North Yorkshire: Whitby, Runswick Bay and Staithes

I’ve been blessed to be in this part of the country on many an occasion and always enjoyed the variety of rugged scenery, interesting coastline and attractive villages in the area. For those with an interest in walking may I at this point recommend the following website extolling the virtues of the wonderful Cleveland Way, a 109 mile long national trail which in part, hugs the coastline of this county.

Although I concentrate primarily on the outdoor aspects of North Yorkshire there is something for all in this part of the world and on that note I’ll begin with one of the area’s busiest resorts, Whitby.

Staithes Harbour

Whitby has always seemed a town of two parts to me. There is undoubtedly the ‘fish and chip, amusement arcades and ice cream’ area but there is much history here worthy of digging up too.

Noted as the home of Captain Cook, the house he lived in as a young man can be visited for a small charge. Additionally its very worthwhile taking a stride up the ‘199 Steps’ (count ‘em) to the prominent Whitby Abbey overlooking the town. The town also has decent safe beaches for the kids to gambol on whilst there are plenty of pubs and amusements for mum and dad at night. A time of year to watch out for is the Whitby Folk Festival which even for those who are not fans makes the place come to life with live music in the pubs during August.

The busy harbour is good to stroll and offers the largest car park nearby. Beware though because sometimes parking can be a real problem in this town. I have personally enjoyed my times staying just outside the Whitby, taking a bit more life in within the town on an evening.

Two of my favourite places in the UK situated along the cliffs of North Yorkshire. Most will be familiar with Robin Hood’s

Runswick Bay

Bay and these two villages are in many ways similar though much less commercialised or well known. They are both ancient fishing villages and extremely attractive for that. Each has a huge steep access road down to the villages which sit by the water. They both feature higgledy-piggledy tiny cottages crammed in together in a random fashion and are a joy to explore.The great thing about these two places is that they make a very pleasant walk between them along the cliff tops, adhering to The Cleveland Way. The distance between them is around 2.5 miles and takes perhaps an hour. A lovely thing to do is stroll between them and take in magnificent views over the North Sea. Runswick Bay, (pronounced Runzick Bay) has a quaint pub and a café whilst Staithes has a beauty of a pub which sits right by the water named The Cod and Lobster. Do yourself a favour if you find yourself in this part of the world and pop inside for a pint of Yorkshire ale and sit outside and peruse the waves. I’ve sat for hours doing this and never wanted to move from that spot.

View of Staithes

Staithes also offers a large segment of Captain Cooke’s story as he lived and worked here as a young man. Additionally the lovely harbour in the village is much photographed for calendars etc. The views always show the local ancient round-bottomed fishing boats called cobles which are unique to this beautiful area.

21 thoughts on “North Yorkshire: Whitby, Runswick Bay and Staithes”

  1. Nice post Stuart, glad you like our little bit of Yorkshire. The boat in the foreground of your Runswick Bay pic (The Nagar) is owned by a friend. A bit of Runswick folklore – people who lived down Runswick Bank were called ‘Nagars’. And in other local news, Runswick Bay Hotel (I have no financial interest in this) has a new landlord who is doing disturbing things like keeping excellent Black Sheep beer and serving good food.

  2. Cheers LT and thanks for the local info there, I had no idea about that.

    Yes the area has always been a favourite of mine and is very much on my mind to re-visit for a bit of walking very soon. This will no doubt take in the Runswick Bay Hotel and the Crab and Lobster amongst others. 🙂 I have to say that Yorkshire as a County has practically everything one could want – such variety.

    Thanks for dropping by.

  3. Good to see someone appreciates Runswick and a stunning picture!
    Can I correct Lunartalks though – a Nagar is a person who was “born” in the village, not someone who lives there and it’s not folklore they’re still alive!
    And isn’t the pub in Staithes called the Cod and Lobster?
    If you haven’t already walked from Sandsend to Runswick or vice versa I can highly recommend it.

  4. Thanks very much for the comments. Yes it’s a beautiful and rare little place indeed. Thanks for the correction too – ‘Cod and Lobster’ it is!

  5. I can second that, Nagars are folk who were born in the bay. Why then is the boat in the picture called the Nagar when it was in fact built in Sandsend by Tony Goodall?! I’ve never been able to understand that despite my father owning her for a good number of years…

    Another fun walk (at low tide) is long the base of the cliff from Runswick to Port Mulgrave, back up the cliff then home along the top of the cliff.

    Glad you appreciate the bay anyway.


  6. Thanks for the comments JG, particularly the local knowledge. It’s been way too long since I’ve been up that way. I must visit and try that walk soon. Thanks!

  7. Hi Malcolm

    Tose is or was a really well known name in the area along with Clark.
    I think there is a picure of a man named Tose in the Fishermans Institute at Runswick. Did your cousin have a look in there? The Nagars book is probably the best point of reference. If I find the picture I’ll let you know.

  8. I hold up my hands and confess to never being further North than Watford but feeling brave this year myself and 3 girls are off on an adventure to stay in Staithes 1st week of August wondered if there were any particular events going on in the area during that time. having looked at the comments and attributes of the area now looking forward to the holiday so thanks for the tips on walking.

  9. Hi Helen, I think you will all have a great time up there. There’s nothing not to like! The major festival up there in the summer is the Whitby Folk Fair which is a lot of fun though that’s probably a little later in the month than when you’re there. I’d look on guides for Whitby in general for events and the like. Staithes is a very small home-spun place but nevertheless instantly likeable – like practically every where else along that stretch of coast.

    Have a great holiday with your friends!

  10. Hi there; I am trying to find out about some of my ancestors who kept the Runswick Bay Hotel before the 1st World War. The family name was Robinson. My Grandmother, Bertha Robinson,who I believe was the daughter of the hotel owners, met and eventually married my Grandfather, Wynn Hoyland who came from Sheffield. The Hoyland family used to holiday at their home in Runswick called Ash Cottage.This is mentioned in J.S.Johnsons lovely book, The Nagars of Runswick Bay (page 4). Any help appreciated !

    Thank you

    Charles Hoyland

  11. Hello Charles

    Thank you for your comment. I hope that someone comes along here and is able to help you with your quest. The very best of luck with it!

  12. Hello, I am trying to find anyone who has connection with
    Robinson family my grandfather was called James Miller
    robinson he was born in Hinderwell in 1877 his father was
    called James miller Robinson and his mother was called
    Hannah .I think she had been married before to a William
    Johnson and had some children but was widowed and then she
    married James Miller Robinson they had one child James,
    my grandfather, iam also trying to find out how name
    Miller fits in if anyone can help i would be willing to
    travel to see them.
    thankyou for any help
    Bryan Healeas

  13. Hello, We are ‘family tree-ing’ for a friend and would like to know if anyone has info regarding a Staithes man who was a lay preacher in the early 20th century. His name was John Shaw and we believe he wrote stories for the Whitby Gazette.

  14. there is a local monthly,magazine featuring events in and around Robin Hoods Bay imagitavely its called “BAYFAIR” and it comes out monthlly featuring local history and events.Also wildlife to be seen on the Cleveland way which is beautiiful .Robin HOOds Bay is worth a visit by anybody and i can guarantee all visitors get a warm welcome with a warm reception from all of the local hostelries and locals alike.

  15. Hi, Stuart,

    I’m hoping you can put me in touch with Malcolm Dixon. I, too, descend from nagars of Runswick Bay named Tose and would like to get in touch with Mac or his cousin doing the family research to see how closely we’re related.

    As far as I’m concerned, there is no better place than the coast of Yorkshire. I simply love it! I don’t get often enough since I live in Canada but I go there for a spell every time I get to Britain. Love your photos!

    Thanks for any help you can give me.

    Ottawa, Canada

  16. Hi Barbara

    Thanks for the comments and I echo your sentiments! I have contacted Malcolm as you requested and hopefully you will have some memories to share!

    Best wishes


  17. I visited Whitby for a week this summer and it was such a peaceful and relaxing place. My wife and I enjoyed walking around the harbor at night which I would recommend to anyone. I want to thank you for detailing others places to visit in Yorkshire, it is such a beautiful place and I really hope to be able to visit Yorkshire again soon.

  18. I like the pages.

    In reference to the 3 boats in the foreground of the picture of Runswick Bay, all three, The Nagar, Helen Jane and The Kipper, were built for my father John Smith. Like many he named the boats after the females in my family. My mother is one of just a couple of true Nagars in the village, hence the name of the boat which was indeed built by Tony Goodall of Sansend. Helen Jane is named after my sister and was built by Wrigglesworth of Scarborough. The Kipper was named after the family cat and was built by Richard Cole who is from Runswick but has his boatyard at Lythe.

  19. Hi I enjoyed a lovely visit to Runswick in July with my brother and my dad of 94years . We holidayed in Runswick at Byways cottage for 2 years circa 1959 ish it was very different having a lovely wooden balcony and outside loo. different today The old road was going strong and For old times sake dad and i walked down it. When my Parents were in the USA in1960’s and my brothers and i were at boarding school Ripon Grammer we spent half tterm holidays at Mrs Collinsons on the top hinderwell Rd Runswick. I remember wandering along the beach in october. jenny from Street Somerset

  20. Bryan Healeas : I am also related to James Millar Robinson senior. He was my grandfather. Your father was my fathers half brouther.

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