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Scarborough

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Scarborough is a large resort on the North Yorkshire coast in the north of England; it had a population of 61,749 in 2011. It has two broad sandy bays divided by a headland, with confident Victorian hotels ranged above.

Understand

A castle was established on the headland in the Norman era, and the town first grew up along the more sheltered South Bay. There was fishing and sea trade, but it wasn't much of a harbour, and Scarborough mostly owes its existence to the strange course of the River Derwent. This arises nearby, but instead of flowing to the coast it turns inland, carving a broad valley between the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Wolds. So this was a natural transport route: for traders heading to Scarborough Fair, for marauding armies including the Normans, Scots and Royalists alternating with Parliamentarians, and above all for holiday-makers. In 1626 one of the springs that bubbled out of the cliffs, staining the rocks with its mineral content, was claimed to have medicinal properties. People flocked for spa cures, from the springs and from sea-bathing. The railway arrived in 1845 and there was a spate of building grand hotels, expanding into North Bay and creating the townscape you see today. Leisure fashions have evolved but Scarborough remains a popular resort because of its ease of access from the industrial cities.

Get in

By car

All routes to Scarborough get very congested on summer weekends. The main approach is along A64, which forks off A1(M) to pass York and Malton. Expect to hit tailbacks just east of York where the dual carriageway narrows to single.

Other routes are to leave A64 at York for A166 via Stamford Bridge and Bridlington; along A170 (for light vehicles only) from Thirsk and Pickering; from eastern England either via M18 then A614 or via Humber Bridge, Hull and A165; and from the north use A19 past Middlesbrough onto A171 then along the coast through Whitby.

Tune in to This is the Coast on DAB radio for travel reports to confirm that what you are stuck in is indeed a traffic jam.

Parking in town centre is ample much of the year but fills up quickly in summer. For day trips use the Park and Rides, both south side: on A64 Seamer Road and on A165 Filey Road.

By train

TransPennine Express trains run hourly from Liverpool Lime Street via Manchester Victoria, LeedsYork and  Malton to Scarborough. From London and the south, change at York. Reservations are needed for bicycles.

Northern Rail trains run every two hours from Hull via BeverleyBridlington, Bempton (for Flamborough Head) and Filey to Scarborough.

On summer weekends these trains are packed with families heading to the seaside.

1 Scarborough station is next to the main bus stand in West Square. Lots of cafes nearby.

By bus

The National Express direct from London Victoria has been axed: travel to Leeds and take the Coastliner, 10 hours in all.

The Yorkshire Coastliner 843 runs hourly from Leeds via TadcasterYork and Malton to Scarborough.

East Yorkshire Bus 121 runs every two hours from Hull via Beverley and Driffield to Bridlington. Change there for the hourly 12 / 13 via Filey to Scarborough.

East Yorkshire Bus 128 runs across the North York Moors from Helmsley via Pickering, Thornton-le-Dale, Brompton and Seamer to Scarborough. It runs hourly M-F, every two hours Sa, no Sunday service.

Arriva Bus X93 runs hourly from Middlesbrough via Guisborough and Whitby to Scarborough.

Get around

The town itself is a few miles long, but plan around walking wherever possible.

The Tramway is a funicular, plying between St Nicholas St and the South Bay seafront, all of 248 feet / 76 m. Opened in 1881, it runs daily 10:00-17:00, adult fare £1.20 up and £1 down.

Open-top buses ply along the seafront, between The Spa in South Bay and The Sands in North Bay. They run Apr-Oct daily every 15 min to 18:30 or later. An adult day ticket is £5, child and concs £3.

The bus south to Filey gets you to Cayton Bay, and the bus north to Whitby gets you to Robin Hood's Bay, see Get in. But most of their route lies a mile or two inland, with limited access to the clifftop footpath.

See

  • 1 Scarborough Castle, Castle Road YO11 1HY, ☏ +44 1723 372451. Daily 10:00-17:00. It's well smashed up, but it's scenically perched on the headland dividing the two bays, and has been a fort since prehistoric times. Much of the ruin is medieval, but it was in use into modern times, and shelled by German warships in 1914. Adult £8.70, child £5.20, conc £7.90. (updated Jul 2020)
  • St Mary's Church, Parish House, 158 Castle Rd YO11 1TH, ☏ +44 1723 500541. This Anglican church is next to the castle, which meant that the Norman / medieval building was wrecked during the Civil War assault on the castle. It was rebuilt in the 17th C and reduced in size during the 19th. In that era, Anne Brontë worked as governess to the Robinson family of Thorp Green near York, and accompanied them on annual holidays to Scarborough. She used its settings in Agnes Grey, and for the fictional village of "Linden-Car" in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. When her health failed in 1849, she returned to Scarborough in hopes of a cure but died aged 29 and was buried here. Her grave is in the northern end of the churchyard. Free. (updated Jul 2020)
  • 2 The Harbour is at the north end of South Bay, sheltered by the castle headland from nor'easterly weather. There's a small lighthouse - really just a harbour light - and Luna Park funfair at the east pier end.
  • 3 St Martin-on-the-Hill, completed in 1863, is the attractive High Anglican church on Albion Road. Panels around the pulpit are by the Pre-Raphaelites.
  • 4 Peasholm Park is in a glen opening onto North Bay; always open, free, dogs on leads welcome. It has Japanese-themed gardens, a pagoda and a boating lake. A mock naval battle is staged on the lake June Sa, July Th Sa, Aug M Th Sa; adult £4.50, child £2.50.
  • The Italian Gardens and Rose Garden by the Esplanade overlook South Bay. Some 300 yards south, the grassy bank was formerly the site of the Holbeck Hall Hotel. Many places along this eroded coast have fallen into the sea but this hotel spectacularly did so live on TV news in 1993. The cause was not coastal erosion, but heavy rain liquidising the subsoil, which landslipped. The spot is marked by an information board and a poignant caption on Google Map: "add a missing place".
  • 5 Scarborough Art Gallery is in an Italianate villa on The Crescent. Rotating art exhibits, there isn't a permanent collection. It's open Tu-Su 10:00-17:00, adult £3 includes The Rotunda.
  • The Rotunda 100 yards east on Vernon Road was built in 1829 to display the geology collection of William Smith, who realised one could correlate geological strata by the fossils they contain. Closed in 2020, normally open Tu-Su 10:00-17:00, adult £3 includes the Art Gallery.
  • 6 Oliver's Mount. This ridge at the south edge of town is a peaceful strolling spot for views over the town - except on race days. It's a motorbike race track of 2.41 miles / 3.88 km, with events staged July-Sept. (updated Jul 2020)
  • Scalby Beck or The Sea Cut is a partly artificial channel to manage the flow of the River Derwent. This arises in the North York Moors close to the North Sea, but its direct course was blocked by Ice Age mud deposits, so for the last 11,000 years or so it's flowed inland - the River Niger of Yorkshire, with Malton as its Timbuktu. The Derwent has 70 miles to flow to reach the tidal Humber with only 135 ft / 41 m to fall, so it's flood-prone. A channel was completed in 1804 to divert water from its upper reaches into the natural Scalby Beck. There are paths along its length.
  • 8 Forge Valley Woods are in the Derwent Valley below the Sea Cut intake. Some of the woodland is 6000 years old. The woods were formerly used for charcoal to fire forges, hence the name, but are now protected as a National Nature Reserve.
  • See Whitby for picturesque Robin Hood's Bay and the oddity of Ravenscar, a Victorian attempt to create a beach resort out of a disused alum factory that lacked a beach.

Do

  • Beaches: South Bay has amusement arcades, a funfair, the harbour, the Spa complex, donkey rides, and all the trappings of a traditional English seaside resort. North Bay, the other side of the castle headland, is quieter and less developed. Both are sandy, and almost completely covered at high tide.
  • Stephen Joseph Theatre, Westborough YO11 1JW (opposite railway station), ☏ +44 1723 370541. Stephen Joseph was the mentor of the prolific playwright and theatre director Sir Alan Ayckbourn. Born in 1939, Ayckbourn lives locally; he retired as artistic director in 2008 but continues to premier his own work here - the latest, number 80 in the canon, was Anno Domini in 2020. The theatre also puts on other new writing, rep, and occasionally film. (updated Jul 2020)
  • 1 Sea Life Centre, Scalby Mills Rd YO12 6RP, ☏ +44 1723 373414. Daily 10:00-17:00. Various aquarium habitats, with talks and interaction pools. Adult £15.20, child £13.20. (updated Jul 2020)
  • Open Air Theatre on North Bay, with a capacity of 8000, puts on big-name concerts in summer; bring your waterproofs. The 2020 programme is cancelled.
  • North Bay Railway is a 20 inch gauge railway: trains chunter for most of a mile between Peasholm Park and the Sea Life Centre at Scalby Mills. Four locomotives are "outline" or mock-steam, but with diesel-hydraulic power units. In 2016 a true steam locomotive came into service, the 0-4-0 Georgina. Trains run Easter-Oct every 20-30 min, adult day pass £4.20, child £3.20.
  • 2 Alpamare Waterpark, 28 Burniston Rd YO12 6PH, ☏ +44 1723 861431. M-Sa 10:00-22:00, Su 10:00-21:00. Waterpark with heated pool and tube-rides, also a spa. Adult £21, child £17. (updated Jul 2020)
  • 3 North Yorkshire Water Park, Wykeham Lakes, Long Causeway Rd YO13 9QU (6 miles west of town off A170), ☏ +44 1723 865052. Apr-Oct daily 08:00-18:00. Lagoon with floating slides, kayaking, paddle-boarding and so on. (updated Jul 2020)
  • Golf: the North Cliff Golf Club is near the Sea Life Centre, and the South Cliff Golf Club is on Oliver's Mount.
  • Cayton Bay five miles south of town has a broad sandy beach. It's the main spot for surfing, wind-surfing and the like.
  • Walk: The Cleveland Way follows a 110 mile loop from Helmsley round the rim of the North York Moors through OsmotherleyGuisboroughSaltburn-by-the-SeaWhitby, Scarborough and Filey. The sections near Scarborough all follow the coast and are obvious: north along the cliffs to ScalbyRavenscar and Robin Hood's Bay, or south along the beach (covered at high tide) then cliffs via Cayton Bay to Filey Brigg and town.
  • The Cinder Track is the old railway between Scarborough and Whitby. It's suitable for walking, cycling and horse-riding. It winds along the contours a mile or two inland so it has limited sea views but is level going.
  • Cricket: the cricket ground is on North Marine Road near Peasholm Park. Scarborough CC play in the Yorkshire Premier League North, and Yorkshire CCC occasionally play here.
  • Football: Scarborough Athletic play in the Northern Premier League, way down in the 7th tier of English soccer. Their home ground is Flamingoland Stadium (capacity 2833) on Ashburn Rd a mile south of the railway station. Their predecessors were Scarborough FC, who in the 1990s played in the lowest Division of the Football League, before tumbling down the rankings and going bust in 2007.
  • National Armed Forces Day rotates around the country, and the next event is hosted by Scarborough, on 25-27 June 2021.

Buy

  • Scarborough Rock, anywhere along the prom.
  • Tesco next to the railway station is open M-Sa 06:00-00:00, Su 10:00-16:00.
  • The main retail strip is south edge of town, along Seamer Rd A64, with a Lidl supermarket.

Eat

  • Harbour Bar, 1 Sandside YO11 1PE (at West Pier). Daily 08:30-17:00. Not a pub, but a popular ice-cream parlour and coffee shop in 1950s retro style. (updated Jul 2020)
  • Roasters, 8 Aberdeen Walk YO11 1XP. M-Sa 08:00-19:00, Su 09:00-16:00. Pleasant cafe near NCP Balmoral car park. (updated Jul 2020)
  • Mother Hubbards, 43 Westborough YO11 1UN, ☏ +44 1723 376109. M-Sa 11:30-18:00. Roomy slick fish and chips restaurant, licensed, non-fish alternatives available. (updated Jul 2020)
  • Wackers, 1 Vernon Rd YO11 2NH. M-Sa 09:00-18:00, Su 11:00-17:00. Long-established place, reliably good fish and chips. (updated Jul 2020)
  • Cafe Fish, 19 York Place YO11 2NP, ☏ +44 1723 500301. Daily 17:30-22:00. Small seafood restaurant, licensed, not your average chipper. (updated Jul 2020)
  • Smallfry, 52 North Street YO11 1DE (behind Post Office). Tu-F 11:30-14:00, 16:15-19:15, Sa 11:30-14:00. Good fish & chips, small eat-in or takeaway. (updated Jul 2020)
  • Lanterna, 33 Queen Street YO11 1HQ, ☏ +44 1723 363616. Tu-Sa 19:00-21:30. Long-established trattoria, great cuisine, a cut above your standard pizzeria. (updated Jul 2020)
  • Florios Pizzeria, 35 Aberdeen Walk YO11 1BD, ☏ +44 1723 351124. W-M 17:00-21:00. Popular spot for pizza and pasta. (updated Jul 2020)
  • Scarborough Tandoori, 50 St Thomas Street YO11 1DR, ☏ +44 1723 352393. Daily 17:00-00:00. Extensive menu, good food. (updated Jul 2020)

Drink

  • Indigo Alley, 4 North Marine Rd YO12 7PD. Quirky CAMRA-recommended pub, has live music. Serves fish & chips W-Su 16:00-20:00. (updated Jul 2020)
  • The Cask Inn, Cambridge Terr YO11 2LQ (south end of Valley Bridge). Daily 12:00-23:30. Dog-friendly pub, does excellent bar meals. (updated Jul 2020)
  • Tap & Spile, 94 Falsgrave Rd YO12 5AZ. M-F 16:00-00:00, Sa 12:00-00:00, Su 12:00-23:00. Friendly pub with live music. Dogs welcome in the Tap room. Meals Sunday lunchtime only. (updated Jul 2020)
  • Yorkshire Spirit Malt Whisky is distilled at nearby Hunmanby, and first went on sale in Dec 2019. See Filey for distillery tours.

Sleep

There are more hotels and small B&Bs than you could shake a stick at. Supply usually well exceeds demand.

  • 1 Scarborough Camping & Caravan Site, Field Lane, Burniston Rd YO13 0DA (on A165), ☏ +44 1723 366212. The site is open April-Oct. Facilities such as cafe, laundry and play area are closed in 2020 season. Caravan or 2-person tent £40 / night. (updated Jul 2020)
  • 2 Scarborough Youth Hostel, Burniston Road YO13 0DA (on A165), ☏ +44 1723 361176. Built in 17th C as a watermill on Scalby Beck, the hostel has 46 beds in 4- and 6-bedded dorms. It will remain closed through 2020. (updated Jul 2020)
  • 3 The Paragon, 123 Queen's Parade YO12 7HY, ☏ +44 1723 372676. Friendly well-run B&B above North Bay. Free parking. B&B double £75. (updated Jul 2020)
  • Argo Guest House, 134 North Marine Rd YO12 7HZ (opposite Paragon), ☏ +44 1723 375745. Simple friendly B&B, good value for money. B&B double £65. (updated Jul 2020)
  • 4 Red Lea Hotel, Prince of Wales Terrace YO11 2AJ, ☏ +44 1723 362431. Clean, welcoming hotel above South Bay. They also have self-catering apartments. Red Lea is within the same building as the dowdy Redcliffe Hotel, but separately run. B&B double £90. (updated Jul 2020)
  • 5 Park Manor Hotel, Northstead Manor Drive YO12 6BB, ☏ +44 1723 372090, ✉ info@parkmanor.co.uk. Decent mid-range hotel by Peasholm Park. B&B double £130. (updated Jul 2020)
  • Premier Inn are a reliable well-run chain. They have two places near town centre: South Bay on Falconers Rd YO11 2EN, and North Bay at 26 Burnieston Road YO12 6PH. Rates in 2020 were around £80 per double room plus £10 pp for breakfast.
  • 6 Travelodge, St Nicholas Cliff YO11 2EU, ☏ +44 871 984 6430. Budget chain hotel in town centre on South Bay. Some rooms and amenities tired or needing a clean, but most visitors have a comfy state. No hotel parking, unload and use the NCP. B&B double £120. (updated Jul 2020)
  • Phoenix Court, 8-9 Rutland Terrace YO12 7JB (next to St Mary's church), ☏ +44 1723 501150. Comfy welcoming B&B looking over North Bay. B&B double £60. (updated Jul 2020)
  • 7 Clifton Hotel, Queen's Parade, North Bay Promenade YO12 7HX, ☏ +44 1723 372489. Budget hotel in Britannia chain, gets very mixed reviews for quality of rooms and service. The poet Wilfred Owen stayed here. B&B double £50. (updated Jul 2020)
  • 8 Crown Spa Scarborough, 7 Esplanade YO11 2AG, ☏ +44 1723 357400. Hotel and spa built in 1844, looking onto South Bay. Occasional glitches but most reviewers have a comfortable stay. B&B double £110. (updated Jul 2020)
  • 9 Royal Hotel, St Nicholas St YO11 2HE, ☏ +44 871 221 0208. It's seen better days. Run by Britannia, this is a budget offering, with indifferent service, decor and catering. B&B double £50. (updated Jul 2020)
  • 10 The Windmill, Mill St YO11 1SZ, ☏ +44 1723 372735. Delightful little B&B in 18th C windmill on the hill above the railway station. Two apartments within the mill tower sleep 2 adults only: 15 steps to lower (the larger), 38 steps to upper (with views). Plus self-catering cottages. No dogs. B&B double £100. (updated Jul 2020)
  • 11 Wrea Head Hall, Barmoor Lane, Scalby YO13 0PB (2 miles north of town), ☏ +44 1723 356773. Upscale country house hotel in Gothic mansion of 1881, refurbished in 2018. B&B double £150. (updated Jul 2020)

Connect

Scarborough and its environs and approach roads have a good mobile and 4G signal from all UK carriers. As of July 2020, 5G has not reached this area.

Go next

  • North past Robin Hood's Bay is Whitby, an attractive fishing harbour with a ruined abbey and a Gothic history, thanks to Dracula.
  • The North York Moors rise inland. Pickering has a well-preserved castle, and steam trains ply across the moors towards Whitby. Rievaulx Abbey is nearby.
  • South is Filey where you can walk out to sea along the Brigg, and walk back again unless you've been careless about tide times. Further south are the magnificent cliffs of Flamborough Head, then the pleasant resort of Bridlington.
  • Malton has several nearby historic buildings; the standout is Castle Howard.
  • Bronte Country - other sites associated with the Brontë sisters are mostly around Haworth in West Yorkshire.





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