We had a change of plan for the letter C, as the original place we were going doesn’t allow dogs. As we have a dog with us, we try to find dog-friendly places to visit.
Cayton Bay in North Yorkshire is just a few miles south of Scarborough, and a designated site of special scientific interest. It has a wide sandy beach scattered with rockpools, boulders … and ruins. It’s a dog-friendly beach all year round.
The cliffs were formed in the Jurassic period 150 million years ago. Fossil hunters can find many treasures, from bivalves to gastropods to ammonites to brachiopods.
Surfers are also drawn to the bay. It’s the home of the Scarborough Surf School, which has been running lessons here since 1989. Different parts of the bay have different kinds of tide making it an interesting location for practising. There were no surfers out when we visited, though. Or wind-surfers.
The bay is also rumoured to be a naturist beach, but again, we didn’t see any bathers (it was probably too cold) and, anyway, there are signs up warning against it.
The beach has several collapsed and ruined Second World War pillboxes, including to the northern end or what is also known as Johnny Flinton’s Harbour. The southern end of the beach is called Bunkers. About a hundred yards out to sea is a reef.
In April 2008, a major landslip caused several tons of earth to fall down the cliff-side onto the beach. A number of bungalows from the village of Knipe Point were also lost and many others were threatened. This part of the cliffs has always been prone to landslides. Today you can still see parts of walls littering the beach as well as old clay pipes sticking out from the cliffs.
The Trade Union NALGO opened a holiday camp in Knipe Point in 1933. One of the earliest visitors was Philip Larkin and his family. During the Second World War, children were evacuated here from Middlesbrough. The camp closed in 1975 and the site became permanent residential land in 1985 when planning restrictions limiting the site to holiday homes were over-ruled. There are still plenty of other holiday homes and caravan sites in Clayton Bay to choose from, however.
There aren’t that many facilities at Cayton Bay so it might be worth taking a picnic if you want to stay a while. The car park is next to the surf school, which costs £3 for the day or £2 after 4pm. And there are toilets there that may also be used by visitors.
Usually these toilets would cost 20p entry, but on our visit a normally chained side gate next to the turnstile had been left unlocked. According to a sign nailed to a fence, there’s a snack shack there too, but we couldn’t find it.
When we arrived, the car park was packed with about 60 or 70 people and around a dozen dogs. After chatting to some of these people, we discovered we’d stumbled upon a national litter-pick. This one was organised by Sea Shepherd UK. We spoke to Sarah, a volunteer with the charity, and her mum Karen.
Sea Shepherd UK is an international non-profit marine wildlife conservation organisation and today they were clearing away non-organic waste from this beach as well as several others around the country. There were more beach-cleans for the following day.
It is perhaps fitting that on our visit the beach was also visited by a common grey seal – or was it a harbour seal? It had been for a wander around the part known as Johnny Flinton’s Harbour (we could see its trail in the sand).
The seal, which was by now resting at the edge of the water, growled a bit if anyone got too close, but we think it was in relatively good health, and so we left it in peace, not letting Rufus get too close.
Cayton Bay beach is accessed by a very steep and narrow path. It wasn’t so bad going down, but it was heavy work coming back up – and I do hate hills. In all we walked 3¼miles in 2 hours and 24 minutes and we burned around 560 calories.
It was very busy when we were there with cars parking on the roadside, but that was probably due to the beach-cleaning event. It took us almost 2 hours to get there and we decided to stop at one of the many chip shops on the way home.
The weather was cool but it stayed dry, and as we were leaving, the sun came out.