Hot Spot: Scarborough

Prices ­ and temperatures ­ are soaring in this old spa town on the North Yorkshire coast, says Robert Liebman
Click to follow
The Independent Online

When Simon and Garfunkel sang about parsley, sage, rosemary and Scarborough Fair, the North Yorkshire resort received almost endless free publicity and, refreshingly, a focus on something other than the Victorian seaside.

Visitors were lured to Scarborough initially by mineral springs discovered nearly 400 years ago. Still extant are remains of a 12th-century Norman castle, and the equally venerable St Mary's Church, which contains the grave of Anne Brontë, sister of Emily and Charlotte, who hoped to recuperate in Scarborough from tuberculosis but was so gravely ill that she died within days of arriving.

Nowadays, Scarborough markets itself as a coastline trio topped and tailed by Whitby and Filey. Whitby is associated with Captain James Cook, and Filey has sandy beaches, seabirds, cobles (wooden Viking-style fishing boats) and Filey Brigg, a rocky reef jutting almost a mile out to sea. Within this triumvirate is Robin Hood's Bay.

Property sales are still brisk along this coast, thanks partly to a relatively low starting rate, says CPH estate agent David Chapman: "Prices are much higher in York even though it is only 40 miles away, and investors are looking to cheaper parts of the country. The property that sells for between £60,000 and £80,000 today was £30,000 only two years ago. You would struggle to get something for less than £50,000. If less, there is something wrong with it."

The trend to milder weather is also attracting punters: "With climate change, more people are coming here on holiday, and the more they come, the more they want to stay without having to pay for lodging each time. In the Sixties, Scarborough was renowned for its well-established shops. They disappeared over the years but some of them seem to be coming back again. T K Maxx recently opened, and it shows some confidence that a store of that quality has chosen Scarborough."

Whereas investors snap up properties at the lower end of the market, owner-occupiers seek out the top, Chapman says. "Many of our buyers are looking for a better quality of life. They can buy a detached house with grounds for a stable or paddock."

Better locations command premiums and the most sought-after ones in Scarborough are those close to a popular school or near enough to the town centre for use as a B&B. According to Chapman, the premium is at least 10 per cent. "The first thing families ask us about is the school catchment area. Some people relocate here specifically for the schools."


Getting there

Scarborough is three hours from London (with a change at York) and slightly more from Edinburgh. Service is direct from Liverpool, Blackpool, Manchester, Leeds and York. The Wolds Coast Line connects Scarborough with Hull and Filey. The nearest airports are Humberside (56 miles) and Leeds/ Bradford (70 miles).


Brunswick Pavilion has 40 shops and a department store. There is a traditional indoor market six days a week, and the Vaults has second-hand, craft and specialist shops.


The Futurist, the YMCA and other small venues double as cinemas and theatres. Best known of the town's five theatres is the Stephen Joseph, whose artistic director and founder is prolific London-born playwright Alan Ayckbourn, who premieres most of his plays here.


Scarborough Sports Centre offers badminton, basketball, squash, outdoor tennis and a fitness centre. South Cliff and North Cliff golf clubs are in Scarborough. Pindar Leisure Centre is three miles from the town centre.

Family fun

Kids can choose between Atlantis, which has water slides, rapids and outdoor pools, or Kinderland, a giant play and activity park. North Yorkshire Moors Railway is a scenic historic steam line, and there are miniature railways at Northstead Gardens or Ruswarp, in Whitby.


Scarborough Museums & Gallery consists of the Wood End Natural History Museum, the Art Gallery and the Rotunda Museum of archaeology and Roman history. Captain James Cook first set sail for his worldwide explorations from Whitby, and the town's Memorial Museum has items associated with the explorer.

Prices: flats

A three-bed terrace is £73,000, a two-bed house in a modern development is £92,500, and a two-bed bungalow is £92,000 at CPH. At Goodall's, a large one-bed conversion freehold flat occupying most of the ground floor in a three-storey building is £89,950. (The agent recommends solicitor's advice for freehold flats.) A two-bed leasehold conversion flat with panoramic sea views is £175,000, and a four-bed semi is £185,000.


A one-bed flat in a turreted detached house, £95,000. Bungalows and three-bed houses are between £120,000 and £175,000. A two-bed flat overlooking the former Carr Hall, a development with gardens and tennis court, £229,500. Slightly cheaper is a Grade II-listed three-bed house with attic and basement, seeking offers over £200,000; Astin's.

Bedsits and flatlets

An attractive detached period house currently subdivided into two flats and five bedsits has planning permission for conversion to five self-contained flats; guide price is £165,000. A large corner terrace has ground-floor accommodation for the owner, and three flatlets above, all currently tenanted; £149,950. Both at CPH.

The Manor

A two-bed first-floor flat in the converted 17th century Hunmanby Hall near Filey Bay, an estate with sports and leisure facilities, golf course and woodland; £170,000 at Carter Jonas.

Estate agents

Astin's, 01947 821122; Carter Jonas (York), 01904 627436; CPH, 01723 352235; Goodalls, 01723 373456.