runswick bay beach one of the most beautiful places in Yorkshire

Beautiful places in Yorkshire – Runswick Bay Beach

If you’re looking for beautiful places in Yorkshire, you can’t really go wrong with Runswick Bay Beach. In 2020 The Times named it the “beach of the year” for its dramatic location, sweet town and local wildlife. But what does a day at Runswick Bay beach actually offer? The answer is loads! On first look this is a simple beach, often quiet even in peak season but it come with all the facilities you’ll need for a magical day out.

glimpse of yellow sandy runswick bay beach seen through green cliff tops under bright blue skies

Runswick Bay Beach

The sand stretches for a glorious mile and is well sheltered by the toward cliffs. This makes it feel warmer than many other parts of the coastline. Although the Sea is, as expected, pretty chilly.

yellow sand with stream running across between green cliffs

What this is not is a commercialised British Seaside Town. There are no arcades, beach huts and few dining options, this is perfect for our little family, especially as it keeps the worst of the crowds away. But if you’re looking for somewhere a little livelier, you might want to head in to nearby Whitby.

a few people walking along a yellow sand beach

If you fancy a break from the beach or want the best view of the sand and cottages a recommend a walk along part of the Cleveland way. This can be reached by heading along the beach until you reach an indent in the cliffs and a small stream. You’ll be able to walk into the cliffs, up the side of the stream and cross it over a wooden bridge.

river at entrance to the cleveland way from runswick beach

From there you’ll see the many (many) steps leading up to the top of the cliffs. It’s super tough going but I promise it really is worth it for the views from the top.

view from cliff tops of runswick bay beach and village

You can follow this well maintained route all the way from Staithes to Whitby which we did one day. It’s an absolutely gorgeous hike.

wooden steps going up a cliff bordered by green grass

Runswick Bay Cafe and shop

This is a lovely little cafe serving hot drinks and lunches. You can take away or eat on the outside terrace. It’s located near the main entrance to the beach on the left just above the slip way.

cafe at runswick bay beach with outdoor seating area

It also acts as a beach shop selling everything you could need for a day at the beach from body boards to sun cream with several souvenirs available to remember your day.

shop selling beach equipment at runswick bay beach


This is a great spot on the North Yorkshire coastline for spotting dolphins. If you’re really lucky you might even glimpse some seals sunning themselves on the rocks. If you keep your eyes peeled you’ll likely see some cormorants swooping for their dinner.

view of beach and sea

Caves in the cliffs (AKA the Hob Holes)

Walking along the beach with the cliffs to your right you’ll notice several little caves. These are charmingly known as Hob Holes. Legend has it they were once inhabited by hobgoblins. Parents used to bring sick children down to these caves for the goblins to cure them of whooping cough. A slightly less fantastical use for these holes was by smugglers who used to store their treasure here before they made a sale.

hob hole cave on runswick bay beach

Please do not go into these caves, after heavy rain a few years back one of them collapsed. Although they do look fairly sturdy it’s just not worth the risk.

Visiting with kids

The sand is positively perfect for sandcastle building. The freshwater streams that meander their way down to the sea are ideal for dam buildings. And towards either end of the one mile stretch of sand you’ll find brilliant rock pools where little ones can spend hours hunting crabs and sea urchins.

sea wall of runswick bay

The waves when we visited were pretty tame and the sea shallow making it a great spot for paddling or even a refreshing swim. Just make sure you keep the kids close, the weather and waves can quickly change. RNLI lifeguards operate on the beach over the summer months and their flags indicate which areas of the sea are safe to swim in between.

lifeguards on runswick bay beach

Is Runswick Bay Beach dog friendly?

Dogs are welcome on Runswick Bay Beach at all times of year. It’s a great place to let them enjoy running through the waves and digging in sand. The further along the beach you go, the quieter it will get, always best for dogs! We tend to walk along the cliffs at the Cleveland way for a while to tire Holly out a bit before finding our spot on the beach.

blue and white house located on the edge of a beach

Watersports at Runswick Bay Beach

This is a popular beach for watersports. Canoeing, kayaking, sailing and fishing are regular activities from the beach. You can hire equipment from Barefoot Kayak, right on the beach.

colourful kayaks and paddleboards lying in a pile on stones with the sea in the distance

Facilties at the beach

There are toilets at Runswick Bay Beach, located just behind the safe. They’re not that big but we didn’t have to queue even on a sunny day. They were pretty clean and free to use. A life saver for families spending the whole day on the beach.

stone public toilets at runswick bay beach

Parking for Runswick Bay Beach

You have a couple of options here. If you arrive early enough then I recommend looking for a space at Bank Bottom Car Park. This is probably the easiest walk down to the sand. It’s £5 for 6 hours and you can use the pay and display machines or app. There are 80 spaces so it fills up quick on sunny days.

pay and display car park sign

There is another carpark at the top of the hill which is essentially a farmers field. We were visiting in June and they were open with stewards directing cars in and collecting payment. I think it was £5 for the day. This will require you walking down the steep hill to the beach (and back up at the end of your day) but it’s not too tough.

Safety first

There have been several incidences of rock falls under the cliffs at the beach so be careful where you settle in for the day. And avoid getting too close to the edge if you’re doing a cliff walk.

view of beach and village from above

No matter how calm the sea looks, do be careful in the waves. Over summer you’ll see lifeguards on the beach looking out for swimmers but do still be vigilant.

national trust sign for runswick

Runswick Bay Village

The red roofed fishermans cottages of Runswick Village are reminiscent of simpler times. They’re pretty but completely unpretentious. The steep, narrow roads winding through the village offer up some great photo opportunities. No cars are allowed in Runswick village making it very family friendly and a great place for a mooch.

red roofed fishermans cottages lining a steep road

Runswick Bay History

The original village of Runswick was located further North. In the late 1600’s the whole village slipped into the sea (apart from one solitary cottage). Luckily no lives were lost and the whole village was rebuilt in the wonderful location it is found in today.

view of runswick village from the beach

Where to stay at Runswick Bay

Runswick Bay Camping

During our stay on the North Yorkshire coastline we based ourselves at Serenity Camping just 5 minutes drive or 30 minutes hike to Runswick Bay. It was a lovely peaceful spot with top notch facilities.

There is also a great campsite at the top of the hill down towards the beach. It has 15 pitches, some with electrical hook up and all the facilities you’ll need.

large stones on beach with green cliffs

Runswick Bay Hotels

Five minutes walk from the beach is the Runswick Bay Hotel. It has several ensuite rooms, one of which is large enough for families plus you can bring your dog along!

woman walking along runswick bay beach

If you love fishing villages as much as I do then have a look at this post on Staithes, one of the best seaside towns in Yorkshire just ten minutes drive from Runswick Bay.

Pin for planning your next visit to the most beautiful places in Yorkshire.

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