Enjoying a slice of village life

What was once Britain’s most famous holiday camp has now been given a new lease of life as a modern holiday village. Neil Hudson went to the east coast of Yorkshire to check it out.

There was a time when Yorkshire’s east coast was possibly one of the most exciting holiday destinations around, even on a wet weekend. Then, there was a time when it wasn’t. Now, thankfully, some enterprising people have taken what used to be the country’s most famous holiday camp, Butlin’s, and turned it into a modern-day holiday village by the sea.

The 150-acre site is no small investment too, given they reckon some £120m will have been pumped into the area by the time the project is complete. If location is everything, then The Bay is at the top of the pile.

The Bay development is conveniently sandwiched between Reighton Sands and Primrose Valley on the A165 but there’s not a tent or caravan in sight. In fact, all of The Bay’s lodgings – there will be just under 600 when complete – are solid bricks and mortar, organised neatly into a quaint, landscaped village, complete with on-site facilities and surprisingly good pub.

Cliches aside, there’s something timeless, peaceful and calming about the east coast towns and villages which you can’t get anywhere else.

Neil Hudson / JournalistYorkshire Post


You really couldn’t ask for more. Each of the houses at The Bay have everything you need for a short or medium-term break, including all the usual mod-cons of freeview TV, DVD player and radio. In the kitchen, you will find a four-hob cooker, dishwasher, washer/dryer and microwave, not the mention a full set of kitchenware.

The cottage we stayed in had two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs, with separate toilet downstairs. There was even a baby high chair in the cubby hole under the stairs, together with vacuum (should you have any spillages – and those with children will know it’s more or less a certainty) and ironing board. The cottage itself is private, quiet and snug. It’s a home from home. is.

Perhaps one of the plus points of places like this is that once you have arrived and all your clothes are packed away (or simply chucked in the spare room, as we did), the only thing left to do is to uncork a bottle of wine, sit back and relax. If you fancy a walk out, the beach is a stone’s throw away and there’s nothing like a bit of sea air to invigorate you. There are plenty of facilities at The Bay, too, not least of which is the John Paul Jones pub, which is cosy and warm and full of character. It has a range of beers, including several cask ales, not to mention a good wine list and the food is top notch too. Staff are friendly and polite and there’s a real ‘local pub’ atmosphere in there, which is perhaps not what you would expect on a holiday resort. The Bay is vying to become the UK’s premier coastal holiday village and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t, especially given where it

Our stay at The Bay, which included myself, my partner and our one-year-old son, was for two nights in March. If was nice to have the comfort of four walls and central heating, especially as the weather was still a little on the cool side. While Yorkshire’s east coast has been much derided in some quarters, the signs are it is enjoying a slow resurgence in popularity and developments like The Bay are an example of the kind of confidence investors have in the area’s future.

Predictions suggest that once completed The Bay will generate in excess of £5m of additional annual income for the local economy. The build-quality of the houses is high and bricks and mortar provide a welcome alternative to staying in a tent or caravan. It is also heartening to see an area once famous for its ‘fun and sun’ holiday camp being given a new lease of life.

Yorkshire’s east coast has much to offer in terms of outdoor activities and tourism. If it’s hustle and bustle you want, Filey and Scarborough are just a short car drive away and offer a superb choice of theatres, cinemas, clubs, bars and restaurants.

Maritime Whitby has close links with Captain Cook and, of course, Dracula author Bram Stoker. The town also has a range of specialist arts and crafts shops selling jewellery made from the famous Whitby jet, which can be found by any beachcomber with a keen eye.

If it’s history you want, then take a trip to Whitby Abbey, perched high above the town. Another draw for the east coast are the Blue Flag beaches, among then Bridlington North and South Beaches, Hornsea Beach, Withernsea Beach, Filey Beach, Scarborough North Bay and Whitby West Cliff Beach. To the south is Spurn Point, a peninsula which juts out across the Humber estuary providing stunning views and is also a haven for migratory birds.

Cliches aside, there’s something timeless, peaceful and calming about the east coast towns and villages which you can’t get anywhere else. The Bay provides an ideal base for exploring all of this, together with the comfort and security of home.