Huge Victorian villas, chi-chi seafront apartments and grand terraces – many clad in the distinctive white brick manufactured by the town’s founding father Henry Pease. He built the town 150 years ago after having an apparition of a heavenly city perched high above the cliffs. Today, the town remains pretty much unchanged – and the passionately proud community set up a Civic Society to help ensure its uniqueness survives intact.
City links aren’t its strong point but there are trains to Darlington twice an hour if you fancy hooking up with the East Coast Mainline. Far better to stay rural – half an hour by road to Whitby and in 10 minutes you can be in the heart of the North York Moors.
A great mix of funky, independent shops with Milton Street as the main focus. Try Northern Lights Interiors for a delightfully eclectic blend of retro/contemporary home goodies – from 18th century chandeliers to uber cool chairs from new furniture label Slap n Tickle. Next door in The Cave you’ll find fair traded quirky gifts and clothing. There’s jewellery to die for in Eliza’s and, at the other end of the street, Keith’s Sports is a mecca for the hunting, fishing and shooting brigade.
Moola in Dundas St West is a textile lovers’ paradise with gorgeous girly paraphernalia made from the prettiest fabrics around. Quirky country outfitters D.V. Townend does a great line in Burberry caps and bags. And, for food, don’t miss Real Meals – a great deli and caterers, and Chocolinis in Windsor Road for, well, everything chocolate.
Farmers Markets every second Saturday of the month are packed with stalls selling local produced organic meats, breads, cheeses and veg. Artists and craftspeople aplenty too.
Surfing is now so popular in the town that surf school/shop owners Nick and Zoee Noble are expanding their seafront base. And you might want to pop into Charlie Don’t Surf while you’re waveside for some amazing stunt kites.
Well, there are eight miles of wide, honeyed beaches for a start – the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s The Walrus and the Carpenter. Or if you’re feeling more energetic, stride up the majestic Hunt Cliff and join the Cleveland Way – 110 miles of stunning scenery that runs from Helmsley to Filey. On a fine day you will not walk alone.
For a spot of old fashioned promenading, the Valley Gardens is hard to beat. Woodland walks, colourful Italian gardens, a woodland centre and tea lawn and café. From here cross the Pooh Sticks bridge and catch the miniature train all the way down to the sea.
Or to really blow the cobwebs away, a stroll along the Pier – named 2009 Pier of the Year – followed by fish and chips at the Sea View takeaway or recently opened restaurant is hard to beat. Catch it at dusk when the pier and cliff lift are gently and quite magically illuminated.
Fine dining at the King’s Grill in Milton Street. Start with a cocktail in adjoining sister café Rapps before moving onto the very best local produce served up with a sophisticated contemporary twist. Great Sunday lunches too.
Camfields Café. Beachfront café with brilliant smoothies, snacks and light meals. Cosy up in one of the complementary blankets and tuck into the best hot chocolate you’ve ever tasted.
Alessis in Dundas Street. Friendly Italian that’s a favourite with families. Pizzas, pastas and plenty of specials if you want to push the boat out.
Vista Mar. Blue clapboard exterior, broad terraces suspended above the beach and the best views in town. Contemporary British food with a firm emphasis on fish.
MY LOCAL >>
Carmel Ramsay of Middlesbrough-based music and comedy promoters Ten Feet Tall moved to Saltburn eleven years ago and can’t imagine living anywhere else.
THREE GOOD THINGS ABOUT LIVING HERE>>
- Hunt Cliff. Always a magnificent sight, but at sunset – when the light hits it – the contours and gullies flush an extraordinary luminescent orange. Photographers flock for miles to capture the spectacle.
- The beach. This area is dubbed the Jurassic Coast which means that as well as being great for sandcastles and rock pooling, it’s also brilliant for fossil hunting. When the tide is at its lowest you can even see the fossil of an ichthyosaur – a fish-like reptile that swam the seas more than 200 million years ago.
- The on-your-doorstep quality of it all. Everything you need – from train station to school and surfing to gourmet restaurants right on your doorstep.
THREE PLACES TO TAKE VISITORS >>
- ArtsBank. An eagerly awaited brand new arts centre that opens its doors on April 2 in a former bank building in Milton Street. Four floors of exhibition space, a 15 seater arthouse cinema showing daily films, events, music, theatre, talks, and classes. Don’t miss Saltburn Artists Gallery too on the main road into the town.
- The cliff lift. The oldest water balanced cliff lift glides gracefully between the top of the town and the lower promenade. Great fun for all ages – as well as being a big help transporting children, buckets, spades and picnic baskets after a day on the beach! That bank can get a bit steep sometimes.
- The Ship Inn. Nestling at the foot of Hunt Cliff, this 15th century inn is just the perfect place for an al fresco glass of wine on a summer’s evening. Steps down to the beach mean the children can play safely while you watch the surfers ride those waves.
AN IN THE KNOW SECRET>>
The Saturday morning tabletop sales. The Methodist Church in Milton Street and the Emmanuel Church on Windsor Road (look out for Bertie the sheep grazing in the grounds) are packed full of vintage bric a brac and collectibles. And if you’re looking for specialist antiques, Saltburn Auction Rooms in Diamond Street with viewing every Saturday morning is unbeatable.