Car-free adventures aroundScarboroughYorkshire

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Are you going to Scarborough Fair? (Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme), runs the old song made famous by Simon and Garfunkel. In medieval times, Scarborough’s late-summer fair was an un-missable event for merchants from as far afield as Denmark, Latvia and Turkey. People are more likely to head there today for ice cream and donkey rides than to barter corn and cambric. With a good network of trains and buses, not to mention ferries and tramways, getting around Scarborough without a car is not just possible – it’s fun! And it's ideal territory for a staycation. Scroll to the end for suggestions about buses, bikes, hikes and places to stay.

  • County: Yorkshire
  • Great for: Art Gallery | castles | gardens | good cafés and pubs | scenic bus and train | walking |
  • Refreshments: seaside sarnies to posh teashops - there’s plenty of choice
  • Please note: researched/updated May 2021. If anything’s changed or you have tips to share, do get in touch: features@goodjourney.org.uk
Tram advert - Scarborough car-free adventures
  1. 3. Catch the bus to Whitby

    Whitby is another iconic seaside destination and the journey there, over the bracken-blanketed moorland, is an adventure in itself. Sit on the right for the best sea views.

    • Bus X93 rolls through forests, fields and open moorland, purple with summer heather and stretching out towards the sea.
    • The bus leaves every half an hour (hourly in winter) and takes 60 minutes.
    • Look out for patches of white cotton grass and Bronze Age tumuli (burial mounds) on the North York Moors and the view of ocean-backed Robin Hood’s Bay as the bus heads steeply downhill.
    • Finally the spiky, gothic ruins of Whitby Abbey are visible across the valley, and topping the view down the River Esk to Whitby harbour.
    • Whitby is famous for fish and chips and there are lots of options around the harbour and in neighbouring streets. Get a takeaway from Silver Street fisheries, tucked away on a side street.
    • The dramatic view of Whitby Abbey inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the town’s creepy connections have made it a magnet for goths: shops and streets are full of eyeliner, frilly cuffs and velvet.
    • As nostalgic wafts of frying filter through the seaside beach huts, work up an appetite for the famous fish and chips with a climb to the headland or a swim from the mile-long sands.
  1. 4. Onward by boat, bus or train…

    Several exciting car-free options lead around and out of Whitby. Seen close up or from the sea below, the abbey ruins are always spectacular and – beyond them – the wild North Yorkshire Moors are waiting.

    • You can take a boat trip round the harbour. The little yellow boats provide a 25 minute cruise for just £3.
    • The 840 Coastliner bus ride over the moors from Whitby to Pickering is one of England’s wildest, with wide, lonely views and miles of purple heather. Voted Britain’s most scenic bus ride, this route has attracted more visitors recently.
    • Dalby Forest is one of the attractions on the way. The 840 also passes the North York Steam Railway, which opens up more miles of scenic adventure.
    • And the Esk Valley Railway train journey from Whitby to Middlesborough runs beside the River Esk and through the villages. The local community rail partnership have details of walks, cycle rides (you can take bikes on the train free of charge) and even pub crawls to access from this line.
  1. Buses, hikes and places to stay

    Here are a few more suggestions for people planning staycations in the area.

    • Stagecoach buses offer a Rover ticket and East Yorkshire buses offer One Day tickets for buses to Bridlington and Filey.
    • For travel around town on the day you arrive, a Plusbus ticket is unbeatable value.
    • For bike hire and cycle trips along the coast, check out Trailways
    • In a county spoilt for great walks, the classic twenty mile stretch of the Cleveland Way between Whitby and Scarborough is one of Yorkshire’s best, with grey seals and all kinds of birds. The walk heads out of Whitby on a clifftop path beyond the ruined abbey. After six miles, stop for lunch in steep-laned Robin Hood’s Bay.
    • Raven Hall Hotel, four miles further, has a castle-walled garden, long views back up the coast and a resident seal colony on the rocks below (Doubles from £109).
    • Next day, press on to Scarborough, via Hayburn Wyke, where a little waterfall cascades down mossy cliffs onto the beach. Stay at the inspiring beachfront Bike and Boot (doubles from £65), which opened in 2020, for free tea, cake and film.
    • For a taste of decaying glory that years of bingo and neglect can’t completely destroy, Scarborough’s Grand Hotel is a potential bargain (doubles from about £50) if you don’t mind the shabbiness. The ornate staircase still leads up towards four distinctive domed towers and their penthouse suites. Architect Cuthbert Brodrick (of Leeds Town Hall fame) designed this cliff-top icon in the shape of a V (for Victoria) and with as many floors as months of the year.
  • Whitby boat - Scarborough car-free adventures
  • Whitby steps - Scarborough car-free adventures
  • Boat in whitby - Scarborough car-free adventures
  • Tram advert - Scarborough car-free adventures