Friday, 20 April 2007


Finally, just outside Whitby (at the foot of the 1-in-4 Lythe Bank - test your brakes!) is Sandsend: a lovely corner with a long beach and some great-looking eateries.

We chose to have coffee, and later lunch, in the Bridge Cottage Cafe, which is excellent; in a lovely sheltered position set just back from the road, it's easy to miss. The food was first-class and the service excellent.

We also spotted Estbek House, which we were sad not to have a chance to try - it looked like a very good "special occasion" venue; and also the fabulously-named Wits End Cafe, which was in the next bend in the road going north.

Finally, we visited the Turnstone Gallery, which contained many lovely things that we'd have been tempted by if we'd had a bit more money!

Helmsley Walled Garden

This was one of our favourite discoveries. The most tranquil, gentle place imaginable, abandoned in the 1970s and lovingly restored over the last few years, it has the spectacular backdrop of Helmsley Castle.

The cats are very much in charge, especially Boots, who is a tourist attraction in his own right:

and the cafe provides delicious refreshments in a vinehouse. The garden specialises in clematis and fruit trees, of which there are fantastic numbers. There are plants for sale, and it's altogether an unmissable experience. Visit the website to find out more.


There aren't many long beaches along the Yorkshire coast; Sandsend, near Whitby is one; and Saltburn is another. A very long set of steps (about 200) down from the road at the top to the beach; or else you can take the funicular, if it's in use when you're there:

Once on the beach, there are miles of beautiful sands. We were there in the late afternoon, and misty light was glorious, with surfers, horse-riders and dog-walkers all out in force.

Playing trains at Grosmont

Selwyn said that this made him feel about six years old.

Grosmont is a lovely little town, with at least three good places to eat: the Station Tavern, the Gallery & Jazz Cafe, and another excellent cafe (where we had delicious quiche & pork pie - one each, I hasten to add), the name of which escapes me for the moment, but which is a few steps down the hill with a charming garden.

In the background of all this, there is the fabulous steam railway. We imagine that the noise might get on your nerves after a while, but for the visitor of a couple of hours, it's great to find yourself expecting Jenny Agutter to come running along the platform! It's a working line, not just for the benefit of tourists, and a lovely step back in time.

There's also St Matthew's Church, in its tranquil setting, with beautiful birdlife - we watched the treecreepers especially as they flitted between the yew trees.

Robin Hood's Bay

Another fairly tough walk! A lovely village, which has generally managed to avoid becoming too commercialised - some nice bookshops, tea shops and the rest. This is the lovely sight when you reach the bay.

Our cottage

Continuing the theme of keeping fit, The Nook is a great little place - arranged across five floors... The front door opens to a living room. Down one flight to the basement takes you to the kitchen; up one flight to the main double bedroom; one more to the second bedroom plus bathroom; and finally the top floor is another sitting room, with the most stunning views across the bay.

A holiday in Staithes: April 2007

Here are a few of our favourite places from a week's post-Easter break in Staithes, on the beautiful Yorkshire coast.

First, the town. You'll find our location by clicking here - it's a few miles north of Whitby, and Robin Hood's Bay & Scarborough are a bit further south still.

Not for the faint-hearted or seriously out-of-condition, there is virtually no parking, so you leave the car in the car park (a bit expensive if you didn't know about it - it cost us £27 for a six-day stay) at the top of a 1 in 4 hill! (You can get down into the village to unload - just - but it's a slightly nerve-wracking experience on the cobbles, and the turning place by the beach is not that large...) This shows the hill from the top looking down, and from the bottom looking up:

But it's worth it when you reach the top.