3 June 2022
Best Yorkshire Beaches
Searching for sea, sand and (fingers crossed) sun? Then look no further than the North Yorkshire Coast.
Synonymous with quintessentially British shorelines, the North Yorkshire and Cleveland Heritage Coast is 36 miles long and stretches from Saltburn (just north of the National Park) down to Scalby Mills. Incorporating some of the best beaches in the UK and showcasing secluded coves, thrill-factor waves and quaint fishing villages.
When the sun shines, it can feel more like The Seychelles than Scarborough and with four of Yorkshire’s beaches achieving the Blue Flag Award (North Bay, Whitby West Cliff, Bridlington North and Hornsea) you can be sure of the highest standards for your trip to the seaside.
It’s the mix of jolly towns with their bucket-and-spade beaches, ice cream parlours and amusement arcades and cobbled-street charm that make the surrounding scenery a winner for all ages and with clifftop walks, surf-able torrents and rock-pooling aplenty, there’s a something to suit every taste.
Here’s 7 of the best beaches on our doorstep and dotted along the North Yorkshire Coast.
If you block out the cars, you could imagine yourself in a Victorian seaside town, with pin-neat public gardens overlooked by a terrace of traditional buildings. While below, a poker-straight pier with a small amusement arcade strikes out to sea. Linking the upper and lower promenades is Britain’s oldest surviving water-balanced funicular (built in 1884) and stretching five miles to Redcar is a broad scattering of sand, nestled below jolly-coloured beach-huts and a playground for sunbathers. Facing the full force of the North Sea, Saltburn is one of the UK’s top surf spots, but the beach is also protected from winds by the bulk of Huntcliffe at the eastern end.
If you’re looking for a long stretch of sand in a pretty setting but without any seaside razzamatazz, Runswick Bay is for you. This tiny former fishing village (a stack of pantile-roofed cottages that cling to the cliffs) gazes over a shingle beach that stretches a mile and a half east to the Kettleness headland. Here you make your own entertainment, whether that’s building sandcastles, paddle-boarding, investigating rock pools or a walk along the cliffs. Sandside Café (Cleveland Way) sits directly above the and boasts a small terrace where you can enjoy a simple selection of sandwiches, salads and cakes, as well as pick up buckets, spades and fishing-nets – and that’s about it. Bliss.
Robin Hood’s Bay
This popular and picturesque village totters steeply down the cliff-side to its eponymous bay and is a magnet for fossil-hunters and rock-poolers. The stretch of shore is part of Yorkshire’s Jurassic Coast and home to cliffs yielding belemnites and ammonites aplenty (gradually working their way onto the beach). At low tide, the exposed rocks are perfect for examining with nets and buckets (all creatures to be returned to the water, of course) and are ideal for getting wet and messy, rather than to sit with a book or picnic hamper. The Bay Hotel is set above the dock and serves up traditional pub grub and cracking views, or try The Cove for lighter snacks and a sheltered terrace.
Possibly North Yorkshire’s most charming seaside village, red roofed fisherman’s cottages tumble down Staithes’ steep ravine to a sheltered cove cupped by cliffs, while fishing boats are hauled up in the harbour. You can see why it has long attracted artists and for the active, there are rock pools and cliff walks, wildlife-watching and fishing trips. While the happily idle can browse the many boutiques or linger on the small promenade with an ice cream. The Cod & Lobster overlooking the harbour serves up a smorgasbord of seafood and Dotty’s Tearoom offer up a vintage affair with homemade cakes and eye-poppingly sizey scones.
The best approach to this beach is from the north, where the road drops and twists through woodland and pops out above the coast. A glorious stretch of sand and shingle spreads out all the way to Whitby Abbey on the horizon and this flat cove has some of the cleanest waters in Yorkshire. It’s popular with walkers who make the five-mile circuit from Whitby (though high tide means a detour to the cliff-path) and you can refuel to a backdrop of mesmerising views at the popular Sandside Café. A wooden chalet perched above the beach and famed for its crab sandwiches, colossal cakes and Sandsend Smokey (haddock in a cheese and egg sauce), .
Scarborough South Bay
Scarborough is an archetypal British seaside resort. Think donkey rides, amusement arcades, novelty rock and bingo. It’s also blessed with a huge sweep of pancake-flat sand that accommodates everyone from bucket-and-spade enthusiasts to dog-walkers. There are deckchairs, windbreaks and beach chalets to hire. Fishing trips and pirate boat adventures galore. Fairground rides and bowling alleys and in the summer season, the Spa Orchestra take to the open-air Suncourt Enclosure. The only other things you need for a nostalgia packed trip: fish and chips at the Golden Grid and a knickerbocker from fifties style-diner Harbour Bar.
It’s easy to miss (even though only a couple of minutes from the main road) as there’s no sign to show you the way. But if you’re a surf-junkie, you’ll want to find it. The wide sandy beach at the bottom of a steep path is wave heaven and as the site of the Scarborough Surf School it’s perfect for beginners. It’s also popular with swimmers and wind surfers and since the clifftop paths form part of the Cleveland Way, it makes a scenic stopping point for hikers. There are some basic changing huts at the surf shop and Lucy’s Beach Shack serves up bacon butties aplenty (or a Horlick’s to warm the cockles in the in winter months).