Staithes derives its name from the word staithe the literal interpretation of which is "landing place". In conversation locals refer to the village as "Steers" so be aware of this if asking for directions.
With a view of the harbour forming a backdrop, cast your eyes over the splendid sight you behold. Perched on the northerly headland of Cowbar Nab like precarious birds nests high on the cliffs is the of a small collection of cottages forming the hamlet of Cowbar, clinging to the southerly headland of Penny Nab as if for dear life, is the main village of Staithes.
Staithes has all the charm of a place lost in time, this small North Yorkshire fishing village gives the appearance of having grown out of the cliffs, the villages of Staithes and Cowbar are divided in two by staithes beck, a small river that has carved a route from the moors to the sea.
Having left your car in the public carpark at the top of the cliff a walk down a steep bank takes you through cobbled streets to the harbour at the bottom.
Now a peaceful village this once bustling community of some 1000 inhabitants who earned their living from the sea. Amenities available provide the basics for visitors and tourists alike and include, public houses, a public car park, restaurants, cafes, shops, places of worship, (St Peter C of E and Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church), village hall, post office, post box, public toilets, and a museum.
The prefix of the Post Code for Staithes is TS13-5.
Many say that Staithes is the main beauty spots on the North East coast, so make sure that you take your camera with you.
Remember to have a fresh film for your camera as every turn of the road seems to warrant a click of the shutter. Even when the weather has taken a turn for the worst, the sight of the sea crashing over the outer harbour wall makes the walk worthwhile.
Moored in the safety of the harbour you will normally find a small fleet of brightly painted Whitby Cobles, the traditional fishing vessel of this coast, used by local fishermen to catch Whitby cod, lobsters and crabs. The area is renowned for the culinary delight of a fresh Crab salad sandwich. The local fishermen sometimes organise fishing parties for sea anglers, if interested it is best to enquire at the harbour for details.
The sandy beach and rock pools of the foreshore make this a wonderful place for children and adults to explore, many fossils have been found in the area including those of Fossil Marine Reptiles so keep your eyes open. As always beware of the danger of being caught by the tides and cliff erosion while you make your visit one to remember.
During the late 19th century the railway came to Staithes and with it came the first wave of visitors. Because of its natural beauty and spectacular scenery it soon became a popular haunt of Artists, with a resident community establishing themselves in the village, and became known as the "Staithes Group". Although the community of artists has long since disbanded, Staithes is still as popular and as you explore the area you may often find an artist at work.
The year was 1745 when at the age of 16 James Cook came to live in Staithes to work for a local merchant William Sanderson, it was during this time that he must have aquired his love of the sea and desire to sail for distant horizons. Captain James Cook as he was later to be known made many voyages of discovery in his ship the Endeavour.
Worthy of a visit and reached by crossing a foot bridge, the Staithes lifeboat station on the North side of the river is open to the public and has details of the heroic actions of the local crew.
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