Twenty-five things to do in Scarborough before you go home… weather permitting (wet weather activities are covered in number 26)
Take an early morning walk down the cliff paths to the Spa for a paper, or a walk down the cliff paths towards the Spa and the beach at any time of day. There are so many paths that you could take a different route every day of the week and still find a new way through the Italian Gardens or via the Clock Café. You might even find a path or two that have been surrendered to nature and are overgrown, but probably lead to secret magical worlds (there is actually a secret tunnel under the Esplanade from a house formerly owned by the Christian Salvesen shipping family). When you get to the Esplanade from The Waves turn left or right and you’ll find a number of possible routes down. If you want to follow the more gentle slopes turn right at the Esplanade and follow the wheelchair access signs (and keep a good grip on that wheelchair because you’re still going downhill a fair bit).
As an alternative to walking down, or up, the paths, take the cliff lift. Now there are only two of Scarborough’s five original funicular railways running, but at the end of a long hard day on the beach, it’s a great way to travel and the one near The Waves usually runs until shows or events at the Spa have finished (but it’s worth checking). This was of course the first funicular railway in Britain… if not the world.
Visit Cornelian Beach or one of Scarborough’s other unspoilt beaches. It’s hard to believe that, even in the middle of summer, just a short walk from the amusement arcades and the donkey rides you can go to a beach where you’ll probably be the only people on it. Cornelian Beach is named after the semi-precious gemstone that can still be found there (it’s a translucent reddy orange, and you’ll be very lucky to find anything bigger than a sliver). It is a scramble to get there but it’s worth it. You can also try Cloughton, Burniston, Hayburn Wyke, Cayton – all wild, untamed and with hardly an ice cream shop between them.
Don’t rule out ice creams altogether though. The Harbour Bar is the place to go for ‘Ice cream for health’. It’s an ice cream parlour that seems to have come straight out of the 1950s. You’ll be served by a team of highly efficient women in yellow and you’ve got a choice of all sorts from Alonzi’s award winning range of ice creams and ice cream deserts. It’s in the Time Out guide to the Top 1000 places in Britain – but it’s in our Top 25.
There is a lot more fabulous Italian food in the town too. Tuscany Too Italian restaurant is two minutes walk from The Waves and serves great food in a restaurant with a relaxing ambience. Pomodoro in the town centre is another of our favourites with fabulous food – have lunch there and imagine you are on holiday in Italy… although why would you, you’re in Scarborough! The Lanterna on Queen Street has established a great reputation over the years, someone recently described the chef to me as ‘a genius’, and is the place for a special occasion. There are plenty of others too: Tricolo’s, Gianni’s, Florio’s and all have their fans.
There are many other fine dining options: Jeremy’s, The Copper Horse at Seamer, The Anvil Inn at Sawdon, Cogoni’s, The Coachman at Snainton… you won’t go hungry.
You won’t have to walk too far from The Waves to find some of Scarborough’s top real ale pubs and a route between them would be a very pleasant way of spending the evening. The Cellars and The Valley Bar on the otherwise genteel Valley Road (the road that runs from the roundabout near the Spa under the two bridges – and up the valley. Both have an excellent range of beers and The Valley Bar has also been CAMRA’s cider and perry pub of the year. The Cellars often has live music on and serves food. The Cask is closer to hand, near the start of the Valley Bridge as you go in to town, and does a good range of pub meals. The bar underneath The Cask is also the home of Scarborough Jazz Club, the Blues Club and other live music. When we were at Sixth Form College in Scarborough it was also the youth hang out – so, happy memories. For a more traditional seafaring drink in the old town, the Leeds Arms, which is set a couple of streets back from the harbour, is full of character and great beers.
Walking through the town centre might give you the impression that Pound Shops and the Brunswick Centre are all that is on offer (although there is a big Debenhams, Marks and Spencers and TK Maxx). But if you venture a little further, you’ll find all sorts of interesting, even quirky, shops, in fact, if all Scarborough’s interesting and quirky little shops with gathered together in the same part of town, it would be some sort of shopper’s paradise. Ask us for some tips but to give an idea: three fantastic records shops selling CDs and vinyl, craft and sewing shops, all sorts at the Market Vaults, interior design at Homebird House, handmade clogs and trendy footwear at Bjorn’s Clogs, new and second-hand bookshops, quality bikes and cycling gear at Richardson’s bike shop, and good outdoor and walking gear at Crag and Moor, and all sorts of galleries, designer clothes, gentlemen’s outfitters, and of course Boyes (often known as Boyses) – a local department store institution.
A trip up Oliver’s Mount (the hill just inland from The Waves – with a war memorial and TV mast on the top) gives a great view over the whole of Scarborough and lets you see both of the bays. One point of interest at the war memorial is that it pays tribute to civilians killed in the town in both World Wars – Scarborough suffered a bombardment from the sea in the First World War and an air raid attack in the Second World War. Oliver’s Mount is also the venue for the motor cycle races that take place a couple of times a year. Next to the memorial there’s also a café, with car park across the road.
The Rotunda museum is devoted to geology, it houses a headless plesiosaur and ‘Gristhorpe Man’ – a perfectly preserved (with head) bronze age man. It’s an interesting place, especially for those who love dinosaurs and they hold children’s activities including dinosaur footprint searches during school holidays. The Rotunda was built by William Smith the ‘father of British geology’ and on the second floor your can see an interesting chart of the geology of the east coast and displays of artefacts from the museum’s collection.
Have a day out – York or Whitby and the Moors or Beverley and the Wolds or Castle Howard. Scarborough is a great base for exploring the region, and whether you want to visit the countryside, market towns or great cities, there lots of options within an hour’s drive or train journey.
Win or Lose a Pile of 2ps at the amusements and have an Air Hockey or Dance Mat challenge.
The beach – Michael Parkinson described the beaches of Scarborough as being of test match standard, and there is plenty of sand for playing games, rock pools to search, donkeys to ride, sand to feel beneath your toes and waves to watch. There are two big beaches in Scarborough and plenty more of different kinds in the bays along the coast.
There are hundreds of cafes in Scarborough, so whether you are looking for somewhere to gaze at the view (Clock Café), a hand pulled espresso (Thrumble’s), home-baked cakes and artisan sourdough bread (Heidi’s) – let us know and we’ll suggest somewhere.
There are a couple of classic evening, or afternoon promenades: you could stroll along the Esplanade near The Waves as the Victorian gentry did after church on Sunday morning and marvel at the view and the amazing architecture, or take a longer walk along the Marine Drive round the castle headland. Visitors often comment on how far they’ve walked when they’re here – you can walk quite a long way without realising it because you can cover both bays, which are big, and be close to the town all the time.
Peasholm Park and Northstead Manor Gardens are across the road from each other on the north side of town and offer all sorts of classic holiday activities from pedalos and the water chute, to the miniature railway (you can ride on it to Scalby Mills) and the Naval Warfare. The Naval Warfare is a recreation of a naval battle, with battleships and aeroplanes, that takes place in the lake at Peasholm Park during the Summer season. The battle has been taking place for over 80 years and it is a low tech delight from simpler times. The highlight of Northstead Manor Gardens is the Open Air Theatre which was built in the 1930s and hosted large casts for shows like The King and I and Annie Get Your Gun. In the 1970s the big draw was It’s a Knock Out, with contestants from local holiday camps battling on a greasy pole, but the venue went into decline and disrepair in the 1980s. As a result of our guaranteed sunny weather, and a significant investment, the venue was reopened by the Queen in 2010 and has since hosted Dame Kiri Ti-Kanawa, Elton John and JLS (not all at the same time). There are regular acts on during the Summer and even if the shows are sold out it can still be entertaining to walk around the outside of the theatre and hear what’s going on. And if you do go and see a show – take a blanket.
Although Alan Aykbourn has retired as Artistic Director, the Stephen Joseph Theatre (sometimes still known as the Theatre in the Round) is seen as his theatre and is the place where his plays are premiered and often revived. In addition to the quality of the plays and the acting, the staging of the plays in the round is always impressive and, of course, you’re never far from the action so you feel particularly involved in the performance. The theatre is at what used to be the Odeon cinema, a fantastic art deco building that at night shines with red and green neon lights that are matched by the neon obelisk in the road alongside (unbelievably, the council wanted to get rid of this and it took a private benefactor to save it.) The theatre also offers films, music and comedy, a bar with local Wold Top ales and some great photos of other classic Odeons, and a shop full of locally produced gifts and goodies.
If you are looking for a proper seaside tea – and why wouldn’t you – then a visit to The Golden Grid which is on the Foreshore opposite the harbour is a must. The Golden Grid is set out like the inside of a ship, which all adds to the atmosphere, and not surprisingly specialises in seafood from fish and chips to more exotic dishes. Puddings (none of that desert nonsense) are fantastic. Mother Hubbard’s at the top of town is also regarded by many locals as being the best fish and chip restaurant in the town. It’s upstairs, through a small entrance, opposite the Lord Rosebury pub at the top of Westborough.
Walk the route of the Cleveland Way – from Filey to Scarborough or north towards, or between, Ravenscar and Robin Hood’s Bay. The geology of the cliffs changes from the north to the south of Scarborough and so do the views and the scenery.
The North York Moors National Park starts just outside Scarborough and is full of charming moorland villages (Hutton le Hole, Levisham, Appleton le Moors, Danby, Goathland, Glaisdale, Egton Bridge, Rosedale Abbey – they’re all nice) and we can suggest walks and places to visit in the area. A steam train trip on The North York Moors Railway is a great way to travel through the moors.
Near the village of Flixton (around the area of the farm buildings you see on the left about 5 miles outside the town as you approach the roundabout to join the A64 to York) is Star Carr, one of the most important archaeological sites in the country. In Mesolithic times this area was a vast lake which was inhabited around the shore. As the lake disappeared the peat bog that replaced it provided the perfect conditions for the preservation of Mesolithic artifacts, with some of the most important finds being antler headdresses, and also evidence of horses. Apart from the occasional open day, Star Carr isn’t open as a visitor attraction. The University of York archaeology department is responsible for the site and continues to investigate it. If you wander down the lane from Flixton into the flat land ahead on a misty evening you might get a feel for lives lived in another very different time.
With the three-day Tour de Yorkshire taking place from 2015 (organised by the those who brought the Tour de France to Yorkshire), and the World Mountain Bike championships having been held in Dalby Forest, the area is being recognised as being ideal of all kinds of cycling. The Waves is a cycle friendly B&B too, so we have secure bike storage and other bike assistance available. National Cycle Network Route 1 passes by a 100 metres away, the Moor to Sea cycle trails are a great way of exploring the area, the cinder track north to Ravenscar, Robin Hood’s Bay and Whitby is a great ride for anyone, and the mountain bike trails in Dalby Forest provide a great challenge over routes graded from easy to the world championship course. Bike hire is available in the forest or can be arranged locally.
For more physical activities Go Ape in Dalby Forest is great fun and will bring out the Tarzan and Jane in you, and you can surf or learn to surf in the sea just below us or in the fabulous expanse of Cayton Bay.
Standing on the headland between the two bays, Scarborough Castle has dominated Scarborough since the keep was built in the 12th century, although the use of the headland goes back even further with evidence of settlements, including a Roman signal station, over almost three thousand years. The entrance through the castle gate and along the walled stony lane adds to the atmosphere of a tour of the castle.
Avoid traffic jams on the A64 by going home via Pickering/Castle Howard to the west, or going south via the Wolds and Howden (calling in at Beverley to make a day of it).
Be prepared is our motto (did someone else think of that first?), so we’ve got some wet weather activities we can suggest here at The Waves – that’s as well as putting on an LP, making a pot of coffee and playing Cluedo in our cosy guests’ lounge.
Here’s one to start with:
Go to Whitby
I’m not just saying that because of local rivalry. I think Whitby really suits the rain – the ruins of the gothic abbey standing above the town look fantastic on a misty day, and you can rest assured that Bram Stoker didn’t write Dracula while he was sitting on the beach in a deck chair. (Note to self: check whether Bram Stoker wrote Dracula in a deck chair.) Whitby is less of a beach town than Scarborough, the streets are narrower and there are plenty of quirky little shops and nice cafes to head into to shelter from the rain. What’s more, Whitby can seem really crowded and on a sunny afternoon you can barely move in the old town. So, go to Whitby when it rains and you’re winning all round.
These activities are just the start – we haven’t even mentioned Flamingoland, St Martin’s Church and its William Morris connection, Anne Bronte’s grave, Yorkshire Cricket at North Marine Road, the Spa Orchestra, the great local music scene… and there’s more. Just let us know what sort of activities you are interested in and we’ll try and suggest something.