Whistlestop Tour de Yorkshire by Motorhome
There’s nothing like a motorhome trip to get the kids excited. What family can resist the lure of the open road, a stable table for Scrabble and a seaside destination? In an Olympic style dash of three locations in one weekend, we toured a trio of the best touring caravan and motorhome sites in the Yorkshire coastal towns of Scarborough and Bridlington. And in this advertising feature for the Caravan and Motorhome Club, we pass on the benefits of joining one of the UK’s leading members touring clubs….
Why do a tour in Yorkshire by motorhome?
Nature is an early riser on the north Yorkshire coast. The sky is blushing like the shy sun has paid it the ultimate compliment, the birds are singing a rowdy tune and dog walkers are returning to cozy camper vans for the first coffee of the day after their dewy stroll. I weave around the vehicles with their space age window screen protectors and space enhancing awnings as I tour our base for the day.
I follow a nature trail of thistles, moss covered branches and springy wood chip, past birdhouse and log pile to a village church where weak sunlight churns up angel dust. There’s a fully fenced nature and dog walk taking in a complete circuit of Cayton Village Club Site for a quarter of a mile.
Shall we bike to the beach?
Right at this moment a tour of motorhome sites in Yorkshire seems the easiest and most pleasurable thing to do on a spring weekend. We are responding to a challenge set by the Caravan and Motorhome Club to blast around three sites on the Yorkshire coast. The sites are less than an hours drive from each other. They are all near beautiful beaches. The van is as new and shiny as the day ahead and the kids are tucked up in little beds that delight them. Stuart breaks into my thoughts with a phone call.
“Want to bike to the beach?”
You’re never far from a seaside
The wardens agree we should head directly for the nearest beach at Cayton Bay. “The beach is one of the main reasons people come here. It’s dog friendly all year round and it’s a good surf beach.” They wave us off on our four bikes with a map and a smile and we leave our borrowed motorhome in their care.
It’s not just for dogs
Cayton Bay is more than just dog friendly. Lucy’s Beach Shack provides a welcome party for both humans and canines, taking the edge off the wind and offering a bench with a view. The early-birds here have already come and gone. It’s a hive of industry now, with a surf class in full swing, stand up paddle boarder floating by and loads of families with prams and tricycles out for a stroll or playing with buckets and spades. We jump the waves and hang out at the beach bar. We’d love to stay, but have a more serious bike ride in mind. We plan to take Hannah and her friend on the Cinder Track, a 21.5 mile, well sign posted route, following the former rail trail from Scarborough to Whitby.
Scarborough is eye catching
Scarborough disrupts our plans. We want to push on but it sits glistening in the mid afternoon light, calling us down to the sea front with a band on the march and seagulls caw-cawing for food. We freewheel half way down the hill and leave our bikes chained up outside the Central Tramway, the oldest surviving tramway company in the UK. Established in 1881, it is beautifully refurbished in smart burgundy and cream and a bargain at just £1 a person. In seconds it transports us down to the bay. Scarborough has a busy, impressive beach with an equally an impressive 11th century castle watching over it.
“Anne Bronte is buried in the church up there,” says a local who spots me staring up at the promontory. But much as I love a good book, the largest resort on the Yorkshire coast has an abundance of fish and chip shops and right now I’m more interested in that variety of paper. We eat our chippie lunch with mushy peas in the sunshine on the beach, eyed hungrily by the gulls. Then we stroll along the harbour packed with fishing boats, boat trip signs and nets, before enjoying how far a pound can travel in the penny arcades.
Refurbishment is a priority
Time falls away as quickly as our two pence pieces cascade into the arcade waterfall. Before we know it we are back at Cayton preparing to move on. The long established Cayton Village Caravan Park was taken over in February 2018 by the Caravan and Motorhome Club and is one of the newest sites in the club’s portfolio. It will undergo refurbishment in due course says Warden Janet Scott, who predicts much interest in the site this year. “As it’s new to the club a lot will come to see what it’s like now, and then they will come back again when its refurbished to see how it’s been improved.” Improvements are likely to include new roads and infrastructure, bigger pitches and modern shower blocks.
Express transport to the theatre
We have a date back in Scarborough to see a play at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the round, famous for producing the work of playwright Alan Ayckbourn who is a native of the town. But our weekend olympiad of three sites means we need to move the van first. We discover the great thing about a motorhome is you don’t have to pack up. Your bed travels with you.
Nature is king…although sometimes it’s also a lady
Scarborough West Ayton Club Site is located just over five miles south west of the town, and so it’s perfect for a theatre visit. In the gap before arrival and departure the kids decamp for the playground, before discovering there’s much more for them to do including games room and boules pitch. Meanwhile I search out a little hut filled with leaflets. Nature is one of the big activities here. ‘Rabbits at work – watch out for holes’ is one of the more charming signs on the caravan site, which was a quarry just three decades ago. I discover that depending on the time of year it’s possible to spot a collection of kookily named plants including Autumn Lady’s Tresses, Devil’s Bit Scabious and Lady’s Bedstraw.
Watch out for flamingos and log flumes
“Scarborough’s got the beach. Castle Howard’s an absolute must. There’s Flamingo Land in Pickering, the Sea Life Centre and there’s the new big pool in Scarborough.” says Jeanette Davis without hesitation when I ask her for recommendations. Jeanette has spent 11 seasons working for the members’ club along with her husband Geoff. “We went to the castle recently. It’s owned by English Heritage. Well worth a visit.”
For those who don’t want to drive a huge motorhome into town, they tell me there’s plenty to do locally.”The Forge in the village is a superb little pub to have on the doorstep and does a fabulous Sunday roast carvery. They’ve just put a new pizza oven in. It’s really taken off.” Geoff and Jeanette list attractions so quickly I find it hard to keep up. “You’ve run out of paper,” says Geoff. I get the sense if you run out of anything here, this pair will find it for you.
An experience worth waiting for
But some of these suggestions will have to wait for another weekend of motorhome touring in Yorkshire. We still have the Scarborough Cinder Track to conquer. In the morning we decide to do a chunk from Ravenscar to Robin Hood’s Bay and have sausage butties in the sunny Ravenscar Tea Rooms to fuel up. The owner explains that the trail follows the disused railway line in operation from 1885 to 1965 and is mostly downhill to the coast. Bridges and viewpoints add interest to a pretty but bumpy road lined with gorse bushes she tells us.
Once on our way we make quick progress. Our wheels hum as we buzz along. Only the ducks are slowing down today.
Tea and the tide
Robin Hood’s Bay rushes down to meet the sea where other resorts might trickle. We can’t resist meeting the tide ourselves, despite the steepness of the climb back up. Scones and jam help as Stuart and Hannah reminisce about their cycle tour of the Yorkshire Dales.
Return to the town that never was
From Robin Hood’s Bay we return on a gentle incline back to the Ravenscar Visitor Centre where we are greeted by Bill Blake, a Ranger for National Trust Yorkshire Coast. He tells a tall tale about businessmen coming to Ravenscar in the 1900’s and deciding they wanted to build a town on the cliffs and moorland here to rival Scarborough and Whitby. They built infrastructure, roads, pavements, drains, and auctioned plots of land, he explains. “It became known as the Town that Never Was,” says Bill and I realise he’s not joking when interpretation panels at the centre back up his tale.
Surveying his kingdom
Bill is a huge advocate for nature and runs courses about man’s impact on the land, as well as small mammal surveys. “Part of my job in catching small animals, surveying them, and releasing them. I’ve opened it up into an event,” he tells me as I grab a coffee on the terrace. “We put down Longworth traps with bedding and food. First thing in the morning I go with public and do proper survey. The main characters are the pygmy shew, common shrew, bank and field vole, and the wood mouse. We do it on any land that we own that hasn’t had a survey. If it’s a herb rich meadow we are more likely to find field voles. In the woodlands it’s shrews and wood mice. People have never seen anything like these little tiny things. You may have heard them though, they make a tiny squeal as you go past.” I try to remember if anything squealed at me and can only think of gulls.
A heap of industrial intrigue
Bill explains the ‘Industrial Intrigue’ tours he also runs. “We take the old Cinder Track to the brick works and talk about how it used to look. Then we visit the alum works. I give them some history; we talk about anything and everything to do with Ravenscar.”
If you don’t fancy that kind of intrigue the centre runs occasional workshops on birdsong for beginners. You can also grab a net and do a bugs and beetles hunt when the meadows are coming up into full bloom. Before we return to our motorhome Bill has one last thing to show us. A recently shed adder skin. It is not slimy as you might expect but paper thin and dry. “I’ve just done an adder survey. We’ve got four males and a female. The reason I’m surveying them is they may be under threat. Next year I’m going to radio tag and track them,” he says, gently taking back the skin, looking like he fears we might want to smuggle it into the van.
Puffins and poppadoms
We climb back into our motorhome and press onto Bridlington Club Site in Sewerby, where husband and wife team Chris and Bob Lane are just beginning the season as Assistant Support. They are full of suggestions for our final hours including a walk to see the puffins at the RSPB site at Bempton Cliffs, situated three and a half miles from the site. This award winning nature reserve hosts a quarter of a million sea birds including puffins from mid April to mid July and 25,000 gannets. Access to the sanctuary is free if you are a Caravan and Motorhome Club member and can show your card they tell me. Alternatively Flamborough Head is 3 miles east of the Bridlington site if you love a lighthouse or two.
“There a bus stop at end of road with buses ever hour except Sunday.” says Chris tells me many members leave the van on the site and use public transport during their stay. “You have to be choosy about what site you visit,” she advises, “You want to be somewhere where everything is accessible. Especially if you haven’t got bicycles with you. People always ask us when booking how close are we to a bus stop.”
“The bus stop is 650 yards here – literally just down the road. You can access Scarborough, Whitby, Pickering and Helmsley from here.” says Bob.
They also recommend using your two feet. “It’s about an hours walk on the clifftop to Bridlington,” says Chris. “You can also walk to Danes Dyke and South Landing, all the way to the lighthouse and then on to North Landing.”
“It’s a bit steep to the beach but there’s a beautiful little bay. They still fish off there and take fishing trip and pleasure trips. Sewerby Hall is nice to visit too.” says Geoff.
I leave the double act still discussing my dream personal itinerary.
Good night Bridlington
As it’s late in the day and darkness is descending we settle on a quick beach visit, then a walk around Bridlington Priory, where evensong is just finishing. We follow this with a curry in local Indian restaurant Saffron; we feel we’ve earned the calories on the rail trail. And then it’s back for a few hours sleep before the birds awake us again with their enthusiasm to get on with the day ahead. If only I had Bill with me to identify what they are. Sadly just about the only little bird I recognise is the one that comes with 280 characters.
Life on the road is sweet
At the end of three days we drive away knowing we have barely touched this beautiful coastline, but we do feel we’ve had a taster for motorhome touring in Yorkshire as well as life on the open road. “That’s what a touring site is.” I recall Warden Janet Scott saying at Clayton Village back at the start of our trip. “You don’t have to stay. You tour around and see different things.”
Touring Caravan Parks And Motorhome Sites Yorkshire – How and where to stay
The Cayton Village Club Site is on the edge of the village. It has 278 pitches in total, and 199 of them are hard standing. Service pitches have their own water tap and waste drain, while The Laurels, a newer part of the site also offers free wifi and TV booster. Wardens refer to Cayton as a ‘pre-refurbished site,’ – toilet blocks will soon be modernised and pitches widened to typical Caravan and Motorhome Club site size and standard. For now the site allows non members as well as members to book a pitch. Non members pay an extra £12 per night so you may find it more economical to join if you are planning to stay for a week or so. Prices start at £12.30 for one Caravan and Motorhome Club member pitch and one adult.
Scarborough West Ayton
Scarborough West Ayton Club Site is a large space on several levels with 164 standard service pitches, 129 hard standing. 35 are non awning pitches. Fees start at £14.20 for Caravan and Motorhome Club members for one pitch and an adult. The small on site shop sells basics and Calor gas. For stocking up further there’s a Spar Petrol station and a post office down the road.
Kids are well catered for at this large caravan site on the Yorkshire coast. There’s an outdoor playground and rainy day facilities include the games room pictured below, equipped with two pool tables and a table tennis table. There’s also a boules pitch. “And we have the big Connect Four to go out when the kiddies come, We put different games out in the playing field for them. “I’m looking forward to it I love the kids coming.” says Jeanette. A new climbing frame is also currently being installed on the playing field. “It’s going to be tremendous,” she promises.
There are 149 pitches at Bridlington Club Site. These include eight service pitches. All except one are awning pitches. The site has clean and modern toilet blocks, disabled facilities and a family room with a bath, shower and baby changing. There’s a simple playground for children and a dog walk trail. Prices start from £14.20 for Caravan and Motorhome Club Member pitch with one adult.
Becoming a member of the Caravan and Motorhome Club
The Caravan and Motorhome Club started life as the The Caravan Club in 1907. At the West Ayton site Jeanette explains one of the reasons for the name change, “At the last count last year I think it was 48 per cent motorhomes. It’s really expanding.” She speculates one reason for the rise is young people being able to use motorhomes without taking an extra test and getting amendments to their licence.
The club sites offer big pitches; most are 9 x 9 with a 3 metre fire break between units. This puts you at a comfortable distance from other vehicles. In fact the only downside I could see was that everyone was so scattered there were no conversations over a BBQ. Perhaps that happens when the sites fill up. Dogs are welcome at club sites and dog walking areas are common. There are no signs for them to slow down unlike the vehicles on site and the poor ducks on the trail. Maybe, like us, they do it naturally over the weekend stay.
Check out the Caravan and Motorhome Club Site membership page for details on how to join and access over 2700 motorhome sites in the UK and Europe.
Enjoy this road trip? Then check out our adventures with kids and car in Japan.
Or perhaps follow one of our adventures closer to home like our scenic Lake District Drive.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the Caravan and Motorhome Club. All seaside fun, road tripping and riding faster than a duck in Yorkshire, as well as words and images, are all our own.