The North Yorkshire coast is the southernmost stretch of a cliff-edged shore that stretches almost unbroken to the Scottish border. Scarborough is the biggest resort, with a full set of attractions and a terrific beach. Cute Robin Hood’s Bay is the most popular of the coastal villages, with fishing and smuggling traditions, while bluff Staithes – a fishing harbour on the far edge of North Yorkshire – has yet to tip over into a full-blown tourist trap. Whitby, between the two, is the best stopover, with its fine sands, good facilities, abbey ruins, Georgian buildings and maritime heritage – more than any other local place Whitby celebrates Captain Cook as one of its own. Two of the best sections of the Cleveland Way start from Whitby: southeast to Robin Hood’s Bay (six miles) and northwest to Staithes (eleven miles), both along thrilling high-cliff paths.
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The oldest resort in the country, SCARBOROUGH first attracted early seventeenth-century visitors to its newly discovered mineral springs. To the Victorians it was “the Queen of the Watering Places”, but Scarborough saw its biggest transformation after World War II, when it became a holiday haven for workers from the industrial heartlands. All the traditional ingredients of a beach resort are still here in force, from superb, clean sands and kitsch amusement arcades to the more refined pleasures of its tight-knit old-town streets and a genteel round of quiet parks and gardens. In addition to the sights detailed here, make sure to drop into the Church of St Mary (1180), below the castle on Castle Road, whose graveyard contains the tomb of Anne Brontë, who died here in 1849.
Robin Hood’s Bay
Robin Hood’s Bay
The most heavily visited spot on this stretch of coast, ROBIN HOOD’S BAY is made up of gorgeous narrow streets and pink-tiled cottages toppling down the cliff-edge site, evoking the romance of a time when this was both a hard-bitten fishing community and smugglers’ den par excellence. From the upper village, lined with Victorian villas, now mostly B&Bs, it’s a very steep walk down the hill to the harbour. The Old Coastguard Station has been turned into a visitor centre with displays relating to the area’s geology and sealife. When the tide is out, the massive rock beds below are exposed, split by a geological fault line and studded with fossil remains. There’s an easy circular walk (2.5 miles) to Boggle Hole and its youth hostel, a mile south, returning inland via the path along the old Scarborough–Whitby railway line.