Ah, the beautiful Yorkshire Coast! The dramatic coastline is peppered with traditional fishing villages and seaside towns, so it’s a great choice for a walking holiday. The Cleveland Way is a well-known walking route and goes all the way from Saltburn to Filey. There’s plenty of places to stay along the coast too – take a look at some of our Yorkshire Coast holiday cottages for inspiration below.
There are so many walks on the Yorkshire Coast to try and we have chosen some of our favourites in this blog.
Six of the best walks on the Yorkshire Coast
1. Ravenscar to Robin Hoods Bay
It’s up to you whether you take the cliff-top route, walk part of the way along the beach or head into the North York Moors on your way back. There is lots to see when you get to Robin Hoods Bay, so we highly recommend exploring the maze of streets and stopping at a café before embarking on your return journey. One of our favourites is the 11-mile walk through some of the North York Moors' most characteristic landscapes.
Starting at the Ravenscar National Trust Coastal Centre on the rugged heights of Ravenscar, it then runs across Howdale Moor where you will traverse some beautiful moorland and then drop down to the old Scarborough-to-Whitby railway line. Finish at the renowned smugglers' haunt of Robin Hood's Bay, where you can treat yourself to a couple of hours of rock pooling and fossil hunting before settling down on the beach for a picnic. If you want a change of scenery, nearby Boggle Hole is also a great place to look for fossils and sea creatures.
On the return journey back to Ravenscar, take the cliff-top walk, part of the Cleveland Way National Trail, known for its spectacular sea views. You will pass by the old alum works industrial site and some archaeological ruins which make the walk one for history buffs too. This walk takes a good six and a half hours at a steady pace so make sure you are up for the challenge! If you need to pack in some carbs for the route or refuel on the way, there are refreshments at both Ravenscar and Boggle Hole. Just a word of warning - the weather can change quickly on the moor and sea cliffs so be prepared for poor visibility, even in the summer months.
2. Runswick Bay
This is a gentle 2-mile linear walk (one mile in each direction) along the Cleveland Way that follows the cliff top along Runswick Bay. The cliff-top walk has some wonderful vistas over both Runswick Bay and Port Mulgrave and is best for those looking for an easy access walk. This route doesn't actually pass the village of Runswick Bay but follows the Cleveland Way National Trail towards Staithes, so if you want to extend your walk past the 2 miles, it's easy to do so. If you do want to turn back, stop for a picnic at the harbour remains at Port Mulgrave, which opened in 1856 to export iron ore from local mines to the north-east.
The walk starts at the upper car park in Runswick Bay, where there are also refreshments available to fuel up for the walk or to look forward to when you get back. The walk takes about an hour at a normal pace and is pretty easy-going so perfect for those strolls where you don't want to commit too much, whether because of time restraints or the great British weather!
Runswick Bay is one of the few sandy beaches in the area so it's definitely worth heading down on sunny days if you can spare a few hours. The village is also worth checking out, with its red-roofed fishermen's cottages and delightful thatched cottage on the harbourfront, once home to the coastguard. It also has an interesting history to discover - way back in the 17th century, the whole village slipped into the sea. It was rebuilt but has been lashed by rough seas and ferocious storms over the years, with sea walls and defences being put in place to avoid subsequent disaster.
3. Staithes to Port Mulgrave circular walk
A 4-mile circular walk that starts at the old fishing village of Staithes and heads along the Cleveland Way to Port Mulgrave. Start at the Cod and Lobster where you can enjoy a pre-walk drink then set off from the sheltered harbour to follow the Cleveland Way National Trail for the first part of the walk. Hike across the brooding cliffs until you reach Port Mulgrave, all the while being treated to magnificent sea views.
Don't just come for the walk - make time for a look around Staithes before you set off, where harbourside cottages in old cobbled streets give a touch of nostalgia and tradition. The walk will take about two and a half hours at a steady pace, starting at Staithes car park. When you get to Port Mulgrave, treat yourself to an afternoon tea on the clifftop inn but bear in mind that it's only open at the weekends and bank holidays.
On the return to Staithes, you’ll pass through fields and woodland to give a nice variety to the walk. You'll also pass through the little hamlet of Dalehouse where you can also stop for a quick drink before setting off on the final leg home. Just a little maritime history before you go: back in the mid 18th-century, the young James Cook worked in Staithes as an apprentice shopkeeper. There he developed a taste for life at sea, going on to become the famous Captain Cook that we all know so well.
4. Flamborough Head
The dramatic white cliffs at Flamborough are a haven for seabirds and make for a scenic walk. There are a few variations on routes you can try, but most take in Flamborough village, the lighthouse and the coastal path between North and South Landing. One of the most popular is the Flamborough Head walk from Danes Dyke which follows part of the Headland Way, a 20-mile long-distance path running from Bridlington to Filey. The views are outstanding, out to sea and the huge chalk cliffs which have been eroded by the sea. Interestingly, these cliffs are the only chalk ones in the north.
This walk is relatively easy to follow and pretty easy with a number of paths to follow and the cliffs at Flamborough Head have been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. If you love your wildlife, you'll be thrilled with the variety of seabirds which nest on the cliffs, including Atlantic puffins, kittiwakes and gannets. Nearby Bempton Cliffs are in fact, under the care of the RSPB.
Keen historians will love exploring prehistoric site Danes Dyke, a 2-mile defensive ditch running north to south across the Flamborough peninsula. Start the walk at the car park here but bear in mind there are a couple of steep flights of steps before you get on your way. For refreshments, there are various spots along the route, as well as some excellent places to stop off for a picnic.
5. Grosmont to Whitby
Follow the linear path of the final part of the River Esk from Grosmont to Whitby. You’ll get changing scenery en route – starting high up in the North York Moors and ending up by the sea, there is 8 miles of outstanding scenery to drink in. Explore the interesting railway heritage in Grosmont and delve into the gentle walk through fields, woodland and two small villages.
The walk takes about four hours and finishes on the pier at Whitby. Stop and reward yourself with some fish and chips - rumoured to be some of the best in the north - and take a walk up to the gothic abbey, inspiration for Dram Stoker's Dracula. The town is a great place to explore as well, and there's no better place to finish than with a pint in one of the Whitby inns!
Whitby is not all about Dracula and fish and chips - it's also famous as we mentioned above, for its connections with Captain Cook. The great explorer first trained in Whitby and was an apprentice in a 17th-century house on the harbourfront. This building now houses the Captain Cook Memorial Museum, which makes an interesting way to while away an hour or two while waiting for the train back to Grosmont.
6. Sandsend to Whitby
You can walk right along the beach from Sandsend to Whitby which is well worth doing, especially in the summertime. There’s a choice of cafés on the beachfront at Sandsend and a plethora of food and drink options in Whitby, so you won’t be short of places to get refreshments! On this 3-mile walk, you'll pass East Row and the Whitby Golf Club as well as Whitby Beach where you can settle down to take in some fresh sea air (and perhaps a little sun) on the sands.
The path is pretty flat and has some gorgeous cliff-top views, ending with the stunning sight of Whitby Abbey. With a history stretching back to the 7th century, it perches on the East Cliff above Whitby peering over the North Sea. It's the most spectacular set of ruins, and particularly beautiful at sunset with the sun's rays flickering through the arches.
If these coastal walks have whet your walking appetite, then check out our guides to the best walks in the North York Moors, dog-friendly walks in the Yorkshire Dales, and family-friendly Dales walks, then rest your weary legs in one of our luxury holiday cottages in Yorkshire!
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please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.