Scarborough on the North Yorkshire Coast is one of England’s most famous seaside resorts. It has all the things you’d expect from a traditional English seaside town, donkey rides, amusement arcades, sticks of rock, candy floss and of course fish and chips. The town has two magnificent beaches divided by a rocky, castle-topped headland.
Scarborough North Bay
The North Bay is quieter of the two bays and has a wide expanse of sandy beach at low tide. I usually walk from the southern end (Marine Drive and headland) to the Sea Life Sanctuary (white triangular buildings). This takes you past the Freddie Gilroy sculpture, cafes, flats, shops, beach huts, miniature railway and back. The beach is quite busy at times. If you are a dog walker you’ll find plenty of other dogs for your dog to socialise with.
There is plenty of car parking all around the Marine Drive. If you visit in the wintertime this is free, otherwise, you have to “pay and display”. There is some free disk parking (2 hours) up Albert Road (YO12 7HA), where there’s usually space. Then you can access the beach close to the Freddie Gilroy sculpture. If you want to stay longer or don’t want to pay to park, consider parking on Scalby Mills Road (YO12 6RW) for free all day. The Sea Life Sanctuary is only a short walk away.
Low tide is best as some of the beach disappears completely at high tide. This means you have to walk partway on the promenade. You can check tide times at UK Tide Times. From May through to the end of September the northern end of the beach has a dog ban. Although, you can still walk with your dog on a lead along the promenade.
If you feel like something to eat or drink, there are plenty of cafes most of which are dog-friendly. If you feel more energetic you can extend your walk at either end of the bay. Head south around the Marine Drive to the South Bay (about a mile) a nice enough walk in itself. Alternatively, head north at the Sea Life Sanctuary to walk the cliff path towards Cloughton along the Cleveland Way footpath.
Scarborough South Bay
If you have a dog, the South Bay is best visited outside of summer as the stretch of beach between the harbour and the Valley Bridge is covered by a dog ban (1st May to 30th September). I much prefer Scarborough outside the holiday season anyway, the beach can be very busy in the summer.
The South Bay is much more commercialised and busy, so parking becomes a bit of an issue. Although, you can use the Park and Ride service that stops near the Spa. I usually park at the Sea Cliff Road car park ( YO11 2XU, just off the A165 Filey road) which is free for three hours. This is ample time for a walk down to the harbour and back. The car park is open until 6:00 pm.
South Bay Beach Walk
Park at the Sea Cliff Road Car Park. Before setting off locate the stone monument at the edge of the car park. The view of Scarborough from here is stunning. The route down is easy enough to find, just follow the white stone path down towards the small beach. Be careful if you are walking down in cold or wet weather as the path can be quite slippy. There is a diversion off the path to the right, down to the southern end of the bay. This can be a bit of an adventure as the access ramp is very steep with a high drop-down onto the beach. Much of the beach area here is covered with rocks and seaweed that can be quite slippy. However, it is a nice quiet place with few, if any, visitors.
Continue following the left-hand fork of the white path down to sea level. There is a small sandy beach here. Watch out though if you have a dog and it is a swimmer, as the beach is quite steep and the current is strong. If the tide is out, it’s possible to walk all the way to the harbour, without leaving the beach. Walk around the promontory (walk along the promenade if you are worried about negotiating the rocks) and then thread your way through the rock pools. Continue past the Spa and then follow the beach to the lifeboat station. At high tide parts of this walk disappear, but it is possible to complete it walking along the promenade.
Time perhaps for a walk around the harbour where there is plenty to see; lighthouse, fishing boats, pleasure craft, and the Diving Belle statue. There are plenty of cafes and fish and chip shops around the harbour area if you fancy some refreshment before heading back. Be warned, the final walk up the cliff path to the car park is quite energetic!
If you have time and the energy to divert up the headland, Scarborough Castle is well worth visiting. It can be accessed from the harbour on the South Side or Marine Drive on the North Side. The Castle sits on the 300-foot high headland that dominates the town and harbour. The castle was built during the 12th century and has had many additions and improvements made to it. Sieged by Medieval Kings, Civil War armies and German naval bombardment during the Second World War, the castle has an interesting history. The views of both bays and the town from the battlement platforms are outstanding. The castle is managed by English Heritage, so if you are a member, entrance is free; otherwise, there is an admission charge.
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