It’s the season for a wow-factor jaunt along the Yorkshire coast. Emma Mayoh takes a trip with Route YC.

It was bucketing with rain; the wind was howling and the usually calm stroll down the path at Ravenscar meant we were clinging to rails like our lives depended on it – and we couldn’t have been happier. Ok, maybe not the rail clinging but what awaited us at the bottom of that steep descent was oh so worth it. Not only was there a burst of sunshine through the clouds but the rather remarkable sight of a colony of more than 150 seals happily lounging in the distance.

We’d seen a few pods padding out to sea as we made that descent – not a good sign we soon discovered from volunteers waiting at the bottom to guide visitors on how to act, or not act, around the curious creatures. Padding out to sea means humans have been too close and they’ve got scared. But, assured they would make their way back, we spent time soaking in this special experience.

There are common and grey seals that set up home here at different times in the year - along with an abundance of other wildlife from gulls, puffins and gannets to, if you’re lucky, porpoise and whales. One small seal pup had come up close, clearly not afraid, and determined to climb up the hill, all under the watchful eye of the volunteers.

There’s something special about this stretch of the Yorkshire coast - the seals just one part of it. Another is the views. As we pulled up on the headland overlooking the coastline, just outside the grounds of Raven Hall Country House Hotel and Golf Course, the only word any of us, including our usually chatty 10-year-old, could muster was ‘wow’. Not very imaginative perhaps but all the superlatives in the world could not appropriately describe the scene across this dramatic headland.

Once intended as a Victorian holiday resort – Ravenscar, thankfully, never quite got there and now this peaceful spot is a real oasis.

Great British Life: A bedroom at The Grainary. (c) David ChalmersA bedroom at The Grainary. (c) David Chalmers

It was a strong start to our weekend following one of Route YC’s self-guided trips. We’d spent the night before at The Grainary, a bed and breakfast, tearoom and holiday cottage complex run by the Jacksons, a brilliant farming family, just a few miles from the coast in Harwood Dale. It’s located on a working farm in, yes, you guessed it, the old grainary and it is now a comfortable and chic place to stay. It’s particularly great for families – with every box ticked from bunk beds and sky-high pancakes for breakfast to a great playground and a small animal park in one of the barns next door – think donkeys, pigs, chickens and goats. Being child friendly hasn’t meant a compromise on gorgeous interiors and great food – and beautiful views of the North York Moors National Park, keeping parents happy too. It’s quite something to look out over the moors as you tuck into your breakfast.

Great British Life: Raven Hall Hotel with its brilliant coastal view. (c) Route YC/Raven HallRaven Hall Hotel with its brilliant coastal view. (c) Route YC/Raven Hall

But back to the coast where after our climb back up the hill – an exertion but a good experience – we headed to the Panorama Restaurant at Raven Hall Country House Hotel and Golf Course for lunch.

Despite being dripping wet – I’m sure we weren’t the first travellers to have turned up looking like drowned rats after a morning of seal spotting – we were welcomed into the dining room, located 600 feet above sea level overlooking Robin Hood’s Bay and those same ‘wow’ views, a wall of windows giving an uninterrupted view of the coast.

Walkers like us dined along with big family groups celebrating special occasions and feasted on the like of fishcakes with pots of tartare sauce perfect for dipping and thick cut chips that put a warmth and pep in our step after a morning in the rain. Buttermilk chicken, steaks and scampi also looked good at other tables.

Great British Life: Boggle Hole, a secret cove with hostel and cafe.(c) RouteYCBoggle Hole, a secret cove with hostel and cafe.(c) RouteYC

Then a quick jaunt up the coast in pursuit of fossils. The short walk from the car park and down the hill at the side of the Boggle Hole Youth Hostel led to the small cove of Boggle Hole before leading out onto a wider expanse of beach. We spent a very happy afternoon here looking for our own fossils and enjoying the day. Two top tips – bring a hammer to help break open rocks to find fossils and check local tide times and keep an eye on the water coming in. Despite heading back to our car a good two hours before the tide time on the local noticeboard, ourselves, and several other groups, found themselves wading through water as the small cove at Boggle Hole had already been cut off.

READ MORE: 8 top tips for fossil hunters on the Yorkshire coast

In need of drier climes, we headed to Sandsend and the award-winning Raithwaite Sandsend, a striking destination that has been undergoing a quiet transformation over the past few years with a new team putting sustainability at the heart of the business. As part of this they’ve created the UK’s first hotel forest garden, in partnership with Sapling Spirits, and introduced organic polytunnels and no-dig beds to grow fruits, herbs, vegetables and spices, the sustainably feed the hotel’s kitchen.

A swim in the pool and a session in the steam room were the perfect tonic to a day’s exploring the coast. And then for a pre-dinner relax in our super luxe room with sink into bed – and an extra for our daughter – as well as a modern, chic bathroom. The restaurant, fully booked on a Saturday night, serves food with deep provenance and connection to Yorkshire – shown on the map on the menu. This is a kitchen team who know what they are doing. Attentive staff guided us through the choices and made the whole experience a memorable one.

READ MORE: Restaurant review: Raithwaite, Sandsend

Great British Life: The beach at Sandsend, short walk from the Raithwaite Estate (Image: Raithwaite Sandsend)The beach at Sandsend, short walk from the Raithwaite Estate (Image: Raithwaite Sandsend) (Image: Raithwaite Sandsend)

Day two meant more family fun. After a hearty breakfast at Raithwaite – not to be missed – and a stroll on the beach and wave watching at Sandsend – we wish we’d had more time here and will be back for a longer stay in the coastal village – we headed to Goathland, and the train station made famous by the Harry Potter franchise. If ever we were looking for brownie points from our 10-year-old, we were awarded 50 house points for the trip here. A short stroll along the platform brought all the joy as we imagined Hagrid and Harry saying goodbye after Harry’s first year at Hogwarts and stood on the bridge imagining ourselves at Hogsmeade Station. Although not open on the day we visited – there is a great tearoom in a converted 1922 style goods shed and you can, of course, hop aboard a Pullman Dining Train for more views of the North York Moors.

A bonus was the journey in the car from Sandsend to the famous station as we drove through glorious countryside, pretty villages like Grosmont and took our time to soak it all in. If you’ve got time, the three mile walk to Mallyan Spout Waterfall, along the River Esk, is a view that has been pulling people to this area long before the days of Harry Potter and Heartbeat, which was also filmed here.

Great British Life: Brilliant sea views over Whitby from The Fisherman's Wife.(c) RouteYC/Fisherman's Wife Brilliant sea views over Whitby from The Fisherman's Wife.(c) RouteYC/Fisherman's Wife

And then on to our final stop at Whitby which started with lunch at local favourite The Fisherman’s Wife, a local institution that has been serving the seaside town for decades and giving some of the best views of the bay. Dressed crab and a sizeable salad for me and fish and chips for my family were just the job as we people watched from our beach-side seats. And you couldn’t get fresher fish - all of it comes from the fish market, just a few steps away; crab and lobsters – which you can have with fizz - are caught daily from local Whitby waters and meat is supplied by Radford’s award-winning butchers, just up the hill out of Whitby in Sleights and a good pitstop for holiday provisions if you need.

READ MORE: Whitby has been named one of the best UK holiday hotspots

The perfect place to potter, we spent much of the remainder of the afternoon, pottering around the busy streets, soaking up time on the harbour, taking in the sights and savouring every moment of our trip. A walk up the 199 steps to Whitby Abbey is a must-walk where you will be rewarded with beautiful views – head there for sunset. Or head to Whitby Whale Bone Arch where you have more views of the coast and town. Want to experience more, book onto a sightseeing boat tour which also shows you a new vantage point to see Whitby and the stretch of coastline surrounding it.

This special staycation offered two days of sand, swims, seals and, eventually, sun. But the memories will remain for far longer.

Where to eat and stay:

The Grainary: Keasbeck Hill Farm, Harwood Dale, Scarborough, YO13 0DT,

Raithwaite Hall Hotel: Raithwaite Estate, Sandsend Road, Whitby, YO21 3ST,

Raven Hall Country House Hotel and Country Club: Ravenscar, Scarborough, YO13 0ET,

The Fisherman’s Wife: Khyber Pass, Whitby, YO21 3PZ,

Great British Life: Seals at Ravenscar. (c) GettySeals at Ravenscar. (c) Getty

Seal spotting: what to know

Seals need to rest on land to digest, socialise and feed their pups.

If a seal is looking at you, this means it is aware of you and is in fight or flight mode. Remain quiet and move away.

If a seal is moving from its resting position, it’s spooked. Its stress levels have increased, rest has been disrupted and energy wasted. Move away quietly and slowly.

If a seal is making for the water, it is fleeing. Panicking seals are more likely to be injured. Move away immediately.

Tips from the Seal Alliance. For more details visit

About Route YC

Our Yorkshire adventure was organised by Route YC, the ultimate road trip for those looking for a new way to experience the Yorkshire Coast on the road less travelled. Visitors can tailor their Route YC experience based on where they are heading from and the amount of time off, they have, but it encourages a 3-7 day break – you’ll miss it all, if you try it in a day.

You can “Collect the Six” by tailoring the Route YC experience even further by checking out the six sub-routes in Bridlington, Filey, Hornsea, Scarborough, Whitby and Withernsea. Suggested itineraries have been created to showcase everything from great places to stay, places to visit off the beaten track, great foodie stops, wildlife and more.

This Route gives tourists and locals a new way to explore the Yorkshire Coast and helps drive visitors to the area all year round.