Once past the newer houses on the clifftop, the road plunges down a steep slope to the tightly packed houses and cottages, and picturesque harbour of this popular coastal village. Children squealing with delighted recognition? It's because Staithes is where CBeebies 'Old Jack's Boat' is filmed.
The harbourside is open to the North Sea, but is sheltered to the north by the towering cliff known as Cowbar. Fishing is not the cornerstone it was when Staithes was a nationally important fishing port, but colourful fishing boats (called 'cobles') still set out for lobster, crab and mackerel. The young James Cook worked here as an apprentice shopkeeper before seeking fame and fortune at sea, while artists later flocked here for the quality of the light and landscape.
Things to see and do
Follow the Old Jack's Boat sticker trail! Armed with a free leaflet, which can be picked up from cafés, shops and other public places in the village, visitors are guided through the snickets and cobbled lanes as they search out six of Old Jack’s friends and animated characters that will help him mend his boat ‘The Rainbow’.
Find the eight murals on the Staithes Illusion Trail all painted by renowned trompe l’oeil artist and Staithes resident, Paul Czainski. The narrow streets and snickets have evocative sounding names such as Gun Gutter and Barbers Yard. At around 45cm wide, Dog Loup is the narrowest street in the north of England.
Across the cliffs in Port Mulgrave, visit the Blue Shed Studio of artist Gail Hurst (open for viewings on Sundays and bank holiday Mondays, Easter to October). Gail's work is inspired by the North York Moors coast, and she often runs workshops and exhibits both locally and further afield.
Staithes is right on the Cleveland Way National Trail and there are some fabulous coastal walks from the village, either north over the highest sea cliffs on the east coast of England at Boulby (203m high) or south to the quirky hamlet and former ironstone port of Port Mulgrave.
Local fishermen and tourism operators offer boat and fishing trips, and memorable holiday experiences, from foreshore walks to coastal foraging.
Real Staithes has day courses and trips with a local fishing family, from coastal crafts to mackerel-catching.