Summer holidays beckon so it’s time to cross our fingers for sunshine, pack a picnic and zip to the coast. Sarah Banks lets us in on the secrets of where to find quieter coves and hideaway beaches for rockpool heaven


Victorians would come to gather rocks and stones for road building from this hidden rocky cove at the end of a ravine, carved out by years of ice and water. The beach is a mix of shale, sandstone and limestone outcrops containing fossilised plants and animals. Best explored at low tide for rock pools. Travelling north of Scarborough on the A171 to Burniston, turn right immediately after the Three Jolly Sailors pub. Continue on Field Land, then take sharp right at kennels to limited parking. Follow paved path next to ravine to beach (not coastal path), then take stone steps to beach.

Great British Life: Cornelian Bay. (c) Sarah BanksCornelian Bay. (c) Sarah Banks


Sheltered, sandy beach situated beneath wooded cliffs. Explore rock pools and remains of WWII pillboxes. Generally peaceful, even on hot summer days. From the A165 South Cliff roundabout in Scarborough, take the Filey road then turn left into Cornelian Dr (YO11 3AL). Take second left to pumping station. Bear left on coast path and find wide gravel track down to beach.

Great British Life: Osgoodby Point. (c) Sarah BanksOsgoodby Point. (c) Sarah Banks


Walk through a wooded valley to this isolated sandy beach at the north end of Cayton Sands, buffeted by the rocky headland of Knife Point. At low tide walk south along the beach to Lucy’s Shack for refreshments and clifftop surf school. Continue SE along the Filey Rd to find footpath on left next to Knipe Point homes (YO11 3JT). Parking next right on Osgodby Way. At coast path bear right then take first left to beach.

Great British Life: Cloughton Wyke. (c) Sarah BanksCloughton Wyke. (c) Sarah Banks


A remote rocky beach with ledges just off the Cleveland Way coastal path and with good access from the Cinder Track cycle route. Great beach for fossil hunting, and plenty of opportunities for scrambling in Scarborough’s most boulder-rich cove. Check tide times. From the A171 in Cloughton, turn onto Newlands Rd (YO13 0AP, signed ‘Staintondale’), then turn immediately right into Newlands Lane. Park at road end. Descend to coast path and bear right for 500m to find a stream flowing down to Cloughton Wyke. Follow path carefully downstream. Explore far right of bay to find ledges good for snorkelling.

Great British Life: Hayburn Wyke. (c) Sarah BanksHayburn Wyke. (c) Sarah Banks


A picturesque, wooded valley leads to this magnificent rocky cove with its double waterfall and giant boulders. Children will love exploring the millions of colourful pebbles and rocks or spotting tiny sea creatures in the rock pools. The Hayburn Wyke Inn is recommended. Turn off the A171 at Cloughton as for Cloughton Wyke (see listing) but continue towards Staintondale. After 1½ miles turn right for Hayburn Wyke Inn (YO13 0AU). Parking at pub (fee, reimbursed if you eat/drink at pub). Follow signposted woodland path from car park down to sea.

Great British Life: Stoupe Beck Sands. (c) Sarah BanksStoupe Beck Sands. (c) Sarah Banks


Secluded sandy beach at the bottom of a flight of steps, which along with Boggle Hole forms part of Robin Hood’s Bay. Travelling south from Robin Hood’s Bay on the A171, take left turn at the sign for the Falcon Inn, then left on to Stubbs Lane, signed ‘Staintondale/Ravenscar’. Continue for just over one mile to junction and take left turn, signed ‘Ravenscar’. Continue for 3 miles to small car park on left after Stoupe Bank Farm. Walk 300m down path and steps to beach. Alternatively, follow the coastal path south from Boggle Hole.

Great British Life: Scalby Ness. (c) Sarah BanksScalby Ness. (c) Sarah Banks


Two crescent-shaped bays at low tide with rocky ledges and rock pools at high tide. Stunning stretch of coastline with views towards Scarborough Castle and Oliver’s Mount. Look out for cormorants and oystercatchers. At low tide it is possible to walk from Scarborough’s North Bay; otherwise follow the A165 Burniston Rd N out of Scarborough. After sharp right bend and bridge over Scalby Beck, take immediate right to parking by pumping station. Follow footpath to coastline and scramble down to beach.


Shingle and pebble cove beneath magnificent chalk cliffs with smugglers’ caves to explore by kayak or paddleboard. At low tide, walk round to Little Thornwick Bay to find a spectacular natural amphitheatre and ‘rapids’ to swim through. Plenty of rock pools. Thornwick Bay Café serves basic snacks. From Flamborough village, follow the B1255 on North Marine Road. After ½ mile take left, signposted ‘Thornwick Bay’. Pass parking kiosk (£1.50 all day). Continue 300m to clifftop parking. If you plan on staying late, move car outside barrier before 6pm.

Great British Life: North Landing, Flamborough. (c) Sarah BanksNorth Landing, Flamborough. (c) Sarah Banks


Small, pretty beach flanked by high chalk cliffs. Soft sand at High tide and pebbles at low tide. Lots of caves to explore. Rockpools galore. Café by car park. From Flamborough, follow signs to North Landing (1 mile). Park by café (YO15 1BJ). Plenty of rock pools and caves to explore on left but largest cave is on right, after first inlet (50m) beyond arch. The narrow cave entrance leads to a major cavern with access to sea. Strong tidal races offshore so stay close if you swim.

Great British Life: Selwicks Bay. (c) Sarah BanksSelwicks Bay. (c) Sarah Banks


Popular sand and pebble bay at the foot of high cliffs. As the tide goes out, a rocky shoreline with many rock pools is revealed. Amazing caves, tunnels and inlets to explore. From Flamborough, follow signs to Flamborough Head (2 miles) and park by lighthouse/café (YO15 1AR). On beach, bear left and scramble round into deep inlet cove, with further tunnel out to sea. Further swims/scrambles around the headland and many more coves. At the right end of beach, a low tide scramble leads to a cave with skylight.

Great British Life: High Stacks, Flamborough. (c) Sarah BanksHigh Stacks, Flamborough. (c) Sarah Banks


Isolated pebble cove with spectacular sea arch known locally as the ‘Drinking Dinosaur’. From above, the rock formation does resemble a sauropod drinking from the sea. In summer, common seals sprawl out along the beach. From Flamborough, follow signs to Flamborough Head (2 miles) and park by lighthouse/café (YO15 1AR). Follow coastal path south and then follow steep scramble down cliff with care.


A peaceful wooded ravine, part of a 14-hectare nature reserve, leading to a sand and cobble beach beneath spectacular chalk cliffs that continue underwater to form part of the largest underwater chalk reef in Europe. At low tide an underwater world of anemones, limpets, crabs and starfish is revealed in the many rock pools. Lifeboat station. Signed on right from Flamborough village (YO15 1AE). Paid car park at Living Seas Centre. Follow signed sculpture/nature trail to beach. Then take steep flight of 75 steps from trail. Or walk from car park down steep road to lifeboat station.

Great British Life: Danes Dyke. (c) Sarah BanksDanes Dyke. (c) Sarah Banks


Follow a woodland path alongside the ancient fortified ‘wall’ of Dane’s Dyke to a large cobble beach flanked by chalk cliffs. Great for rock pooling and fossil hunting, the beach becomes sandier nearer the shore. The impressive 2½-mile long Dane’s Dyke earthwork, built as a defence in the Iron Age, cuts across the Flamborough peninsula, creating a 1295-hectare defendable area. Café by car park, once the site of a grand house, built in 1873 and demolished in 1953. Some of the exotic parkland trees remain, including a monkey puzzle tree. Located two miles east of Bridlington on the B1255. Car park signed on right (YO15 1AA). Or two-mile walk from North Sands.


Dramatic rocky promontory, the brigg, jutting out into the sea, its steep cliffs formed of layers of sandstone and limestone topped with boulder clay. A Roman signal station once stood at Carr Naze, at the landward end. A walk along the top offers superb views across the bay to the chalk cliffs of Bempton and Flamborough and north towards Scarborough. At low tide you can walk to the end of the brigg from the beach. Great rock pooling. Check tide times. From Filey, the brigg is easy to reach from parking in the Country Park car park at Church Cliff Drive (YO14 9ET).

Great British Life: Emperor's Bath, Filey. (c) Sarah BanksEmperor's Bath, Filey. (c) Sarah Banks


According to legend, Emperor Constantine the Great liked to bathe in a large sea pool refreshed by the tides on Filey Brigg. Whatever its real history, you will see the Emperor’s Bath, a large rock pool with ledges, as you peer down over the Scarborough side of Filey Brigg. Follow signs for Country Park (YO14 9ET) from Filey. To access, follow a tricky low tide scramble down the north base of the cliffs, along a narrow path then a metal ladder, to ledges and along to pool.

Great British Life: Hunmanby Gap. (c) Sarah BanksHunmanby Gap. (c) Sarah Banks


A gap in the hillside between Filey bay and the chalk cliffs of Bempton takes you down to this wide sandy beach. Friendly beach café: outdoor decked seating with fabulous coastal views. Toilets. From Hunmanby, follow Stonegate,Filey Rd and Moor Rd for two miles to roundabout. Take first exit on to Sands Rd. After ½ mile, parking is in field on left (fee). A there-and-back beach walk to Filey, passing Billy Butlin’s art deco holiday home, The White House, on left, takes 1½ hrs. Apparently, Charlie, Billy’s elephant, is buried near the house.

Great British Life: Speeton Sands. (c) Sarah BanksSpeeton Sands. (c) Sarah Banks


The clamber down a rugged cliff path to this stunning stretch of wide sandy beach is well worth the effort. Even in the height of summer, you are likely to have the beach to yourself. The remains of barnacle encrustedsted shipwreck Laura is a landmark rooted in the seascape here. Read stories of more wrecks back at the tiny clifftop chapel of St Leonard’s. Heading south on the A165, turn left on to the B1229 at Dotterel roundabout. Take left to Speeton village. Continue along Main Street. Turn left at pond. Parking (donation welcome) at St Leonard’s Chapel (YO14 9TD). Follow footpath across fields to to coastal path. Descend cliff path to beach.


Great British Life: Beach Cafe, Hunmanby Gap. (c) Sarah BanksBeach Cafe, Hunmanby Gap. (c) Sarah Banks


Lovely café in the centre of Scalby serving excellent homemade food, including hearty breakfasts (served until 3.30pm), light lunches and mouth-watering cakes. High St, Scalby, YO13 0PT.


With stunning views out to sea and towards Scarborough Castle, this is the place to come for a post-swim or surf treat. Royal Albert Dr, Scarborough, YO12 7TY.


Easy-going beachside café in a superb location overlooking Filey Brigg and Bempton cliffs. Cosy interior with a larger decked area. Homemade cakes, bacon rolls and full English breakfast. Summer 9am – 5pm. Sands Rd, Hunmanby Gap, Filey, YO14 9QW


À la carte seafood restaurant with cracking views of the waterfront. The menu comprises lobster, crab and fish all landed in Bridlington harbour right outside, the largest shellfish port in Europe. South Pier, Bridlington, YO15 3AW.


A popular 200-year-old pub serving a traditional pub menu and making the most of its proximity to the North Sea with plenty of fish and seafood dishes. Cosy log fires and a good ambience in the beer garden in summer. 14 Tower St, Flamborough, Bridlington, YO15 1PD.


Great British Life: Bike and Boot, Scarborough (c) Sarah BanksBike and Boot, Scarborough (c) Sarah Banks


Completely off-grid woodland camp with individually designed safari tents with log burners, al fresco kitchen and hot showers. Laze in a hammock or paddle in the beck before snuggling up by the campfire beneath pristine dark skies. Low Rigg Farm, Stainsacre, Whitby, YO22 4LP.


Contemporary hotel where your dog is as welcome as your surfboard or bike. Easygoing atmosphere and fabulous sea views. Washing/drying area for bikes/ surfboards/boots/dogs, etc., and cycle repair station in the Wadobi. Bar and restaurant. Cliff Bridge Terrace, Scarborough, YO11 2HA.


After a day exploring Flamborough’s sea caves and rock pools, hunker down in one of the cosy luxury pods on this small family-run vineyard. With names like Gannet, Puffin and Kittiwake, they all sleep 4 and have a kitchen, en suite facilities and underfloor heating. Lighthouse Rd, Flamborough, Bridlington, YO15 1AJ.


Paddle your kayak around the spectacular coastline of Flamborough Head to explore sea caves, stacks and arches.

Clamber down to the remarkable natural amphitheatre at Thornwick Bay and watch the sun go down over the chalk cliffs.

Follow the path along the top of Filey Brigg and scramble down to the Emperor’s Bath below.

Watch the puffins swooping in an out of crevices at the UK’s largest mainland seabird colony at Bempton Cliffs.

Take a bracing dip in the North Sea at Hunmanby Gap, then warm up with a steaming mug of hot chocolate from the beach café.

Wild Guide North East by Sarah Banks is £18.99 but readers can receive 25% off and free P&P with code YorkshireLife at

Great British Life: Wild Guide North East by Sarah BanksWild Guide North East by Sarah Banks