This was a very enjoyable walk linking two resorts on the North Yorkshire coast, which are connected by what I was to discover is a beautiful stretch of the coast.
I was doing this walk as a day trip from home. A few months earlier I had booked a train ticket from London to Filey for £14 though my return ticket came in at £41. Rather a difference in price and more than I’d like to pay, but there we are.
I took a train to London Waterloo, two tube trains to reach London Kings Cross. From there I took the 8am train as far as York. I had 35 minutes to change trains at York. Now on a cheap “Advance” ticket it is not permitted to break a journey (and hence leave the station). However happily York is one of the few main stations that does not have ticket barriers (or at least it didn’t then), so there was nothing to stop me leaving the station and having a short explore of York first. So that is what I did.
First I crossed the River Ouse. It looked like some sort of canoeing event was about to take place and reminded me a bit of scenes along the Thames near Putney, where this is a common sight.
I continued into the city centre where I had time to take in some of the beautiful old buildings.
This is one of the things I like about British cities. In many other countries you’ll find part of the city designated the “old town”. These often become an area mostly visited by tourists and where the citizens of the city rarely go – more a living museum. However in Britain we usually continue to use ancient buildings for their original purpose and keep them part of the modern day city centre, rather than turn them into a sort of museum. I much prefer the British approach and here we can see the old half-timbered buildings, originally built as shops still serving that purpose hundreds of years later.
Lastly, I made it as far as the impressive Minster. Whilst I did not have time to look in, at least I could appreciate this magnificent buildings from the outside.
Now it was time to head back to the station, passing the original city walls. These too are intact and you can walk all the way around them (as I have done on a prior visit). However now it was time to continue my journey to the coast!
Next I had to take a train from York to Seamer and another from there to Filey. I arrived on time, around 11:40am.
I made my way from the station to the sea front. I was pleased to see that the tide was out. Filey has a beautiful beach – at low tide. At high tide, there is nothing of it, because the tide comes right back to the sea wall.
Ahead I could see the headland of Filey Brigg. In fact, so inviting was the beach that I headed down to it walking at the edge of the shore line along the firm sand.
However as there started to be cliffs I opted to leave the beach and return to the promenade because otherwise I’d have to turn back when I reached the cliffs of Filey Brigg.
Ahead I came to Ravine Road, a road that runs along the base of a steep valley, and ahead there was cliffs. I was fortunate that for the next file miles I have a proper coast path. This is part of the Yorkshire Wolds Way which joins the coast here and continues to Filey Brigg ahead, the end of the route. This is another of Britain’s National Trails, and I hope to walk it some day. However it did mean the path ahead was likely to be clearly signed and well maintained, which is good.
Climbing up out of the valley there were a lot of steps, but eventually on reaching the top and emerging from the trees, the view inland was to an isolated church.
However the view to the right was more of interest, with a view down to the lovely sandy beach of Filey, now some way below me.
I continued along the cliff top with some sort of yacht club below, judging by the number of boats left at the base of the cliffs.
Heading north I was soon at the southern edge of Filey Brigg. This is a very thin headland which stretches out for about 1/4 of a mile into the beach and is just a few metres wide at it’s narrowest point. It looked very attractive with the soft sand-stone cliffs having eroded into patterns.
The Yorkshire Wolds Way ends here and picking up the mantle is the Cleveland Way. This another of our National Trails and this one follows the coast from here as far as Saltburn-by-the-Sea, so I’ll be following much of it on the next few walks. In fact Filey Brigg is something of a meeting of National Trails because it marks not only the eastern extent of the Yorkshire Wolds Way and Cleveland Way but is also part of the new not-yet-complete England Coast Path, though this hadn’t been created when I walked this part of the coast.
None of these paths however go out onto Filey Brigg itself, though there is a footpath along the top of it. So rather than turn left with the coast I first opted to follow the path out along to the end of Filey Brigg (as I had a fairly generous timing to get home for this walk, so I knew I had time).
The coast was quite spectacular, especially along it’s northern side where numerous caves and gullies had been cut by the sea over the years.
It also offered me a good view back to Filey.
The headland was quite rugged and it was quite a windy day, so I could see and hear the waves crashing into the base of the cliffs below me. At the far end of the headland , a pleasant seat had been provided, whilst a sign warned about attempting to climb down to the sea from here.
Interestingly, it was clear Filey Brigg had once been longer and what I presumed was the base of now eroded-away cliffs was visible extending quite some way beyond the end of the current cliffs. It reminded me a bit of Kimmeridge in Dorset.
In fact people were walking out along this, so it was possible to walk even further out (at least at low tide). However with no safe way down from the end of the cliffs so I wasn’t able to get down there (at least not without re-tracing most of my walk so far!).
Curiously, there was also a building below the cliff tops.
I don’t think it was a house, perhaps a boat house of some sort, but it looked very exposed to the sea and I wondered why it had been built there.
I stopped for a while on the bench to enjoy the views and the waves crashing over the rocks at the end of the headland.
Still I couldn’t linger all day, so I re-traced my steps back to the Cleveland Way. An information sign informed me that the discovery of flints tools meant there was evidence of habitation on this headland going back around 4000 years. I suspect it has changed quite a bit since then!
Now back to the Cleveland Way I turned right along it. As I hoped, I now had a fine cliff top path along the short grass on top of the cliffs.
This was a lovely stretch of the path and continued for around 1 1/2 miles where I could see the next headland, Cunstone Nab ahead. Here the different types of rock were visible with what looked like a softer clay-like layer at the bottom and line of firmer rock at the top (sorry, I know very little about Geology!).
The path undulated around to reach this, where there was some evidence of earth slipping from the steep-sided grassy slope into the sea.
On reaching the top of this headland my destination, Scarborough, was already in sight despite being several miles ahead.
Sadly the weather was clouding up a bit now, but despite this it was still a beautiful view. The good path continued past a large caravan park (Blue Dolphin Holiday Park) to approach the next headland, Red Cliff Point.
Despite the name, it did not look very red to me, but again layers of different types of rock were visible in the cliffs.
At the end of this point too there was evidence that the headland had once been longer with what I presumed was the base of the old cliffs visible just above the waves.
Looking back I had fine views of the cliffs on which I had been walking.
Now past the caravan park, the path continued right out to the end of this headland where I could look back along the spectacular cliffs I had been following. Filey was now out of sight.
Reaching the end of the headland, erosion had caused the rocks to be eroded into some strange shapes, perhaps the beginning of some rock stacks.
Ahead I now had a view over Cayton Bay.
This is a sandy beach at low tide and the winds were generating some quite large waves. I like it when you get lines of waves coming in like this, I remember seeing this a lot in North Devon and Cornwall. Here too, like in those counties, I was also seeing surfers trying to make the best of the waves.
On the back of the beach too I could see some old World War II concrete pill boxes. These were presumably once on the cliff top but had fallen into the sea as the cliffs eroded. These things were tough, as despite all this it was still largely intact!
The path soon descended with the cliffs passing some bungalows on the left that are now rather close to the cliff edge! At the bottom of the valley there is a car park and the Cayton Bay Surf Shop and a path leading from the car park down to the beach. I hadn’t really though of the east coast having surfing, so all this was a surprise to me.
I took the opportunity to head down onto the beach here. The back of the beach was mostly shingle and pebbles with now just a narrow line of sand at the shoreline, as the tide was coming in. There was however some debris and areas of mud from the eroding cliffs.
I did stop for a quick paddle to refresh my feet, but it being March the sea was still quite chilly, so I didn’t linger.
The view back from the beach where I had come was quite impressive, with the high cliffs I had been walking on towering over the beach. This surfer seemed to have briefly stopped to enjoy the view, too! (I was quite pleased with this photo).
The beach showed all sorts of debris from the erosion of the soft cliffs that back onto it, however.
I enjoyed watching the surfers here too, some of which were pretty good, at least to my untrained eye.
Eventually, it was time to drag myself away and return from the beach to the onwards path. I was very glad I had stopped to visit this beach. The path soon crossed the end of a small caravan site where a road went off to the right to server an isolated house and what looked like a pumping station. However I stuck to the cliff top path and didn’t go down to investigate this.
I continued, now climbing out of the bay. The far end of the bay was wooded and showing signs of a lot of erosion and soon the path was descending again into these trees.
I was soon to see more evidence of the erosion. The path as it was marked on my Ordnance Survey map was shown as continuing in this woodland to the end of the road at Knipe Point Drive. However this path had been lost to erosion and so soon I was directed on a diversion up to the road, Osgodby Hill.
I then had to follow the road along the coastal edge of the curiously named village of Osgodby. In fact the road I’m following was once the A165. Coastal erosion has however forced the road to be diverted inland and in fact at the time I did this walk the road south of here had also been closed, due to landslips and erosion (I think it is still closed, probably permanently). I was soon welcomed to Scarborough.
I followed the road for a few hundred metres until I could turn right off the road behind the private estate at Knipe Point. In fact the path used to run the coastal side of this estate, but erosion has been so severe that the path had to be closed and moved the landward side of it, after 20ft of land was lost in a single year. A couple of years before I did this walk several houses in the estate had had to be demolished as they were about to fall over the cliffs, and a few more were demolished for the same reason in 2013. One had dropped in value from an estimate £160,000 to just £3000 a few years later.
At the end of the estate, the path turn left beside the woodland of the cliff face to my right. At the end of this field I descended steps to a track and continued through another short stretch of woodland to round the golf course at Osgodby.
Now I was back on the cliff tops, which were now briefly lower. Looking back it was obvious how soft the cliffs are in this stretch of coast and the problems that erosion is causing.
The path now climbed up past the golf course on the left, with fine views of Scarborough ahead with the remains of the castle on the headland behind the town a very obvious landmark.
The path now followed some man-made tarmac tracks on what I think was originally the site of the Holbeck Hall Hotel. Here the cliffs collapsed quite suddenly in 1993, taking part of the hotel (which was occupied at the time) with it. I remember seeing it in the National Press. The hotel was later demolished.
Now a series of paths twist and turn down to the promenade at South Bay. I had now reached Scarborough.
I continued on the promenade. The tide had now come in, and waves crashed over the wall just below the promenade.
I guessed it must be high tide. This is the official route of the coast path, but despite this I had to be careful with timing in some places to go in a gap between the waves, to avoid getting a soaking.
It was quite dramatic! In fact I stopped to watch it for a while. There is something quite exhilarating about hearing that thump of the sea crashing into the wall below you, and the vibrations you feel as it does so, followed a few seconds later by a plume of spray flying over the railings!
A sign helpfully warned “Danger from Heavy Seas”, but I was already well aware of that! I managed to get a few photos of it and despite the impressions of those (they were taken zoomed in), I didn’t get a drenching! But I do find it fun to watch the sea crashing into walls or rocks like this.
The promenade continued past a line of colourful beach huts and then a cliff lift, followed by the spa.
This grand building is no longer a spa as such (despite the name), more an entertainment space for conferences, concerts and the like. I thought it looked a bit like a railway station from outside.
A little further up there was a bit of beach visible below the promenade, so I headed down onto it.
The weather was brightening up now and the town looked lovely. I had wondered if Scarborough might be a bit like Skegness but thankfully it wasn’t, it is a very beautiful town with the red-roofed houses heading up the side of the steep cliffs and the imposing castle towering over them on the cliff tops.
I continued past the impressively large Grand Hotel.
It is certainly very large (there are more than 400 rooms), and at the time of it’s opening it was the largest hotel in Europe! This was once a very grand hotel, but it had fallen on hard times, after a series of owners (including Butlins) and is more a budget hotel these days. In the few years prior to my walk the hotel had had to be closed down for a time, due to the presence of E-coli, and guests had had to be quarantined due to the outbreak of vomiting virus. I also read that some of the rooms were underground, with no window. It is rather a shame for what was once a very grand hotel, but given these fact, I was not inclined to be checking in.
Onwards I continued on the beach with childhood memories coming back as I passed the donkeys still giving rides to children on the beach. (My granddad used to give me money for “a donkey ride” before going on holiday long after I was far too big for that to be possible without attracting the wrath of the RSPCA!)
At the end of the south bay I came to the pretty harbour, still quite busy with fishing boats.
I followed the harbour breakwater around where I got a lovely view back to this pretty town. It reminded me a bit of some towns in the south west, climbing up the hills from the coast.
From the harbour I made my way up to the cliff tops and the castle. This is open to the public however it closes at 4pm in the winter and given it was now after 4pm, I was out of luck to visit. So I had to make do with a walk around the outside and the fine views I got from it.
The views were lovely and I could see back along the coast over much of my walk. I could also see north to the north bay that I would be exploring next time.
I was also intrigued to see how much the walls of the castle had been eroded in places by nothing more than the wind and rain. Presumably it was built of a softer sand-stone type rock.
My train home was not until 18:47 so this meant I had almost 2 hours to explore before I had to leave. I headed up some of the hilly streets of the town. If it wasn’t for the cars, I doubt this view would have been much different 100 years ago.
The streets leading down from the castle were especially steep.
I had dinner in the town and then headed back to the beach. The tide was going out now leaving wet firm sand and this made for nice reflections of the lights of the town, now that the sun had set.
I sat on the beach for a while watching the lights coming on around the town and taking some longer exposure photos.
It had been a lovely day and this was a fine way to finish in this pretty town. I really liked Scarborough very much and was very pleasantly surprised by it, I had worried I might find another tacky and run-down resort but it was in fact very pretty with much of interest to see, and in a grand setting. The walk itself had been wonderful with a good cliff top path all the way (apart from a brief diversion due to erosion) and some stunning views as a result. It was very varied too and with a great path throughout. The beach at Cayton Sands had been another un-expected bonus, as I’d not expected to find a popular surfing beach on the east coast. All in all, a wonderful day.
I headed back to the station for my train to York and then onwards back to London and home. It was around 11:30pm when I got home but despite the long day it had been very much worth it.
Here are details of the public transport needed for this walk. It is possible to return to Filey by bus or train. Details of both are below.
East Yorkshire Motor Services (EYMS) bus routes 12 and 13 : Scarborough – Cayton Bay – Cayton – Filey – Hunmanby (12 only) – Primrose Valley Holiday Village (13 only) – Reighton Sands (13 only) – Reighton – Bridlington. Hourly during the winter (seven days a week). Increasing to twice an hour during the summer. It takes around 30 minutes to travel between Scarborough and Filey.
Northern Rail – The Yorkshire Coast Line : Scarborough – Seamer – Filey – Hunmanby– Bempton – Bridlington – Nafferton – Driffield – Beverley – Cottingham – Hull (Paragon). 10 trains per day Monday – Saturday and 6 on Sundays. It takes around 15 minutes to travel between Scarborough and Filey.