Bridlington has been dubbed the lobster capital of Europe. GRANT DAVIES discovers why this harbour town is so attractive for a family staycation.

Centred on its harbour, Bridlington is a popular seaside resort. It is located on the Holderness coast which stretches from Flamborough Head in the north, about six miles from Bridlington, to Spurn Point in the south. The area of Bridlington has been occupied since before the time of the Romans and is mentioned in The Domesday Book.

William the Conqueror gave the manor of Bridlington to Gilbert de Gaunt. Gilbert’s son Walter inherited the land and built a priory around which the settlement of Bridlington grew. Nearby was another settlement, the Quay, which was a fishing port.

From the early 19th century, Bridlington was gaining popularity as a resort for bathing in the sea. Its first hotel opened in 1805. The Railway Station started operating in 1846, making Bridlington much more accessible for the workers of west Yorkshire. This led to the merger of Bridlington and The Quay into one town and Bridlington becoming a popular seaside town.

I arrived at Bridlington driving along the A614, using my navigation to head for Flamborough Road Car Park which is just by The Beaconsfield pub. There is also a car park right by the harbour, which fills quickly and is slightly more expensive, although the part owned by the Harbour Commission allows overnight parking for just £1. Or, you could choose Bridlington park and ride.

I walked with my family along the sea front enjoying the view of Flamborough Cliffs and Bridlington Bay. A warm gentle breeze blew refreshingly in the sunshine. We passed the East Riding Leisure Centre and the Bayside Fun Park and took to the road on Regent Terrace to the Prior John restaurant. Service was friendly and we had the traditional breakfast.

Satisfied, we walked by the sea wall to the harbour, passing the Bayside Fun Park and Jerome’s Pavilion restaurant and bar. This is right on the sea front, with outdoor seating up to just a few metres from the sea wall. There is wheelchair access and a choice of pizza, burgers, grills, salads, desserts and a children’s menu. They have both non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks.

Continuing our walk, we came to the Promenade Amusement Park where my boy played. Afterwards, we arrived at the harbour, which is a centre of activity for Bridlington and has been a fishing port for centuries. The catch of lobsters here has been the largest in Europe. This led to Bridlington being called the ‘Lobster Capital of Europe’. You can enjoy locally caught lobster at The Salt on the Harbour hotel and restaurant. This overlooks the harbour with the car park right next to it.

This working harbour has going on for 100 businesses based there. You have a choice of leisure boats, such as the popular Yorkshire Belle, pirate ship, speedboats and a choice of eateries and gift shops. The Harbour Heritage Museum offers a history of the harbour, fishing techniques and a changing presentation for Bridlington’s history. The main exhibit is the 1912 coble which is moored in the harbour.

We sat near the north pier enjoying all the activity. The tide was nearly fully in. We watched the Yorkshire Belle returning. I took my family for the next cruise to Bempton Cliffs. Soon, we were setting out to sea. As the weather was calm, sailing was quite gentle. We saw a couple of large ships the horizon. We watched as the harbour faded into the distance. Looking ahead, we could see Flamborough Head getting closer and closer. The skipper’s commentary explained the cliffs and stories of smuggling.

As we made our approach to Bempton Cliffs, a nature reserve owned by the RSPB, the boat was slowed down and stopped so we could take in the breathtaking view of the 400ft cliffs and the largest seabird colony in mainland England, with over half a million seabirds gathering in the spring and summer. It was just amazing to watch the gannets plunge into the sea to feed, the largest coastal bird in Britain, having a six-foot wing span.

We headed back to the harbour retaining unforgettable memories of a wonder of nature. Back on land, we bought fish and chips from North Bay Fisheries and sat to enjoy. But beware! The herring gulls were taking interest in our food and we had to shield it from their gaze to prevent them from swooping down to take their share!

Then, time to browse the gift shops. We bought a small basket of seashells and a couple of larger specimens from the shell shop and a bucket and spade for my boy to play on the beach. The north beach has won Blue Flag awards. Before going back to our accommodation at Mowbray Apartments, we enjoyed lattes and cream cake at Jerome’s. Our apartment was close by with a sea view.

The following day was bright and sunny. We had breakfast in our apartment before going for a leisurely walk on the north beach while the tide was out. We waited a short time to catch the land train outside the East Riding Leisure Centre so my family could enjoy the ride along the top of the cliffs going to Sewerby Hall and Gardens. You can visit just the zoo or pay for entry into the house as well.

The zoo is great for families, with pygmy goats, Taiwanese sika deer, Eclectus parrot, humbolt penguins and more. The house is a grade I listed 18th century building originally owned by the wealthy Greame family. It was sold to Bridlington Corporation in 1934 and opened to the public in 1936 by Hull-born Amy Johnson, the first woman to fly solo from London to Australia. Displays include magnificent furnishings from the Victoria and Albert Museums.

Flamborough Lighthouse is about four miles from Sewerby Hall. Accessible by car, there is a visitor centre and guided tours in the lighthouse, but check the website for opening times. You can to get to the beach down some steps from the cliff top, but be careful of the tide coming in.

We returned to Bridlington by the land train and ventured past the harbour to have a walk and play on the south beach. Nearby is The Spa where many top names in the music scene have performed, such as Madness, Kasabian and Oasis. The Spa also acts as an event and conference centre.

Finally, we get in our car and head out of Bridlington, but before we finally leave, we get a happy meal for my boy at McDonalds. What a lovely family staycation!


This is located about a mile south of the harbour. There are 1,000 parking bays including 50 for disabled parking. There are toilets and two cafes. The bus service runs every half an hour from 9.30am until evening.

One route takes you to the harbour top and the other to East Riding Leisure Centre. There are no intermediate pick up points. Alternatively, enjoy the beach right by the park and ride. One ticket covers five people. It closes for the winter.


Bridlington’s economy is based on tourism and fishing. In 2019, 311 tonnes of lobster were caught, 2,669 tonnes of crab and 572 tonnes of whelk. The value of this came to £10million. The catch of lobster alone exceeds that of anywhere else in Europe.

Some 90 per cent of the catch is exported to Europe, the Far East and the United Arab Emirates. There is a project to increase tourism in Bridlington by encouraging local businesses to sell locally caught lobster.


The popular Yorkshire Belle was built in Beverley and launched on May 22, 1947, soon afterwards starting service in Bridlington for public pleasure cruises. She can carry 198 seated passengers, the roofed section capable of holding 100.

She is number 440 in the National Register of Historic Ships. Cruises vary in length from one hour to three. There are toilets and a saloon below deck. Some people have been lucky enough to see dolphins, sharks or even whales.