Linda Harrison rediscovers the joys of a bucket and spade weekend at Appletree Cottage Sandsend on the North Yorkshire coast
I spent many childhood day trips building sand castles among the deck chairs at Sandsend.
Just a couple of miles down the coast from Whitby, this pretty seaside village was a throwback to gentler times, even then.
Sandsend is still unspoilt. Most people come here for the child-friendly beach, the beautiful village and the craggy clifftop walks on the Cleveland Way
More bucket and spade than amusement arcades, my brother and I spent happy family days rock-pooling and paddling, fuelled by ice cream.
Four decades on, I still love the traditional British seaside holiday – even with the inclement weather the North Yorkshire coastline can throw at you.
So it was with great excitement that I arranged a weekend family stay, with my husband, Karl, and our three-year-old son, Harry, at Appletree Cottage, just a few steps from Sandsend’s long sandy beach.
Sandsend is still unspoilt. There is no high street chain, supermarket or stag do in sight. And the arcades are still wonderfully absent. Most people come here for the child-friendly beach, the beautiful village that runs along the river inland and the craggy clifftop walks (it’s on the Cleveland Way).
Arranged through Gorgeous Cottages – specialists in luxury holiday cottages in Yorkshire – Appletree Cottage is tucked away behind the main promenade, up some very worn stone steps.
We were greeted at the front door with a big smile by the owner, Sue, who lives next door.
While Appletree Cottage is hidden in one of the ancient side streets, the property is modern and newly renovated. It’s bright, contemporary, spacious and relaxing; perfect for a quiet seaside break.
We entered via the large open plan kitchen and living room area. There was a hamper with fresh bread, scones, jam and eggs, plus milk and butter in the fridge – Sue had even unpacked our online delivery (the nearest supermarket is in Whitby).
The living/dining room, with comfy sofa, chairs and dining table, leads to patio doors, then on to the tiered patio area and garden complete with sea views over to Whitby.
Back inside, Harry was well catered for, with toys, games, crockery and cutlery. There’s also a high chair and travel cot.
On the first floor, there are two comfy double bedrooms, one with a big window overlooking the garden, plus a modern bathroom.
But the best was yet to come. On the second floor we found the light, spacious master bedroom with en-suite shower room and a sea view via the skylight over the bed – this stretch of coastline is spectacular.
The beauty of Appletree Cottage is that it’s a little oasis of calm but you’re only a stone’s throw from the beach.
We soon went out exploring. The tide was out and Harry loved the freedom of running along the beach with bare feet. We screamed as we dipped our toes into the bracing North Sea, then went shell hunting before heading back to the cottage with sand between our toes.
Harry snoozing soundly, we spent the evening on the sofa with pasta and a bottle of red, marveling at the clear sky and moonlight, and slept in the attic bedroom to the sound of the waves. Heaven.
The next morning, we headed back to the beach and then strolled inland to try the cafes and pubs.
The Bridge Cottage Bistro was an amazing find in such a small village. Fantastic food served in a pretty garden. They make a mean bacon butty and toasted sandwich – apparently the owner makes the sourdough fresh every day. Possibly the best bread we’ve ever tasted.
As we munched our way through, a man hauled a basket of local crabs up the path and into the kitchen – you can’t get much fresher or more local than that. The coffee’s also excellent. The fishy evening menu chalked up on boards inside the little whitewashed cottage restaurant had us promising to return.
The afternoon was spent pottering along the river, around the chocolate box cottages in the village. A group of ducklings decided to waddle after us. We even gatecrashed a wedding. As the new bride and groom emerged from the tiny village church for photos, I couldn’t think of a more beautiful place to get married on a sunny spring Saturday.
When we finally wandered back along the seafront to Appletree Cottage – ice cream in hand – I felt incredibly relaxed. Another night of food and wine in our little seaside bolthole awaited.
There’s something about sleeping under the stars (via the skylight – there is a blackout blind fitted) with the sound of the sea that’s incredibly soothing.
On our final morning we were so sad to say goodbye to Appletree Cottage. We’ll definitely be back.
How to get to Appletree Cottage Sandsend without flying:
By car, head to Whitby and the A171. Follow the signs for the A174. Sandsend is about three miles north on the coastal road. Parking for Appletree Cottage is on the seafront (the steps to the property lead up from the seafront next to the Old Post Office).
Regular trains run to Whitby via Middlesborough – you can then continue to Sandsend by taxi.
Words: Linda Harrison for Feet on the Ground
Pictures: Gorgeous Cottages/Linda Harrison