It’s said that in Sandsend, locals are unfazed if they come across Hollywood royalty – and even British royalty – when they’re nipping out for a morning latte at the Wits End café overlooking the dog-friendly beach.
Actress Uma Thurman, super-model Elle McPherson (she’s reported to enjoy the shooting) and even the Duchess of Kent, who is apparently often to be found in ‘The Valley’, the grandest part of a tiny village which has leapt up several dizzying social notches in the last 10 years to become one of the smartest seaside locations in Yorkshire.
“Sandsend has to be one of the jewels in the crown of the Yorkshire coast,” says Edward Hartshorne, managing director of north Yorkshire estate agency Blenkin & Co. “It’s a small former fishing village with limited housing stock. With rolling golden sandy beaches, it attracts families and influencers alike.”
Even though Whitby is just three miles away, and so popular it is now contemplating limits on new second homes, Sandsend is streaking ahead, says Sam Hunter, co-founder and chief operating officer at leading property data and insight platform, Homesearch.
It has its own little micro-climate, he believes: “Average property prices have seen steady year-on-year growth in Whitby over the last 10 years. Sandsend was following a similar trajectory, albeit prices were around £150,000 more year-on-year compared to Whitby.Then in 2019, average year-on-year sale values in Sandsend suddenly rocketed in relation to Whitby. That year they had increased to an all-time high of £522,833 in Sandsend and despite falling 9 per cent to £477,600 in 2020, they then leapt 65 per cent to a whopping £786,666 in 2021.
“When you compare with Whitby over the same time period, you can see how Sandsend has pulled away in price. Average UK house prices in 2020 were £251,510 (47 per cent lower than in Sandsend) in Whitby, and £267,294 (66 per cent lower than in Sandsend) in 2021 – highlighting the gulf that has emerged in the last three to four years.”
There’s certainly an eclectic range of property in Sandsend, including an award-winning contemporary 4,000 sqft live/work duplex with stunning views of Sandsend Ness, designed in 2017 by Malton-based architect Ric Blenkharn.
But for the most part, it’s a curious mixture of substantial Edwardian family-size houses, such as Ellerton, a four-bedroomed semi-detached on Meadowfields, on the market for £675,000 with Richardson & Smith, currently used as a holiday let, and a very limited amount of new-builds, such as on the nearby Raithwaite.
Estate, detached houses including villas such as Thorsida House on East Row, sold for £1.2m in February 2021, while cottages sold for between £400,000 and £700,000 in 2019, even before the pandemic. Detached properties on the outlying clifftops and surrounding countryside, such as Hillside, a three-bedroomed farmhouse on the market for £900,000.
One of the biggest challenges for anyone hoping to buy into the cachet of Sandsend is an acute shortage of stock; properties do not come onto the market often, and when they do, there is often a bidding frenzy, and limited new development means that it retains its charm.
“Hillside is particularly special as it is on its own with no near neighbours, but a short stroll into Sandsend and the beautiful beach, about 10 to 15 minutes,” says Edward Hartshorne. “Properties like this very rarely come up as they tend to stay in families for generations – as well as often being owned by estates or sometimes part of a larger farm.”
Sandsend is a personal North Yorkshire favourite of Edward himself, who has been walking along the beach from Whitby’s West Side at low tide – with fish and chips and the bus back – since childhood.
It has a way of weaving a magic spell, agrees Hillside owner, Bridget Bourn, 59, an architect and designer, who planned to retire here until her two adult daughters, Hannah and Charlotte, decided to base themselves on the South Coast and London. “I am really going to miss this place. It’s just too far away for everyone to get together now,” she says.
“We’ve had so many happy family memories made here. We’ve owned the house for about 15 years. I first came across Sandsend when I stayed at Dunsley Hall, a country house hotel nearby. Sandsend has certainly changed a lot in 10 years, but it’s still so beautiful.”
Her daughters, who are in their twenties, have both been inspired by growing up beside the Yorkshire coast; Charlotte is an artist, and Hannah a jewellery-maker who makes pieces using coast-found items such as shells, pebbles and seaweed as inspiration.
Bridget, who has been renovating a house in France with her partner Rowan, lives in Lincolnshire and says it is a shame that her lovely Sandsend property should be left empty for long periods of time; this has prompted her to sell.
She hopes that a family will consider making Hillside their full-time, year-round home. “There is so much potential with the house,” she says. “My only regret is that I haven’t had chance to do it. For example, there is a second garage which could be converted into a work from home space by installing double doors.”
The dog-friendly beach and local cafes have always been very popular with Bridget’s pooch, Ginny and Bridget says: “It’s not just the coast, it’s a bit of everything. You couldn’t get a more perfect spot.”
*Originally two hamlets – Sandsend and East Row – the settlements joined up when further cottages were built for workers in the nearby alum industry from the 18 th century onwards.
Sandsend was put on the map when the Whitby, Redcar and Middlesbrough Union Railway opened. Trains ran through the village from 1855 to 1958.
In Victorian and Edwardian times, it became a popular place for families from the West Riding to have a second home.