Captain Cook and a cuppa in Staithes, North Yorkshire

I must have gone through Staithes when I walked the Cleveland Way as a teenager, but I was probably so footsore and weary by then that I have no recollection and it felt completely new to me when I revisited recently on the FancyaCuppa? tour of North Yorkshire.

Staithes harbour

It’s actually a delightful little fishing village tucked into the cliffs, rather like the more famous Robin Hoods Bay just down the coast but both of us found it far more charming and welcoming than its rather touristy neighbour.

Captain Cook's teenage home - Staithes

Staithes is very much part of the Captain Cook trail and they don’t want you to forget that as you drive along the main road nearby. This was the village a skinny 16 year old Cook came to for his first job in a grocer’s store down by the harbour before he went to sea. The actual building was washed away in a storm some years ago – before they built the current harbour defences – but Captain Cook’s ‘Cottage’ stands now on the same spot…

Sea Drift Cafe in Staithes

It’s not far from there that we found the rather nice Sea Drift Café. A great place for a cuppa looking out over the harbour in Staithes, Sea Drift get their coffee from Bollings, the company that also makes Grumpy Mule, so it’s a decent brew, with a great aspect, and they do really wonderful cakes in here.

Coffee and cake at Sea Drift Cafe in Staithes

Speciality of the house is a creation called the Staithes Coble Cake. It’s an old family recipe consisting of apricot, walnut, apple and cinnamon; it’s delicious warmed and served with cream. A real treat on a cold morning.

Some bits of Staithes probably haven’t changed much since Cook’s early days here…

The shoreline at Staithes

…but I’m sure the whole village is grateful they built such sturdy sea defences a few years ago. The waves were lapping up against one wall at low tide the day we walked along the coast here, so the village did well to survive those storm surges of recent weeks.

No such worries for our chosen tea room in Staithes. The Tea Shop is right back up at the top of the village (so ideal if your mobility is not so good and the steep walk down to the harbour is daunting).

The Tea Shop in Staithes, North Yorkshire

It’s surely one of the simplest tea rooms we have visited in all the years of FancyaCuppa? review-writing. It’s basically a one-room chalet, with kitchen at the back looking out over what used to be the local railway viaduct. But it’s really cosy inside and extremely friendly. It’s also been around for a surprisingly long time: we were shown a wedding invitation dating from 1952, with the happy couple celebrating their big day with tea at this very tea room after the ceremony!

Tea and cake at the Tea Shop in Staithes

Owners Angela and Lou bake all the cakes on-site, using produce from an uncle’s garden when it’s in season. There was a great selection on the day we were there, with a steaming pot of Yorkshire Tea to wash them all down. A really nice experience overall.

There’s something wonderful about old villages like Staithes. There’s probably a few more holiday cottages than there were in Captain Cook’s day, and there’s a nice little community of artists living there now. But so much of it feels like it hasn’t changed for years.

World War One camp at Staithes in North Yorkshire

There’s even an old World War One army camp up at the top of the cliff by the car park. Used for holiday chalets these days, mainly, though surely also a good potential film set for any period pieces, and when we were there last month, the whole site seemed to be up for sale. I do hope whoever buys it doesn’t change things too much round here…


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5 Responses to Captain Cook and a cuppa in Staithes, North Yorkshire

  1. I live in BC Canada, but originate from Middlesbrough, England. Every couple of years we go to the North East to visit our family. It is tradition to drive to Staithes where my lovely sister Susan treats me to tea and Cobble Cake at the Sea Drift Café. We also search the streets and buildings to search out where our ancestors once lived. Staithes is indeed a beautiful place. The proprietors of the cafe are very friendly, though when asked for the recipe, it was gently explained to us that it was a secret family recipe.

    • admin_facblog says:

      Thanks Sandy. I rather like the fact that it’s a secret family recipe (as long as it keeps being passed down the generations and does not get lost that way). I just hope the café survived the terrible floods that hit the village recently; I’ve not heard from anyone actually in Staithes for a while so am hoping to hear good news on that front

      • Liz Griffiths says:

        We were there on Friday and called into the Sea Drift for coffee, I wasn’t going to eat but when I saw the coble cake I just had to try it, can honestly say its the best cake I have ever eaten

  2. angela says:

    I was there a few weeks age the ladies are missing a marketing idea sell the recipe £5 each

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