulous stretches of golden sandy beaches, a magnificent harbour and entertainment if you want it, Bridlington has got so much to offer. Its award-winning beach chalets on Princess Mary Promenade near South Bay are a favourite with us. Bridlington seems to have its own microclimate – when there’s sea fret further up the coast, the sun still seems to shine on Brid. There’s a new multi-million pound leisure centre (opening May 2016) with a wave pool and climbing wall if it does rain. Lovely old town with some beautiful Georgian architecture, cafés, galleries and shops.
For a quaint old fashioned feel, Filey is an unspoilt little resort, no dazzling arcades, just a few small rides along the promenade for younger children. Head up to the boating lake where you can take out pedaloes, or when the tide is out go for a walk along Filey Brigg, a low headland jutting out into Filey bay with great views to Flamborough and Bempton Cliffs and north to Scarborough.
Scratch beneath the surface of the seafront arcades and Scarborough has plenty of hidden gems; most obviously its two beautiful sweeping bays but also a historic castle perched high on the headland, a pretty Georgian old town, a great art gallery, and the Rotunda Museum. Also check out Peasholm Park in North Bay to hire boats on the lake or watch their Naval Warfare events in the summer months. If you’re here early, you’ll see fisherman hauling in their catch in the harbour. Scarborough has a unique game fishing history and in its 1930s heyday, wealthy aristocrats and military officers would descend on the town to practise the sport. For a fascinating look at this aspect of Scarborough’s history, pick up a copy of Robert Hudson’s The Dazzle. You’ll see Scarborough in a different light. For ice creams (we’re talking Knickerbocker Glories and soda floats) head to Alonzi’s Harbour Bar, a 1950s style milk bar. Other good cafés are The Watermark Café, Eat Me Café, near the train station, which serves a multi-cultural menu and independent coffee shop Greensmith and Thackwray on St Nicholas Street.
The picture-postcard Runswick Bay is undeniably lovely with pretty houses clinging to the coastal cliffs, and a wide sandy beach with a cafe that almost spills out onto the sand itself. If you’re a walker, the village is on the Cleveland Way trail. You can take a walk from Runswick Bay along the dramatic cliff top trail to Port Mulgrave and Staithes. We’ve recently done kayaking here as there are kayaks on the beach available to hire by the hour. Also check out the Sailing Club – they do lessons and have great facilities for members.
South Landing, Flamborough
Nominated as one of Countryfile’s top five beaches 2015/2016, South Landing is a beautiful little sandy, shingle and pebble beach surrounded by white chalk cliffs. It is a haven for all sorts of wildlife including birds, whales, seals, porpoises, puffins. It’s an excellent beach to visit in spring when the tide is low as this uncovers a huge variety of interesting marine life so bring your fishing nets for a bit of rock pooling. Park your car in the pay & display car park next to the Living Seas Centre which is worth a visit. It has lots of information about the wildlife here as well as regular activities like seashore safaris. There are toilets here and you can grab drinks and biscuits from their vending machine.
ROBIN HOOD’S BAY
Situated at the end of the Coast to Coast route is Robin Hood’s Bay so don’t be surprised to see weary walkers who have just completed the 192-mile trek, dipping their toes in the icy sea water. The village is great for rock-pooling, fossil hunting and meandering along its narrow cobbled streets. The National Trust run a visitor centre in the Old Coastguard Station which explains the unique geology of this coastline through plenty of hands-on exhibit. Walk up to Swell, a café bar and shop, listed as one of the top 10 seaside venues with fantastic views from its outside terrace. If you fancy camping then the family-run Hooks House Farm has good pitches and facilities, great views of Robin Hood’s Bay and is a stroll through a couple of fields from the shops.