East Yorkshire Getaway

Posted: 26th May 2010 by admin in Travel

The run to York was fast, faster than I remember from a couple of years ago. The only problem is to remember you are not on the motorway and 85mph is going to cost you a lot of money and points on your driving license. Its only when you drop onto the single carriage way stretch of the A64 to Scarborough that you remember the hazards of agricultural traffic and old shape Nissan Micra drivers.

The camp was a lot more promising on first sight at Cayton Bay than our visit last year for a long weekend at Skipsea. First of all the camp wasn’t slowly being swallowed by coastal erosion, although in Skipsea this is definitely not a bad thing and should be encouraged by all means, hose pipes, dynamite undermining the structure of the ground, very localised earthquakes.

Cayton Bay is out of the way, annexed between Scarborough and Bridlington on the coastal road over looking the surf beach below. The bay itself it flanked by high crumbling mud cliffs, and is dotted with WW2 pill boxes, although their use has been re-designated in more modern times. Served by only a small beach toy shop, a surf shop / school, and strangest of all its own dedicated motobility centre, its never been developed in any serious way however to its benefit.

The worst thing to come out of modern tourism is that everything has to be an “attraction”, it needs to have its own Unique Selling Point. National Parks have stemmed a lot of this where it matters most, and let nature be nature. I am of the opinion that if you are getting visitors to an undeveloped part of the country, they are coming for the place itself, not for the fair, park, visitor centre you place there for next season.

The camp at Skipsea matched the quality of the coastal structure, crumbling and in need of a lot of work, fortunately the caravan and facilities are of far better quality here, although the evening entertainment still would not look out of place at a 1970’s working mens club on a friday evening. The caravan is large, with plenty of space for my recently increased family of 4, en-suite in our room, with range cooker and dishwasher, both of which going unused for the sake of 5 days, along with a large decked area overlooking the sea. Thankfully they’ve overhauled the menu as well from last year, and although its not going to get a Michelin star, its does the job needed.

The swimming pool made my daughters holiday, with 3 visits in 4 mornings, with 1 large slide and a row of smaller ones, it kept her very happy for an hour each morning as well as sending my 4 month old to sleep when we took her in on Thursday, changing facilites could do with some improvement, but they seem to have hit the spot with one 6 year old.

They do however need to think about offering a variety of venues for an evening, as they close the restaurant / bar area at 9pm, leaving you only with an overly loud 70’s cabaret bar as an alternative venue. Having a 4 month old and a 6 year old who doesn’t have a love of 70’s classics means this leaves us a bit cold, and when you are trying to get a baby to settle, it just doesn’t work. The second benefit of the closed area is that it overlooks the playground, so you can let your child play while you watch on through the window over a drink.

They also need to extend their range of beer from the typical range of 1664, Fosters, John Smiths and Strongbow you seem to get at these places. Just getting 1 cask ale would be a start. They also need to extend the spirits range to include Pimms (for my wife), and something other the bog standard brand name whiskies and brandies for when you want something a bit more quality for the end of night. Luckily there is a pub across the road, the Tow Bar which avoids all of the above, Black Sheep on tap, Pimms behind the bar, conservatory overlooking the play equipment and no loud music.

Whitby Bay, 20 miles to the north of Scarborough, is a place I visited last year on a joint birthday / wedding anniversary weekend away with my immediate family, its a place with a fantastic drive over the Yorkshire Moors from either Scarborough or Pickering. Nestled in a wide bay, the town is split in two halves by the River Esk, the eastern side is the more tourist side with the Abbey and shambles with every other shop selling Whitby Jet stone, leading one shop to declare itself to be a ‘Whitby Jet Free Zone’. It does however have a couple of nice pubs at the bottom of the climb to the abbey itself. The western side is the more commercial area, with the main shops and the traditional sea front stalls, arcades and fairground rides. Heading further west leads to the promenade along the beach and the Pavilion. The town trades a lot on its two local celebrities, James Cook the sailor and Dracula, with festivals linked to them throughout the year.

A place to recommend here for lunch is upstairs at the Jolly Sailor, a small but friendly dining room, we arrived near the end of the lunchtime sitting. Its a Samuel Smiths pub, so you know you are going to get quality beers, including my favourites, Alpine Lager and Pure Brew Lager, the former a bargain at under £2. We had a thick well cooked burger, a chilli con carne and a chicken caesar salad and all hit the spot.

Scarborough is a town of two halves, the south bay full of tourist attractions, the north bay undeveloped before you reach the newly built beach front diner and apartments at the far end of the promenade road, with a parade of hotels overlooking from high above. This will soon be joined by the new oasis cafe, replacing the ramshackle shed they occupy at the moment.

The south bay is your typical sea side front, with arcades, fish shops and cafes surrounding the harbour area, the main town hides behind the hill with ubiquitous castle perched on it. Further south is the spa complex which being renovated. If you don’t have a 4 month old, then I recommend the pirate boat trip from the harbour, we did this a couple of years ago and was well worth the money.

We parked at South Cliffe Park and did the 25 minute walk down through South Cliffe Gardens to the harbour coming down at the Clock Cafe at the far end of the spa complex. It is here you realise there were some lazy gits in the Victorian era, not 1 but 3 trams taking you from the beach to the top of the cliff, when its only a 5 minute minute walk at the very worse. The worrying thing is enough people are still using them today to keep them commercially viable, I’m hoping that it is for the novelty value.

The town is one of the better examples of how to commercialise without selling your soul to the devil, yes, there are arcades and cheap tat shops, but they are held in check with higher end restaurants and shops. The north bay promenade has its hazards, mainly getting soaked from waves breaking over the path at the latter end, but a fun miles can be had wave dodging, andrea came closest even though she wasn’t officially playing. Its quite compulsive just chilling and watching the waves break along the shore. The return walk from south shore to the facilities at the end of north bay is about 5.5 miles, a nice distance in my book for a days walking.

I must mention the Oakwheel Pub at Burniston about 15 minutes north of Scarborough where we went for dinner, great quality food, and no worry of not getting enough, My burger (without a bun, a first for me, but not needed), came with homecooked chips, carrots, beans, new potatoes and creamed leeks, as well as tomato sauce for the burger, all done to perfection. Andrea’s butterflied Gammon was equally generous, with peas, chips, mushrooms and egg, and cooked just as well. The best meal so far this holiday, and one which will be hard to beat.

Bridlington is simply put “Scarborough Light” without the castle. We started up at the north end and took the promenade to the harbour, although to the towns credit, at least part of the fair was open already unlike Scarborough, and the mini roller coaster kept Elise happy as did the Walters. The Pavilion bar in the middle of the fairground did its job for a drink and Elises very lurid mix of fruit cocktail and mint choc chip ice cream sundae, a photo of which you can find on my facebook page. It tastes just as it sounded, not unpleasant, just weird. We ate here last year on our visit and the pizza’s were pretty good back then as well. The resort is quite compact, focusing around the harbour. Its a decent enough area with all the facilities you expect, it could however, do with being done up a little. We walked back through town to the car to find somewhere for tea.

However before we get to that point, I must mention the crack cocaine that is the “2p pushers”. My daughter loves them, I don’t know why, but she is quite happy to keep shoving 2p’s in them as long as we would let her, and get excited at the smallest win, not noticing that she’s lost 4 times the amount already. (Before you ask, its £1 a day we allow). You can see in a very pure way how people get addicted to gambling over a period, and with the wrong tendencies it can be crippling.

Another pub worthy of mention is the Martonian at Bempton, just to the north of Bridlington, a rarity with it serving Samuel Smith Alpine Lager outside of a tied house. A large open pub, with two levels of menu, the £3.95 meals, and the regular priced meals which is a common split in a lot of places now. It has a play area visible from a conservatory dining area to keep children busy, and is located on the main Bempton road. Me and andrea both plumped for the enchiladas and a side of nachos. I’m picky about my Mexican food, and this was a good attempt for a non specialist restaurant, although I question the coleslaw dip which came along with it for authenticity. My daughters seemingly 1 millionth spaghetti bolognese of the week was polished off totally, so I can only guess it hit the spot.

We also visited Playdale Farm Park near Cayton as well, and although maybe slightly too expensive for what it provided, it provided everything we expected with adventure playground, hay barn, lamb feeding, as well as all the usual farm animals which can be fed. It kept Elise entertained as well as her mother on the play equipment at times.

Would I recommend this holiday to other people, certainly, if you use the camp as a base and share the driving over the week, it works well, and you get to see most of the east coast in this area, you could add Robin Hoods Bay to the Whitby day, and Filey to the Bridlington day to make slightly more of it. The food on the camp does the job, but personally I would leave later and eat on the way back home as there are plenty of places en route more worthy of your eating dollars. Of all the places visited, Whitby Bay is most picturesque, but Scarborough has most to do. We are planning to rebook as soon as we can get the holiday vouchers out of Tesco Clubcard again (you can use £40 rewards for £10 vouchers at Park Resorts) for the same time next year, this time it shouldn’t cost us a penny, double bonus!

Just Lightwater Valley theme park on the way home today and then its back to reality and a proper broadband connection, I’ve been coping this week by transferring this text file to my phone and then copying and pasting the text into the blog back end in the phones browser. It works, but its a faff! Viva la Wireless router.