The outstanding Yorkshire Coast
The Yorkshire Coast is a famous stretch of coast along the east coast of England. The North York Moors National Park runs 26 miles up the coastline and it includes historic fishing villages such as Robin Hood’s Bay, Runswick Bay and Staithes.
The Yorkshire Coast also includes some amazing towns and cities along the way from Scarborough to the famous Whitby where it is said Bram Stoker was inspired to write Dracula.
The Yorkshire coast is home to three of thirty-two nationally designated Heritage Coasts in England and Wales. The Heritage Coasts are so designated for their exceptional scenic quality.
The Heritage Coasts are designated by Natural England with the purpose of protecting the coastline, its environment and heritage. Part of the designation is the provision of a coastal footpath along the length of the Heritage Coast. The northernmost Heritage Coast has a footpath alongside its entire length.
Yorkshire Coast historic Villages and towns to visit
The stories have it that Scarborough was founded around 966Ad by a Viking raider. There is sadly no architectural evidence to support this. In the 4th century, there was a Roman signal station on the headland and there is lots of archaeological finds that indicate there were stone age and bronze age settlements. Scarborough is one of the largest and most popular cities for a beach holiday on the Yorkshire Coast.
Scarborough is the largest resort on the Yorkshire coast and it sits on a high rocky point that faces east into the North Sea. On top of the point are the ruins of the Scarborough Castle and the point divides the seafront into its two bays.
South Bay in Scarborough was the original settlement of the area and today forms the old town. This is the main tourist area with lovely beach tons of penny arcades and children’s amusement.
There are plenty of cafes and restaurants to have a meal of some great fish and chips and lots to entertain families. Unlike Blackpool, the promenade has undergone major improvements and is very pedestrian-friendly.
The North Bay
North Bay is a more peaceful area of Scarborough. This is where you will find Peasholm Park which strangely enough is a Japanese theme park. The park includes a boating lake and putting green a fabulous bandstand where open-air concerts take place and beautiful gardens and trails to walk.
Scarborough Castle is a major tourist attraction under the care of English Heritage on this section of the Yorkshire Coast. The remains consist of a late twelfth-century castle with thirteenth and fourteenth-century modifications. Also visible are the foundations of a Roman watchtower.
The cost to visit the castle is £6.90. There is a little coffee shop on the grounds and there are panels that guide you through the history of the site.
There is no parking on site, but there is a Park and Ride or the pay and display Marine Drive car park. Parking is only available for disabled visitors, which must be pre-booked.
While you are up at the castle take a moment to visit Anne Bronte’s gravesite and the beautiful little St. Mary’s church with an amazing view of the harbour area and Yorkshire Coast.
Anne Bronte died in Scarborough on 28th May 1849 aged 29 yrs. She is buried in St Mary’s Church graveyard in Scarborough. Anne loved Scarborough and used it as a setting for her novels – Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, she often remarked that she wanted to open a school in Scarborough.
Home to the famous haunted Whitby Abbey, Whitby itself is a seaside town well-loved by the locals and visitors alike.
Home to the earliest English poet Cædmon learned to compose after a dream he had. Caedmon was a zealous monk and over the course of time became a great inspirational Christian poet.
Whitby became a settlement in 665 when the Christian king of Northumbria, Oswy founded the abbey under the abbess Hilda. The name Whitby comes from the Old Norse which means “white settlement”. Whitby was a key port and centre for the whaling industry and from this grew a great shipbuilding centre.
Due to the areas, great mining Whitby also became renowned for the manufacture of Whitby Jet which was used by Queen Victoria as mourning jewellery. The black mineral jet was found in the cliffs and on the moors and has been used since the Bronze Age to make beads. It was mined by the Romans and in Victorian times it was brought into the town to be made into decorative items.
The monastery was destroyed between 867 and 870 in a series of raids by Vikings from Denmark under their leaders Ingwar and Ubba. You may recall from the HBO series Vikings one known as Ube which could have been the Ubba that destroyed the monastery.
Whitby Abbey apparently haunted Bram Stoker it became the inspiration for his legendary Dracula book. There are 199 steps down to Whitby itself from the Abbey and you can either take the steps or drive up to the Abbey. This is the famous Abbey of course founded by St. Hilda. The Abbey contains 2000 years worth of history and is a fascinating, haunted place.
Whitby Abbey has been a kings’ burial place, the setting for a historic meeting between Celtic and Roman clerics, and the home of saints.
There is a visitors centre at Whitby Abbey and a small cafe where you can have a grand cup of tea after the winds of the place howl through you.
Robin Hood’s Bay
Robin Hood’s Bay is what you picture when you think of British seaside villages. There’s a lovely beach where you can play in rock pools, dig for crabs and have a great ice cream wandering the village.
Robin Hood’s Bay is actually a walk down the hill from the top. Parking is in several lots as cars are not allowed in the village. It’s a great walk down but a bit of a hike up. There is a wide range of pubs, restaurants and cafes to grab a cup of tea and a great crab salad sandwich.
Lots of places to stay with BnB’s aplenty in the old fishing village. The streets and walkways are narrow and twisty with lots of cobblestones and there is much history here. You can take a Ghost Walk through the village, visit the Old Coastguard station or simply relax on the beach.
The National Trust’s visitor centre displays exhibits of shipping, local history and of the smuggling trade that was a highlight of Robin Hood’s heydays.
Phantom Thread is a film with Daniel Day-Lewis (his final one) was filmed at the Robin Hood’s Bay hotel at the top of the Village.
Dracula by Bram Stoker has several scenes set in the Robin Hood’s Bay. Abraham visited the area recreating the steep steps and the sightings of the red eyes, the ship that ran aground with the immense dog.
Glorious clean beaches, history galore, sporting fun, independent shops, great entertainment and amazing nature, in Bridlington there really is something for everyone, whatever the weather.
It also turns out that it was in Bridlington that surfing was first introduced to Britain. In the 1800s Hawaiian royalty was visiting the UK and they took a trip to the beaches of Bridlington where they pulled out their surfboard and enjoyed the waves of the chilly North Sea. A letter found in Hawaii from the young Prince and his brother who were both studying in England at the time.
The prince wrote that he and his brother Prince David Kahalepouli Kawananakoa Piikoi were allowed by their tutor, believed to be John Wrightson, to have a holiday in Bridlington as a reward for good work in their studies in schools and colleges around Britain – they’d been in England furthering their education for almost a year.
For nature lovers, going on a seashore safari, a boat trip around the bay or bird watching at Bempton Cliffs are all experiences not to be missed.
The Church of St Mary built on the site of an Augustinian Priory. The Church was once a fortified building and the Bayle Gate which is nearby is the only thing that remains of that fortification.
Bridlington Spa was originally opened in 1896, and quickly became a leading resort for the Victorians in England. It was in its heyday Bridlington was a leading entertainment resort. It continued to be an entertainment venue but was getting more and more rundown until the early 2000’s when money was finally found to refurbish the place. It is now a beautiful venue for live music, entertainment and corporate workshops.
These days Bridlington has unfortunately been voted a less attractive place to visit than Blackpool which I simply don’t agree with.
Yes, parts of Bridlington were tacky and old fashioned but it had a beautiful beach like Blackpool and the seafood available was simply to die for. It was nowhere near as bad as Blackpool.
Staithes is a gorgeous fishing village with a really pretty harbour when the tide is in. It is a great place for fossil hunters as well. Located 10 miles from Whitby, Staithes was once one of the busiest fishing ports on the North East Coast. It was also the home of Captain James Cook.
The Staithes Group is an English painting group that made the village there home in the late 19th century. There was 30 artists in the group and with a nod to them, Staithes hosts an Arts Festival in the autumn.
One of the places to visit in Staithes is Captain Cook & Staithes Heritage Centre. This is a recreation of the shop were Cook worked and includes over 200 of his book, letter, medal and more.
Staithes sits on what is known as the ‘Dinosaur Coast’, making it a favourite with fossil hunters, palaeontologists and dinosaur fans. You can explore on your own or take an organized tour.
Staithes is a lovely place for a visit Anna has written a lovely article called The Sleepy Coastal Village of Staithes. Take a moment and enjoy this little idyllic village she writes about.
The Cleveland Way
The Cleveland Way is a 109-mile walk from Helmsley to Filey. With views of dramatic rugged coastlines to fishing villages like Staithes, this hiking route is pretty spectacular.
Starting from Helmsley the route could take around 9 days to walk the full horseshoe trail. Places to see along the way include Helmsley Castle, Rievaulx Abbey, Mount Grace Priory, Gisborough Priory, Whitby Abbey and Scarborough Castle to name just a few special sites.
The name Flamborough is believed to come from a word meaning “the place of the flame”. Other sources claim that it derives from “Flaneberg”, possibly from the Saxon “Flaen” meaning a dart, which the shape of the headland resembles.
Flamborough Head is actually a series of chalk cliffs standing over 400 feet high. The cliffs are home to one of the largest sites of nesting sea birds in England, a rare colony of gannets lives and nests here. The cliff top walk is a bird spotter’s paradise, and visitors to the headland include oystercatchers, gulls, eider ducks, and cormorants.
As well as its distinctive white cliffs, there are coves, sea caves and stacks along the coastline.
There are two lighthouses at Flamborough Head. The old one is set a short distance back from the sea which seems a lot safer to me given the cliff erosion. The new one is built on the edge of the cliff itself.
The chalk tower is the only surviving light tower in England. It is believed to date from the 17th century and a brushwood fire would have been burnt on the top to light the way. No one knows however if this lighthouse was ever lit. The structure has several windows and a fireplace so it may have been lived in at some time.
There is much more to see on the Yorkshire Coast and the area holds many great hikes and walks from the Yorkshire Downs.