North York Moors

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Fishy experiences

Staithes harbour Credit Tony BartholomewStaithes harbour Credit Tony Bartholomew

Generations of fishing families have moulded the unique character of the higgledy-piggledy places such as Robin Hood’s Bay and Staithes, while the whaling and ship-building port of Whitby sent Captain Cook and his men on their epic adventures. Find out more about the area's fishing heritage from local fisherman, Sean Baxter in our coastal brochure

While fishing has declined from its heyday, today the waters off the North York Moors coast are marine-rich habitats supporting a wide range of fish and wildlife, including whales, dolphins, porpoises and seals, while fishing itself is undergoing something of a renaissance.

Today, the North York Moors offers plenty of fishy experiences for the visitor, from eating fish and chips in Whitby to learning how to fillet a fish at a cookery school, all adding up to a holiday the family will never forget.

  • Take a look at the huge (over 5 metres high) whale jaw bones by West Cliff in Whitby
  • Join a charter angling boat and try fishing out at sea. For more information about local fishing opportunities take a look at our fishing page.
  • Listen out for the Men of Staithes, a choir carrying on the tradition of a village 'fisherman's choir' that sings shanties and hymns
  • A visit to the coast isn’t complete until you’ve eaten fish and chips or fresh lobster and crab. Take a trip to Whitby where you're truly spoilt for choice. From the legendary Magpie Café to Quayside, previous Fish & Chip shop of the year winner, Trencher's and locals' favourite Hadley's Fish & Chips plus many more equally excellent options

Repus restored fishing coble with carved fisherman, Skinningrove

  • Spot the 18ft long ‘Evolution of Life in the Sea’ mural, and restored fishing coble with carved fisherman at Skinningrove. Look out for the Flood mosaic and merman at Riverside Building, the Pigeon flyer and the Spaceman near the jetty on Skinningrove's Public Art Trail. Download a pdf copy of the Art Trail
  • Did you know we have one of only a few rivers in Yorkshire that supports salmon? In November, Salmon Leap point on the river Esk in Sleights is a good place to see salmon launching from the water to breach the weir. Both they and trout are returning from the North Sea to the rivers of their birth and heading to their breeding grounds to spawn
  • Go down to the harbour at Staithes and spot lobster pots and ulley boxes (enclosed spaces built to keep lobsters in) – there’s one near the sea wall 
  • And if you look closely at some of the cottage names, many were named after their owners' boats and houses were even painted the same three colours as their owners’ cobles. Staithes cobles were traditionally painted red, blue and white
  • Have a whale of a time watching the teeming sea-life close to our shores on trips with Three Sisters Sea Trips or Yorkshire Coast Nature. You’ll have the potential to see not just seals, dolphins and porpoises but minke, fin, sei, northern and humpback whales
  • Tuck into some of the freshest seafood dishes from the surrounding waters whilst admiring the stunning coastal view at the Seaview Restaurant in Saltburn. The Times have named it one of the 20 best places to eat by the sea and it's easy to see why!