Booked a trip to Runswick Bay? Looking for things to do? Here’s our guide on how to spend a week in Runswick Bay to help you out.
Runswick Bay is a gorgeous little village that appears to cling to the cliff tops of the stunning North Yorkshire Coast. It is situated just 8.5 miles from Whitby, 13 miles from Robin Hood’s Bay and just a stroll from the North York Moors National Park. With its red stoned rooftops, grey stone seawalls and traditional seaside feel it is the perfect place to spend a week’s holiday. Here’s our guide on how to spend a week in Runswick Bay.
Day One – Get your bearings
Let’s keep it traditional and start off with an activity that most people participate in when arriving at their holiday destination and, just explore! It’s always a good idea to get your bearings. This is something I’m sure you will be dying to do after seeing your gorgeous surroundings.
The streets of Runswick Bay are tightly packed with red-roofed houses and their pocket-size gardens. Though these houses have obviously changed over the years, it is not difficult to imagine them being occupied by whale and herring fishermen and their families. You can still see the old coastguards house, however, with its traditional thatched roof on the old harbour front. In the town, the Methodist chapel also still stands although now it is a private dwelling.
Down on Runswick Bay beach, which incidentally is one of the few sandy beaches along the North Yorkshire coast, you will find four caves known locally as the ‘Hob Holes.’ These are where, according to local legend, the hobs or hobgoblins lived. Whether this legend was believed or just used to keep people away from the smuggler’s caves is unknown. However, some people obviously believed it as local fisherwomen would take their children sick with whooping cough to the hob holes in the hope the hobgoblins would cure them.
We like to start our holiday off with some fish and chips on the beach or back at our accommodation, Hinderwell Fish and Chip Shop is fantastic. Relax and get ready for a jam-packed week of adventure.
Day Two – Take a day trip to Whitby
A visit to Whitby is always high on our list of things to do when staying in Runswick Bay. Situated just over 8.5 miles away and on the Cleveland Way, this will take you roughly 3 hours to walk. Views on this walk are stunning and include coastal scenery mixed with the bizarre sight of waste deposits from the ancient alum industry. You can but don’t have to walk both ways as there is a bus from Whitby to Runswick Bay every 30 minutes that takes roughly 24 minutes.
Once in Whitby, there are so many things to see and do. This includes exploring Whitby’s history which is heavily based around the fishing industry, especially whaling, and building oak ships. Nowadays, Whitby is home to the famous tale of Dracula and you can explore this further at the Dracula Experience interactive exhibit. You can also take a walk up the 199 Steps and explore Whitby Abbey which the Russian ship the Demeter, carrying Dracula, was said to become wrecked beneath. For those not so into the gothic why not explore the wonderful streets of Whitby which are home to many wonderful shops selling everything from seaside trinkets to the sought after Whitby Jet. Sourced from the fossilised monkey puzzle tree over hundreds of years, Whitby Jet is a magnificent opaque black gemstone that has even been favoured by royalty. Queen Victoria herself, visited Whitby to pick out jet mourning jewellery after the death of her husband Prince Albert.
Day Three – Enjoy a beach day
After spending two days on your feet today you may feel like a rest. If you do why not take yourself down to the lovely Runswick Bay beach and relax or….not!
Runswick Bay beach comes with many activities as well as being a place to laze and sunbathe. Popular with canoeists and other sports enthusiasts such as surfers, when the weather permits, Runswick Bay offers activities for all ages. There is cliff top walking, fossil hunting, rock pooling, sea angling, sandcastle building, seal spotting, and safe swimming. The beach itself is a mix of sand, scattered rocks, and stony areas. When the tide is out more rocks are exposed, and it is here, that you are most likely to find fossils. This beach is also an excellent choice of place to set up an easel and paint the magnificent scenery you can see. Be aware that access to the beach is via either a very steep narrow road or a very steep narrow footpath. The beach is, however, dog-friendly with no limits all year round.
After a beach day, we love nothing more than some homecooked food in our accommodation, or you could try one of Runswick Bay’s restaurants. We recommend the Runswick Bay hotel restaurant for delicious seafood just a 5-minute walk from the beach.
Day Four – Visit Robin Hood’s Bay
No trip to the North Yorkshire coast would be complete without visiting the fabulous village of Robin Hood’s Bay which is situated approximately 13 miles away. We do not recommend taking the Cleveland Way walk to get there as it will take approximately 7 hours. Rather, we suggest you either drive or take the two buses needed which take around an hour.
Once there, you will no doubt want to explore the history of this village as being one of the major smuggling areas on the North Yorkshire coast. The Robin Hood’s Bay museum is an excellent place to do this with its exhibits on the subject and a fisherman’s wife for you to search. You’ll be surprised by what you may find on her.
We love to spend time on the beach here, wander through the tiny streets and do a spot of shopping. Berties of Bay here revive traditional nautical styles worn along the wonderful Yorkshire coastline from times gone by. You can pick up some beautiful pieces.
Day Five – Visit the lifeboat station
Runswick Bay’s history is so closely linked to the sea, fishing and shipwrecks, that it is a must that any visitor goes to the lifeboat station which served the village for so long. Though it is no longer functioning as a lifeboat station the building is still there and mostly unchanged. It is from here that the women of Runswick Bay launched the rescue of their men in the ‘Cape of Good Hope’ lifeboat in 1901.
Following your visit to the old lifeboat station, you could take a meander on the Runswick Bay Walk. This is a 2 mile stretch of cliff-top pathways that lead to Port Mulgrave on the Cleveland Way National trail towards Staithes.
The views on this walk are magnificent and the path is easy to follow is mainly level grass and earth through fields along the cliff edge. Whilst walking this path the only sounds you will hear are seabirds and the rustle of the sea breeze. The turnaround point of this walk is at Port Mulgrave where around 1856 iron ore mined locally was shipped from to nearby furnaces in the North East. Should you take your dog with you it is recommended you keep them on a lead in areas where there is no fence.
Day Six – Explore the North York Moors National Park
As Runswick Bay is situated on the edge of the North York Moors National Park, it would seem a shame if you did not explore the fabulous things this area has to offer. Forged by nature the moors are a wonderful place shaped over generations to go walking, cycling and horse riding. This is not all these sprawling moors have to offer, they also have visitors centres, a railway, wildlife centres, river activities, and Abbeys and castles.
Helmsley Castle is situated just less than an hour’s drive from Runswick Bay within Helmsley, a village in the North York Moors National Park. For over 900 years it has been a medieval fortress, a luxurious Tudor manor, a civil war stronghold, and a romantic Victorian ruin. Nowadays you will find there, hands-on exhibitions, bronzed archers, a fabulous audio tour and a model of how the castle once looked.
Rievaulx Abbey is a half hours cycling or a 7-minute drive from Castle Helmsley. Here you will find a comprehensive museum detailing the lives of the 650 monks who originally lived and worked there until the late 1530s. If the date sounds familiar that is because it is when Henry the 8th decided to destroy all the monasteries in an attempt to build his new faith. Only 20 monks by then lived at Rievaulx Abbey but the closure must have been devastating!
Byland Abbey is an 18-minute drive from Rievaulx Abbey and is described as one of the greatest Monasteries of its time in England. It would later inspire the design of other church buildings throughout the North including the York Minster rose window. This was modelled on the gothic architecture of Byland. Like Rievaulx Abbey, Byland Abbey was also closed in the late 1530s by Henry the 8th. He gutted it of all valuable plate which was shipped to London and stripped it of its lead, glass, and timber.
Please note walking between these historic sites is not recommended as it adds up to nearly six hours of walking which would not leave you very much time to explore each site. Also, all three sites are no longer standing buildings, rather they are all in partial or near ruin.
Day Seven – Home time! Stop by Staithes first…
Sadly, today is the day you have to leave your gorgeous accommodation and travel home! However, just to extend your holiday a little further and because it’s worth it, why don’t you call on the lovely village of Staithes on your way.
Just 2.5 miles from Runswick Bay, Staithes is a higgledy-piggledy array of cottages and winding streets. It too like Runswick Bay was once one of the largest fishing ports on the North-East coast. Here you can go rock pooling or fossil hunting on the beach, or maybe visit the art gallery. Staithes have a big link with several artists, many of which are displayed here. There is also Captain Cook and Staithes Heritage Museum if you want more history.
Where to stay in Runswick Bay – The Firs Guesthouse
Once in Runswick Bay, you are going to need a place to stay and we would highly recommend The Firs Guesthouse.
Set in a fabulous and quiet position within this wonderfully quaint and old-fashioned village The Firs Guesthouse offers true Yorkshire hospitality at its best! A family-run large detached property The Firs offers off-road parking, all en-suite rooms and is pet-friendly.
Several rooms have mobility access and feature making this guest house ideal for everyone. Located on both the ground and first floors the rooms at The Firs are light and airy with gorgeous finishing touches. Tasteful artwork, soft furnishings and even beach hut wardrobes in one of their nautical themed rooms make this guest house feel modern whilst still remaining traditional. The bathrooms have all been fitted to be crisp, modern and clean.