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Staithes, North Yorkshire, England

Staithes, EnglandStaithes is a quaint old fishing village in North Yorkshire, England. Up until the 1900s, Staithes claim to fame was as one of the biggest fishing ports in the whole of the North East.

These days, it is more of a tourist destination with narrow streets and quirky properties clinging to its beautiful cliffside. So, it comes as no surprise to many that Staithes has been crowned one of England's most beautiful villages to visit in 2021.

Staithes is split by a river marking the boundary. Cowbar Bank on left is in Redcar and Cleveland and the Yorkshire side of the village is on the right. There are so many beautiful places nestled along the Yorkshire coast.

While towns like Scarborough and Whitby are known to many, there are more secluded spots that often get overlooked but are well worth a visit. One place is Staithes - a small fishing village which conjures up a multitude of images and memories of bygone days.

It is the home of explorer Captain James Cook and has also been featured in CBeebies series Old Jack's Boat, with Staithes also a familiar destination for fossil hunters.

One could say that Staithes is a gorgeous and picturesque village on the Yorkshire coast and is steeped in a colorful history. But what's to be known about the history of the village, which was featured in a Village by the Sea on BBC Two?

Up until the 1900s, Staithes, which is pronounced different locally as 'Steers' was a picture-perfect sleepy harbour village hiding between the two cliffs of Cowbar and Penny nab, Staithes in Yorkshire is definitely a must-see destination on the coast.

Should one wander down the steep trail towards the sea, you will find a mish-mash of red-roofed cottages and quirky rambling streets that will take you back in time to a bygone era. It's as though the scenes you are witnessing are practically frozen in time.

In addition to being awe-struck by its sentimental charm, you'll find there are many things to do in Staithes that make it well worth the time spent navigating there.

From art galleries, trails and festivals, the picturesque harbour, the rock pool beach, it's friendly pubs and a chance to follow in the footsteps of Captain James Cook.

Here is a complete guide for things to do in Staithes in Yorkshire and the things you simply do not want to miss! What is there to do in Staithes in Yorkshire...?

Staithes, EnglandStaithes is an integral part of the Jurassic Coastline in the United Kingdom. There are fossils that have been discovered in the area that date back 56 million years to the time that dinosaurs walked the earth.

It's modern name comes from it's early days, it is a Viking word meaning 'Landing Place' - suggesting it was a popular port for Vikings to land their ships and go raiding.

A popular fishing port - it attracted epic adventurers like, Captain James Cook. He was hired as an apprentice at William Sanderson's shop in the village.

It's thought that his time spent by the sea here led him to becoming one of the most famous navigators in history.

The beauty of Staithes has long attracted artists and painters of all kinds and in 1894 around forty local artists established 'The Staithes Group'. They decided to use the village and it's coastline as a focal point.

The fishing trade reached its peak in the early 20th century when 80 vessels were anchored in the harbour - making it one of the most popular ports in the area and one where you'd find plenty of the traditional North East Coble fishing boats.

Although today there are mostly pleasure boats docked in the harbour, you can still catch a glimpse of the old Coble boats. As well as fishing, Staithes is famous for the Boulby Potash Mine which is one of the deepest in the UK.

Some may also recognise this village as the setting for the Cbeebies television programme 'Old Jack's Boat'.

Although Staithes has had a long history of being a busy working harbour, today it has slowed the pace down a few notches. It is now a quaint harbour village that is as alluring as a picure and the perfect destination for a day trip.

You can get lost in their endless laneways, go beachcombing and rock pooling at low tide - spend a lazy day at a pub, in a cafe or discover its many scenic coastal paths. If you are a fan of history, there is plenty to uncover as well as some galleries for art lovers.

Photography buffs will be in awe of how many perfect photo opportunities the area offers and families with small children will appreciate the many distractions for their little ones. Nature lovers and hikers will love being able to walk the endless scenic trails.

Staithes, EnglandThere really isn't a 'bad' time to visit Staithes but this is Yorkshire and it's known for its inclement weather. So, it is best to try and choose a good weather day or at least visit when it is not pissing rain.

Anyway, it is not alot fun wandering about a coastal town in the pouring rain, but many of the hardened locals will tell you it is not bad weather, but more so that of bad clothing and preparation.

Staithes harbour village is located in the Northern boundary of the North York Moors National Park in the United Kingdom. It's around 16 miles north of the popular town of Whitby.

The village is almost split into two. You have the 'new' Staithes village at the top of the cliff which has the visitor centre located by the car park and the 'old' Staithes village and harbour that can be accessed at the bottom of the cliffs via an extremely steep hill.

The easiest way to access the village is by car as the area is quite remote in the countryside. But, there are also some public transport options as well if driving one's own car is not an option.

You will need to follow the main A174 road through the North York Moors National Park until you see a sign for Staithes.

Bus to Staithes: There is a Whitby to Staithes bus on the X4 service that runs regularly. It will take around 30 minutes and will drop you right outside Captain Cook's Close at the top. You will need to park in the mains Staithes Car Park at the top of the cliffs to access the harbour and village.

The hill is extremely steep to walk down - so if someone in your group is not particularly fit, then you can drop them off at the bottom and drive back up to the car park.

Cars driven into the village who are not residents with a permit or staying at a holiday cottage are not allowed to park down in the village.

The roads in the village are single laneways and extremely narrow, so it is especially important to avoid driving large camper vans or large cars into the bottom of the village.

There are two steep sides to the lower village that is split by the Staithes Beck that leads into the sea. So, you will need to walk over the harbour bridge to see both sides.

Staithes, EnglandMany of these cottages are rented out as holiday homes - so, should you want to call this place home, you could make it happen for a few nights.

Staithes Harbour is again split into two sides between Cowbar and Penny Nab which are the two cliffs it is surrounded by.

On the Northside, you will have the heritage RNLI Lifeboat Centre and a walkway around Cowbar Nab. On the South Side is Penny Nab where you can have access to the pubs, galleries, the tidal beach and another walkway around the Harbour front.

Although the cliffs do offer the village protection most of the time, unfortunately back in 1953 there was a great storm. The seas grew rough here and washed away most of the harbour front. The houses and pubs lost all their possessions to the tide.

On the south side of Staithes Harbour is a popular pub called the Cod and Lobster. It is perfect for a pint or a bite to eat. But, there's a chance you'll be fighting for an outdoor seat and to make an order at the bar - especially on sunny weekends.

If you are a photographer and you wanted to take some amazing photos, there is a secret viewpoint in the village. You will need to walk from the south side of the harbour over to the north side where the RNLI Lifeboat Centre is.

As soon as you cross over the Staithes Beck bridge, you'll need to make a left up the 'Cowbar Bank' Road. At the top of the road, you will come to a corner where you will see some steps over grass veering off to the left.

You will be walking past some cottages on your right. Take those steps to the top and there you will find a fabulous viewpoint at the top of Cowbar head. This is where you can get those perfect Instagram shots.

4. Visit the Captain Cook & Staithes Heritage Centre. If you are on the Captain Cook trail in Yorkshire and wanted to find out more about his life, then go to the Staithes Heritage museum.

Captain James Cook took up an apprentice role for William Sanderson in his shop at the young age of 16.

In those days no railways and poor roads meant that most of the trading took place overseas. It is thought that this is where James changed his interests from farming to sailing.

Staithes, EnglandUnfortunately, William Sanderson's shop wasn't protected and closed down years ago, but the museum has a life-size recreation of the storefront and village in 1745.

Inside the Captain Cook Staithes Museum, you can learn all about Captain Cook's adventurous yet controversial voyages around the globe.

There are over 200 books, 61 Webber engravings plus numerous letters, coins, glassware and medals pertaining to his life.

Although he is known as one of the greatest sailors of all time, one cannot deny his huge involvement in spreading deadly diseases to tribes in the Pacific.

It is also this that caused his untimely end by stabbing while trying to kidnap Hawaii's monarch, Kalani'ōpu'u.

He wasn't eaten alive like rumours would have you believe, they were not cannibals. But, they did cook him. As Hawaiian Islanders believe the power of man is in his bones, they boiled him in order to easily remove them.

The museum is quite small, over two floors and a little dated. But, it is definitely worth seeing if you wanted to learn a little more about the huge history of the village. Entry is 3 pounds and it is open from 11 am to 4 pm.

5. Explore and Learn at The Staithes Art Gallery - In 1894, a group of forty or so local artists decided to form the first Staithes Artist Group. They were known as the 'Staithes Group' or the 'Northern Impressionists'.

The art colony were inspired by French Impressionists like Monet and Cezanne and reflected this in their oil and watercolour portraits of the area. The group included famous Northern artists like Joseph R. Bagshawe, Thomas Barrett, Frederick W. Jackson and James W. Booth.

But, the most prominent of them was the renowned artist Dame Laura Knight. She kept a studio in Staithes along with her husband Harold Knight. This is where she practiced English Impressionism in her etchings, watercolours, oils and drypoint.

She went on to become one of the most popular painters in the country and was the first elected female member of the Royal Academy. Her success paved the way for more female artist recognition in the male-dominated art world.

The group disbanded in 1909 but the village does not fail to inspire artists with its beauty today. You will find many spread around capturing it in their works.

Staithes, EnglandIf you wanted to see some of the local art created here, then you need only visit the famous Staithes Gallery near the harbour front on the south side.

Inside it, they have many historic and contemporary paintings that reflect the area. So, drop in and see if anything catches your eye.

6. Discover the setting for Old Jack's Boat. - Fans of Cbeebies may recognise the seaside hamlet from the well-loved Television Programme.

Old Jack's Boat plays out the adventures of Bernard Cribbins or 'Old Jack' who is a retired fisherman living in Staithes. Although the programme uses mostly animation, it also uses lots of scenes around the harbour, the beach, some of the cafes and clifftops also.

So, you can spend a good amount of time following in the footsteps of Old Jack, his dog Salty and their boat 'The Rainbow' if you want to. They even have a sign with him on at the seafront for a quick photo op.

7. Find all the spots on the 'Painted Illusions' Trail - Maybe you will see a Seagull who won't fly away, some fishing tails and nets that do not sway with the wind or a suspicious sailboat tucked into a corner.

When you look a little closer, you'll see it's a trick of the eye. Almost like magic. You have just been introduced to the Painted Illusions Trail in Staithes.

Created by renowned local artist Paul Czainski, the trail includes 8 places that will boggle your mind.

You will have to hunt to find them all on this treasure trail and you will see mermaids with mirrors, a profile of Laura Knight, Noah's Ark, birds and seashells, all painted in 3D.

If you would rather follow a trail, then make sure to drop by the visitor centre to pick up a leaflet with more information!

8. Go Rockpooling on Staithes Beach - Once the tide is out, the seas make way for a gorgeous sandy beach to relax on if it's a sunny day. You will almost forget you are in England if the weather is fine.

As well as the golden sands, there is also a whole waterbed to explore by the cliffs where you can go rock pooling.

If you’ve forgotten your bucket and spade or fishing nets, don't worry just pop into The Kessen Bowl and they'll have everything for you.

Staithes Tide Times: If you wanted to visit the beach at low tide for rock pooling or the harbour walk. Make sure you check the tide times.

Staithes, England9. Shopping in Staithes - the village has a delightful range of gift and craft shops waiting for you if you wish to go to shops. Of course, not just the usual franchises, but independent boutiques that have something unique to offer.

There is the Staithes Gallery mentioned earlier but if you fancy getting crafty, then I would recommend a visit to Cobbles. They have a delightful range of unique gifts and gemstone jewellery.

Emporium Gift Shop is also another one of the favorites that has some souvenirs inspired by the local area with ceramics and artwork as well.

If you have a sweet tooth, why not visit Betsy and Bo who run a sweetshop and deli or one of the traditional Seafood or Butcher shops.

10. Staithes Art Festival - Every year in September, the village holds the Staithes Festival which features an exhibition of over 100 artists and their works.

The art is displayed in over 60 temporary galleries in spaces around the village and the whole area will have an air of excitement to it.

Entry to the festival is free of charge and throughout the week they will have talks, workshops, concerts and a whole number of heritage events going on.

11. Take a walk along Cleveland Way - Some say that the best part of Staithes is leaving it along the spectacular coastal walks in the area.

Staithes is part of the Cleveland Way, which is a national trail along the North York Moors National Park.

The whole trail is a beautiful 109 miles from Helmsley to Filey but you can enjoy a small piece of it from the village. The most popular local trail is the route from Staithes to Runswick Bay.

It is around 3 miles one way and will take you past some gorgeous villages like Port Mulgrave, headlands like The Crocodile Head and endless sea views too.

The whole trail will take you to take you less than an hour with no breaks, but leave at least 90 minutes to two hours as you will definitely want to stop and take photos.

Where to eat in Staithes? After all your exploring, you are probably more than ready for something to eat - and Staithes has a whole range of traditional pubs and cafes to drop into while you are there.

Staithes, EnglandThe Cod and Lobster - one of the most popular Staithes pubs is the Cod & Lobster that has a prime position on the harbour front. It will be packed to the rafters most days of the week and getting a table is as rare. But, it is totally worth the wait.

Endeavour Restaurant - Named after Captain Cook's famous ship this 200-year-old pub on Staithes High Street has recently had a facelift. It now has a popular restaurant below deck and a range of rooms upstairs. A village favourite, the kitchen uses strictly local produce and fish on their menu.

Captain Cook Inn - Located at the top of the cliff, this traditional inn serves up home-cooked meals in their restaurant. As well as food, they also offer up barrels of real ale and have a huge variety. They also have a house ale called The Northern Navigator.

Did you know that Staithes has a local pub crawl known as the 'Roxby Run'? It starts at the Fox and Hounds in the nearby village of Dalehouse, then moves onto the Staithes Athletic club, The Captain Cook Inn, the Royal George and then finishes at the Cod & Lobster. You may not be standing at the end!

If you are looking for a place to stay in Staithes, there are plenty of quaint holiday cottages and cosy B&Bs in this labyrinth of streets!

The Endeavour has now had a renovation which classes this heritage property as the most luxurious inn on the strip. You will find clean fresh en-suite rooms, with a local favourite bar and restaurant below.

The Royal George - Another traditional B&B with cosy rooms inside for rent. Again, you have the added benefit of a restaurant serving up traditional pub food and a popular bar onsite.

Staithes Holiday cottages - If you would rather stay in a holiday home, then there are plenty to choose from.

Interesting places to visit near Staithes -

The North York Moors National Park is a stunning piece of the coastline and there are a number of amazing places to visit in the area.

Robin Hood's Bay is another village that gets its curious name from the notorious hero who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor. Although it has never been proven.

It is a beautiful bay and village which, like Staithes, you can only access by foot down the cliffs. You can wander around all the quaint cobbled streets, steps, alleyways and admire the historical homes.

Head down to the beach via the slipway and go crab hunting. Or, there are plenty of amazing coastal walks to enjoy and cafes to pop into for a pick me up. It is honestly one of the most magical villages on the Yorkshire coast, so don't miss it.

Staithes, EnglandWhitby is one of the most popular coastal towns in the North York Moors and sees countless visitors climbing up the 199 steps and Whitby Abbey on the headland.

This is the home of Bram Stoker's Dracula! He stayed here at the Royal Bay hotel and it was the view from his room that inspired his famous vampire novel.

They take their Dracula heritage very seriously in Whitby and you will find countless attractions dotted around the town. There are even a few Goth weekends.

Captain Cook fans should try out the Endeavour experience where you can sail in a recreation of the HMS Endeavour over the bay.

Scarborough Okay, so this is just on the border of the North Yorkshire Moors but it will still count as a gorgeous place to visit.

Yes, there are lots of arcades, shops, and funfairs, but there is also a wealth of historical attractions to uncover beneath the candy floss and flashing lights.

Like, did you know that its dominating castle dates back 3000 years? Or, that Scarborough is England's oldest seaside resort? It is also one of the oldest spa resorts where the aristocracy used to take to the waters. Famous literary giants, like Anne Bronte, did just that for her health.

The town also claims the title for the first purpose-built hotel in the world, a Victorian funicular railway and the first purpose-built museum in the UK, the Rotunda.

With its quirky cottages and winding streets, Staithes has the feel of a place that's lost in time.

Once one of the largest fishing ports on the North East coast, this coastal hamlet is now a well-loved base for exploring Yorkshire's cliff top paths and discovering the delights of rock pooling and fossil hunting on the small sandy beach.

This village's unique charm, with its huddled cottages, towering cliffs and choppy sea, has long been a powerful draw for those interested in fine art, geology and getting back to nature.

The 'old village', located in a small, sheltered cove at the base of the cliffs, is peppered with small B&Bs and local fishermen's cottages – the perfect place to spend a long weekend.

An great example of this is Peeler's Rest, which joins onto the village's former police station that was built in the 1920's. The single storey building was added some years later and formed the police station and garage.

Staithes, EnglandThe soaring, rugged cliffs make Staithes a great place for walking and exploring. Take the coastal pathways to the nearby Boulby Cliffs, or visit the northern headland of Cowbar Nab with its tiny hamlet snaking down the rock side.

Part of the Cleveland Way runs between Staithes and Skinningrove, where you can explore the remnants of the alum mines that once made the village famous. This headland is also an ideal place to bird watch, with plenty of gulls and other seabirds nesting in the cliffs.

After you have finished exploring you will definitely have worked up an appetite for some food and Staithes is not short in that regard.

The Cleveland Corner Bistro is a small seafood speciality restaurant that is passionate about their food and strive to buy most of their fish in the village in either Staithes or Whitby.

Or you could try The Endeavour Restaurant who also rely on the fine resources of the area and provide a range of delicious seafood dishes. Also, at the top of the bank, strategically placed for a refreshing cup of tea, you will find The Tea Shop.

If this is not enough, The Captain Cook Inn offers freshly prepared meals and where possible source locally produced ingredients to cater for every taste, and The Cod & Lobster offers fresh local seafood.

Finally if you are looking to buy fresh seafood, look no further than Whitby Seafish who supply seafood from Staithes Fishermen who still use the traditional methods and are only at sea for a matter of hours! This freshness combined with the traditional methods provides truly exceptional quality.

Visitors to this small village will be astounded by how much history envelopes it. Visit Staithes lifeboat station on the North side of the river. The station is open to the public and chronicles the heroic actions of the local life boat crew.

The beauty of the village has always lent itself to art and has a long history of well known painters, including a small group of twenty to thirty artists known as the 'Staithes Group' or the 'Northern Impressionists'.

The Staithes Gallery is housed in an exquisite Georgian building on Staithes High Street and provides a showcase for the very best contemporary artwork inspired by Staithes and the surrounding area.

Staithes was once an important fishing base, home to locally built boats and a small fleet of brightly coloured Whitby Cobles. Now, the boats are used by local fishermen to catch cod, lobsters and crabs and some vessels offer short pleasure cruises.

The tiny beach and cluster of rock pools make this a wonderful place to explore, and there are so many fossils that this area that it has been nicknamed the 'Dinosaur Coast' – so keep your eyes open!

Television's Old Jack's Boat features Bernard Cribbins as 'Old Jack', a retired fisherman who lives in a little village on the North Yorkshire Coast. This little village just happens to be Staithes!

Staithes, EnglandHelped along by a cast of colourful characters, 'Old Jack' tells tall stories from inside his old fishing boat. The series is a mix of live action and animation which allows Old Jack to wander along the seabed, visit tropical islands and fly high in the air on balloons always accompanied by his faithful dog, Salty.

Staithes Festival takes place over the weekend of the 13th and 14th of September, where scores of cottages and public buildings will again throw open their doors to the public as pop-up galleries for a selling exhibition of work by local and visiting artists.

Visitors will be able to find their way around the delightful maze of lanes discovering the pop-up galleries and tea rooms along the way.

Staithes is perhaps best-known for its links with Captain Cook. The young James Cook came to Staithes in 1745 at the age of 16 to apprentice to a grocer and chandler named William Sanderson.

The apprenticeship did not last long; Cook fell in love with the sea and pined to become a sailor. Sanderson introduced him to a friend named John Walker, a Quaker shipowner living in Whitby. Walker agreed to take Cook on as an apprentice, and he moved to Whitby.

From there he joined the Royal Navy and became famous for his voyages of discovery to Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii.

The Sanderson shop where Cook worked was destroyed by a storm in 1745. Parts of the shop were incorporated into a new building known as Captain Cook's Cottage at the harbourside end of Church Street.

The natural beauty of the coastline around Staithes made it a popular place for painters. When the railway arrived in the late Victorian period Staithes became a popular destination due to its cobbled lanes and picturesque cottages. Around 1880 a group of artists gathered here and became known as the Staithes Group.

For 30 years the Staithes Group lived and worked in the area. Over decades the Group's style evolved from realism to impressionism, and in the process, their works became highly prized by galleries and collectors.

Perhaps the most famous member of the Staithes Group was Dame Laura Knight, who met and married fellow artist Harold Knight here in 1897. The couple later moved south to become part of the Newlyn School of artists in Cornwall.

Staithes, EnglandStaithes is full of picturesque cottages and narrow, cobbled lanes. There are none narrower than Dog Loup, a mere 18 inches wide at its narrowest point.

Dog Loup is thought to be the narrowest street in the north of England, and perhaps in all of Britain - but that depends on how you define a 'street'. Parliament Street in Exeter is 25 inches at its narrowest point, and has the benefit of being named 'Street', whereas Dog Loup, though narrower, is called... a 'loup'.

www.yorkshire.com





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