SHORE THING Andrew Vine steps out to walk the Yorkshire coast and discovers a landscape of breathtaking beauty.
t’s the most magnificent stretch of coastline in Britain, with majestic cliffs, glorious beaches and enchanting coves, and putting your best foot forward is the perfect way to savour it at a leisurely pace. Walking Yorkshire’s coast is to feel embraced by the beauty all around you, a constantly changing panorama of scenery. The path meanders through historic seaside towns including Whitby and Scarborough, the fishing villages of Staithes and Robin Hood’s Bay and takes in seemingly endless, awardwinning beaches including Filey and Bridlington. At a steady couple of miles an hour along the clifftops or sands, the coastline reveals its grandeur and loveliness. Vistas of headlands and bays open up, stretching away as far as the eye can see, timelessly beautiful and as exhilarating now as when the first people to settle at the coast saw them centuries ago. The sense of space and scale, the vast sky, the sparkling blues and greens of the summer sea stretching away to infinity, moorland of purple heather and yellow gorse overlooking the path, all combine to make this an inspiring walk that truly brings the senses alive. Dots on the clifftop gradually grow into
Scarborough Castle, Whitby Abbey or Flamborough Head lighthouse, as the coast beckons you to discover the next treasure waiting along the path. History and heritage feel vividly alive as you walk, of fishing communities which still put to sea in traditional cobles directly descended from the Viking longships that once landed, of smugglers who hid contraband in the caves that honeycomb secluded bays, of pioneers who made Yorkshire the birthplace of the great British seaside holiday. And walking brings you thrillingly close to the rich array of wildlife for which Yorkshire’s coast is a haven – huge seabird colonies that nest on the sheer chalk cliffs, seals that bob their heads above the surf or bask on the rocks at low tide, porpoises that break the waves and even, if you’re lucky, whales. Yorkshire’s coastline is on an epic scale, stretching about 120 miles from Redcar in the north to the unique natural wonder of Spurn in the south, where land and sea are locked in an endless battle for supremacy. It’s possible to walk the entire length, and dedicated long-distance walkers will find it as satisfying to complete as any route in the country.