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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Coasting round the bay

A FAMILY trip to the stunning Yorkshire coast offered plenty of sun, sea and sand for CLAIRE CRISP

WHILE the Queen’s Jubilee, the Olympics and then the Paralympics, gave us all plenty to smile about this summer, I think it is fair to say that in terms of the weather it has been an almighty wash-out – especially up north.

So we couldn’t have picked a better weekend (the second in August) to make our first venture as a family to Yorkshire’s beautiful north coast.

From the moment we set off the sun came out and didn’t disappear for three glorious days – making us feel more like we were in Spain than Scarborough at times.

We were based at The Bay, Filey, one of just a few Hoseasons resorts that offer Go Active breaks – offering year round sporting activities that appeal to all the family, from junior archery to snorkelling and even seascooters.

The Bay is a relatively new resort with 120  holiday cottages, apartments and New England style beach houses. It also sports its own pub, Italian cafe, indoor swimming pool, children’s pool and tennis courts, as well as a private beach.

Our luxurious two bedroom cottage was a true home away from home – with everything you could possibly need for a self-catering family holiday, including a dishwasher – and flatscreen TVs in both the main bedroom and downstairs living room.

Sadly, we didn’t get too much chance to enjoy our luxurious new surroundings, as we determined to make the most of every minute during our short four day break.

Although on our first evening, arriving quite late, we did take advantage of the on-site eatery, the John Paul Jones pub.

Family friendly with an excellent menu for both adults and the younger members of the family, the food was excellent and – while in many resorts you equate family friendly with fiendishly loud music and out of control kids – the Bay’s pub was cosy, welcoming and full of lively but well-behaved family groups.

With just two-and-half days to pack everything in, we got up early on Saturday and enjoyed a swim in the resort’s gorgeous pool before setting out to explore nearby Scarborough and Filey.

We headed to Scarborough, the larger of the two, first, less than ten miles from our resort and an easy, scenic, half-hour drive along the coast. It was a revelation.

We’d expected a resort along the lines of Blackpool but what we found was a little more genteel – a slightly faded Victorian seaside resort that, while moving with the times, had lost none of its character.

We parked at the south end of the prom and strolled the few miles along the seafront to the town centre and its bustling beaches, miles of soft sandy beaches, deck chairs for hire and donkey rides for intrepid holidaymakers. It had all the charm of a quintessential British seaside holiday.

We spent a few happy hours on the beach, buying nothing more than a cheap bucket and spade and three ice creams to cool down.

And we couldn’t help patting ourselves on the back, that we’d opted to stay-cation rather than face the hassle of airport queues and Brits abroad on our first proper family holiday.

Still feeling smug we headed for a wander around the seafront shops, before grabbing a sandwich for lunch, then heading to Scarborough’s Lunar Park fairground. With plenty of rides suitable for our three-year-old, we found lots to occupy us for an hour, before heading back to the car and down the coast to Filey.

Slightly smaller and quieter than Scarborough, Filey nonetheless had a charm all of its own, and we enjoyed a late afternoon stroll along the sandy beach before heading onto the seafront to enjoy a punnet of chips each in the last golden moments of day.

The next day we headed a little further afield, to Whitby, the fishing port famous for its links to Dracula and its lovely abbey.

Whitby was around an hour’s drive from The Bay but we broke our journey with a short stop at the pretty fishing village of Robin Hood’s Bay.

Parking at the top of the cliffs at Robin Hood Bay we stopped for a few minutes to admire the stunning views of the sandy bay with the sheer cliffs rising in the background, before taking the steep walk down to the village at the bottom.

This gorgeous, quaint village sports plenty of pubs and cafes to cater for its tourist trade and we were lucky enough to catch local Morris dancers in action outside one such hostelry as we explored its warren of cobbled streets.

But with a toddler in tow, all routes led inevitably to the small sandy beach to the right of the village headland. After much paddling and collecting of shells, we headed back up the hill stopping at the top for lunch on the terrace of cafe offering superb views of the coast.
Suitably refreshed it was back in the car for the short onward journey to Whitby.

We headed straight to the fishing port’s famous abbey located on the cliffs overlooking the town.

While we took pictures of the Benedictine ruin and soaked in the scenic views from the clifftop, our daughter enjoyed exploring the nooks and crannies of the extensive ruins.

With the late afternoon turning to early evening, we decided there was just time to squeeze in a visit to Trenchers fish and chip shop in the town centre – recommended by our friends as serving the best fish and chips in Whitby.

We all opted for plain old fish and chips and were not disappointed – the fish was delicious and it added to the enjoyment, knowing it had travelled just a few yards from the nearby harbour to end up on our plates.

On Monday, our final day, we could not resist a return visit to Scarborough – this time to visit Peasholm Park, the beautiful oriental-themed park opened in 1912 whose attractions include a lovely boating lake, terrace cafe and woodland walks.

Arriving bright and early, we managed to secure one of its famous swan pedalos on the lake without too much queueing and spent a morning on the lake before enjoying an ice cream in the sunshine at the terrace cafe overlooking the lake.

We ended our visit with a short walk through the woodland paths of the gardens which brought us close to where our car was parked. As we emerged from the shade of the trees, we noticed the sun had disappeared behind clouds for the first time during our trip and as we got into our car ready for the journey home, the first drops of rain plopped onto our windscreen.

If, as someone once said, “timing is everything”, well – at risk of sounding smug – we’d timed our short break just right.

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