Best Coastal Walks in Yorkshire: A Guide to the Most Scenic Trails

Robin Hoods Bay in Yorkshire
Superb coastal walking around Robin Hood’s Bay in Yorkshire

Flaunting miles and miles of beach-smattered coastline flanked by wild moors and dales, Yorkshire is a veritable walker’s delight. Lace up your hiking boots, pack a cagoule and let the briny breeze whip a rosy glow to your cheeks as you step out on some of the region’s most scenic coastal routes. Here are our top ten coastal walks in Yorkshire for an active seaside break in England’s largest county.

1. Flamborough Head

Flamborough beach in Yorkshire

Did you know that the mighty chalk cliffs of Flamborough are the highest in Britain? Strike out from the former fishing village of Flamborough in East Yorkshire through Dane’s Dyke nature reserve, and emerge on the beach to feel dwarfed by these 400ft giants towering overhead. Then climb the steps to take in the dizzying views from the cliff tops, encountering a cacophony of birdlife on a loop around the headland that takes in South Landing, Cough Hole, Breil Nook, North Landing and Thornwick Bay. 

Distance: 10 miles
Terrain: Easy to moderate, mostly off-road trails.
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2. Fraisthorpe to Bridlington

This fantastic family walk follows the East Yorkshire coastline along three miles of flat, eye-popping shoreline. Starting on the quiet, dog-friendly beach of Fraisthorpe, this is the place to hunt for shells, fly a kite and enjoy some toes-in-the-sand beach life before heading north along the sand towards South Shore, on the outskirts of Bridlington. From here, you can hop on the land train into Bridlington Spa or keep going on foot to South Beach and into town for some well-deserved fish and chips and a twirl around the arcades and attractions. 

Distance: 6 miles (there and back)
Terrain: Easy – shoreline and promenade.
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3. Whitby Wander

This walk of contrasts is one of our favourites – stay in Whitby and take in the beauty of this historic town alongside the wild coastal scenery of North Yorkshire. Follow in the footsteps of Count Dracula up the 199 steps to the famous abbey ruins, soak up the hustle and bustle of the traditional seaside town, then trace the North Sea-lashed coast of the North York Moors National Park. By the time you’ve completed the return route that tunnels through leafy woodland, you’ll have built a hearty appetite to fill up on traditional kippers from Fortune’s Smokehouse.

Distance: 8 miles
Terrain: A mix of town and coastal paths with moderate ascents and descents.
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4. Ravnscar to Robin Hood’s Bay

No trip to Yorkshire is complete without visiting the smugglers’ haunt of Robin Hood’s Bay – a place steeped in history, folklore and legend. Set off from the craggy heights of scenic Ravnascar, lapping up the classic moorland scenery across Howdale Moor before dropping onto the famous Cinder Trail (the former railway line from Scarborough to Whitby) and into Robin Hood’s Bay. While these days there’s no bootie to smuggle from the shoreline, you can hunt for treasures in the rock pools and fossils along the shoreline before returning via the clifftops on the Cleveland Way National Trail.

Distance: 11 miles
Terrain: Challenging off-road trails.
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5. Runswick Bay

Runswick Bay in Yorkshire

If you want to soak up the North York Moors coastline without too much exertion, opt for this short ‘miles-without-stiles’ stroll boasting breathtaking views over Runswick Bay. Of course, you could just step foot on the sandy beach itself (voted one of the UK’s best by the Guardian), but we’d also recommend taking in the extraordinary views from the clifftop path, where you can capture the beauty of the beach all wrapped up in the rolling moorland scenery. Base yourself in accommodation in Runswick Bay if you want to attempt the longer walk towards Kettleness beach waterfall and go fossil hunting.

Distance: 1.3 miles
Terrain: Easy beach walk.
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6. Staithes and Port Mulgrave

Fill your lungs with fresh sea air on this circular walk from the atmospheric old fishing village of Staithes. While you might be tempted to hunker in the sheltered embrace of the cobbled streets, inns and tea rooms huddled around the harbour, once you set out across the cliffs along the Cleveland Way National Trail, you’ll be rewarded with head-spinning coastal views on the way to Port Mulgrave. With your cheeks aglow from the briny breeze, your return leg will take you back across the fields and deep into the woodland via the small hamlet of Dalehouse.

Distance: 4.2 miles
Terrain: Moderate paths and trails.
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7. Bempton Cliffs Walk, Scarborough

puffin on Bempton Cliffs nature reseve
Photo courtesy of rspb.org.uk

Stay over in Scarborough if you want to come face-to-face with Yorkshire’s coastal wildlife. Head south along the coast to the RSPB Seabird Centre at Bempton and look out for the likes of puffins, kittiwakes, gulls, gannets and even seals and dolphins, from the cliff-edge viewing platforms. Although much of the UK’s largest seabird colonies migrate for the colder months, even on a bracing mid-winter’s day, you can appreciate the rugged scenery on the way to Thornwick Bay, and reward your efforts with a cosy pub meal back in Bempton. As well as the cliff-top route, there are other, more accessible trails waymarked from the RSPB Seabird Centre.

Distance: 7 miles
Terrain: Cliff paths.
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8. Cloughton and Hayburn Wyke

While many of Yorkshire’s coastal walks focus on its wide-open coastal scenery, this walk takes you from the Heritage Coast down into the wooded valley of Hayburn Wyke, where dramatic waterfalls thunder into a rocky cove. And while you can lap up all the glory of the sea-lashed shores along an exhilarating stretch of the Cleveland Way National Trail, you’ll make your way back along The Cinder Track, following the route of the old railway line between Scarborough and Whitby.

Distance: 5 miles
Terrain: Easy footpaths.
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9. Filey Brigg Walk

Filey in Yorkshire

This simple, circular walk introduces you to the flora and gob-smacking views of Yorkshire’s coastline in a short distance. Filey was voted 15th out of over 100 UK seaside towns, and will no doubt charm you with its pristine beaches and tranquillity that seems world’s away from nearby Scarborough. Book a cottage in Filey and head out on this trail. On this easy walk, you can soak up its beauty from the natural wonder of Filey Brigg promontory and Country Park, gazing out to Scarborough Castle, Cayton Bay and the North Yorkshire coastline from mighty sandstone and limestone cliffs.

Distance: 4 miles
Terrain: Cliff paths, easy terrain.
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10. Coast to Coast Trail

Whether you’re looking for the ultimate challenge or a day hike between coast and countryside, this 190-mile trail between Robin Hood’s Bay in the east and St Bees in the west has it all. Originally detailed by Wainwright and spanning three mighty national parks – the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors – you can undertake its entire length in 14 days if you’re prepared with serious walking boots and supplies.

Distance: 190 miles in total
Terrain: Varied from easy paths to challenging climbs
Map and info >

Book a Coastal Getaway in Yorkshire

Inspired to set foot in Yorkshire’s stunning seaside scenery? Check out our collection of seaside cottages in Yorkshire and pack your walking boots for your next coastal getaway. 

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