It’s not called ‘The Queen of the Yorkshire Coast’ for nothing – Britain’s first seaside resort has been welcoming visitors for more than 360 years. There’s plenty to keep visitors busy, including seaside entertainment and traditional refreshments. Sandy beaches are broken by a rocky headland, on which the imposing Scarborough Castle stands.
Many will associate the resort’s name with the traditional ballad Scarborough Fair, made famous by Simon and Garfunkel in the 1960s. Back in the late Middle Ages, merchants would travel the length and breadth of Europe to bring their goods to the famous 45-day event.
The town’s boom came in 1845 with the opening of the railway line from York – many of Scarborough’s great landmarks were built around this time. These include the Grand Hotel, then one of the largest in Europe, and recently refurbished.
The 1,000-year old castle ruins stand on a triangular-shaped flat headland, a good place from which to gather your bearings. The castle walls line its southern edge, and here, paths meander down to Marine Drive on the north side, while the views from those along the outside of the castle walls on the south side are splendid.
The quieter North Bay boasts Blue Flag recognition, with the beach located away from the road. The promenade runs to the Sea Life Centre on Scalby Mills Road. Halfway along the bay lies Peasholm Park, where a lake surrounds a central island, complete with Japanese Pagoda. You and your group can circumnavigate the island on themed pedalos. You can watch the show Naval Warfare, featuring manned model ships re-enacting a wartime battle.
If you fancy riding the rails, then hop on board the North Bay miniature Railway to Scalby Mills, where you can stay on for a return ride. The trains have been operating since 1931, and the journey offers superb views of Scarborough’s North Bay.
The arching South Bay beach is particularly popular with families due to its easy accessibility and its proximity to the town centre, complete with shops, theatres, amusement arcades and eateries. You will quickly discover that Scarborough regards itself as the spiritual home of fish and chips, with around 50 chippies to choose from.
The jewel in the crown
Situated under the castle headland in the sheltered South Bay, Scarborough Harbour has always been the town’s beating heart. Formed
by three piers, the outer harbour has been set aside for leisure activities, with most of the port’s traditional activities taking place in the main or ‘old’ harbour.
As it is so close to the amenities and beating heart of the town, there is little wonder it is known as ‘The Jewel in the Crown’ of Scarborough.
Nestling in the trees between the Esplanade – which runs along the South Cliff – and the rock pools of the South Bay, South Cliff Gardens boast a maze of wooded paths, which wind their way through lush wooded gardens down the cliff to the sea and beach below.
Dominating Scarborough’s southern skyline is Oliver’s Mount. At 550ft, it is a country park and, between May and September, a motor racing circuit, as the public roads become a racing track.
The town once boasted five cliff lifts. Today, only three in South Bay remain, and prove a popular way of connecting the town centre with the seafront. The largest is the South Cliff Lift, which takes passengers between the elegant Esplanade and the Spa Complex. The other two are either side of the Grand Hotel – great reminders of this seaside’s enduring appeal.
HOW TO GET THERE
By car, take the A1/M1 to Leeds, then the A64 to Scarborough. From the north, take the A1 south to the A168 towards Thirsk, then the A170. By rail, Scarborough is served by the First Transpennine route, bringing trains direct from Liverpool, Manchester, Blackpool, Leeds, Huddersfield and York. There are East Coast Mainline services from London, Newcastle and Edinburgh to York, where you can take a Transpennine Express train direct to Scarborough.
FIND OUT MORE
Scarborough Tourist Information Centre
Unit 15a, Brunswick
Shopping Centre, Westborough,
Scarborough YO11 1UE
12 North Street,
Scarborough YO11 1DF
One of the oldest pubs in the town, the Black Lion offers home-cooked food alongside a fine cask ale selection.
Scarborough YO11 2AY
Restored former Regency hotel overlooking the South Bay, offering five-star accommodation.
Cliff Lane, Bridlington,
East Yorkshire YO15 1JF
Set on the Flamborough headland, Bempton Cliffs RSPB Reserve is one of the most spectacular coastal locations in the UK, and home to one of the country’s largest colonies of seabirds.