Cosy winter activities across England’s East Coast
November 29, 2021 | England's Coast
Why not consider the English coastline for a winter staycation or day trip? It promises a huge range of winter experiences, from crisp clifftop walks, cosy pubs and cafés with warming hot chocolate and mulled wine to characterful towns and villages with art galleries and independent shopping, alongside scores of festive events, and an abundance of wildlife giving a chance to connect with the natural world.
Discover all of this – and more – with England’s Coast (www.englandscoast.com), the browse-and-book tool that guides you along the coast of England and everything it has to offer, from walking routes and heritage sites to places to stay and family attractions. You can plan a trip, build an itinerary and book directly with hundreds of restaurants, cafés and pubs, plus accommodation including hotels, B&Bs and cosy camp and glamp sites.
Here are some wintry highlights across the English coast, along with accommodation suggestions:
East Yorkshire and the Yorkshire Coast
Stretching from the Tees estuary to the Humber estuary along England’s east coast, this glorious seaside stretch has something to offer everyone, with lots of lesser-known spots and new experiences to discover this winter:
- For history and literature buffs, the Tolkien Triangle (spanning Hornsea, Spurn Head, and Kingston-upon-Hull) is a fascinating delve into the Lord of the Rings author J R R Tolkein’s time living in East Yorkshire during WW1; the area’s landscape and coastline is known to have inspired his writing.
- Families will love exploring Sewerby Hall & Gardens, with its dramatic clifftop position and spectacular views over Bridlington, rich history, woodland walks and delightful zoo featuring SikaSika Deer, Capuchin Monkeys and Raccoon Dogs, as well as the NEW Scarborough Ice Rink.
- Outdoors lovers will enjoy chilly coastal walks in the crisp winter air, taking in panoramic views, wonderful wildlife and tranquil moorland – particularly lovely stretches of the coast include the Ravenscar to Robin Hood’s Bay 11-mile circular route, following the old Scarborough-to-Whitby railway line and taking in wild Howdale Moor, and a linear walk from Runswick Bay which follows a section of the Cleveland Way National Trail, taking in captivating coastal views.
- Gourmands can refuel with tempting and warming food and drink, such as a White Biscoff Hot Chocolate from Ruby Soho in Bridlington, perhaps followed by Yorkshire’s very first whisky distillery – the Spirit of Yorkshire in Hunmanby – along with the Seaview Restaurant in Saltburn, which offers the very best fish and chips along with dramatic coastal views.
WHERE TO STAY: Try coastal glamping at the Little Otchan Shepherd’s Hut, based on a working farm near Bridlington, overlooking an idyllic pond surrounded by woodland, and featuring a wood-fired hot tub – from £70 per night, sleeping two guests. Visit www.englandscoast.com/en/explore-regions/yorkshire to research and book your trip.
North York Moors National Park (NYMNP)
Encompassing coast, moorland, forest and dale, the North York Moors is a special spot, promising plenty of opportunities to reconnect with nature this winter:
- Families will love the Moors National Parks Centre’s range of Christmas trails and events (13 November-16 January), perfect for young adventurers. Ages 3+ can help Merry Mouse find her presents before it’s too late on the Merry Mouse & the Lost Parcel Trail, those aged 7+ can help find clues to discover the missing words in the Christmas Word Hunt, and those of all ages will enjoy the Magical Woodland Journey, a storytelling adventure trail by lantern, where characters such as the Lady of the Landscape will share ancient tales of our connection with nature. Back at the centre, the Brigantia’s Bounty gift fair will host a range of craft products from 20 talented artisans.
- Astronomy enthusiasts will delight in the area’s famed Dark Skies – in December 2020, the NYMNP was designated an International Dark Sky Reserve, officially making it one of the best places in the country from which to see the stars and galaxies. Visit the Dark Sky Discovery Suites at the two National Park Centres, in Sutton Bank and Danby, and the Dalby Observatory in Dalby Forest, for some of the best views.
- Shoppers and foodies will enjoy the bustling market towns and villages dotted along the coast, with their charming stone-built architecture, chocolate-box houses, picturesque harbours and even wandering sheep! Arty Staithes is home to numerous art and craft galleries, studios and independent boutiques. The old smugglers’ haunt of Robin Hood’s Bay boasts secret passages and hiding places for exploring, breath-taking clifftop walks, and outstanding local food and drink, including the locally-produced real ale Baytown, artisan coffee roasters Baytown Coffee Company, and the sea-view Fish Box restaurant.
WHERE TO STAY: Robin Hood’s Bay Cottages offer a delightful range of cottage accommodation in the charming coastal town. The warm and cosy two-bedroomed Ballina Cottage is in the heart of lower Robin’s Hood Bay and features bright coastal décor, a log-burning stove, a cosy lounge with separate dining kitchen, and bathroom with roll-top bath. From £342 per night (sleeps four). Visit www.englandscoast.com/en/listing/north-york-moors-national-park to research and book your trip.
Robin Hood’s Bay – C: Mike Kipling, NYMNP
White Cliffs Country
White Cliffs Country is the heartland of Kent’s Heritage Coast AONB, the only UK destination to feature in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2022. The off-peak winter season is a beautiful time to visit, with iconic coastal and cliff views, plentiful hiking opportunities and vibrant culture and history to be enjoyed in Deal, Folkestone, Dover and Sandwich:
- Amblers and ramblers will enjoy a host of country and coastal walks, including colourful Kearsney Park, near Dover, sections of the North Downs Way National Trail and England Coast Path, and a NEW self-guided spooky trail around the locations of ghostly myths and legends around the region.
- History fans will delight in the stately home and former Tudor artillery fortress of Walmer Castle, perched right on the coastline near Deal, with gorgeous gardens to visit year-round. It was once home to the First Duke of Wellington – it even houses a pair of original ‘Wellington’ boots. Visitors can enjoy the area’s unique history brought to life through The History Project in Deal, The Scramble Experience at the Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel-le-Fern near Dover, and the Medieval Centre in Sandwich, complete with original authentic costumes, medieval crafts and a working forge and blacksmith.
- Lovers of seaside kitsch can visit iconic Deal Pier and enjoy a Knickerbocker Glory at a retro 1950s-style ice cream parlour, Deal Beach Parlour
- With the excitement of the latest Bond release, No Time to Die, movie buffs can explore Ian Fleming’s White Cliffs Country; the creator of the fictional spy once called St Margaret’s Bay home, and visitors can enjoy a guided tour of the 007 trail, having a drink at his favourite watering hole (also the closest pub to France), The Coastguard, and exploring Kingsdown, assumed to be the location where the Moonraker rocket was launched.
WHERE TO STAY: In Sandwich, the charming St Peter’s B&B is set in a 17th-century building and located in the conservation area of the historic town centre. From £95 per night (sleeping two). Visit www.englandscoast.com/en/explore-regions/south-east to research and book your trip.
Deal, White Cliffs Country
The Essex Coast
The 350 miles of Essex coastline is one of the longest shorelines in the country, as well as one of the most diverse, rich in wildlife and natural bounty. With its clifftop walks, art deco gems and iconic piers, and its saltmarshes and mudflats providing a home to thousands of wintering seabirds, winter is a starkly beautiful time to visit the Essex coast:
- Foodies with a penchant for hyper-local provenance will delight in a coastal foraging and cooking experience with the Foragers Retreat in Pebmarsh, a wonderful independently-run wild food restaurant and foraging school.
- Wildlife watchers will enjoy wrapping up warm and getting out on a crisp frosty morning to savour the spectacular nature and scenery. There are excellent opportunities along the coast for a spot of twitching, including Walton-on-the-Naze, where migrating birds like the Redstart and Wheateater can be spotted, while, at Leigh-on-Sea, Two Tree Island is a 259-hectare nature reserve adjacent to the Thames Estuary which offers winter refuge to a huge variety of winter wildfowl and waders, as well as local Southend conservation success story – the avocet, which was once extinct in the UK.
- Wine connoisseurs will be tempted by the array of vineyards near the coast, including New Hall Vineyard – one of the oldest in the country, which produces award-winning sparkling, whites, and reds, and which offers a picturesque trail through the vines, and Clayhill Vineyard, on the south-facing slopes of Crouch Vale, producing excellent Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with a delightful café overlooking the vines.
- In search of gentle exploration and natural beauty? Try the circular coastal walks, including a leisurely 3.5-mile stroll around Mersea Island, a family-friendly walk from Burnham-on-Crouch via the River Crouch and harbour, and a remote, quiet coastal walk around the Bradwell Cockle Spit Nature Reserve.
WHERE TO STAY: Crouch Ridge Vineyard has recently opened six new self-catering cottages (sleeping up to four), with modern open-plan kitchens, dining and lounge areas and stunning views across the vineyard and the River Crouch, a wildlife haven. From £250 per night. Visit www.englandscoast.com/en/explore-regions/east-coast to research and book your trip.
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Notes to editors: The England’s Coast project is delivered by the National Coastal Tourism Academy, whose partners include:
The Yorkshire Coast, Visit Scarborough, The North York Moors National Park Authority, Visit East Yorkshire, Visit Lancashire, Visit Cumbria, This is Durham, Visit Northumberland, Visit Essex, Visit Thanet, Dover/White Cliffs Country, Creative Coast Kent, Visit Brighton, Experience West Sussex, Visit Portsmouth, Discover Gosport, Visit Isle of Wight, Coast with the Most -Bournemouth/Christchurch/Poole, Somerset and Exmoor National Park – The Hinkley Tourism Action Partnership, and The Seafood Coast.