Village focus: Coastal gem of Sandsend

SET in the cluster that includes Whitby, Staithes and Robin Hood's '¨Bay, it is one of the smaller jewels on the Yorkshire coast, but one of the most valuable.

Cottages on the Mulgrove Estate, Sandsend. 
Picture by Gerard Binks
Cottages on the Mulgrove Estate, Sandsend. Picture by Gerard Binks

Its value, in fact, can be measured by its property prices, for Sandsend and the surrounding valley is one of the most expensive places in the area in which to plant roots.

Just three miles – a leisurely hour’s walk – separates the village from Whitby’s West Cliff. Tourists making the trip, and there are plenty, are rewarded by a long, sandy beach, rockpools and, of course, the incomparable view.

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Just up the coast, at Staithes, that view has been a bone of contention for the last year and a half, with an application to erect a 40ft mobile phone mast in the grounds of the local athletic club now likely to go ahead, despite objections from more than 70 of the locals.

It would, they said, split in two the unspoilt panorama. But that’s not the half of it.

“The entire community is divided by it,” said John Nock, one of two representatives for the ward on Scarborough Borough Council. “It’s really tearing people apart.”

Some of those most affected by the mast say the value of their properties will fall by as much as £20,000.

Coun Nock campaigned against it, but he acknowledged that the National Park Authority for the North York Moors had little choice but to grant permission, given the Government agenda on rolling out digital communications.

Given what Coun Nock says is “essentially a fragile coastal economy”, it has been an unhelpful distraction from the full-time job of nurturing tourism in Sandsend and the surrounding coastline.

Finding visitors isn’t a problem, and in the peak season – which now extends to Blues and Film festivals, Goths and Steampunks almost right across the calendar, there is hardly a B&B room to be had.

“Tourism is really important for everyone in the borough. People want to stay in Whitby itself for the Goth-type events, but they find that if they don’t book early they will be looking to Sandsend, and they will soon fill up here,” Coun Nock said.

It’s not only guest houses that are in demand; the adjoining Mulgrave Estate, built around the baronial home of the Phipps family, is a deucedly up-market choice, especially for shooting parties – though the current pheasant season will be the last there. The estate is said to boast two of the most spectacular drives in the country – but, said Coun Nock, “you have to be a very good shot”.

The estate and the village have enjoyed a good relationship. “They’re very benign,” he added. “Nobody is in anyone’s pocket, but they do what they can and what is necessary for the parishes that back onto their land.”