THE ULTIMATE NORTH YORKSHIRE COAST ROAD TRIP
The North Yorkshire coastline is one of contrasts and spans from the Tees to the Humber Estuaries. This beautiful but under-rated (in my opinion) coastline boasts a plethora of open spaces, fresh bracing sea air and is a haven for seafood lovers! It also offers some of the best coastal abodes and attractions, from historical and heritage sites, challenging activities for those who like to expel their energy, art-filled culture and sheer unadulterated relaxation with many secluded beaches and the mind-blowing towering cliffs, making this expansive stretch of land and sea, a UK destination that offers something for everyone.
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Considering a visit? Have I whet your appetite for discovery? Well come and join me as I share my experiences exploring some of the best villages and towns in North Yorkshire and often located in the National Moors Park. Remember to pack a coat and maybe your windbreaker because you know sometimes, the cliches about the North may not just be cliches and it’s just the sacrifice you have to make to have a little intimacy with this beautiful land.
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Where is the North Yorkshire Coast Located
How to Get to North Yorkshire
- Rail – High speed trains from London to the cities of York, Leeds, Sheffield, Doncaster and Hull can take around 90 minutes. . orkshire’s cities and market towns are also easy to get to from other parts of the country. For specific services and train companies, refer to Trainline
- Coach – National Express Coaches operate regular direct services from London to the cities of York, Leeds, Sheffield, Doncaster and Hull. With the M1 Motorway providing fast access to the region, National Express services from London (Victoria) to Leeds take as little as four hours. Trainline is a great place to check out bus routes as well as National Express.
- Car – Take the M1 and A1 from the south, M5 and M42 from the South West link to the M1, from Wales, from the Midlands the M6 provides links to the M62, taking you right into the heart of Yorkshire or alternatively take the M1. From the North West: the M62 brings you right into the heart of Yorkshire and speeds you to the A1. From the North East: the A1 serves as the main route into Yorkshire and from Scotland: access to Yorkshire is made easy via the A1 from Edinburgh. If you don’t have a car, look into hiring a car with Europcar
- Air – Leeds Bradford Airport offers flights from a range of UK airports, icluding flights London Heathrow with British Airways, Aberdeen and Southampton with Eastern, Belfast, Newquay and Glasgow with Flybe, Guernsey with Aurigny and Jersey with Jet 2 Holidays. In addition, Ryanair operates a Dublin route and regular Dublin and Cork services are also available with Aer Lingus. Doncaster Sheffield Airport (DSA) is the UK’s newest purpose built international airport, having commenced operation in April 2005 on the site of the former RAF Finningley air base. The Airport is located 7 miles from Doncaster and 25 miles from Sheffield, serving passengers across Yorkshire, the Humber and the North Midlands.
Where to Park During Your Road Trip
If you follow the road to the sea front in most of the towns and villages, you will be led to the closest car parking facilities to the beach, I’d say the average is around £2.20 per hour and costs a lot less as expected, depending on length of stay. The car parks are located at the top of a hill and usually there is a steep walk down to the village from the car park and even steeper on the way up! Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Where to Stay in North Yorkshire
There are so many accommodation options in this part of the country as you can imagine but if you’re looking for a fantastic luxury country retreat location opt for Wrea Head Hotel, It is located in the village of Scalby, bordering the Yorkshire Moors National Park. The location of the 25 room hotel also makes it perfect for exploring the coastal towns and villages and means that they’re not more than 15-45 minutes drive away.
Related Article: Wrea Head Hall Hotel: A Luxury Country Hotel ReviewHotel spotlight
Search for Your North Yorkshire Hotel
(Please note Whitby has been used as a starting point)Booking.com
How Long to Stay
If you’re not staying in any of the coastal towns I would encourage you to do a little research and decide upon what you aim to do. This will help with length of stay and deciding on car parking times. We spent around 3-4 hours at places such as Whitby, Ravenscar, Runswick Bay including coastal walks but similarly you can spend a couple for an hour or so (Sandsend, Flamborough).
Best Time to Visit North Yorkshire
The best time to visit the North Yorkshire coastal towns would most definitely be the summer but this is also the most busiest. So for a quieter experience, shoulder season, either side of summer is ideal. The weather may be. a little cooler (after all this is England and unpredictable!) but accommodation prices will be less as will the queues for local attractions and restaurants. It’s good to note that during the winter, many of teh towns close a lot of the touristy things to do and are prepping for the new season. However a trip to grab some fresh sea air is always a good idea!
North Yorkshire Coastal Town Road Trip Stops
In the late 18th and 19th century, Staithes was a busy fishing port with hundreds of fishermen working out of the harbour. Today, the seafaring tradition is pretty strong as Staithes boats continue to catch mackerel, cod, crab and lobster. In it’s heyday, Staithes was home to the largest herring fleet on the East Coast of England. It was also a village for artists, who used the harbour as their inspiration.
The Best Things to do in Staithes
- Walk down to picturesque harbpur front.
- Visit Betsy & Bo gift shop.
- Pop into Cobbles for an ice-cream or pizza.
- Sample the fresh catch of teh day complete with harbour views at The Cod & Lobster.
- Go to the Captain Cook (he once lived in Staithes) and Heritage Centre.
- Walk down the small narrow cobbled stoned streets and take in the shop fronts, harbours, paintings and pretty village scenes. Staithes is home to a community of artists therefore there is a lot of arts and heritage around.
- Living Tradition: many boat owners (high bowed boats, referred to as ‘Cobles’) still name their houses after their boats and paint them n the same colours. You can see the boast on the beach and near the small bridge off High Street.
- Support local and have a drink at The Royal George or The Captain Cook.
Runswick Bay is a village of steeply raked white-painted cottages looks over one of the finest sandy beaches in Northern England. It also has the accolade ‘Best Beach 2020’ as published in the Sunday Times!
The red roofed houses haven’t changed much since they belonged to herring fishermen with their pocket sized gardens and surprise views. The village had to be rebuilt after a tragic ground-slip in 1664. Today much of town is scattered by cute holiday cottages, and narrow alleys, which lead to secret back gardens and incredible sea views, which are hidden unless you try hard to look for them!
The Best Things to do in Runswick Bay
- Walk along teh sandy beach, partake in some sand castle building and rock pooling.
- The 150 million year old Jurassic Age shales that make up Runswick Bay have yielded huge numbers of fossils or rare marine reptiles and marine ferns. You may even see them on the beach front but don’t touch!
- Runswick Bay just like Staithes is located within the Yorkshire Moors National Park so walking teh coastal path or Cleveland Trail is great if you like to stay active
- See teh thatched cottage on the harbour front, which was once the coast guards house and the tiny Methodist Chapel which is now a private house in the village.
- The village only has 90 or so cottages with not many being let out as holiday homes so take in the tranquility and peace. Grab a pew on one of the coastal benches as you explore the small alleys.
- Fuel up in the Sandside Cafe boasting endless sea views.
A charming village stretched along a sweep of fine beach, divided by a stream running into the sea, Sandsend is great for families, surfers and fossil hunters. It has some great places to eat from beach shacks serving crab sandwiches to fine food restaurants, a gallery and a luxury hotel with Spa.
Things to so in Sandsend
- Walk along teh long stretch of sandy beach
- Go to the Hart Inn for a drink and some delicious pub grub
- Explore the other restaurants the village has to offer along teh coast and inland
- If you love art, visit the Turnstone Gallery
- Walk the clifftop coastal path to take beautiful panoramic photos of teh Jurassic Coastline.
Whitby offers beaches and myriad attractions, including the world-famous steam-powered North Yorkshire Moors Railway. It’s a town steeped in history: fishing, whaling, the jet industry, Captain Cook, the glorious Abbey, and did you know Bran Stoker’s Dracula was inspired by the town.
Whitby has some postcard-worthy spots with it‘s location at the mouth of the River Esk and charming little streets with quaint coloured cottages.
Whitby has plenty of places to eat and drink as it’s a lot bigger than the other coastal villages and some lovely independent stores. So set aside some time to meander the cobbled-stoned streets and drop in for tea and cake at one of the many little cafes or treat yourself to a Fish & Chip lunch, after all, that is what you do at the seaside!
The Best Things to do in Whitby
- Visit Whitby Whale Bone Arch. Located on Whitby’s West Cliff, teh arch is a testimony of the Port’s longstanding whaling tradition. Erected in 1853, this 15-foot archway frames a beautiful photo of WhitbyAbbey in the distance.
- Whitby Abbey & St. Mary’s Church, A Christian Monastery built in the 7th Century, stands proudly on the East Cliff, facing the North Sea. It is Grade I Listed. The Abbey is now in ruins but was featured in Bram Stocker’s Dracula novel.
- Henrietta Street. A quaint and pretty street with blue and white facades.A photographers haven in the historic part of town.
- Fortune’s Smokehouse is considered the last standing smokehouse in town. It first opened in 1872 and feels old-world as you walk into teh family-owned shop, producing oakwood-smoked kippers, smoked salmon, haddock and bacon.
- Whitby Harbour and Pier. If you don’t fancy walking down to the Pier, then you can get a great view of this from the 199 Steps that lead up to Whitby Abbey. It’s well worth teh climb.
- Whitby has a number of museums: captain Cook Memorial Museum, RNLI Lifeboat Museum, Museum of Victorian Sciences and the Whitby Museum.
The Best Activities in Whitby
Robin Hood Bay
Robin Hood’s Bay is known for it’s fishermen, sea captains, smugglers (in the 18th century) and even dinosaurs. This village is truly one, which gives stupendous views from the hill, winding alleys, which lead to the most cutest cottages and sea views, with sweeping views of cliffs and the dock below. I would have to say it’s one of my favourite villages on the North Yorkshire coast with it’s cafes, restaurants, shops and pubs.
To find out the villages links with Robin Hood, you’ll have to pay the ex-coroner’s room, turned museum a visit!
The Best Things to do in Robin Hood Bay
- Visit the Old Coastguard Station
- Discover teh Robin Hood Bay Museum
- Go rock pooling on the huge beach
- Explore the Cleveland Way and walk to Ravenscar
- Eat Fish & Chips in The Dock
- Shop in one of the many independent quirky boutiques
- Walk the small cobbled alleyways and discover hidden fishermen’s cottages and their courtyards
- Look for door knockers on cottage doors shaped like fish, anchors and galleons. These were where captains and sip owners once lived.
- Visit the Dinosaur and Fossil Museum
- Scope out the writer,Leo Walmsley’s house.
Ravenscar was once a site for a string of Roman signal stations along this part of the Yorkshire coast. The Raven Hall Hotel, perched on the clifftop, was once a home owned by King George III’s physician, Dr Francis Willis: it’s rumoured that the king may have stayed there during his treatment. A stone’s throw away is the alum works, once an important part of this country’s fabric dyeing industry.
In the late Victorian period, big plans were made for Ravenscar to become a holiday resort to rival Scarborough and Whitby. However the company went bankrupt and today The National Trust own the land so it can remain as beautiful and unspoilt for us to enjoy this eastern part of the North Yorkshire Moors national Park and Jurassic Coastline.
The Best Things to do in Ravenscar
- Take teh short loop walk ti teh famous Alum Works
- Hike to Hayburn Wyke or walk 5 miles to Robin Hoods Bay via the Cleveland Way
- Take you’re bije along if you’re a keen cyclist and follow the Cinder Track to Robin Hood’s Bay, Wihitby, Scarborough and Hayburn Wyke.
- Walk down to the beach and spot the resident seal colony, visible when the sun is out, lazing down teh rocks. Please do not get too close and keep at least a miles distance.
- There is a National Trust Information Centre, which provides hot and cold drinks and lots of advice and information on what to see.
- Sit on teh clifftops and admire the views before making the very steep walk up to the top again.
The original Yorkshire seaside resort town of Scarborough with pretty scenery and a stunning sandy beach, there is much to do and see. Did you know people have been flocking to Scarborough for over 400 years?!
Scarborough has a rich history, along with a small street art scene, shopping streets, fancy cafes as well as the traditional seaside elements with its multi-colour beach huts you can hire, numerous ice-cream parlours and shellfish restaurants along the coast and the traditional amusement arcades synonymous of the seaside.
The Best Things to do in Scarborough
- Marvel at the impressive building of the Scarborough Grand Hotel
- Visit Scarborough Castle which has great views of the coast. The castle is part of English Heritage, so take your membership card
- Spend some time in the Rotunda Museum of Geology
- Check out the traditional amusement arcades, Shellfish restaurants, ice-cream parlours and many fish and chip restaurants.
Be-lavie Recommendation: Try the award-winning Papa’s Fish & Chip sop which has sea views
- Try boating in Peasholm, take a ride on teh miniature railway, venture up onto the oldest funicular in England, visit the Scarborough Sealife Sanctuary, Sky Trail adventure bridge or go to the water park.
- Check out he independent boutique shops, street art just before the Grand Scarborough Hotel.
The Best Activities in Scarborough
Filey is the perfect place for those who enjoy a gentler pace of life with its glorious sweep of soft, golden sand. Filey beach is one of the best in the country for families and it’s huge! It’s the perfect place to take a walk, fly a kite, build a sandcastle, snooze in a deckchair, or maybe do a spot of birdwatching. The town has understated Edwardian architecture, quirky shops and an intriguing museum.
The Best Things to do in Filey
- Walk along teh beach or relax on a deck chair.
- Walk around the small village and spot the small shops selling quirky items
- Stop by the beachside kiosks and have a cuppa, fish and chips or a buttie.
- Pop into Filey Museum
- Filey beach is a great place to watch sunrise
- Take a stroll down Church Street and look at some of teh oldest houses in the village where fishermen once lived.
Flamborough is one of the Yorkshire coast’s most dramatic locations. The white cliffs tower over beaches perfect for hiking and birdwatching – Flamborough is just a stone’s throw away from one of the UK’s most famous RSPB reserves, Bempton, which boasts the largest and most accessible mainland nesting colony of gannets, puffins, razorbills, guillemots and other seabirds.
The beaches of North and South Landing offer some fantastic rock-pooling – under the watchful eye of seals or maybe even a peregrine falcon and the Living Seas Centre can offer advice on what to visit and see in the area.
The Best Things to do in Flamborough
- Hike or birdwatch off teh white Flamborough cliffs and spot gannets, puffins, razorbills, guillemots and other sea birds.
- The beaches offer some fantastic rock pooling opportunities
- Spot Peregrine Falcons or seals around teh rock pools
- There are 2 lighthouses and one is Grade II listed and the oldest in the UK, possibly in the world. The other lighthouse is a little newer built in the 19th century and is a waypoint for deep sea vessels today.
Flamborough has two lighthouses, the first, a stately chalk tower, was built in 1669 and, it’s believed, was never lit. It’s now a Grade II listed building, the oldest complete lighthouse structure in the UK and one of the oldest in the world. The ‘new ‘ lighthouse, built in 1806, acts as a waypoint for deep sea vessels and coastal traffic as well as marking Flamborough Head.
Bridlington is truly blessed with gloriously clean beaches, history, sporting fun, independent shops, great entertainment and amazing nature. Whatever the weather this town has something to entertain everyone.
The Best Things to do in Bridlington
- Walk along Bridlington’s long stretch of sandy beach
- If you love history then head down to the pre-Roman harbour and characterful old town
- Visit the beautiful Augustinian Priory, Bayle Museum and Harbour Heritage Museum
- Nature lovers can take a seashore safari with a boat trip around teh bay or birdwatching at Bempton Cliffs.
- Bridlington Spa hosts the best dance, comedy and music performances.
Wining & Dining in North Yorkshire
The foodie scene in North Yorkshire, especially along the coastline is quite strong on seafood as can be expected. However almost all of the towns and villages are scattered with a grand mix of cuisines, quaint tea rooms, fine-dining restaurants but North Yorkshire does traditional Pub food incredibly well accompanied by a fine array of real ales. But when in North Yorkshire, make sure you enjoy some fish and chips on one of the many beaches.
North Yorkshire Coast Roundup
The North Yorkshire coast really is one of the most beautiful parts of England with so much to see and do at any time of the year but to enjoy the beaches spring and summer are the best. From lying on the beach to discovering rock pools, heritage museums, relaxing in country or beachside hotels and enjoying the cuisine, a North Yorkshire road trip is definitely a fab staycation option as well as a great part of England to discover for international visitors.
North Yorkshire Related Reading
- Wrea Head Hall Hotel: A Luxury Country Hotel Review
- 10 Sites to explore with English Heritage
- 10 UK National Trust Properties to Visit
- Head to North Yorkshire Coast for further information about the area.