If you are looking for traditional seaside cottages North Yorkshire is the place for you. Here you will find picturesque fishing villages such as Robin Hoods Bay, Runswick Bay and Staithes. The pretty-coloured cottages and their red pantile roofs of Robin Hoods Bay are huddled around a slipway at the foot of a steep ravine and climb up the steep hillside. Packed with secret passages and alleyways, it is easy to imagine the days when smugglers would slip their contraband up the hill under the cover of darkness. The village has always been connected with the sea and fishing was the main livelihood here until the end of the 19th-century. Today, you can still see fishing boats and fishermen at work. Runswick Bay is another picture-postcard setting loved by both artists and holidaymakers. Situated at the northern end of a beautiful sandy beach, its red-roofed cottages with pretty gardens appear to tumble down the cliffside. On the seafront below you will find colourful fishing boats. Located furthest north Staithes, unlike the other two, is tucked into a cleft of rock which forms a natural harbour in this rugged patch of coastline. There's a Mediterranean feel to the place with its crop of white-washed cottages and haphazard pantile roofs. Not surprisingly many artists have been drawn to the area down the years and some are still displaying their work in the village. Staithes, however, is still a working village. There are often many fishing vessels in the harbour, adding to the beauty of the place, and fishermen regularly catch cod, lobsters and crabs. When the tide is out there are also many rock pools to explore, which are great for families with children.
Scarborough claims to be Britain's first holiday resort, welcoming visitors for over 360 years. Today it is a bustling seaside town catering for the whole family. The safe, sandy beaches of the North and South Bays are broken by a rocky headland on which stands a reminder of the past - Scarborough's medieval castle. At its foot is the harbour where the boats still land their catch. Safe beaches, clifftops and a busy shopping centre stand only yards apart and are all reached by the famous Victorian cliff lifts. In fact, those same Victorians left a town of immense style with some of the finest parks and gardens in Britain, the elegant Esplanade, the magnificent Spa Complex and the large Grand Hotel overlooking the South Bay. The North Bay area is much quieter than South Bay, so if you're looking for a bit of peace and quiet away from the crowds, this is the place to be. At the end of North Bay is Peasholm Park with boats for hire on a tranquil lake. The lake is also the venue for the thrice-weekly Battle of Peasholm', one of the great eccentric English seaside attractions. The battle between model warships mostly manpowered has been delighting audiences for more than 80 years!
I first visited Ravenscar, the resort-that-never-was many years ago when walking the Cleveland Way National Trail. The views from the cliffs towards Robin Hood's Bay were simply breathtaking. However it was the story of the failed development that intrigued me. At the beginning of the 20th-century an ambitious plan to build a holiday resort called Peak was begun. A railway line was being built to link the towns of Scarborough and Whitby, with Peak as the central point. Roads were built, sewers were laid and plots of land sold to city dwellers who liked the idea of living by the beach. However, the plan was badly researched as the route to the shore is precarious and the area, though beautiful, is very exposed. The project failed when the development company went bankrupt. The layout of wide roads remains and the houses built for a new town look strangely out of place on the cliff top.
With its quaint cobbled streets and picturesque houses standing on the steep slopes of the River Esk, Whitby is dominated by its cliff top Abbey. Situated along one of Britain's finest stretches of coastline, with cliffs, lovely bays, safe sandy beaches and attractive villages, Whitby has been a port for more than 1,000 years and is still a seafarers' town today. The narrow streets and alleys winding down to the quayside still bustle as they have done for centuries. From these centuries-old streets, 199 steps (it's a tradition to count them) lead up to the parish church of St Mary, whose churchyard inspired Bram Stoker to write his world-famous novel, Dracula. If you decide to spend a holiday in Whitby, you really must try the fish and chips! The town claims to have the best in the country, and it is hard to disagree. Perhaps the most famous is the Magpie Cafe. Overlooking the quayside the restaurant usually has a queue, but believe me, the wait is worth it. Rivals have sprung up along the quay, many award-winners in their own right.
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