After cancelling our holiday abroad this summer due to quarantine and the on-going pandemic (we should have been on the P&O ferry to Holland), we decided to book a staycation and explore more of this country. We wanted somewhere not too far to drive to and somewhere with plenty to do outdoors, so we decided to go to Whitby for the last week of the school summer holidays. We often have day trips to the coast but usually don’t get much further up than Scarborough and we wanted to explore all of the area above it. Whitby seemed like the ideal base with plenty to do in the town and lots of places to visit nearby. We found a perfect little holiday house within walking distance of the town centre through Ingrid Flutes Yorkshire Holiday Cottages.
On the bank holiday weekend, in gale force winds and rain, we loaded the car up and did the 1 hour 40 minute drive, feeling rather smug after hearing horror stories of friends stuck on motorways going to Cornwall for 11 hours+. The cottages are having extra cleaning done at the moment due to coronavirus and we couldn’t get into our property until 5pm, so we left the car on the drive and walked into Whitby to start exploring (although it was actually so wet and windy we just hid in a nice cafe and ate a lot of cake!). Luckily that night the stormy weather cleared and we had a fantastic week exploring the area. With most places being quite remote and mostly all outdoors we felt very safe and socially distanced too. Some of the things we did you can do as a day trip from Hull, or you might want to book somewhere to stay for a long weekend or week and do more of them. My children are 6 and 9 now so we did manage a lot of longer walks but if you have younger ones there are still beautiful places to see you can just cut down the length of walks to suit.
Here’s the places we visited and my recommendations for that area…
Sunday: Ravenscar and Boggle Hole
We were all keen to see some seals so on our first day we drove a short way down the coast to Ravenscar. We parked on the main road for free and walked to the cafe where the descent down to the beach starts. It’s a steep walk down but well worth it for the spectacular views across the bay. On the beach we saw hundreds of seals! Walking down the beach we almost tripped over a couple as they are so camouflaged. There were also some great fossils to spot within the large black rocks along the beach. Black clouds were rolling in so we scambled back up the cliff to the car for a car picnic while the showers passed.
After lunch we drove to the next bay up from Ravenscar, Boggle Hole. We could have actually walked if it was low tide as they are really close but we ended up on some quite hairy single track roads to get there instead! There are parking bays at the end of the road, again free of charge, then you walk the short distance to the sea. Boggle Hole is where the river flows out and meets the sea, so we had a lot of fun paddling in the stream and rearranging some rocks. There is a cave just on the south side where the river meets the beach and legend has it this is where the Boggle Monster lives (we waded through the river to check but he wasn’t home). We had drinks and snacks at the YHA cafe next to the river, food was fantastic, so much so that we went back later in the week for more!
Monday – Whitby Town
We spent Monday thoroughly exploring the town. We started at North Bay and my children had a great time on the trampolines, the go-karts, paddling in the lido and playing crazy golf. We walked down onto the beach to make sand sculptures, then walked along the beach to the main harbour.
We explored the old town and the quirky shops, made our way towards the Abbey and climbed the 199 steps to get up to it. Then we discovered the Whitby Brewery Company have opened up their brewery opposite the abbey with picnic benches outside so we tried some of their beers with the perfect view of the abbey behind! They were welcoming of our children too and had lots of soft drinks. We then walked back to the town, explored the marina and ended in the park in the town centre, Pannet Park, which was a really good find. The play equipment is excellent and suitable for a wide age range, there are nice gardens and lots of very tame squirrels too (we returned to the park a lot during the week!). We ended the day with fish and chips then did some obligatory crabbing off the harbour wall in the evening.
Tuesday – Falling Foss and The Cinder Trail
We headed off early and got a space in the car park at Falling Foss (again free parking!), about a 15 minute drive inland from Whitby. It is a beautiful waterfall with various distance walks along the river and through woodland. We had a lovely walk before paddling in the stream and finished with a visit to the tea room for amazing bacon sandwiches and scones.
We had taken the children’s bikes on the roof of the car so in the afternoon we cycled up a section of the Cinder Path, which starts opposite Pannet Park in Whitby. It’s the old railway line from Whitby towards Goathland and is a good, safe track for cycling and walking with some beautiful views of the viaduct then the countryside. Its slightly uphill all the way out so we didn’t actually get far as some little legs were aching but my husband went for a run the next morning and jogged further up.
In the evening we went crabbing again off the Whitby harbour but my daughter pulled up a jellyfish which stung her hand! I had no idea crabbing could be so perilous! Luckily we rushed back to our holiday home and found vinegar in the cupboard to apply and the sting soon went down.
Wednesday – Sandsend
We had a proper beach day, arriving early to get parked on the road through Sandsend (we did have to pay for that one) with a car full of buckets and spades, blankets, body boards, wet suits and a picnic. Directly opposite where we parked on the main road were public toilets (nice and clean and 2 in at a time for social distancing). The beach was quiet, the sun was out and it was a lovely day. In the afternoon we walked into the village centre to see the river meet the sea and get ice creams and we were lucky enough to spot a huge pod of dolphins out to sea! They stayed for ages playing near the shore and it was something me and my children will never forget.
Thursday – Robin Hoods Bay and Whitby Abbey
We drove the short distance down the coast to Robin Hoods Bay and parked in the car park at the top of the steep road down through the town. I have never been before and it was one of the prettiest places I have ever seen. We explored the tiny cobbled streets and ended on the beach to do some rock pooling. We walked south and ended up back at Boggle Hole for another round of drinks and ice creams at the YHA cafe!
We then drove back to Whitby and went inside Whitby Abbey, its an English Heritage site and there is so much more of the old abbey to see from the inside. As well as being beautiful it was also educational, there was a good trail for the children to do around the site and we all learned a lot about being a monk and about Bram Stoker (who got his inspiration for Dracula from visiting the Abbey). This was the only thing we had to book online in advance during the holiday.
Then it was back down into Whitby for the park and crabbing, again! I am sure we caught exactly the same crabs as we did the last time.
Friday – Fossiling at Port Mulgrave, a walk through Staithes and canoeing at Ruswarp
We started by driving north to Port Mulgrave where we had heard you can collect fossils. It was a very steep descent to the beach and we had to use a rope at one point to get down so this is not for families with young children or for anyone with difficulty walking. It was worth the heart stopping moments though watching my children hanging off the rope as we found loads of ammonites when we reached the beach!
We then drove the short drive back to Staithes, famous for being where CBeebies Old Jacks Boat is filmed. We walked all the way down the steep road to the beach, had ice creams and a look in the rock pools and bought lots of holiday souvenirs in the gift shop.
In the afternoon we drove to Ruswarp, just 5 minutes drive inland from Whitby. It is a beautiful village on the river with lots to do for children – hire canoes or rowing boats, go on the miniature train and, in normal times, there’s a soft play centre too. My son and husband hired a canoe each and me and my daughter got a rowing boat for an hour which cost £21 in total and I thought was really good value. Off we all paddled down the river, it was beautiful and I felt like I was living in the Wind in the Willows. After a walk around the village we had an amazing pub tea at The Bridge Inn, the best meal I’ve had for a long time. Friends of ours had done Ruswarp as a day trip from Hull over the summer and recommended it to us, I would definitely drive up again just for the day for that pub tea and my putter down the river.
Saturday – Whitby Town and home
Our fantastic week had come to an end and we loaded the car back up. We had a last walk to the park and into the old town, stopping to get a caricature done of the children in the old town square from a very talented artist! It was great to then get home so quickly and not face an all day drive.
The week away was just what we needed. We had all been squabbling and niggling at each other after being together and on top of one another during lockdown. The open space, peace and beauty of the landscape in North Yorkshire seemed to somehow restore us all, both me and my husband and also the children, and I felt like we returned as a much happier family than when we had gone. Apart from a few crowded parts in Whitby town centre where there were bottle necks of people, it all felt very spacious, safe, socially distanced and clean. My children declared it their best holiday ever and we will definitely be returning to that part of the coast again soon.
I got lots of ideas on places to go from my friend over at Scarborough and Whitby Mumbler so check out her website too if you are going on holiday to that area.