Potter around Staithes investigating the alleys and paths
Staithes is a fascinating village that has grown organically up the sides of its steep valley. You can spend ages just wandering around the alleys and paths discovering new views and quaint cottages, go down to the beck and watch the fishermen get their boats ready, or go the harbour and watch the boats and sea birds there – perhaps pausing to have an excellent cup of coffee at the Seadrift Cafe. Further upstream in the beck there is a set of stepping stones that cross to the Northern side where there is a woodland area. Staithes is a photographer’s and painter’s paradise with endless varieties of view illuminated by a changing light.
Walk from Staithes to Runswick Bay
Walk straight from Greystones down to the harbour and then turn right on to Church Street where a path leads up onto the cliff tops and you can follow the Cleveland Way. The views out to see and along the coast are wonderful. After a mile and a half you pass through the edge of Port Mulgrave, a former ironstone mining community. If you are feeling energetic, or inquisitive, then you can drop down to the remains of the old harbour at Port Mulgrave and look at the wonderful collections of fishermens’ huts and the small number of working fishing boats. Another mile and a half after Port Mulgrave you come to the picturesque coastal village of Runswick Bay. Follow the path down the village where there is a broad sandy pebble beach when the tide is out. The Victoria Hotel does food at lunchtimes and evenings and stocks well kept real ale, it has a welcoming fire in the Winter and is dog friendly. In the Summer the beachside cafe does sandwiches and light lunches through the day. To return to Staithes there are a number of options – return back the way you came and get all the views you missed coming, head inland and walk back through the village of Hinderwell or time your trip to coincide with the X56 bus which goes from the top of Runswick Bay to the top of Staithes.
Go the Magpie Cafe in Whitby
Rated the best fish and chips in the UK by Rick Stein (at least until he opened his own fish and chip emporium in Padstow) the Magpie Cafe is legendary for the quality of its food and its friendly down to earth service. The fish and chips is great and you can get a much greater variety of fish than the cod or haddock of most chip shops, we have enjoyed halibut and gurnard there. What is less generally known is that they also have a much more restaurant style menu of excellent fish dishes that can be enjoyed with a bottle of wine. There is usually a long queue to get in and it might be a good thing to work up an appetite through this anticipation (averaging 20 minutes) because the portions are large. However if you have kids or aren’t built for standing for long periods then there are a proportion of the tables that can be booked, you only have to then run the gauntlet of envious looks from the people in the queue.
Walk and play on the beach at Sandsend
When the tide is at least half out (or in) the beach at Sandsend is wonderful for a walk by the sea. Sometimes the waves are big and crash on the shore, other times it is like a mill pond, but it is always great for that healthy sea air experience. Park at the car park just at the bottom of Lythe Bank (tickets from the main public car park at Staithes are valid here) and walk as far as you like. We often walk all the way into Whitby, have a bite to eat (in the Magpie Cafe if we are lucky), and then get a taxi back to the car park (the fare is about £5). In the Summer the beach is full of windbreaks and beach shelters and happy holidaymakers enjoying a British seaside holiday. There are three good cafes along the back of the beach (Wit’s End Cafe, the Bridge Cafe and Beachside Cafe) and a couple of shops selling such essential items as buckets and spades. When the waves are right you will see lots of surfers.
Ride on the North York Moors Steam Railway
The steam railway that runs from Grosmont to Pickering provides a really great day out. The trains are beautifully restored and run by a large group of friendly enthusiasts and vary from small goods engines through to large streamlined locomotives such as the Sir Nigel Gresley. You can catch the train to Pickering, spend some time there and return on the train; or you could go from Grosmont to Goathland and then walk back along the path that was once the route of the railway passing through the tiny village of Beck Hole with its marvelous pub, the Birch Hall Inn, which has been virtually unchanged for 30 years. Trains run every weekend and during the week at holiday times, some run as far as Whitby, you check the times on their website.
Go inland and walk on the North York Moors
With the all the attractions of the coast it is easy to overlook the fantastic countryside of the North York Moors. A short drive inland from Staithes will take you to the village of Danby and the Moors Centrewhere there is a cafe , exhibition centre and, most importantly, information about local walks. A couple of miles walking will take you right into the heart of beautiful countryside well away from any traffic, the old County Road (now a rough surfaced track) around Little Fryup Dale gives spectacular views back to the coast. There are also great routes for day rides on mountain bikes.
Walk up the 199 steps to Whitby Abbey
Church Street in Whitby is the most historic street of the town with lots of intriguing old buildings housing interesting shops. Walking along this you come to the bottom of the ancient (though recently restored) 199 stone steps up to Whitby Abbey. On the way up you pass the almost equally old St Mary’s Church with its graveyard of headstones from prominent members of Whitby’s seafaring community. At the top the ruins of the abbey make a great impression with all their associations with Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The new visitors’ centre has some excellent audiovisual displays which point out the more important role that the Abbey played in the life of Britain with the Synod of Whitby.
Buy some fish and cook a gourmet meal in Greystones’ kitchen
You can buy some great fish around Staithes, the Whitby Catch in Whitby and the seafood unit in the Industrial Estate at Staithes are the best places to buy it (see the food section for more details). The range available at the Whitby Catch is impressive, which is not surprising since it is just across the road from the wholesale fish market on the quay of Whitby harbour. You can get lots of fish that isn’t easily available outside a fishing centre – big thick halibut steaks, gurnard, etc. and it is all fresh from the sea. Greystones has a well-equipped kitchen, so you can easily produce a gourmet meal with little effort – halibut steaks with a Welsh rarebit crust, wild sea bass baked on a bed of potatoes and tomatoes, scallops with an orange and vermouth sauce…
Go to Bothams’ tea room in Silver Street for afternoon tea
Bothams are the main bakers in Whitby and make delicious loafs of ginger brack and fruit cake. They have a shop in the main street of Whitby but their original shop and tea room is tucked up a corner in Silver Street. The first floor tea room is like stepping back into the 1930s – courteous staff dressed in black & white, potted palms, a high ceilinged room with oil paintings on the wall. There is also the most amazing range of teas available including specialist Japanese teas served in glasses which mimic the unfolding of lotus flowers when water is poured on them.
Go crabbing in Staithes harbour
Judging by the number of crabbing lines our guests leave behind, and their comments in the guest book, this seems to be one of the most popular activities for children of all ages. Borrow one of our lines or buy one from Kessen Bowl Gift Shop (get a bucket and bait, bacon rind or mackerel in oil is good), and go down the harbour wall or the bridge across the beck and see how many you can catch. Do of course look after the crabs, only keep them for a short time in your bucket, don’t have too many in your bucket at once, don’t let them get hot in the Summer and always put them all back into the water.