The Yorkshire Coast

Jonathan’s View

“Crumbling cliffs, smuggler’s haunts and an airy coastal path will combine to delight the walker”

The Coast

From Saltburn by the Sea in the North though to Scarborough and even Filey to the South the coastline of Yorkshire is endlessly dramatic and full of interest and intrigue. ‘Dramatic’ is derived from the high chalky cliffs (gradually eroding and very unstable) which provides superb and easy walking albeit perched on the cliff edge for much of the time.

‘Interest’ is provided by the wonderful views out to sea, the calls of different sea birds and the varied settlements. ‘Intrigue’ comes from the colourful history of the little villages and towns and their village folks constant (sometimes even legal!) battle with the sea. For any walker having the constant rumble of the rolling waves adds something more to the whole experience.


Whitby harbour
Whitby harbour

Any visitor to the area finds themselves drawn to this grand old fishing town with its splendid abbey set high on the cliffs. With working fishing boats and modern pleasure boats vying for attention, the harbour is not surprisingly the focus of any stay. However my favourite is the Old Quarter. The Old Quarter is an area of cobbled streets, quirky shops and old taverns which evoke a bygone area of smuggling and press gangs, intermixed with fisherman’s cottages and plenty of fish and chip shops for which the town is justifiably famous.

On the south bank of the estuary lies Whitby Abbey. Originally built as a wooden Benedictine monastery in the 12th century it was rebuilt in stone 100 years later. The remains now stand proudly over the town and are a photographers dream, surely one of the most picturesque sights in England.

North of Whitby


To the North of Whitby and Sandsend the coastline is very special, wild in places but always interesting. The coastal path rises and falls on to exposed moors and in to deep dells, making walks along here hard work. In one deep dell is Staithes, the original work place of Captain Cook and a lovely old fishing village full of charm and character. Staithes is good but Runswick Bay is my favourite village on the Yorkshire Coast. It is set on the north end of a sweeping bay and is a mixture of white washed cottages and tiny alleyways A perfect cafe set next to the beach completes the picture. Sitting on the grass next to the cafe with a cup of coffee is indeed one of the walkers great pleasures.

Saltburn by the Sea marks the northern point of my Yorkshire Coast. After Saltburn Teesside starts to loom large. It is an old Victorian town which has retained a lot of its character and is a reminder of when 1,000s used to flock to our coasts for their annual holiday or trip. Nearer Whitby is the community of Sandsend. The village itself lacks much character but it does boast the largest section of true beach to the north of Scarborough. The beach provides a break from the almost continual cliff walking on the coast.

South of Whitby

Robin Hood's Bay
Robin Hood’s Bay

Robin Hood’s Bay is one of the best known places on the Yorkshire  Coast. In many ways it shares the characteristics of Runswick Bay; cobbled streets, white washed cottages and an air of mystery and intrigue. It is lovely but can become busy in the summer months. Across the bay is Ravenscar, little more than a large hotel set high above the sea but commanding one of the best views on the coast. From Robin Hood’s Bay to the wide beaches at Scarborough is a line of continual cliffs. Take time to visit the odd little pub at Heyburn Wyke enroute, unsurpassed for individuality and character.

Sarborough is a large town (larger than many cities) and a tourist hot spot. Further south their are two places which are definitely worth a mention. Filey is a pretty village set near the dramatic cliffs of Filey Brigg . Further south the coast juts out at Flamborough Head, a haven for bird life and a fine old lighthouse.

Enjoying Coastal Walking

End (or start) of the Cleveland Way
End (or start) of the Cleveland Way

Walking along the coast is a real pleasure at any times of the year. I really enjoy a windy spring or autumn day when you have the place to yourself. The paths tend to follow the Cleveland Way so are in good condition. The Old Railway line which ran between Scarborough and Teesside also provides some good tracks in places. At times it cuts inland offering an alternative to the coastal walking and a circular walk which is rare on a any coastal walk.

Not many of us like to retrace our steps so if there is no internal route I like to make use of the existing public transport network. Fortunately the coast has a reliable and frequent bus service. Therefore many of the walks detailed below are one way. Take the bus at the beginning of the day and walk back to your start point. It is the best way of seeing the Yorkshire Coast.

Area Details for the North York Moors

Osmotherley & the West

Central Moors & Dales

Pickering, Great Ayton & the Esk Valley

The Best Walks on the Yorkshire Coast

My favourite walks are below, to find more details click on the link.

Walks north of Whitby

From Saltburn to Sinningrove.  6 miles

Staithes to Port Mulgrave. 6.5 miles

Discover the delights of Runswick Bay. 3.5 miles

Whitby to Runswick Bay (or the other way). 8.5 miles

Walks south of Whitby

Whitby Abbey & the Coast. 4.5 miles

Exploring Robin Hood’s Bay. 7.5 miles

Ravenscar to Heyburn Wyke. 8.5 miles

Cloughton & the Old Railway. 4.5 miles

Hidden Harwood Dale. 6.5 miles

Scarborough Sea Cut. 5.5 miles

The Coast at Filey  4 miles

Flamborough Head 8 miles

Weather Forecast


Other Things to do

Gateway. A small but passionate organization trying to improve the footpath network around Whitby

More information on the Yorkshire Coast

Places to Stay

Cottages in the Dales

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