Scarborough North Yorkshire

Exploring North Yorkshire Through a Lens

Introduction

Scarborough Seafront North Yorkshire

Today I’m going to visit the coastal town of Scarborough, which is North Yorkshire’s largest seaside resort and has been since Victorian day trippers began to visit the coast by train. However, it has had a presence since neolithic times and was once the site of a Roman signal station on the tip of the headland where Scarborough Castle is found today. In more modern times, it is a very popular resort spanning over two bays North and South. We are going to take a tour from Peaseholm Park and the North Bay Railway through to Scarborough Spa identifying some points of interest along the way. Welcome to Scarborough.



Peasholm Park

Scarborough Seafront North Yorkshire

One of the main features of Peasholm Park is the enormous and attractive lake the cultivates not only human interest but wildlife too. It also contains a large island linked with a very colourful footbridge spanning across the lake. 

Peasholm Park is situated within a natural glen that features a stream running through it. However, the gardens themselves are based on a willow plate pattern, which is unexpectedly an English design rather than oriental. There are many paths through the glen you can follow and is surprisingly tranquil even in the summer months when you consider you are in one of Yorkshire’s most popular seaside resorts. 

Granted, the scenery is an attraction in itself, but during the summer you can hire boots to gently take you across the lake. These boats consist of the more fun dragon head pedaloes to your classic rowing boat and canoes. 

However, if you haven’t the gift for sailing on the water you can always enjoy one of the many seats surrounding the lake as well as dine either inside or outside at one of the two popular cafes. The public conveniences here are currently free of charge so this is a good place to come and relax after spending the day on the busy seafront. The most northerly side of Scarborough is often dubbed as the quiet side of the resort, but this doesn’t mean it has a lack of things to do and sea. However, some find Peasholm Park more relaxing than others!

You will also notice a bandstand situated in the lake too as well as a thundering waterfall set on the attractive island that provides a focal point in the park. The music that emanates from the band stand are always free of charge and are often present during the summer months. So this park provides stunning scenery, wildlife, boat rides, refreshments and seating areas, as well as music to enjoy as you absorb the tranquility of the park. How perfect is this for relaxation! 

As far as dining is concerned, both full meals are lighter snacks including sandwiches are available and of course tea, coffee and soft drinks. There are also opportunities for an ice-cream too but I am sure you were already aware of that. 


North Bay Railway

Scarborough Seafront North Yorkshire


Peasholm Park is certainly one of the north side’s most popular attractions, but it is not just about boat rides. Just opposite the park is the heritage narrow gauge railway that spans from Peasholm to Scalby Mills where you can find the Sea Life Centre. In fact, there is a a 10% discount for Sea Life Centre ticket holders at the time of filming. 

The North Bay Railway also consists of a Sky Trail and an equally historic water chute. The railway dates back to 1931 when it ran its first train, and this scenic ride takes you around another large lake featuring the water chute and also takes you around Scarborough’s open air theatre. The route then opens out into the North Bay Area where you receive some fantastic views of the North Sea. You might even want to hang around for a while to watch your locomotive turn around on the turntable preparing for its return journey. 

The Skytrail is somewhat special as it is one of the few of its type in the country and features lots of ropes to climb on at high level. The chute is one of the top ten historic attractions in the country and is one of the three of its kind left in the UK.


Scarborough Open Air Theatre

Scarborough Seafront North Yorkshire


Not many know that the open air theatre is as historic as the railway as it appears quite modern. It was also established in the 1930’s and was opened by the Lord Mayor of London in 1932. It is obviously a venue for live music and theatre and has attracted some big names over the years. The venue was refurbished in 2010 and has been a very popular outdoor venue throughout its history. 


North Bay

Scarborough Seafront North Yorkshire


Aforementioned, North Bay is sometimes noted as the quiet side of Scarborough but in truth it is just as exciting as the South. Not only is it quite scenic but it also hosts some major attractions. Mini-golf is certainly a feature here as well as the popular sea life centre.

The Sea Life Centre are identified by its rather unique white pyramids. Contained in these structures are penguins, sharks, seals as well as coral reef creatures just to name a few. If you visit we recommend booking in advance rather than on the day through their website. You can also pre-book for the Pirate Mini-Golf here too. 

The Sea Life Centre aside but on the same theme, I strongly recommend keeping your eye on the North Sea when visiting the north side of Scarborough because you may spot bottle nose dolphin or porpoise in this area. I have personally witnessed both over the years and it is a case of being in the right place at the right time. You may witness dolphin leaping out of the water which is spectacular. 

One structure you cannot miss in any part of the sea front is the Norman castle situated on the headland. This overshadows you much of the time and provides a very attractive focal point in the resort.

Another unmissable series of structures are the vibrant chalets that are available to rent displaying their attractive and eye-catching colours. They range from single to two storey and can be booked through Scarborough Beach Chalets website. The include Deckchairs, Kettle, Toaster, Fridge, Microwave, crockery & cutlery. Water & electric are also included.

The Sands holiday apartments are five star so these are luxury apartments that look over the North Sea in Scarborough. You certainly won’t be short of some stunning views here especially when relaxing on the balconies. They range from 1 to 5 bedrooms and there are also dog and wheelchair friendly apartments available. 

The Bathing Belle is one of two similar sculptures pertaining to Victorian visitors to the resort by Craig Knowles. The bathing Belle has recently been relocated from the town centre to North Bay and denotes a Victorian woman bathing in the swimming costumes of the era. 

If you have a dog there are certain areas where they are permitted on the beach, however, the more populated areas have restrictions during the summer season. Bans on restricted areas are in place generally between the beginning of May to the end of September. 

Of course, humans are permitted at any time but please be aware of times of tide which is effected by the moon’s hold on the earth.  A good website to use is tidetimes.org.uk for tide predictions for many areas in the UK.  

However when the tide is out, don’t forget to pear into the rock pools for any sea life including crabs. The best equipment to use of course is your eyes, and it is always the best idea to leave wildlife in place. It is also a great idea to bring some kind of ID book so you can find out what you’ve found. Don’t forget that some creatures nip or sting and some are very fragile so you might need to handle them with care!

On the subject of safety, if you are walking along Royal Albert Drive in stormy weather, do be careful of the crashing waves against the rocks. There are sea defences along this route to protect you and the coastline, but don’t get too close if you intend to photograph or video violent waves. This area can be very dramatic at times in comparison to South Bay and you can receive some stunning shots. Don’t forget to use a very fast shutter speed to freeze frame the waves such as 1/500 sec. 

Another sculpture you will discover is the giant Freddie Gilroy and the Belsen Stragglers. This huge steel structure represents ordinary people being pulled from their working lives into being soldiers in World War II, and Freddie Gilroy was one of the first allied troops to enter the Bergen Belsen Concentration Camp at the age of 24. He was a miner from County Durham. 

Watersports of various kinds are not uncommon in Scarborough both in the North Bay and South Bay. This includes surfing, paddle boarding, boating, jet skiing and more. 


Scarborough Castle

Scarborough Seafront North Yorkshire


The castle has a 3000 year old history but its heyday was in the 12th century as it was developed by King Henry II and King John. It has been in the hands of parliamentarians several times in its history and was twice besieged by parliamentarians in the Civil War. During the civil war, there was an exchange of fire between the castle and the grounds of St Mary’s Church which is visible in the South Bay Area.

The castle is in the care of English Heritage and is open to the public. At the tip of the headland there was once a Roman Signal Post prior to the castle. However, it is thought that Scarborough dates back even further than Romans and Vikings owing to various finds. The castle survived bombardment during the First World War as did Whitby Abbey. Once you have passed through the castle’s gatehouse you can enjoy some panoramic views of both North and South Bays and you can also see the ruins of the former signal station. The site is spread over sixteen acres and you can take a picnic in the headland grass which is quite an amazing place to enjoy some refreshments. However, you can also enjoy refreshments in the master gunners house which provides some local made treats including ice-cream. There is also a castle gift shop too. 

If you enjoy the historical side of the castle, you can explore the exhibition that not only contains a Bronze Age sword but also many other artefacts that have been uncovered in excavations. These objects give you an alll over understanding of the castles complete history. 

Regardless of where you are in Scarborough you are never short of views of the castle because of its elevated position. No doubt this perfect position was intended by the castle’s constructors owing to its panaoramic views. It can also be seen from inland just as much as the sea too. 

Both the road and footpath are anti slip and are very comfortable to take a walk upon to admire those scenic views between North and South Bay and makes up part of the Cleveland way, a 109 mile walk between Filey, Scarborough, Saltburn and Helmsley.  You are overshadowed by the pastel shades of the various hotels and guest houses above you as well as the cliffs too.

The North Sea is around 600 miles long and 360 miles wide and touches Scotland and England as well as Denmark, Norway, Germany, France and Belgium. It’s mean depth is around 300ft. There is just as much life on the sea as there are in it. It attracts commercial ships, cruise ships and ferries, fishing boats, and all manner of recreational boats too. It is also a source of sustainable energy sources with its winds and waves. It is also rich in fossil fuels too. 

Seabirds can be seen, as well as heard, on the cliffs especially just under the castle. The most common types of gull seen at Scarborough are the herring gulls and kittiwakes. Just as a side note, do not feed the seagulls as they can get somewhat aggressive when it comes to food and will attack you for your fish and chips! The two species look very similar but they are very different in behvaiour. However, the herring gulls are larger than the kittiwakes. You will often notice wildlife photographers studying these cliffs with binoculars and cameras trained on the wildlife that adorns them. 


South Bay

Scarborough Seafront North Yorkshire


Suffice as it is to say, the South Bay is a very popular and busy area of Scarborough for many reasons. Not only does it hod a large curved beach for family fun, but also it has a busy marina and harbour area, amusements, eateries and gift shops, boat rides and various other attractions for the modern day trippers and holiday makers. Lunar Park holds some rides in its fun fair that is situated on the boundary of North and South Bays under the headland of the castle. 

What makes South Bay even more magical are the many landmarks that this area holds including the Scarborough Lighthouse, Grand Hotel, Scarborough Castle, Spa Footbridge, St Mary’s Church, Scarborough’s Observation Wheel, as well as the Scarborough Spa at the most southerly end. These features however are just the tip of the iceberg and you’re in danger of taking what there is to explore for granted because there are so many attractions. 

It hardly seems apparent today but in actual fact, Scarborough was one of the principle areas for ship building on the east coast at the beginning of the 19th century. These ships were also repaired and maintained here too. Captain Sidney Smith was somewhat notable as he kept written records of ships that were built and registered in Scarborough as well as details of ships entering the harbour.  Today however, Scarborough still has its fishing industry and albeit changed somewhat. So don’t be surprised to see some fishing activity today along with many fishing baskets and fishing boats tooing and throwing the harbour. 


Vincent Pier

Scarborough Seafront North Yorkshire


It comes strongly recommended to take a walk down Vincent Pier because in recent years this has changed considerably. Vincent Pier brings you up close to Scarborough’s harbour and marina as well as some other features along the way. You will find all manner of boats and yachts here as well as the historic Albert Strange Pontoons which are floating docks and walkways that sit upon the North Sea. 

One very notable change is that of the Regal Lady that once upon a time provided boat tours upon the North Sea. These days it is just as much a museum as it is a boat, reflecting upon its history as a boat being used to evacuate soldiers from Dunkirk. Visitors are welcome to come aboard the Dunkirk Experience and reflect on memorabilia and there is also a small cinema room too. Outside lockdown there is also a licensed bar were you can enjoy a drink both onboard and alongside on the pier. The attraction has very good reviews on Trip Advisor so when things are opened up again, it will be well worth the visit.  You’ll notice that it is no longer all white in colour but has been repainted to reflect it’s new purpose in navy blue and crimson colours.  One of its most attractive new features is its funnel with the “Dunkirk 1940” engraving. The Dunkirk evacuation was also known as operation dynamo as well as the Miracle of Dunkirk when allied soldiers were evacuated between 26th May and 4 June in 1940.  During a 6 week battle for France, the British, Belgian and French troops were surrounded by the Germans and Winston Churchill called it a colossal military disaster.  The 800 vessels were hastily gathered together to evacuate troops and the Regal Lady was just one the rescuing vessels that were used.  Of course, the colossal military disaster was short lived as by 1945 the allies had won the war. 

The Southern Star is also a new feature to Vincent Pier which is related to the harvesting of seaweed.  The vessel is both a visitor centre for Seagrown as well as a cafe that serves triple awarded coffee as well as draught beer and locally brewed ales as well as other refreshments including hot chocolate and soft drinks.  This is Britain’s first offshore large scale seaweed farm and their website also has a shop which sells products relating to seaweed including food products and bath salts and even tee shirts.  A further vessel named Bright Blue was also moored alongside Vincent Pier at the time of visiting. This is Seagrown’s workboat and has been seen in the Scarborough harbour area since around late July 2019. 

Possibly the most notable landmark is Scarborough Lighthouse which is now the home of Scarborough Yacht Club. The earliest reference to Vincent Pier having a light shone from it is back in 1804. However, it wasn’t until 1843 that the lighthouse had 17ft added to it and today it has a focal height of 56ft. It is no longer a working lighthouse but remains one of South Bay’s famous landmarks. Craig Knowles sculpture of the Diving Belle also stands underneath looking out towards the North Sea. It was commissioned by the Scarborough Civic Trust and unveiled in May 2007.

The footbridge leading up to it is Sydney Smith Bridge which relates to a master marina who lived between 1907 and 2000 who was not just enthused by the sea but also the coastal town of Scarborough. The bridge opens up to allow tall vessels to pass through. 

Another static feature of Vincent Pier is the 1914 Vickers Naval gun that was discovered in the North Sea by the Scarborough Sub Aqua Club belonging to the sunk SS Harnsund and has been on display since 1984. 

One thing that never changes on Vincent Pier is the view of South Bay including landmarks such as the Grand Hotel, Scarborough Spa, St Mary’s Church and Scarborough Castle. Of course, you can receive some tangible views of the harbour and marina too as well as the North Sea itself. You will also notice that in place of the former Futurist stands a Ferris wheel known as Scarborough Observation Wheel as well as Captain Jack’s Adventure Golf. 


Boat Rides

Scarborough Seafront North Yorkshire


There are various boat rides available at Scarborough including an exciting power boat ride consisting of a 10 speed trip around the bay at speeds of 30 nots. They also provide a 30 minute party as well sea safari taking around 1 hour.  The pirate boat known as the Hispaniola which is an island in North America is also available to give individuals and groups of people a tour around the bay at very reasonable prices. 

However, if you cannot find your sea legs, you could always admire a view of Scarborough from the tip of Vincent Pier. 

What hasn’t changed upon Vincent Pier are the Albert Strange Pontoons and Albert Strange was a yacht designer who lived between 1855 and 1917. The pontoons in this case are supporting the floating docks in which the boats are moored. It is a very clever and yet simple idea. The walkways rise up and down with  the water level so that they are not effected by the tide. The harbour and marina are quite fascinating to see and you can pick out some vessels of interest along the way. 

From Marine Drive you might get a better view of the Regal Lady in her new colours. Rather than just consider it as a boat, consider it as a survivor from the evacuation of Dunkirk and suddenly the vessels presence takes on a whole new meaning. You will also notice Scarborough’s busy fishing economy that is somewhat as historic as the Regal Lady too. Scarborough was founded on its fishing economy but presently thrives on it being a popular tourist destination as well. Without any doubt whatsoever you will see many a fishing basket stacked upon each other in the harbour just waiting to be filled with the seafood the North Sea has to offer. 


Amusements and eateries

Scarborough Seafront North Yorkshire


Scarborough is not just about sea, boats and fresh air, but it also has some very floral displays and parks. It also is renown for its shoreline eateries, amusements and gift shops. Of course, the eateries provide fantastic fish and chips, but there is also a varied cuisine catering for every tastebud. This ranges from Italian restaurants through to cafe cuisine and some big names in fish and chips such as Harry Ramsden’s. Many of these have outdoor seating so you can dine alfresco beside the sea.  And lets not forget the classic British public houses that also adorn the seafront, a must for a hot day.

If you are not feeling the hunger for food, you might be feeling the hunger for shopping therapy. There are a variety seafront stores that provide all manner of useful products that relate to your day out at the seaside such as sunglasses, buckets and spades, inflatables and the like. They additionally provide gifts and postcards too. A sweet favourite is the history John Bull confectioners that began its journey back in Bridlington in 1911 when Earnest Hodgson opened a Emporium of Rock and Seaside Novelties. It has stores in York, Whitby, Bridlington and Scarborough just to name a few.

Of course, as with most seaside resorts, there is the opportunity for further amusements where you can win monetary or other prizes and you need to dispense of some of that loose change in your pocket. 

Scarborough Lifeboat Station belonging to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution began with just a rowing boat in 1801. Today, they are in modern accommodation boasting an impressive lifeboat. The new lifeboat station has a visitor centre as well as a gift shop.

Coney Island which is an area of South-Western New York was the place where a large electric tower was constructed. Coney Island in Scarborough is a reflection of that with its own electric tower. 

In place of the former Futurist the Captain Jack Adventure Golf and Scarborough Observation Wheel now stands. So if you don’t have a head for heights you can always play golf. If you’re not so hot at golf you can go for a spin. In any case, you can expect to receive some good views of the bay on here. 

Not for from the Grand hotel you will notice one of the notable gardens where you can relax and take in views of the sea as well as work your way up or work your way down to shore along the winding footpaths. 


South Bay Beach

Scarborough Seafront North Yorkshire


The beach at South Bay is a large curved beach that begins at the Lifeboat Station through to beyond the Scarborough Spa complex. Of course, the size of the beach is dependent on tide. 


Grand Hotel

Scarborough Seafront North Yorkshire


Looking over the beach towers the Grand Hotel which has been designed in a V shape representing Queen Victoria. People are generally more than familiar with this landmark, but what they might not know is that it was one of the largest hotels on the globe when it was constructed in 1867. It was designed by Cuthbert Brodick who was an architect from Hull. What visitors to Scarborough may not know is that it had 365 bedrooms representing days of the year, it has 52 chimneys for weeks of the year, 12 floors representing months of the year, and 4 towers representing the four seasons. Obviously, Cuthbert Brodick had his design very well thought out especially when there was also an extra set of taps to wash in seawater! Victorian architecture tends to mix functionality with creativity and this is a fine example of the period. What may escape visitors unnoticed is that the stone is the same colour as that of York Station and the former Royal York Hotel. This is because these structures built around the same period are all made with Scarborough stone. The V shape begins at the Spa Bridge side where the building is at its narrowest. Beside it is one of the many tramways from town to shore. 


The Scarborough Spa

Scarborough Seafront North Yorkshire


The closure of the Futurist cinema and theatre has been one of the saddest losses to Scarborough’s seafront, but the Scarborough Spa still thrives today as an entertainment venue. Again this is of Victorian era and it is a 2000 seat theatre hosting shows in the summer and pantomime in winter.  It is also a venue for music and conferences and all manner of live entertainment. In the cliffs above, Thomasin Farrar, the wife of a leading citizen, discovered spa water which drew in visitors, hence Scarborough Spa. It is famous for its location for the Scarborough Spa Orchestra as well as the Scarborough Jazz Festival. It is also a popular eatery too. This grade II listed building adds some Victorian character to the seafront and is in keeping with the Grand Hotel close by. 

Linking the Scarborough Spa with St Nicholas Cliff is the Spa footbridge that stretches across Valley Road. This is also Victorian and built in 1827 by the Cliff Bridge Company. The aim was to increase trade at the Scarborough Spa, and no doubt this would have factored in with the location of the Grand Hotel.  From here you can receive some good views of South Bay and Valley Road from its vantage point, and across the bay it is a pretty view. 

The Victorian Cliff tramway is tucked neatly between the hotel and bridge linking the 200ft cliff with the shore below. The spa waters, or natural spring water, was stained by the rocks in to a russet colour and the water was promoted as medicinal curing minor ailments. This brought in the visitors to South Bay hoping to benefit from these supposed medicinal qualities. This in turn made South Bay very popular with Victorian day-trippers and no doubt why it is a developed seaside resort today.  Of course, in the modern day it is the large sandy beach that attracts more than natural spring water, as well as the many entertaining attractions available. 

Undoubtedly the sea and its activities upon the beach attract much of the attention in the bay but the cliffs above should bot be forgotten. A winding path takes you along a very idyllic walk towards the hotel rich Esplanade. And this also provides some entertaining views of South Bay that incorporates its famous landmarks such as the Castle and Lighthouse. 

If your feet are not up to walking the full stretch of Royal Albert Drive, Marine Drive and Foreshore Road then one of the open top tour buses can take you there calling between The Scarborough Spa and The Sands holiday apartments we encountered earlier. 

When you walk over the Spa Bridge you may have noticed a circular stone building alongside Valley Road. This is the Rotunda Museum that contains artefacts from the local area and also includes the Bronze Age Gristhorpe Man who was found at Gristhorpe not far away from Scarborough. 

This concludes our visit to Scarborough Seafront. For some more useful information pertaining to your visit to Scarborough, please visit todoinyork.com. We hope you enjoy your visit to Scarborough in North Yorkshire Until next time!