It would seem that no part of the North Yorkshire Coast has been unaffected by the huge influx of tourists.
While historically tourist-friendly spots like Whitby, Robin Hood’s Bay and Staithes have somewhat unsurprisingly felt the effects of the sudden post-Covid tsunami of visitors, even those lesser-known places have felt the charge. A case in point is Cayton Bay, which is nestled in between Scarborough and Filey, where the unique layout of the area’s seaside, by-coastal and inland spots have felt it to differing degrees.
While other areas have expressed frustration at house prices going through the roof and the subsequent impact it has on the community when they are snapped up as second homes or holiday lets rather than by the young locals, Cayton Bay’s gripes come from elsewhere, Yorkshire Live reports.
The more rural area has become awash with parks for caravans, motorhomes and static homes, locals say, which has resulted in issues with litter and disturbance. The fact that the beach is one of the region’s only dog-friendly places year-round also means there are a few too many encounters with dog poo.
The huge increase of visitors and the disturbance it is causing has even led one couple who had built their dream home by the stunning Cayton Bay beach during lockdown to sell up and move somewhere quieter.
But interestingly, the annoyances aren’t felt village-wide and it took me quite some time to uncover them when I visited for the first time earlier this week. The actual village of Cayton is about a mile away from the bay area and feels like another world, with the traditional parish surrounded by sprawling green fields, feeling more like it’s in rural Yorkshire or Staffordshire than by the coast.
The residents also appeared to have a more laissez-faire attitude towards life and the adjoining campervan sites, with my inquiries as to whether there were any issues to residents, shopkeepers and staff at the impressive Farrier restaurant mostly garnering a muted response.
As I walked along the scenic route towards the bay area I stopped off to chat to four friends – two of whom live in Cayton – who had just driven back from a game of tennis and were full of praise for the village. Melissa and Rowena, originally from the Philippines, described a nice, quiet location with an idyllic balance of nature and community.
Melissa acknowledged that the tourists at the campervan sites brought some disruption, but “we can’t do anything about it and we are happy here”. She said: “You will get lots of people walking from the village to the beach – even when it’s cold – but it brings revenue to the businesses so it’s fine by me.”
After being denied a chat with someone from one of the caravan parks, I found a drastically different take on events in the next strand of the village closer to the bay. Two residents who had lived there for decades raised a plethora of frustrations with the vast number of visitors that come and take over the area during the sunnier days.
One of the men said: “I’ve been cycling on the beach this morning but you have to get there before 10 o’clock if you want to avoid the visitors and dog s ***.
“I’ve been here quite a long time and I have seen it change. The people come from their static caravans and walk their dogs down and you get them looking into our gardens. You’d think they live here the way they stare at your drive and look in your windows. “
He said that the number static homes and spaces for campervans had surged dramatically in recent years, while there was a need for more residential properties in the area for young people.
He said: “They are making a fortune from building tons of static caravans. There must have been 40 built in the last six months.
“When I first came it was a nice quiet area. I still go down to the beach first thing and it’s magical. But if you were to fly a plane over this place you would be staggered at how many static homes and campervans there are. “
The other man, who also didn’t want to be identified, was still enamored with the location decades after moving and made the most of it by going sailing and walking in the countryside. “It’s a different place now though”, he said.
He said that when he moved in 1984 there was a campervan park run by a local resident but that there wasn’t a huge number of visitors and they would often engage with villagers to control any disturbances.
“It’s overwhelming now”, he said. “Purely for the amount of caravans.
“A lot of people are fine because they just come and go but it’s noticeable when there’s an increase of litter, traffic and noise. And I think the general feeling is that the caravan parks here now don’t seem to give anything back to the community. “
He said that aside from the caravans, the small community in Cayton was strong and “everyone gets on really well” and there were no issues with houses being purchased and turned into holiday homes. He said: “It’s still a nice place. The coastline is beautiful and there’s loads of wildlife around and there are some places you can go and you won’t find anyone.
“When the weather’s right you feel like you could be anywhere in the world.”
I continued my venture down to the stunning Cayton Bay beach, where a handful of surfers and dog walkers were making the most of the spacious surroundings. It was here though that I came across what was probably the most damning insight into how tourists have impacted people’s lives.
I noticed a stunning new build property where Richard and Lucy Haxby were looking after their granddaughter while cooking along to some smooth jazz music. What should have been a picture of paradise was undercut by a sense of disaffection with the area when I asked them to talk about life on the coast.
The couple explained that they had knocked down the house they moved into eight years ago and built the striking property during lockdown, but the recent bombardment of tourists from the campsites, as well as daytrippers and those in motorhomes who park nearby, had made life unbearable .
So bad in fact, that they have already found another home in a quieter spot in Filey and are on the verge of selling their current place. Lucy, who owns a shop on the seafront, said: “The actual living here and the views and being able to walk on the beach and go fishing is fantastic but the rest is a nightmare. I’ve got the business here but I think if I stay here all the time any longer it will drive me mad.
“There’s more surfers. More caravans. They park on this private road. It’s getting out of hand.”
Richard said that he has had enough of the constant stream of people walking and skateboarding past the house, saying: “We are sick of it.”
On the upside for the Haxbys, the increase of interest in the location has seen property prices increase, with them and others I spoke to quoting a 10 percent increase in the past year. The couple said they have found a buyer who wants to turn it into a second home and they think other houses that go up for sale may follow suit.
Lucy said: “I’m sad really. It’s a lovely place to live and in winter it’s great but it just stresses me that that it’s just constant people driving in your drive. When we moved eight years ago it was nice and chilled but now it’s chaotic. “