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  • Writer's pictureAnn

North Yorkshire Coast: Runswick Bay

Updated: Jan 19, 2022

I am drawn back to one of North Yorkshire coast’s most scenic destinations time and time again – Runswick Bay with its wide sweeping bay and red-roofed fishing cottages that huddle together beneath dramatic cliffs.

Staycations are looking like the safest option to get out and about this year. The UK has so many wonderful places to explore and where better for a sun-filled staycation than heading to the seaside. I’ve been so lucky to have lived by the sea for the early part of my life. Now I am back in the middle of England I do miss being by the sea. The fresh sea air really is so good for you.

The semi-circular sandy beach of Runswick Bay sits below craggy cliff faces and is windswept and weather beaten. It once provided anchorage for brightly coloured fishing boats, but is now a family favourite for rock pooling, fossil hunting and coastal walks where you can admire the breath-taking sea views. Runswick Bay has been voted in the top 5 ‘Best Beaches in the UK’ by readers of the Guardian.

It’s loved by tourists and locals alike and is the perfect Yorkshire coast holiday destination for families and couples looking to get away from it all.

Runswick Bay was originally a fishing village and although it appears to have changed little over the centuries, it has gone through considerable changes in the past. The most dramatic of these was when a landslide destroyed the entire village (except for one house) in 1682 and it had to be rebuilt. Fortunately, no one was hurt in the disaster. Legend has it that the entire population of the village was at a wake for a recently departed comrade…and that, ironically, it was the deceased man’s house which was the only building left standing!

Just back from the beach beyond the slipway, you can stroll past the café and the village pub, wind through the narrow lanes of the rebuilt Runswick –towards the centuries-old, thatched coastguard’s cottage that juts outward towards the waves. From this vantage point, you can take in the entire sweep of the bay, its hob holes and golden sand, with the lilac-speckled moors that extend beyond, inland to the heart of North Yorkshire. From here, it’s hard not to fall for the charm of Runswick Bay.

Where to Stay

There are a few former fishermen’s cottages available to rent in the lower portion of the village, many of which have been renovated to an incredibly high standard. I recommend contacting Helen at Runswick Bay Cottages - my favourite stays have included Sandside, (the top flat of the white building in the pic above), as its such a grown up retreat with full screen sea views, and I have also stayed at the cosy cottage, Crab and Lobster for cuteness.

Square Rigg Cottage is just the best detached luxury cottage, just above the beach and with a lovely garden.

Where to Eat

Due to the small size of the village, visitors to Runswick Bay shouldn’t expect any high-end dining or culinary surprises. However, as with most of Yorkshire’s seaside hotspots, you will always stumble across a pub serving up decent pub food and a spot or two to grab a cuppa.

Here are some places I recommend.......

Sandside Café – Runswick Bay

Located just beside the slipway and lifeboat station, The Sandside Café is a simple, traditional beachfront cafe with an outdoor terrace overlooking the sea. The menu is basic, consisting of the usual hot and cold drinks, cakes, and sandwiches (give the crab sandwich a go if it is available).

The Royal Hotel – Runswick Bay

The only pub to be found in the lower portion of the village, the Royal Hotel has a decent selection of real ale (Black Sheep is normally on cask alongside some guest beers) and offer up the usual pub food for both lunch and dinner. The pub is dog-friendly and has an outdoor terrace with lovely views over the bay.

The Ellerby Country Inn

A few minutes’ drive away is this country inn serving tasty traditional pub food. I like their amazing Sunday lunch, but do book, it is a busy restaurant.

The Fish Cottage - above

The delightful village of Sandsend is just a few minutes’ drive down the coast from Runswick. The Fish Cottage really do serve the finest, locally caught sustainable fish and seafood.

This is the perfect place to sit outside overlooking the sea, but you need to be aware of the pesky seagulls who have been known to steal a few chips!

Raithwaite, Sandsend

This lovely and unique country retreat, Raithwaite, nestles in woodland gardens with a home-grown restaurant. It is the perfect place in you want to pop in for afternoon tea. Their Yorkshire inspired menu includes roast chicken sandwiches, summer slaw and the tasty and famous Whitby Fortune’s kipper pate, sourdough, pickles, locally sourced cheese of the day and Yorkshire tea loaf.

I’ve long appreciated where I live and want to do a few more blog posts about the general Yorkshire area. From dining out to visiting charming seaside towns and the moors and the dales.

Will you be going on a UK staycation this Summer?

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