The beaches in North Yorkshire are some of the best. Their pale sands and steely grey waters are hugged by wild and rugged long grass on dunes and cliffs, and provide habitats to seals, birdlife and the occasional dolphin pod.
There's such a great variety of beaches on the east coast of Yorkshire. One of the most visited, Saltburn, is a magnet for fish and chip lovers and beach-day-trippers from all over the area. Originally a Victorian holiday spot, the area continues to be a popular spot for families, dog walkers and surfers. With one of the only Victorian funicular cliff-lifts in operation in the world (originally completed in 1884!), it has developed into an arty, exciting place with a great yoga and artisan crowd, some amazing restaurants and an extremely popular annual Food Festival. The beach is wide and flat, with cliffs at one end and views down the coast. As children, all the Mums from where we lived would walk us through the woods to Saltburn for a picnic and a day on the beach – truly the highlight of the summer! It was always painful walking over the pebbles, but as soon as we were onto the sand, we’d run full tilt to the sea – which was always breathtakingly cold. On a bright, winters day, blowing the cobwebs away is a must. There’s even a few brave souls who’ll test a dip for charity! Saltburn is walkable through the woods from where I live - in around 25 minutes you can have sand under your feet and the salty wind in your hair. Often used for horse treks and dog walks, and with the recent development of colourful beach huts, and the sea front eateries taking on a 50s vintage vibe, it's a fantastic place for families. I always bump into to someone I know!
At the other end of the spectrum from busy and bustlingSaltburn is Skinningrove, just down the coast (connected by the Cleveland way, along the cliff tops). Skinningrove, a small industrial village, is home to one of the most spectacular beaches in the area. Butted against a towering wall of cliff, the beach is soft and white, with beautiful dunes. Enclosed and sheltered, it truly is a hidden gem. Avoiding the cliff path up top, it’s possible to walk from Skinningrove to Saltburn at the base of the cliffs by boulder and rock hopping – but only when the tide is fully out, and make sure you keep well away from the cliffs themselves, which can crumble at any point. I walked it once – not for the feint of heart! You won't find fish and chips and hoards of visitors here, making it the perfect spot for quiet fresh air.
Staithes and Runswick also offer beautiful scenery – which are connected to home by the Cleveland Way, which takes in each of these coastal retreats. Staithes is a tiny village reached only by a steep descent (not so much fun walking the other way!), full of cobbled streets and small fishermen cottages, and attracts a hardy and arty crowd - they host an annual illumination show, inviting light smiths to light up the cliffs and buildings, and homes are open for artists to display their work. Charming, intimate and a sure sign that Autumn has landed. Runswick is where I first went sea-kayaking - a fab place for a cafe stop, and the beach is lovely and open. The Cleveland Way runs along is, and cuts up through a small natural waterfall to carry on up the cliff path.
Just this weekend I stepped out of my front door at 6.30am and I was instantly on the trail. With a backpack full of picnic treats and an eager Springer Spaniel at my heels (she's a very good girl), the path undulates through fields, dunes and beaches. The perfect time-out.