Ruff Guide to… Whitby, Scarborough and the Yorkshire coast

There’s always something new to discover on a trip to the Yorkshire coast, from quaint fishing villages and smugglers’ coves to miles of heather-covered moorland. While Whitby and Scarborough are the main tourist towns, you’ll find plenty to explore in between – and many pubs, cafes and attractions in the area welcome dogs with open arms. Whether you want to walk for miles, travel by steam train or discover the area’s fascinating history, you certainly won’t run out of things to do…

Whitby Abbey
Whitby Abbey

Dog-friendly Whitby, Scarborough and the Yorkshire coast: the must-sees

One of the most iconic sights on the Yorkshire coast is Whitby Abbey, which towers above the town. The gothic ruins have been inspiring visitors – including Dracula author Bram Stoker – for more than 1,500 years and dogs on leads are welcome to have a sniff around. Pick up one of the free audio guides to learn all about this historic landmark, which is maintained by English Heritage. There is also an excellent pet-friendly visitor centre. Adult tickets cost £10, or £11 with a charity donation.

Many people reach the abbey by going up Whitby’s famous 199 Steps, but they’re not for the faint-hearted. In Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula leapt up them disguised as a huge black dog  – and Stan certainly caught a few people’s attention as he bounded up the steps with gusto! If you think they might be a little bit challenging for you, however, look for the path once used by donkeys that runs directly alongside the steps.

Ernie and Stan tackle Whitby's 199 Steps
Ernie and Stan tackle Whitby’s 199 Steps

Another Whitby landmark to look out for is the Whalebone Arch, on the opposite side of the harbour, which was erected in 1853 to mark the town’s whaling history. You’ll find a statue of Captain Cook looking out to sea right next to it. The famous explorer was born in Yorkshire and raised in Whitby. Indeed, the ships he used on his historic voyages – Endeavour, Resolution, Adventure, and Discovery – were all built in the town.

To find out more about Captain Cook – and to see Whitby from the water – take a trip on the Bark Endeavour. This authentic replica of HMS Endeavour is 40% of the ship’s original size and offers sailings along the coast to Sandsend throughout the year. The trips take approximately 20 minutes and in that time, you’ll learn some fascinating facts about Whitby’s seafaring past as well as some sea shanties. It’s great fun! You’ll find the Bark Endeavour in the harbour, near the Magpie Cafe. Adult tickets cost £4 while sea dogs travel for free. Pets are also allowed on the Whitby Town Tour open-top bus. This hop-on, hop-off service runs every day from March to November and takes in all the key sights. Adult tickets cost £7.50.

Bark Endeavour, Whitby
The Bark Endeavour sails into Whitby Harbour

From Whitby, you can also board the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and head inland, through the national park. The heritage steam railway runs for 24 miles from Whitby to Pickering via Grosmont, Goathland, Newtondale Halt and Levisham. Goathland famously featured as Hogsmeade Station in the first Harry Potter film and also posed as Aidensfield in TV’s Heartbeat. Train services run daily from April to October and it takes just under two hours to travel the length of the railway, from Whitby to Pickering. At the time of writing, adult tickets cost £35 and it was an extra £3 for dogs. While you wait for your train, be sure to pop in to The Waiting Room at Whitby station. This cute little micropub loves visiting dogs!

Scarborough Castle, high up on a hill overlooking the town, is also well worth visiting. With more than 3,000 years of history, it has plenty to keep both two and four-legged visitors entertained. Dogs on leads are welcome to explore the castle ruins and grassy headland, which has incredible views over the North Sea. Indeed, the castle – which is maintained by English Heritage – is the charity’s top pick for a doggy day out in the North of England. Adult tickets start from £7.90.

Ernie and Stan enjoy Robin Hood's Bay
Ernie and Stan enjoy Robin Hood’s Bay

Dog-friendly Whitby, Scarborough and the Yorkshire coast: the best walks

The Yorkshire coast has some of the best beaches in Britain and many are dog-friendly all year round. The majority are also lovely and sandy, so perfect for zoomies. We are big fans of Robin Hood’s Bay and Runswick Bay, which is not only home to the highest cliffs in England but is also one of the best spots for dark skies in the area. To find out more about the beaches in Yorkshire, click here.

If you enjoy coastal walks, check out the 4.5-mile stretch of the Cleveland Way from Whitby to Sandsend. Technically, the route goes along the top of West Cliff and follows the road but unless the tide is particularly high, you can walk the whole way on the beach. Be sure to double-check for seasonal dog restrictions though, as they do apply at certain points. Find out more about the route – and suggestions for other walks along the Cleveland Way by clicking here. In the opposite direction, the five-mile circular walk from Whitby Abbey to Saltwick Bay is also a nice one.

Bridge along the Cinder Track, Whitby
The Cinder Track follows the route of an old railway line

The Cinder Track, which runs for just over 20 miles between Whitby and Scarborough, is hugely popular with walkers, joggers and cyclists. The off-road route follows an old railway line and weaves through the North York Moors National Park. The track, which takes in towns and villages such as Hawsker, Ravenscar and Burniston, is suitable for all abilities. The section between Hayburn Wyke and Cloughton is the shortest, taking approximately an hour. And the 6.5-mile track from Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay takes around three hours. There are lots of things to see along the way too – like Larpool Viaduct – and places to stop for refreshments.

In Scarborough, Peasholm Park is a lovely place to enjoy a walk. Dogs on leads are welcome to explore the Oriental-themed park, which has an island in the middle of a boating lake with an impressive pagoda. You can even hire rowing boats – and yes, they are dog-friendly! The park has previously been named one of the best in the UK. Follow the hour-long Tree Trail, which highlights 29 special trees from around the world, and takes you through not only the park but the surrounding area, called Peasholm Glen. For more walk ideas and suggestions in Scarborough, click here.

Mallayan Spout, Goathland
Marvel at the Mallayan Spout waterfall, near Goathland

If you’re planning a trip on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway – or even if you aren’t – it’s well worth heading slightly inland to Goathland. Long before the village found fame on TV, tourists came from miles around to see the Mallayan Spout. The 70ft-high waterfall is something to behold and you can see it on a three-mile circular walk from the heart of the village. The route takes you down to the waters of West Beck and returns along the track bed of the original Whitby to Pickering railway line. For full directions, click here. Also check out the 3.5-mile ‘Rail Trail’ from Goathland to Grosmont.

The four-mile circular loop from the fishing village of Staithes to Port Mulgrave is also fantastic. While the first half of the route tracks the Cleveland Way, the rest goes through fields, woodland and along the cliffs. There’s not much to see at Port Mulgrave – a former ironstone port – but the walk, which also takes in the hamlet of Dalehouse, is great if you fancy getting away from it all.

Beckanini at Beckett's, Whitby
One of the tasty ‘Beckaninis’ from Beckett’s, Whitby

Dog-friendly Whitby, Scarborough and the Yorkshire coast: the best pubs and cafes

You certainly won’t starve in Whitby as almost every pub and cafe welcomes dogs. Beckett’s, in Skinner Street, was one of our favourites. Not only was the food amazing, but the staff brought some water and treats out for Ernie and Stan without us even having to ask. The cafe is renowned for its sticky cakes but I also recommend the ‘Beckaninis’ – its own delicious take on paninis. Don’t miss the nearby Fuzzy Dog Bakery, on Flowergate, for some dog treats to take home, too.

If you’re a fan of cute cafes with fairylit courtyards, you’ll love Sanders Yard Bistro, which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and Rusty Shears, in Silver Street. It’s only open during daytime hours but is a great place to grab a cheeky afternoon drink. There are more than 150 gins on the menu alone! Arch & Abbey, on Skinner Street, is a great place to sink a pint or two, while The Granby, on the same road, has excellent pub grub. The Endeavour and The Fleece are also famously dog-friendly. And Whitby Brewery, opposite the famous abbey, is well worth a visit for the locally-produced ales and pizzas – not to mention fine views. Be sure to try the Whitby Whaler bitter.

Whitby Brewery
Whitby Brewery is right opposite the famous abbey

Sherlocks Coffee House, on Flowergate, does lovely cakes and cream teas, while you can enjoy a quirky fish and chip afternoon tea at Hetty & Betty – the oldest fish and chip shop in town – on Baxtergate. The quirk factor continues at Crumbs ‘n’ Cobbles, in Church Street, where you can enjoy breakfast served in a giant Yorkshire pudding. And Humble Pie & Mash, on Church Street, has a vintage, wartime feel.

In nearby Sandsend, seek out The Fish Cottage, which is just 20yds from the beach. While dogs aren’t allowed inside the restaurant, they do excellent takeaway food. And in the quaint fishing village of Staithes, make a beeline for the Cod & Lobster. This waterfront pub serves some of the best fish and chips around. Walkers will also enjoy visiting the Barn Owl Cafe & Bistro, in the grounds of ancient Seaton Hall. The manor house is a mile or so from the centre of Staithes and the cafe has outdoor seating for dog owners.

Tea, Toast & Post, Robin Hood's Bay
Quirky Tea, Tost & Post in Robin Hood’s Bay

Scarborough also has some excellent dog-friendly pubs and cafes. The BellyRub specialises in comfort food and craft beer, while The Craft Bar generally stocks more than 300 brews. The Copper Horse and the Firk Inn come highly recommended, too. Dogs can also expect a warm welcome at the plant-based Love Brew Cafe and the Watermark Cafe in North Bay. And between Scarborough and Pickering, in Brompton-by-Sawdon, you’ll find Lizzie’s Arty Fact & Fiction – a second-hand bookshop and cafe.

In Robin Hood’s Bay, don’t miss a trip to Tea, Toast & Post, where you can enjoy delicious Yorkshire rarebits. The hearty home-cooked meals served at The Bay Hotel ensure it is always busy and The Cove, which is housed in a beautiful converted chapel, serves fantastic coffee with great sea views on the side. The Coffee Shack is well worth seeking out, too. It may be small, but it is mighty.

Bedroom at Sanders Yard, Whitby
One of the dog-friendly rooms at Sanders Yard, Whitby

Dog-friendly Whitby, Scarborough and the Yorkshire coast: where to stay

Whitby has a whole host of dog-friendly accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets. Sanders Yard, off Church Street, has a range of stylish rooms and holiday cottages. Some of these overlook the courtyard of the aforementioned Sanders Yard Bistro, while others are tucked away behind it in a leafy little oasis. Dogs are welcome in many of the rooms and cottages for a small fee.

The quirky La Rosa Hotel, on East Terrace, also allows dogs and many of the rooms have amazing views across the harbour to Whitby Abbey. The nine themed rooms in this Victorian townhouse are completely unique and feature antique furniture and kitsch thrift shop finds. You won’t find any TVs or telephones here, but you will find lots of books and vintage vinyl. The hotel, which was once a favourite of Lewis Carroll, also has a lovely Victorian tearoom. Dogs are not allowed on the beds or balconies.

Kitchen at Hidden Gem, Whitby
The well-stocked kitchen at Hidden Gem in Whitby

If you’re looking for self-catering accommodation in Whitby, Hidden Gem, in Rose & Crown Yard, is fantastically central. The former fisherman’s cottage, which sleeps two, has recently been renovated and is within easy walking distance of Whitby’s main attractions. Robin’s Rest, in Well Close Terrace, is another great option for dog owners. The one-bedroom ground-floor apartment has a small courtyard area. For more self-catering suggestions in Whitby and beyond, visit Yorkshire Cottages website.

Bike & Boot in Scarborough is also great for both dogs and owners. The funky hotel has its own dog grooming area, as well as a cinema, bar and restaurant – all of which are dog-friendly. Pets are also welcome at YHA Boggle Hole, near Robin Hood’s Bay, which is tucked away in a former smugglers’ cove. The hostel has simple private and dorm rooms that can be accessed from the beach, as well as a nautical-themed cafe. And just north of Pickering, you’ll find The Hayloft at Flamborough Rigg. This beautiful two-bedroom cottage has an enclosed garden and some great walks from the doorstep.

The sun rises over Cliff Bridge, Scarborough
The sun rises over Scarborough’s Cliff Bridge

How do I get to Whitby, Scarborough and the Yorkshire coast?

From London, you’ll be look at roughly a five-hour drive. The most direct route is via the A1 and A1(M). You will need to follow that to Leeds, then branch off on to the A64 and follow the signs to the coast.

Northern Rail serves the key coastal towns, including Whitby and Scarborough. A number of bus services cover the area too. To see the routes, click here. One of the most popular is The Coastliner, which starts in Leeds, then travels through York and onwards to towns, such as Pickering, Goathland, Whitby and Scarborough. In 2018, the Coastliner was named Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route – and well-behaved dogs are welcome onboard.

If you’re planning to fly in, the nearest airports to the coast are Leeds Bradford Airport, Teesside International Airport and Newcastle International Airport.

Where can I find out more?

For more information on what to see and do, and a more definitive list of dog-friendly accommodation, check out the Discover the Yorkshire Coast website. The Visit Whitby site is also packed full of local information, as is the Visit Scarborough site. The official Yorkshire tourism website, Welcome to Yorkshire, is well worth a look, too.

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