Enduring appeal of Yorkshire’s ancient fishing village

PIC: Gerard Binks
PIC: Gerard Binks
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It’s appropriate our photographer used a ‘fish-eye’ lens to take this stunning picture of the fishing village of Staithes on the Yorkshire coast.

It is one of those arrestingly beautiful villages which clings doggedly to the east coast and from a certain point of view looks for all the world as though it is tumbling into the sea.

Bounded by high cliffs and two long breakwaters, it was once one of the many great fishing centres in England and at the turn of the 20th century boasted 80 full-time fishing boats, but is now mainly a tourist destination. In the past it has been used as a film location for the CBeebies series Old Jack’s Boat starring Bernard Cribbins.

It also has a connection to one of Yorkshire’s most famous sons, Captain James Cook, whose portrait hangs in a gallery there and whom dwelt there briefly, before he gained his passion for sailing. From 1745 to 46, Cook worked as a grocer’s apprentice before moving to nearby Whitby and joining the Royal Navy.

The Captain Cook Inn sits toward the top of Staithes and was voted Winter Pub of the Season 2015/16 by the local Camra group.

Another industry for which the area is famous is the Boulby Potash Mine, which is the only one of its kind in the UK, and which produces around a million tons of potash and fertiliser and more than half a million tons of salt a year.

The surrounding coastline is also known colloquially as the Dinosaur Coast, because of its propensity to yield ancient fossils, preserved there thanks to its geology, which was in the past conducive to their preservation thanks to a slow moving current which deposited silt over the top of dead sea creatures.

Staithes is a great place to explore, not least for its beach with its distinctive rocky outcrops. For a brief period every years, around the summer solstice, it is possible to view the sun both rising and setting on the water from Staithes, which is what makes it such a draw for photographers.

Technical details: the seaside fishing village of Staithes on the east coast of Yorkshire. Camera: Nikon D3s, 10.5mm fisheye lens, F11 @ 250th sec, ISo 400

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