A personal view of the Yorkshire coast resorts.
Overview of the Yorkshire coastline
The Yorkshire Coast North of Bridlington is very attractive, often with high cliffs either side of bays with wonderful sandy beaches. The cliffs around Flamborough are spectacularly white and rise 300ft high vertically from the sea, while those near Ravenscar are nearly 600ft high but not quite vertical. There are access points all along the Yorkshire Coast sometimes down steep cliffs to stony beaches and rocky shorelines. The Yorkshire Coast, once you are a few miles south of Bridlington, is one unbroken beach backed by boulder clay cliffs for over 30 miles. The south beach in Bridlington is probably the best on the Yorkshire coast although Filey when at its best is a good challenger. The coast south of Bridlington has the highest rate of erosion in Britain. The quality of the beach is variable south of Bridlington but often tends to be coarse and stony except at low water.
The largest and best quality sandy beaches on the Yorkshire Coast starting from the north are Whitby, Scarborough Filey and Bridlington which is why they are the 4 major Yorkshire coast resorts. Filey and Bridlington have the largest and most protected sandy beaches on the Yorkshire coast.
All these 4 resorts have good beaches by any standard with parts of the beach covered by lifeguards. Others may put them in a different order.
Best beach in Yorkshire
First -Bridlington beaches
Best quality sand. Very sheltered from surf (surfers never come to Bridlington). Bridlington South Beach is a huge expanse and quite a bit is above normal high water which is regularly machine cleaned. There are even beach volley ball nets put up. the beach has a very shallow slope making it safe. Bridlington South Beach extends for miles and is really good all the way to Fraisthorpe. Bridlington North Beach rarely seems crowded. The North beach gets increasingly stony as you go towards Sewerby steps where the rocky shore starts.
Second -Filey beach
Filey has good quality sand and fairly sheltered water especially on the beach near Filey Brigg. There is a large expanse of sand which just gets covered (and cleaned) by the sea at high water. Not normally crowded unless near high water. In the right sea conditions Filey Bay can be used for surfing. On the biggest tides of the year, at high water, there is no beach left.
Third equal – Scarborough beaches
Good quality sand but not a huge area considering the number of holiday makers. Quite a bit of Scarborough South bay is above normal high water and is cleaned. Sections can seem crowded at times. In the right sea conditions both Scarborough beaches can be used for surfing.
Third equal- Whitby beach
Good quality sand but not much left at high water and can be exposed to Northerly surf. Good for surfers. Not normally crowded except near high water. The beach as you go towards Sandsend gets coarser. With the right sea conditions it can be spectacularly rough. Unlike the other resorts Whitby beach has no shelter at all from a Northerly sea.
Getting to the beach
How easy is it to get to the beach and park near it.
First – Bridlington
You can park all along the seafront close to the beaches but at busy times you will find it difficult to find a parking place unless you get there reasonably early. However Bridlington has a large park and ride by the beach and it is at the South end of the town with access off the main A164 Hull road. The car park is just above the South beach with easy access down a low cliff using slopes or steps. Then across a few sand dunes. there is also a car parking all along the seafront at the North side and a pay and display at the bottom of Limekiln Lane. Both are right next to the North Beach. Not quite as busy as the Southside because the beach is more Stoney although at low tide there is a lot of very good none stoney sand. The cliffs are low throughout Bridlington and plenty of shallow slopes to get around. On the busiest days at the busiest times Bridlington can have traffic problems but not as bad as Scarborough.
Second equal – Filey
There is parking on the seafront but as many properties on the seafront do not have car parking it is normally parked up. There is a little parking on the coble landing and up the Ravine but both get parked up quite quickly each day. There is a car park at the South end of the town with access down a gentle slope. The main parking in Filey for visitors is the country park on the cliffs at the North end of town. It covers a huge area with parking on some hard areas and on grass. I do not think it has ever run out of spaces. Access down to the beach is a fairly gentle slope but with a short very steep section down to the yacht club. Once on the seafront it is quite a climb back up to the town or car park
Second equal- Whitby
Whitby has become increasingly popular as a place you must visit for a day at least. There is parking in the centre in large car parks near the river but they are a long walk from the beach. There is also quite a lot of parking on West Cliff above the main beach. Quite a high cliff to go down. All this parking does get full at busy times. There is a park and ride to the West of Whitby out on the A171. You have to then use the buses to take you into Whitby. The main shopping areas both sides of the harbour are close to sea level. The road out to Sandsend runs along a beach and has parking along it but does get parked up at busy times.
Fourth – Scarborough
Scarborough is the busiest town by far and does have significant traffic problems quite often. It has built a park and ride to the south of the town which is pretty much nowhere so you have to then use the buses which have to make it through the traffic although there are bus lanes for part of the way.
There is some parking on the seafront and on the harbour and a lot around the Marine Drive. Marine Drive parking can leave you a long way from the beaches unless you can park near either end. There are other car parks near the harbour and sea front but none are particularly big to cope with busy days.
All these resorts have quite attractive seafronts.
First – Whitby
The narrow valley of the River Esk with the houses tumbling down its sides (sometimes literally) forms an impressive backdrop to all your photos. Ths makes Whitby the most photogenic Yorkshire Coast resort without a doubt. Whitby harbour with its boats as well as the sweeping curve of Whitby’s magnificent breakwaters add interest. Whitby Abbey and St Marys Church atop the East Cliff and the Edwardian Hotels and whalebones atop the West cliff add further interest to the skyline. There is also the narrow and irregular old streets and buildings. It is no accident that Sutcliffe’s photos have become world famous.
Second equal – Filey
Edwardian splendour along the cliff top, Filey coble landing and the sands stretching out to Filey Brig on one side and Flamborough head on the other. The Brig itself can be a magnificent place for wildlife photography with an interesting background as well as for evening summer sunsets which highlight Scarborough castle.
Second equal – Scarborough
The castle on the cliff top in the middle of the town adds a beautiful backdrop to both the North and South bays. The harbour with the town climbing behind it is also very attractive. Scarborough South cliff has some lovely Edwardian splendour about it.
Fourth – Bridlington
The harbour is good for photography around high water. The sweeping curve of the Northern part of the bay and the white Flamborough cliffs are photogenic. The wide open vistas of the South beach are magnificent but difficult to capture. There are good photo opportunities around Sewerby hall and park.
Most facilities and attractions
All of the resorts have plenty of places to eat and decent shops
The largest Yorkshire coast resort by far with several theatres, many amusement arcades and attractions catering for visitors. Almost a city feel to the shopping area. Boat trips from the harbour. Donkeys on the beach and loads of fish and chip shops and ice cream stalls. Interesting Rotunda museum. Peasholme Park, the North Bay railway and the open air theatre. There is also now a large indoor water park which is very popular. Strangely enough there is not a modern cinema.
Second equal – Bridlington
The largest and most impressive theatre on the Yorkshire coast and the largest outdoor funfair area on the coast are in Bridlington. Pirate Boat trips, angling trips. There are also trips round Flamborough head to see Bempton cliffs, arguably the most worthwhile boat trip on the coast. Bridlington also has the largest amusement arcade on the Yorkshire coast containing a cinema and bowling alley.
Second equal – Whitby
Many attractions around the maritime history of the area and captain Cooke. The whale bones on West cliff. There is also its Dracula connections. Whitby is a magnet for Goths and Steam Punk aficionados. A few children’s rides and amusement arcades. A small theatre. Different types of boat trips and even a steam bus ride. There are also whale watching trips. Narrow cobbled streets with Art Galleries and jet shops in the old parts under the Abbey. Good local museum and good lifeboat museum.
Fourth – Filey
Only one amusement arcade. A smaller resort than the others but there are children’s rides and donkeys on the beach and all the usual seafront eateries and gift shops, just nowhere near so many of them as any of the other three. Many who go to Filey see this as its big plus. It also has its Filey Bird Garden and Animal Park and a small museum.