Yorkshire Coastal Resorts – Bridlington, Filey and Thornwick Bay

This article brings to the reader some of my favourite areas of the Yorkshire Coast.

Thornwick Bay

It is said that Thornwick Bay takes its name from “Thor” the god of thunder because this is likened to the roar of the waves breaking on the cliffs during one of the frequent North Easterly gails. The cliffs are simply magnificent. White chalk against the azure blue sea go together to make stunning scenery whichever direction you look. The stretch of water close to Thornick Bay is nicknamed “the graveyard” by local fishermen due to the large number of shipwrecks in the area. Situated not far from Flamborough Head and Bempton Cliffs, a vast abundance of birdlife can be seen in and around Thornwick Bay including Puffins, Kittiwakes and Guillemots. There are actually two bays here, separated by a headland. The larger is called Thornwick Bay and the smaller Little Thornwick Bay. At low tide it is possible to walk between the two bays along the pebble and flint beaches. There are many caves in and around Thornwick Bay but the largest three are: Smugglers Cave (the largest on the East Coast), Church Cave and Thornwick Cave.

Filey

It would be hard to find a more traditional English seaside resort than Filey, with its long sandy beach set in a wide bay, long promenade with Sculpture Trail and pretty little beach chalets it is easy to connect with its Victorian heritage. The name Filey derives from “Five Leys” meaning a clearing of forest or meadow and is Anglican in origin and suggests that there has been a community there for around 12 centuries. For many years Filey was a small fishing village with just a few inhabitants living in Queen Street. The oldest building in the town is the Filey Museum which is also situated on Queen Street and was built in 1696.

Filey remained small until the 18th century when visitors from Scarborough started to look for places to stay away from the hustle and bustle of such a busy seaside resort. They stayed in local peoples houses until the Foords Hotel was built in the early 19th Century. In 1835 a Birmingham solicitor named John Wilkes Unett purchased 7 acres of land and built the Crescent, later renamed the Royal Crescent. It was opened in 1850 and for over 100 years was the most fashionable address in the North of England. The railway reached Filey in 1846-7.

A perfect family day out can be spent in Filey with Glenn Gardens, paddling pools and fantastic soft sand beaches at one end of the resort leading to the Cobble Landing with its Lifeboat station, beachfront cafes and amusement arcade at the Northern end. The hot chocolate with marshmallows and a flake from the caf on the corner of Cobble Landing is worth the visit as is Sterchis chocolate shop in the town centre! From the Cobble Landing you can walk along the beach to the Brigg which juts out into the sea and has some interesting rock pools to find and explore!

Bridlington

Bridlington is a seaside resort and small seaport, it lies just south of Flamborough Head on the East Yorkshire coast. Full of character and charm, Bridlington boasts two award winning beaches with golden sand which stretch out either side of its historic harbour. With wide promenades along its length it is possible to experience the hustle and bustle of the fun fair or the simple quiet of a seaside walk where the only disturbance is the sound of the waves rushing to shore.

Whether you choose to visit one of the cosmopolitan towns, small fishing villages or simple bays of the Yorkshire Coast you will discover rugged but beautiful scenery which easily rivals any other coastal area of England.

Byron Bay – A Spectacular Place To Visit

With its laid-back way of life, Byron Bay is a tourist hotspot for sun, sand and sea lovers but despite the crowds, the township retains its charm. Located on the North Coast of NSW (about 800km north of Sydney), Byron Bay is the perfect place to unwind for those who prefer bikinis, sarongs and a sense of the bohemian. It is well-known for its relaxed alternative lifestyle, spectacular beaches (for surfers and swimmers) and beautiful scenery. Byron Bay is also a popular place for festivals and large scale events. Some of these include the East Coast Blues and Roots Festival, the Writers Festival and Splendour in the Grass.

The East Coast Blues and Roots Festival is held annually and spans 5 days over Easter commencing on Good Friday eve and concluding on Easter Monday. This year more than 100 international and local artists performed at the spectacular event. Some of the big name performers include Sinead O’Conner, Keith Urban, John Fogerty, KT Tunstall and too many more to name. The Byron Bay East Coast Blues and Roots Music Festival attract around 70,000 people each year, so if you are planning to visit during that time you must book your accommodation early.

Another huge music event is Splendour in the Grass. This music festival is held at Belongil Fields annually between July and August over 2 days. The site includes an area for camping. The festival began in 2001 and has been growing ever since and now attracts over 17,000 people over the 2 days. Some of the recent performers include Powder Finger, Grinspoon, Hoodoo Gurus, Wolfmother and many more big names.

Byron Bay is fast becoming one of the most popular diving and snorkelling destinations in Australia. Julian Rocks, just off Byron Bay is a popular spot for snorkelling. There are several diving and snorkelling operators to choose from.

Whale watching is also very popular in Byron. Every year thousands of Humpback whales leave their summer feeding grounds in Antarctica and head north towards their winter breeding grounds in the tropical waters of the Southern Hemisphere. This journey not only takes these whales past Australia’s most eastern point but also concentrates the migrating whales to within a few kilometers of Cape Byron. For this reason, Byron Bay is one of Australia’s premier whale watching locations.

Other great things to do in Byron Bay include the Circus Arts Trapeze School, Mountain Bike Tours, Skydiving or learning to surf.

If you are not the active outdoor type, you may wish to just wine and dine in this great seaside town. There are many places to eat out at from casual dining to fine dining or maybe just have some drinks at the Byron Bay Beach Hotel where you can relax and enjoy the bands while looking out at the spectacular ocean views.

If you plan on staying in Byron Bay during the busy summer months you will need to organize your accommodation early as the town experiences a huge number of national and international visitors during this period. Accommodation options vary greatly from campsites to backpacker accommodation to 5 star luxury apartments.

Magical as it is, Byron Bay is surrounded by World Heritage rainforests and national parks, so the scenery only gets better as you head out of town.

Ringstead Bay – A Hidden Gem Of The Dorset Coast

The Dorset coast, also known as the Jurassic, is a World Heritage Site, and includes some unique geographical features.

There is Lyme Bay, including the 18 mile long Chesil Beach. There’s the Isle of Portland, where the world famous Portland Stone has been quarried for many centuries, to build some of the most spectacular buildings around the world.

Poole Harbour is the second largest natural harbour in the world after Sydney harbour. Much of it is given over to nature reserve, making it a fabulous place to walk, spot rare species of wildlife, and for those who like the water, it is a superb and safe place to explore in a sailing dinghy or canoe.

The South West Coast Path stretches from the north of Somerset, along the north coast of Devon and Cornwall, then along the south coasts of Cornwall, Devon and Dorset. The Dorset stretch of coast path takes in some spectacular cliff top and beachside paths.

Nestled in between the cliffs, just to the east of the holiday resort town and fishing port of Weymouth, is Ringstead Bay.

It is a small hamlet, with no more than 20 private houses, one small shop and a small chapel (which is halfway up the cliff to the east). You can drive to the bay, taking a narrow track that heads down between the cliffs. There is a car park, only 50 yards from the beach. You can pay your car park fee to the shop, and then spend the day exploring on foot.

The beach, which is mostly shingle, but with some patches of sand, stretches around the bay in both directions. The part nearest the car park is sheltered by a reef that protects it completely from the waves for most of the day, except for an hour or so either side of high tide.

This makes the water especially safe for swimming and messing around in boats or inflatables, and has the added bonus at low tide of being a bit warmer than the usual sea temperature.

If you have access to a boat, a short trip off the beach, especially early in the morning or late afternoon, gives you good access to some great mackerel fishing.

If walking is your thing, head east from the car park, and you will quickly begin the climb up White Nothe, one of the highest cliffs along the Dorset coast. Just below on your right hand side as you ascend, is an area called “burning cliff”. The composition of the soil here is such that it is flammable, and on rare occasions it has been known to catch alight.

If you are a brave walker, then instead of heading along the coast path, walk along the beech, right around Ringstead Bay. At the end of the bay, you can pick up a path that then winds right up the front of the cliff. Don’t take this route if you don’t like heights !

At the top of White Nothe there is are some old coast guard cottages, and a World War Two look out point, offering superb views across to Portland and Weymouth.

If you continue the walk eastwards, up and down hills and cliffs, eventually you will be rewarded with a view of Durdle Door, a huge natural archway, and just afterwards you will reach the picturesque village of Lulworth Cove.

To the west of Ringstead Bay, a shorter and slightly more gentle walk of about a mile, will take you to Osmington. The Smuggler’s Inn is a good place to stop for a lunchtime beer, an afternoon tea or an evening meal. Remember though that walking back to Ringstead Bay along the cliff paths after a beer, or in the dark, can present some challenges !

In summer, Ringstead Bay can get quite busy, but you only have to venture 50 yards or so away from the main part of the beach, and you’ll find plenty of privacy.

In winter the beach is usually deserted, with just a few brave kite surfers or windsurfers for company.

Some of the houses in the Bay are Holiday Cottages, and make a superb base for a longer holiday. There is also a holiday park in the Bay, with caravans for rent, and occasionally for sale. Otherwise, there are plenty of places to stay in the surrounding towns of Weymouth, Dorchester and the surrounding countryside.