North York Moors

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Fish and ships

Staithes Harbour Credit Tony Bartholomew Turnstone MediaStaithes Harbour Credit Tony Bartholomew Turnstone Media

Enjoy spending time on the water? Here are our Top Five ways to enjoy the North York Moors coast

1. Take a trip out to sea - or maybe just around Whitby harbour…

Whitby and Scarborough have the most choice for boat trips in summer months and it's simply a case of heading to the harbourside and checking out the sandwich boards and taking your pick. A few trips are worth a special mention:

  • Whitby Coastal Cruises offer a variety of trips from a 20/25 minute sail into the bay (dog friendly) to a 3.5 hour cruise down the coast to Robin Hood’s Bay potentially spotting seals and seabirds. They have trips up the unspoilt River Esk as well as sunset cruises when you can watch the sky turn pink, returning to the twinkling lights of Whitby.
  • The very much retired historic Whitby lifeboat Mary Ann Hepworth. Having saved 201 lives, and now lovingly restored, this Old Lifeboat lives on offering 30 minute trips around Whitby's harbour and along the coast. Her informative and entertaining crew alongside Captain Barry will leave you with great memories. Dog friendly too.
2. Fish for supperPleasure boats at Whitby Credit Richard Budron

Whitby is famous for its cod fishing and Whitby Charter Skippers Association has 20 members offering anglers of every age and ability the chance to go out to sea and catch fish, or just for the sport and thrill of being out at sea.

Sean will take you out on his boat, “All My Sons”, for a special “Hook and Cook” experience. He’ll show you how to catch mackerel out at sea, how to clean and prepare it, barbecue it and then you can eat it!

There's more angling trip ideas on our Fishing page.

3. Travel back in time  

Climb aboard The Bark Endeavour, a scale replica of Captain Cook's famous ship complete with modern safety aids and navigation instruments, leaves Whitby on regular sailing trips following in the path of Cook, but only as far as Sandsend... Dog friendly too. Search out the sites and attractions that tell Cook’s story on our Captain Cook page.

Did you know there’s a host of hidden shipwrecks along the North York Moors coast? You can sometimes see the battered remains of numerous ships at Robin Hood’s Bay and Kettleness. Perhaps the most photogenic is the ‘Admiral Von Tromp’ wreckage in Saltwick Bay with the ominous Black Nab lurking behind.

Interested in a wreck walk? Both our Breath of Fresh Air Guided Walks and the National Trust include wreck walks in their events programme.

The last few iconic Staithes Cobles sit in the beck and harbour front of this once booming fishing port. Constructed locally, the design was based on Viking Long Boats. Their flat bottoms allowed them to launch from sandy beaches, at a time when there were no harbours. A high stern and bow enabled the boats to withstand the harsh North Sea waves and swell; whilst the lower sides made it easier to haul in the fishing nets. A coble boat was often recognisable to its area by the colour. Staithes cobles were painted red, blue and white.

4. Watch whales

Ever imagined whale watching off the North York Moors coast?

  • Yorkshire Coast Nature keep group numbers small so you can enjoy a friendly, personalised, full day experience (July to September). Additional bonuses include ‘chum chucking’ off the boat to attract hordes of sea birds for fantastic photography opportunities.
  • Have a whale of a time watching the teeming sea-life close to our shores on a four-hour trip from Staithes with Three Sisters Sea Trips. Their boat accommodates up to seven people with on board facilities such as hot drinks and a loo! As well as seals, dolphins and porpoises, you may be lucky enough to see minke, fin, sei, northern and humpback whales.
5. Kayaks, paddle boards and pleasure boats

Explore the coast on a kayak with Andy at Barefoot Kayak and get a view of the coast like you’ve never seen before. His knowledge of the area and expertise in kayaking is a recipe for a memorable and adventurous day.  

Established in 1874, there’s good reason why the rowing boats at Ruswarp have lasted the test of time. The quiet, sheltered waters of the River Esk make for an idyllic afternoons activity. The fantastic location offers potential for steam train and salmon spotting, as well as riverside cafes allowing the possibility to moor up and take five from all that oar action.

Check out more ideas for sea kayaking and stand up paddleboarding.


Finally, look out for…

RNLI Lifeboat weekends

Whitby and Staithes both hold celebrations to raise money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). The fun-filled weekends include fancy dress parades, live music, duck race, air and sea rescue displays and fireworks. The RNLI is run by volunteers so these weekends are a great way to support all their hard work to save lives at sea.