Runswick Bay is undoubtedly one of the Yorkshire Coast's most scenic destinations, with its picturesque bay and red-roofed fishing cottages nestled against the surrounding cliffs.
The sandy beach, which once provided anchorage for brightly coloured fishing boats, is now a family favourite for rock pooling, fossil hunting and coastal walks, where you can admire the breathtaking sea views. Runswick Bay has been voted in the top 5 ‘Best Beaches in the UK’ by readers of the Guardian readers and Britain’s best beachcombing location by Miranda Krestovnikoff, one of the presenters of the BBC series Coast. It’s loved by tourists and locals alike and is the perfect Yorkshire coast holiday destination for families and couples looking to get away from it all.
History of Runswick Bay
Runswick Bay was originally a fishing village and although it appears to have changed little over the centuries, it has gone through considerable changes in the past. The most dramatic of these was when a landslide destroyed the entire village (except for one house) in 1682 and it had to be rebuilt. Fortunately, no one was hurt in the disaster. Legend has it that the entire population of the village was at a wake for a recently departed comrade…and that, ironically, it was the deceased man’s house which was the only building left standing!
Hotels in Runswick Bay
The Runswick Bay Hotel
The Runswick Bay Hotel is located in the upper village on Hinderwell Lane and is only a five-minute walk from the beach. In the bar, there are two ales to choose from (Thwaites Wainwright or Wold Top Five Wold Rings), eight different wines by the glass and tea and coffee (they make a great espresso by all reports!) And if you’re looking for a comfortable and convenient place to stay, they have six double rooms, all of which have en-suites. One is a family room which sleeps four in a double bed and a set of bunks, and there is another room with a four-poster bed that’s perfect for couples looking for a romantic getaway or a bit of luxury. All rooms include breakfast for each guest, free Wi-Fi, free parking and are non-smoking. Dogs are welcome.
Phone: +44 1947 841 010
The Cliffemount Hotel
The Cliffemount Hotel is located in the upper village on Bank Top Lane and, as the name suggests, it’s set on top of the cliff above the old Runswick Bay village and offers spectacular views of the coastline below. This warm and friendly hotel is famous for its Yorkshire hospitality with log fires, fine ales and wines and excellent cuisine, and is the only AA star-rated hotel in Runswick Bay. The stylish rooms are a mixture of traditional and contemporary decor and feature en-suite bathrooms, tea and coffee making facilities, flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. Most rooms have sea views and upgraded rooms have private balconies. The hotel also has a restaurant with coastal views, a casual bar, outdoor picnic tables, free parking and is dog-friendly.
The Royal Hotel
This Royal Hotel is located in the old village of Runswick Bay and has excellent views of the bay from its outside terrace overlooking the sea. This pub has been serving Black Sheep beers for many years and they take great pride in serving it as their permanent real ale. They also serve a small selection of guest beers in the summer and serve lunchtime and evening meals (their fish and chips are popular due to its generous portion size). The hotel is dog-friendly and there is accommodation available upstairs in a two-bedroom flat.
Phone: +44 1947 840 215
Runswick Bay bed and breakfasts
The Firs Guest House
This family-run guesthouse is located in the upper village on Hinderwell Lane and is only a 10-minute walk from the beach. The quaint, country-style rooms have en-suite bathrooms with showers, free Wi-Fi, iPod docks, and tea and coffee making facilities. Some rooms include four-poster beds and sofas, and you can upgrade your suite to include a free-standing tub. A full English breakfast is available in the property’s casual dining room each morning and there is free off-street parking on site. Pets are welcome.
Phone: +44 1947 840 433
More info: Learn more about The Firs Guest House here
Self catering holiday cottages in Runswick Bay
There are a wide variety of holiday cottages in and around Runswick Bay. You can view our detailed guide to Runswick Bay Cottages here.
These are three of our top picks…
Apple House is fantastic ground floor property with a continuous open plan living area linking the living area, dining room and kitchen together in a seamless flow of eclectic feng shui. Perfect for couples seeking a romantic getaway to the Yorkshire coast or as a base for a new family to explore the North York Moors, this one bedroom cottage sleeps two and has parking outside in the courtyard.
There is an enclosed back garden with a dining set for those sunny evenings sipping wine. Inside you'll fond all the usual necessities to make your stay a comfortable one: Freeview on a flat screen TV with DVD player, iPod docking station, CD and radio to satisfy your entertainment needs.
Fuel is provided for the stove, the property has gas central heating and hot water throughout at no extra cost. A highly recommended stay on the Yorkshire coast in easy striking distance of Runswick Bay.
Alice Hill Cottage
This charming property in a quieter part of the old village offers accommodation for two people, and a well-behaved pet, and features a private roof balcony with panoramic views of Runswick Bay. It’s spread over two floors and has a double bedroom with wrought iron bed, and a bathroom with a shower over bath, underfloor heating, toilet and sink. There’s a generous-sized open plan lounge with TV and Sky Freeview, DVD Player, Wi-Fi, sofa and dining table with six chairs. And the kitchen has a dishwasher, fridge/freezer, electric four-ring hob, electric oven and grill, microwave, toaster and cafetiere. Under the house is a cellar area with a washing machine that guests can use and space for storing bikes, kayaks and muddy boots. Be aware that there are 25 steep steps that lead to the front door so this cottage may not be suitable for the less agile. A car parking permit for one vehicle is included in the rate.
Stowaway Cottage is located on the grounds of Stowe Lodge in the upper village and is a 10-minute walk away from the beach. This lodge-style property has beautiful open plan interiors decorated with a seaside-themed chic and includes a lovely outside space perfect for an al fresco dining or a morning coffee. A well-behaved pet is welcome by prior agreement, and bed linen, towels, a welcome pack with wine, off-street parking and free Wi-Fi are all included in the rate. The property has a cosy double bedroom, hairdryer, dressing table and occasional chair, and the bathroom offers a walk-in shower, toilet, sink and underfloor heating. The spacious kitchen has an oven, fridge/freezer, dishwasher, microwave, cafetiere, iron and ironing board, and the lounge area has a dining area, sofa, TV with Freesat, iPod docking station and heating. Outside, there’s a grassed garden area with table, chairs and a small orchard and is the perfect spot for al fresco dining. Stowaway is a non-smoking property.
Things to see and do in Runswick Bay
Explore the Beach
This long sandy beach is a lovely place to spend a few quiet hours. It has plenty of room for children to play and for your dog to have a good long run. Although there is no lifeguard, the beach is regarded as a safe swimming spot or if you prefer to stay on dry land, you can pitch a deck chair, explore numerous rock pools or make sand castles with the kids. (Learn more beach games here) Fishing, boating, kayaking, canoeing, water skiing and sailing are also popular in the bay. And if you’re looking for something a bit different, you can explore Hob Holes (small caves where hobgoblins are reputed to live) or hunt for fossils. (see below).
The beach at Runswick Bay is a well-known hot spot for collecting ammonites and other fossils from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. It’s classed as a very productive location when the conditions are right, and collectors seldom go home disappointed. Most fossils are found on the foreshore. For more information on finding fossils in this area, click here.
The Cleveland Way National Trail
The Cleveland Way is a long distance footpath that passes through Runswick Bay with cliff walks and stunning sea views, taking you north to Staithes and south to Sandsend and Whitby. To find out more about the Cleveland Way, click here to visit the National Trails website.
Runswick Bay related content
How far is Runswick Bay from Whitby?
Runswick Bay is situated approximately 18 minutes from Whitby (approx 8.7 miles). See the map below.