Why is Staithes, England my favourite of the seaside towns in Yorkshire?
Everybody loves a British seaside town right?! They are where many of our happiest childhood memories are made. The sweet thrill of an ice cream, the accomplishment of catching your first shrimp in a bucket and the hours throwing a ball on a beach. They all just scream joy! The love of a new seaside town is something I’m trying to pass on to my daughter. Yes, the sea will send your toes numb, parking will be a nightmare and you’ll have eaten your picnic by ten am but it just feels simple, special and easy. My new favourite is Staithes, England on the coast of the North York Moors.
This is a part of the world we’ve only recently discovered and I’m delighted to say it’s absolutely gorgeous! The fishing industry is still evident in town with the pretty boats bobbing around on the harbour, although many of these are now tourist boats. The beach is perfect for fossil hunting and rock pooling and the streets and steep enough to make you feel you’ve really earned that nap on the beach while the kids play. Here’s everything you need to know before you visit.
A little history of Staithes, England
The name Staithes actually translates to “Landing Place” in old English which still feels very relevant to this day due to it’s lovely fishing harbour. (And perhaps the hoards of walkers who “land” here fresh off the Cleveland Way!)
Of course the most well known history of Staithes is that it is where Captain Cook completed an apprenticeship as a grocer and presumably developed his passion for the sea. Shortly after is time in Staithes he moved to Whitby to work for a local shipowner. You can learn more about Captain Cook and his time in the village at the Captain Cook and Staithes Heritage Centre on the High Street.
Probably one of the main reasons for your visit to Staithes will be the beach. It’s small, easily accessible and has all the facilities you’ll need for a day on the sand. The Seadrift cafe overlooking the harbour is a great place for coffee and cake.
The beach is sheltered by the imposing cliffs typical of the Yorkshire coast which, along with the harbour walls, provides a little relief from the Great British weather. These can be dangerous so keep to the paths if you want to check out the views from above. I do highly recommend the 3 mile walk from Staithes to Runswick Bay along the clifftop. The views are stunning and the hike is very manageable with kids. Or if you’re feeling particularly active, the much longer route from Staithes to Whitby is amazing.
The beach has golden soft sand with heaps of rockpools just waiting to be explored. We spent time digging holes, building sandcastles and practicing our ball skills, a perfect British beach day.
The water quality isn’t great in this part of Yorkshire so maybe save your swimming for another day and just have a paddle instead. There aren’t any lifeguards on the beach so just keep a close eye on everyone.
Dogs are welcome on Staithes beach, just make sure to pick up after them.
Unless you’re staying in Staithes, I don’t recommend taking too much equipment with you to Staithes Beach. It’s a steep climb down from the carpark and remember, you’ll have to carry your stuff back up!
The village of Staithes is almost picture postcard pretty. The red roofed houses which you’ll see on your walk down to the harbour are reminiscent of villages time forgot. And the picturesque harbour has inspired many an artist to freeze the moment in time. As you walk around the town you’ll spot colourful fishermans cottages lining cobbled streets, many decorated with sweet statue or fishing apparatus. Staithes was actually home to an arts colony in the 19th century and is home to an arts and heritage festival most years.
Even the main carpark will get your creative juices flowing. This huge blue lobster sculpture by Emma Stothard made for a great welcome.
Although this is definitely one of the prettiest seaside towns in Yorkshire is somehow manages to maintain its sense of peace. Even though we visited on a sunny Sunday in July it never felt too busy and it was easy to walk around the village undisturbed. Cars cannot park in the village unless they belong to residents so this all adds to its slightly remote feel.
The streets and alleyways of Staithes seem to make no sense so if you do find yourself getting lost, just remember to keep heading down and you’ll reach the sea.
The shops in Staithes are all lovely independent outlets selling souvenirs, arts and crafts and local produce. You’ll find a vintage sweetshop which should keep the kids happy and the wonderful Kessen Bowl for souvenirs, beach toys and gifts.
For a big shop there’s an Asda supermarket in Skelton which is around 15 minutes from town.
Keeping the kids happy in Staithes
Rockpooling is one of Pipers favourite things to do and the waterbed at Staithes does not disappoint. You’ll find heaps of creepy crawly sea creatures hiding under stones and at the bottom of pools. You may even get lucky and scoop up a crab or starfish. Just make sure you check out Staithes Tide Times before you head out to avoid getting stuck.
Playgrounds in town
The beach is probably the best natural playground in town but for something man made, there is a plenty of play equipment in the park next to the carpark. It’s a brilliant place to burn off that last little bit of energy before heading home.
Fossil hunting in Staithes, England
Like many seaside towns in Yorkshire, Staithes beach is a brilliant place for fossil hunting. Especially after a storm. I’m sure any kid would love a fossilised souvenir to take home which they found themselves. Have a route around at the base of the cliffs and in the rockpools. If you don’t manage to find any yourselves, one of the houses on the way down to the beach had a selection on sale for £2 each and an honesty box for you to leave your case.
Where to eat in Staithes
The Cod and Lobster pub in Staithes is a firm favourite with locals and visitors. It offers a wide choice of food including a great kids menu. I loved the little outdoor seating area where you can enjoy a drink or some food overlooking the harbour.
If you fancy eating at the top of the village (before or after tackling that steep hill) then the Captain Cook Inn is a great option.
For smaller snacks then definitely try out Dottys Vintage Tea Room on the high street. Or for some real comfort food, grab a take out pizza from Cobbles.
Where to park to visit Staithes
All visitors to the village need to park in the main car park at the top of the village. It’s a good size so you’ll mostly be able to find a space. The car park is pay and display and you can use coins, cards or the parking app. It’s then the long steep hill down to the harbour and the older part of the village.
If a member of your party might struggle with the walk it is possible to drive down, drop them off then head back to the car park. Although I wouldn’t enjoy this as the cobbled streets are pretty narrow.
You’ll find toilets, a cafe and sweet play area in the carpark.
Where to stay
We were staying at this great campsite near Whitby during our visit. From here it was a fairly easy half hour walk to Staithes or 5 minutes in the car.
The Cod and Lobster also has rooms to book, as does the Captain Cook Inn. To get a true feel for Staithes though I recommend hiring one of the delightful cottages. You’ll find plenty of them on AirBnB.
Public toilets in Staithes
You’ll find public toilets at the top of Staithes in the main carpark. There are also some near Staithes beach next to the Seadrift Cafe. Perfect if you’re planning a day on the sand.
Would we return to Staithes, England?
That’s a big fat resounding YES! It’s a great seaside time in Yorkshire to visit with or without kids. The town itself is super pretty and the beach is the perfect size for a few hours. I’d love to stay in one of the colourful cottages and use it as a base to explore the Cleveland Way. If you’re heading to the North York Moors I think it’s a great (quieter) alternative to busier Robin Hoods Bay or Whitby.
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