Seeking Simplicity in Staithes- How to Fill your Mini Break
Read on to discover the magic and wonder of this amazing little coastal village, filled with heaps of charm and character.
Staithes at a Glance
Staithes is a coastal village built into the cliffside of North Yorkshire, full of characterful buildings, cobbled streets, charming cafes, pubs and galleries. Staithes is a perfectly desirable destination for those seeking sea air, alongside peace and tranquillity.
Imagine ‘higgledy piggledy’ cottages, narrow, winding lanes, enchanting bridges, steep hills and a windswept harbour all overlooked by cliffs. Now imagine standing at the top of one of those steep hills looking across and down at red roofs, all differing shapes, sizes and levels. In your mind’s eye, look beyond those roofs, past the winding cobbled lanes, beyond the fishing nets, boats and harbour out to sea. There you have Staithes. A picture perfect coastal postcard.
Whilst taking all this in, imagine too, the things Staithes is famous for – from smuggling in the 18th century, to cod, crab and lobster fishing of both yesteryear and today, from Captain Cook, to today’s television: CBeebies (Old Jack’s Boat), BBC Countryfile and Robson Green’s Weekend Escapes.
The Hills and Cliffs of Staithes
Despite providing stunning views across the coast, be aware that there are incredibly steep hills through which the streets meander, some of them cobbled, so if you have mobility issues, please take this into consideration, especially as the only car park is at the top of the hill (Bank Top Car Park, TS13 5AD).
Captain James Cook and Staithes
It was in Staithes that James Cook, later Captain, began his love of the sea. In 1745, he was an assistant to a merchant of Staithes, worked in the general store and the rest of his explorations are very well documented in history. There is a Captain Cook Heritage Centre at the harbour, where you can learn about his life story. You can also see Captain James Cook’s connection with Whitby, a nearby Yorkshire Coast village, in our article here: Discovering Whitby: Maritime History, Dracula Legends and Culinary Delights in this Coastal Getaway. Whilst at the Heritage Centre, look into the RNLI base and take in the lifeboat in all its glory.
The Cleveland Way
Take any path leading upwards out of the village and within minutes (depending on how fast you can walk uphill, of course), you are on the clifftops. This is the Cleveland Way, where you can walk for miles – literally up to 109 -110 miles. The trail starts in Helmsley, a pretty little market town and winds its way over the breathtakingly beautiful North Yorkshire Moors towards the coast at Saltburn-by-the-Sea and then over the cliffs to Filey where it ends. Take in the stunning scenery, magnificent views and inhale the pure, fresh and sometimes salty air. (Just a tip – sturdy walking boots and waterproof clothing are both essential, this is the British coast!).
Shops, Cafes and Galleries in Staithes
Although Staithes can be bustling with tourists, there are very few shops and eating places which is blissful and just creates more charm, adding to the atmosphere that this beautiful little village is adorned with. Look out for the original and contemporary art galleries and if you get the chance, pop in and chat to the owners/artists. Cobbles is a gorgeous little eatery, with very reasonable prices. Don’t be fooled by its small interior, just head upstairs for a much larger eating space. It offers a delicious range of ice creams, hot chocolates and cakes, as well as a more substantial hot menu, including varieties of paninis and pizza. There is also Dottie’s Vintage Tearoom, olde worlde as its name indicates, serving toasties, bacon sarnies, scones/cakes (baked daily), coffee, speciality hot chocolate and even doggie treats for your four legged friends.
Not to forget Betsy and Bo, an amazing little sweet shop at the front, shelves upon shelves full to the brim of almost every kind of sweetie jar you could imagine and a counter full of chocolate and fudge. Not content with just being a sweet shop, if you wander through to the back, it opens up into the most luxurious delicatessen you ever did see. Homemade quiches and other produce, jars full of various jams and chutneys, bottles of olive oil and other drizzly dressings, pickles and sauces, biscuits for cheese – really a foodie’s paradise. And to be honest, you don’t even have to be a foodie to spend your time in this wonderful, aromatic, quirky little shop – just immerse all your senses, especially the olfactory. You’ll soon discover that this space offers the best, local, top quality produce you could hope for – a very pleasant surprise in a village so small. So, sweet or savoury, Betsy and Bo have you covered.
Dining in Staithes
For a dining experience to end all others, you must visit the Cod and Lobster. A pub on the quay, at the mouth of the sea, serving bar food and classic bistro dishes – seafood being a speciality. Although it has suffered from wind and waves in the past, to the extent where the front was washed away, you would not know that now. Placed in perfect position when descending from the Cleveland Way, it is a refuge, somewhere to enjoy a hot drink by the fire in chilly weather, and gaze out of the window at the glorious sea view on better days, sipping your favourite cold beverage.
Any place that is popular with locals, such as this, tells its own tale – the locals only choose the best – offering over 100 types of gin, 50 types of whiskey and 30 types of rum, this surely equates to the best! Peruse the photographs on the walls that tell a story of Staithes in times gone by, whilst waiting for your meal, brought to you quickly and efficiently, that is, once you’ve decided from the extensive menu. If you prefer to be seated outside, then go ahead, weather permitting. Dogs are allowed inside, so if you have man’s best friend with you, this is not a deterrent to entering the establishment. Seabass, monkfish, crab sandwiches, mussels, oysters, and of course, cod and lobster are all stalwarts of the menu, however, feel free to enjoy meat or vegetarian if you prefer.
Neighbouring Villages to Staithes
Whitby, Runswick Bay, Robin Hood’s Bay and Saltburn-By-The-Sea are all nearby, and all worth a visit. From the Dracula connection in the larger town of Whitby, to the cliff lift (one of the world’s oldest water powered funicular) at Saltburn, there is something of interest and beauty in whichever direction you turn from Staithes.
How to Get to Staithes
How to Get to Staithes by Car
The A171 is the main road into Staithes before turning off at Scaling to enter the village. As mentioned above, the only car park (unless your accommodation has parking) is at Bank Top Car Park, 68 Staithes Ln, Staithes, Saltburn-by-the-Sea TS13 5AD.
Getting to Staithes by Train
The nearest train station to Staithes is in Whitby which is just over 10 miles away. From here, you can get a local bus to Staithes. See How to Get to Staithes by Bus below.
Getting to Staithes by Bus
From Whitby bus station, you can get a regular Arriva North East bus service running hourly and taking just under half an hour. It arrives at Dalehouse, Captain Cooks Close station.
Final Thoughts on Staithes
Staithes is the ideal place to rest, recharge and leave feeling revitalised. Whether calm or windy, sunny or rainy, cold or warm, it is a place for all seasons. If you choose to stay for a mini break you will not be disappointed and you will return home with your head, heart and soul full of the magic that Staithes has woven around you.