We were lucky! February was a fairly dry month in 2023 and this helped us make the most of our week on the North Yorkshire coast in our campervan. Without wind and rain to hide from we were able to spend our days being relaxed, exploring the coastal towns and villages and walking on the coastal paths.
We reached the coast after breaking our journey in Knaresborough. The sun was shining so we took the opportunity to walk through the woodland by the River Nidd into the town and strolled along Knaresborough’s riverside under the soaring arches of the railway bridge. We had drinks in The Blind Jack, an atmospheric pub with wooden floors soaked with years of beer and jolly lanterns strung around the ceiling. It was still February but walking back at sundown blackbirds sang loudly from the trees heralding spring was in sight and really only just around the corner.
Robin Hood’s Bay
Reaching the North Yorkshire coast, we stopped at Crook Nest car park north of Scarborough and followed the cliff path. Waves whispered below us, the yellow gorse was flowering and Scarborough Castle was visible in the distance. We returned on the Cinder Track cycle route, an old railway line that links Whitby with Scarborough.
Middlewood Farm Holiday Park isn’t a perfect campsite for facilities but it is well located for exploring the coast around Robin Hood’s Bay. There is a regular bus service and we used this one day to get to Whitby and walk back. On another day we put together a circular walk to Ravenscar.
The coastal path from Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay is around 11kms that begins with a lung-busting climb up the steep steps to the abbey. After taking in the views over the town and harbour while I got my breath back we took the easy-to-follow undulating path along the cliffs. Oystercatchers searched for food on the shore below us and fulmars huddled on ledges. The path meandered around the white buildings of Whitby High Lighthouse that have an uninterupted sea view.
Robin Hood’s Bay is an attractive jumble of houses that tumble down facing slopes. Strolling between the huddle of buildings you reach the sea. On the way you pass a number of pubs and cafes and we were drawn into The Laurel Inn by the promise of Old Peculier. We stumbled into a cosy room that could have been a set for a 1950s film. The room was heavy with coal smoke; a family were playing card games opposite the corner bar and Johnny B Goode played on the music system.
Like all visitors to Robin Hood’s Bay we wandered through the narrow streets, peeking into quiet corners and dead ends finding picturesque cottages on every junction. We did some window shopping and had morning coffee leaning on sunny railings looking over the beach and the North Sea.
More undulating coastal walking along the Cleveland Way took us to Ravenscar. The descent to Boggle Hole and back up the steps to the clifftops was particularly arduous. No matter how far we walked, the picturesque red roofs of Robin Hood’s Bay were always visible behind us. In front was the prominent headland of Ravenscar. Climbing up to the headland we walked around the castellated gardens of Raven Hall Hotel and, thanks to a more observant couple, watched the large group of seals hauled up on the rocks below. In the hotel we ordered tea and their homemade shortbread biscuits. These were heart-shaped for Valentine’s Day! The Cinder Track made for an easy walk back to the campsite.
Moving on, we drove south to Bridlington, diverting inland to Burton Agnes Hall for a favourite February treat, carpets of snowdrops. The woodland garden here has waves of small white flowers with their glossy-green leaves. At Bempton Cliffs RSPB reserve we walked to the viewing platforms and watched guillemots, gannets and fulmars getting their crowded nests ready and claiming territory. This sign of spring was both riotous and joyful.
Once again the bus was helpful with linear coastal walking. From the Caravan and Motorhome Club’s Bridlington site we caught the bus to North Landing and walked around Flamborough Head back to the ‘van for about 13kms. Ahead of the sunshine, a faint mist cloaked the lighthouse and the fog horn moaned. Steep sections of the path were sticky with mud and our boots were soon messy but the nesting birds on the cliffs and seals on the shore made this a fabulous walk. Standing above one remote cove we listened to the melancholic seal songs echoing around the rocks.
We had chosen a pitch on the edge of the campsite. This means a longer walk to the facilities but has other rewards. From the Blue Bus bird hide we spotted deer making their way through the woodland and long tailed tits on the trees.
On a windy [but still dry] day seafront paths took us into the seaside resort of Bridlington. Living in Morecambe we compare every seaside resort to our home town. Like many of the north of England’s seaside towns, Bridlington doesn’t ooze wealth but we found lively and attractive corners. After coffee in the faded opulence of The Pavillion we caught the train to Filey, another resort where the buildings tell stories of former fortunes. Filey Brigg, a rocky and narrow sandstone promontory on the edge of the town was bracing in the breeze but gave us our last views along the wonderful North Yorkshire coast until next time.
The pictures below show public art in Bridlington, a guillemott at Bempton Cliffs and Robin Hood’s Bay.