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Scarborough Harbour

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Courtesy Flag

Flag, Red Ensign


Safe Offing, East of Harbour Mouth in 5 m 54:16'.85 N 000:23'.00 W


Admiralty 1612

Rules & Regulations

"Slow" speed in harbour


Harbour Dries

Tidal Data Times & Range

HW approx. Dover +0540 MHWS 5.7m, MHWN 4.6m, MLWN 2.3m, MLWS 0.9m   (links)

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General Description

The Vikings obviously had a liking for this part of the coast....

.... when they weren't wading through the mud at Grimsby... they were busy forming a settlement at Scarborough. The Viking influence can still be seen even nowadays with the shape of the local small fishing boats called cobles, strongly resembling Viking longships.

In many ways it was an obvious site for seafarers to make their home, protected as it is by the massive promontory of Scarborough Rock.

Up to the 19th century much of the business of the town was involved with the building of timber vessels for the Baltic trades and Tyne coal. In the 19th century the activities of the harbour shifted more towards servicing fishing fleets arriving from as far as Brixham, and working purely under sail. The advent of the steam driven trawler put paid to that.

However, the coming of the railway as in many other places brought prosperity to the town, and Scarborough developed as a splendid seaside resort, much loved by the Victorians.

With over 50,000 inhabitants nowadays, the town is the biggest holiday resort on the Yorkshire coast, and can offer the passing yachtsman an interesting stop.

The harbours are two distinctly separate areas, and at one time the larger inner harbour was solely for commercial fishing purposes, whilst the outer smaller harbour was reserved for pleasure boats. Pontoons have now been laid in a drying part of the inner harbour, as well as a couple of locations in the drying outer or East Harbour.

There is no Marina here as such, the harbour authority is the local council. Since we last looked at this harbour the facilities for visiting boats have improved; There is a pontoon in the inner harbour which is now kept dredged and a visiting boat can lie afloat on the SE side of the pontoon with the deeper water being at the outer end. In exceptional circumstances, for very large vessels unable to take the ground the harbour authorities may allow them to lie in the commercial areas which normally have a bit of water at low tide.

Leisure craft are serviced by the Lighthouse staff who are on duty from 0800 to 1700 during June to September with an hour off for lunch from 1300 to 1400


Finding Scarborough from seawards is simple enough....

.... with the huge rock and the ruined castle... all in all very conspicuous.

If approaching from the North give the Castle Rock a good offing as there are off lying rocks, unfortunately not too conspicuous on the chart. In good weather a distance of about a quarter of a mile clears these. In bad weather or heavy swell a far greater offing would be wise. Keeping outside the 10 m contour clears all this.

More Pilotage...

If coasting from the South there are drying and rocky ledges protruding from the coast, and in particular Ramsdale Scar and Dovehole Scar  which lie not very far south of the harbour entrance.

Again, for complete safety staying just outside the 10 m contour until the harbour entrance is bearing due West clears all dangers.

Attempting entry in strong winds from the south-east, through East, to the north-east is dangerous. Such winds generate breaking seas in the approaches.

Once outside it is necessary to call "Scarborough Lighthouse" on VHF channel 12 or 01723 360684 to arrange a berth. Outside of hours or in winter months call "Scarborough Harbour" on the same VHF channel. Telephone 01723 373530. This phone is manned 24 hours a day. A link is provided to their website below but much of the information on it is historical.


Berthing, Mooring & Anchoring

As can be seen from the aerial photos provided.....

.... the Scarborough Harbour consists of two distinct areas. The larger inner harbour has more water.. far more water than charted in places, while in other places it still dries. The outer or East Harbour has its own separate entrance, again clearly viewable in the photos. The Scarborough  Yacht Club also has some good photographs, find them at:


This entrance to the sea can be closed off by timber balks during the winter months, thus there is a separate entrance to the East harbour that is via a sliding footbridge, accessed from the larger inner harbour.

For the visiting yachtsman or motorboater, the harbourmaster has a choice of several options at his disposal depending on your individual craft.

Full details and prices...

There is considerably more depth of water in the entrance to the inner harbour than available in the East harbour entrance, 1.5 m less to be precise. As a rule of thumb vessels of about 1.5 m draft can access the shallower East harbour about three hours either side of high water, with far more leeway if being accommodated within the commercial inner harbour. Give the end of the East Pier a wide berth.

Drying pontoons are installed in the Outer Harbour but they belong to the Yacht Club; they used to take the visitors but now there are 6 allocated visitors berths on pontoons in the Inner Harbour.  Boats can remain afloat (depending on tide and draft) on these pontoons. A deep keel draft boat may touch bottom at the outer end of the floating pontoons but it's a soft mud bottom so should not be a problem. You will notice that the Admiralty Chart of the harbour shows all the pontoon berths as being drying but that is not the case.

Keelboats needing to lean on a wall while drying out are allocated an area in the main outer harbour just to the north of the sliding footbridge already mentioned.

With specific permission from the harbour master large pleasure craft, unable to take the ground may be allocated a berth where they may remain afloat (just) in the commercial inner harbour.  The Harbourmaster has pointed out that in 15 years they have never had to turn a craft away.

Prices(2019) on the serviced pontoon in the Inner harbour are unchanged this year at £2.64 per metre (incl VAT) with a minimum charge of £21.12 per boat . Other berths drying alongside the wall or in the East harbour get a 25% discount. The harbour is obviously no great fan of speedboats because no matter how small they are, the minimum charge for them is £29.60, although we've been told in practice they are often not charged this much.

It should be noted the maximum length of stay is 14 days only.

Updated March 2019


The port control office is on the West Pier, and the Scarborough Yacht Club is based in the lighthouse building.

The club welcomes visitors and can provide showers, washrooms and toilets together with laundry facilities. The key is with the lighthouse attendant, and shower tokens are chargeable.

The club bar is open Wednesday nights, Friday nights, Saturday lunchtime and evening, and Sunday lunchtimes only.

The pontoons in the harbour are fully serviced with water and electricity (by card), whilst in other places maybe not so convenient. CCTV surveillance is in operation throughout the harbour.

There is a new amenities block at the root of the old pier with laundrette facilities. The showers are complimentary and visiting crews should get an entry fob from the HM.

For the boat red diesel is available in cans from the Chandlery and they can also arrange for Calor or Camping Gaz to be delivered

The harbour has a crane that can be booked.

Trailer Sailers will find the slipway in this harbour usable at nearly all the tidal range. Charges of £11.23 + VAT are levied providing your launch and recovery take place on one tide. Annual permits are £245.50+ VAT, all under the control of the harbour authorities. PWC's are not allowed, and the speed within the harbour is limited to "Slow".

All good sized town facilities are right on hand, including good rail connections to Hull and York.

Scarborough's town centre has major shopping chains (including Debenhams, Marks & Spencer, TK Maxx and Matalan) alongside boutique shops. As well as a main shopping centre and the Brunswick shopping centre, the town has an indoor market with a large range of antique shops and independent traders in its vaults.

The beach and promenade area to the south of the harbour have a reputation for twackiness, kiss me quick hats, burgers and hot dogs... chips with everything. The Northern area on the other side of the promontory apparently has a more refined atmosphere. It takes all sorts...


Scarborough is a town on the North Sea coast of North Yorkshire, England.

The modern town lies 3 to 70 metres (10 to 230 ft) above sea level, rising steeply northward and westward from the harbour onto limestone cliffs. The older part of the town lies around the harbour and is protected by a rocky headland. Scarborough is served by Scarborough railway station, with services from York on the North TransPennine route and from Hull on the Yorkshire Coast Line.

With a population of around 50,000, Scarborough is the largest holiday resort on the Yorkshire coast. It is home to residential communities, business, fishing and service industries, plus a growing digital and creative economy.

The most striking feature of the town's geography is a high rocky promontory pointing eastward into the North Sea. The promontory supports the 11th-century ruins of Scarborough Castle and separates the sea front into a North Bay and a South Bay. The South Bay was the site of the original early medieval settlement and the harbour, which form the current Old Town district. This remains the main focus for tourism, with a sandy beach, cafes, amusements, arcades, theatres and entertainment facilities. The modern commercial town centre has migrated a quarter mile north-west of the harbour area and a hundred feet above it, and contains the transport hubs, main services, shopping and nightlife. The harbour has undergone major regeneration including the new Albert Strange Pontoons, a more pedestrian-friendly promenade, street lighting and seating. The North Bay has traditionally been the more peaceful end of the resort and is home to Peasholm Park which has recently (June 2007) been restored to its Japanese-themed glory, complete with reconstructed pagoda. The park still features a mock maritime battle (based on the Battle of the River Plate) re-enacted on the boating lake with large model boats and fireworks throughout the summer holiday season. The North Bay Railway is a miniature railway which runs from the park to the Sea Life Centre at Scalby Mills.

The North Bay is linked to the South Bay by the Marine Drive, an extensive Victorian promenade, built around the base of the headland. Overlooking both bays is Scarborough Castle, which was bombarded by the German warships SMS Derfflinger and SMS Von der Tann in the First World War. Both bays have popular sandy beaches and numerous rock-pools at low tide.

Slightly less well known is the South Cliff Promenade situated above the Spa and South Cliff Gardens, commanding excellent views of the South Bay and old town and from which many iconic postcard views are taken. Its splendid Regency and Victorian terraces are still intact and the mix of quality hotels and desirable apartments form a backdrop to the South Bay. The ITV television drama The Royal and its recent spin-off series, The Royal Today, are filmed in the area. The South Bay has the largest illuminated "Star Disk" anywhere in the UK. It is 85 feet (26 m) across and is fitted with subterranean lights representing the 42 brightest stars and major constellations that can be seen from Scarborough in the northern skies.

To the south-west of the town, beside the York to Scarborough railway line, is an ornamental lake known as Scarborough Mere. During the 20th century, the Mere was a popular park, with rowing boats, canoes and a miniature pirate ship – the Hispaniola – on which passengers were taken to "Treasure Island" to dig for doubloons. Since the late 1990s the emphasis has been on nature, with "Treasure Island" being paved over to form a new pier area. The lake is now part of the Oliver's Mount Country Park and the Hispaniola now sails out of the South Bay.


The town was founded around 966 AD as Skarðaborg by Thorgils Skarthi, a Viking raider, though in the 4th century there had briefly been a Roman signal station on Scarborough headland, and there is evidence of much earlier Stone Age and Bronze Age settlements. However, the new settlement was soon burned to the ground by a rival band of Vikings under Tosti (Tostig Godwinson), Lord of Falsgrave, and Harald III of Norway. The destruction and massacre meant that very little remained to be recorded in the Domesday survey of 1085. Scarborough recovered under King Henry II, who built a stone castle on the headland, and granted charters in 1155 and 1163, permitting a market on the sands, and establishing rule by burgesses.

Edward II gave Scarborough Castle to his favourite, Piers Gaveston. In his castle at Scarborough, Gaveston was besieged by the barons, captured and carried to Oxford for execution.

In the Middle Ages, Scarborough Fair, permitted in a royal charter of 1253, held a six-week trading festival attracting merchants from all over Europe. It ran from Assumption Day, 15 August, until Michaelmas Day, 29 September. The fair continued to be held for 500 years, from the 13th century to the 18th century, and is commemorated in the song Scarborough Fair:

    Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
    —parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme....

Scarborough and its castle changed hands seven times between Royalists and Parliamentarians during the English Civil War of the 1640s, enduring two lengthy and violent sieges. Following the civil war, much of the town lay in ruins.

In 1626, Mrs Elizabeth Farrow discovered a stream of acidic water running from one of the cliffs to the south of the town. This gave birth to Scarborough Spa, and Dr Wittie's book about the spa waters published in 1660 attracted a flood of visitors to the town. Scarborough Spa became Britain's first seaside resort, though the first rolling bathing machines were not noted on the sands until 1735. The coming of the Scarborough–York railway in 1845 increased the tide of visitors.

This influx of visitors convinced a young architect (John Gibson) with an eye to the future to open Scarborough's first purpose-built hotel. In 1841 a railway link between York and Scarborough was being talked of and he decided that the area above the popular Spa building could be developed. He designed and laid the foundations of a ‘hotel’. (This was a new name derived from the word ‘hostel’ which would serve the same purpose but would be bigger and finer than the traditional inns). Gibson then passed the construction of this hotel to the newly-formed South Cliff Building Company. On Tuesday, 10 June 1845 Scarborough's first hotel was opened—a marketing coup at the time, as the Grand Hotel, soon to be Europe's largest, was not yet finished. When John Fairgray Sharpin came to visit Scarborough in 1845, he was charmed at first sight.

When the Grand Hotel was completed in 1867 it was one of the largest hotels in the world and one of the first giant purpose-built hotels in Europe. Four towers represent the seasons, 12 floors represent the months, 52 chimneys represent the weeks and originally 365 bedrooms represented the days of the year. A blue plaque outside marks where the novelist Anne Brontë died in 1849.

During World War I, the town was bombarded by German warships of the High Seas Fleet, an act which shocked the British.

In June 1993 Scarborough made headlines around the world when a landslip caused part of the Holbeck Hall Hotel, along with its gardens, to fall into the sea. Although the slip was shored up with rocks and the land has long since grassed over, evidence of the cliff's collapse remains clearly visible from The Esplanade, near Shuttleworth Gardens.

Scarborough is one of Yorkshire's 'renaissance towns', having been granted government support for securing a vibrant future. As a result there are many building projects to renovate classic Victorian buildings and quality contemporary architecture.

Inhabitants of the town are generally referred to as Scarborians. Natives of Whitby, call people from Scarborough, Algerinos, the origin of this nickname comes from the sinking of a boat called 'The Algerino' not far from Scarborough. The lifeboat crews of several neighbouring towns, (Whitby, Robin Hood's Bay, etc.), responded while the Scarborough lifeboat did not, and so as a constant reminder they are referred to as 'Algerinos' and Scarborough 'Algerinoland'.


As might be expected in a significant coastal town, Scarborough's fishing industry is still active, though only a shadow of its former self. The working harbour is home to a fish market including a shop and wooden stalls where fresh, locally-caught seafood can be purchased by the public.

The tourism trade continues to be a major part of the local economy despite the current affordability of foreign holidays. While weekend and mid-week-break trade are tending to replace the traditional week-long family holiday, the beaches and attractions are always very busy throughout summer – a marked contrast to the quieter winter months when Scarborough is often seen as a peaceful bolt-hole from cities such as Leeds and Bradford. Confidence in the hospitality industry is high, evidenced by major refits in recent years, often targeted at a higher-spending clientèle. Significant amongst these is the Grand, Scarborough's biggest hotel, which overlooks the South Bay.

The printing industry is well represented with Pindar having its main base on the business park. Pindar, which also owns the AlphaGraphics chain, is a Scarborough-born company with an international profile. The firm of Plaxtons has been building coaches and buses since 1907 and is still one of Scarborough's largest employers.

The Creative Industries have been cited as playing a vital role in the regeneration of Scarborough – a report in 2005 estimated that they comprised 19% of the town's economy. The creative industries are also a major focus of Scarborough's entry in the 2008 Enterprising Britain competition – Scarborough were declared Yorkshire and Humber winners and went through to the UK finals. Thanks in part to one of the first internet computing degree courses being available at the Scarborough campus of the University of Hull, the local creative industries include a good selection of website design and development businesses. In the finals in London on 16 October 2008 Scarborough won the title of Britain's Most Enterprising Town and will go on to the European Enterprise Awards as Great Britain's representative.

Scarborough's recent investment in digital connectivity is significant. The town has the UK's first free Wi-Fi seafront and harbour area and one of Europe's fastest internet connections (100MB). These developments prompted the Yorkshire Post to comment on Scarborough's "ambitions to become the broadband capital of Europe".


The town is home to a significant jazz festival each September and in the summer boasts 'Beached Festival' – an eclectic rock and pop festival which takes place on the South Bay beach and features at least 50% local talent alongside internationally-known artists. In summer 2005, Scarborough played host to the Sonic Arts Network Expo featuring cutting-edge performances and installations.

'Acoustic Gathering', a free one-day music festival, has been held annually in Peasholm Park since September 2006. This features over 20 bands and singer/songwriters from all parts of the UK including a number of local groups and musicians, all performing from the bandstand in the centre of the lake.

These fairly recent developments, married to a long-established museum and visual arts facilities, hint at Scarborough's desire to re-invent itself as a creative and arts-based town. In 2006 work started on Wood End Museum — former home to the Sitwells — to convert it into a creative centre including workspace for artists and the digital cluster, plus an exhibition space. The town's Rotunda Museum has undergone a multi-million-pound redevelopment to become a national centre for geology. 2006 also saw the formation of a creative industries network called 'Creative Coast' comprising artists, designers, writers and other creatives with the shared vision of a culturally vibrant economy on the North Yorkshire coast.

Scarborough has a considerable graffiti culture, with as many as 20 'writers' currently active. There are two areas where graffiti art is legal in Scarborough, Sainsbury's basketball courts, and Falsgrave Park wall. Both have seen many collaborations and murals.

Innovative events are continually added to the Scarborough calendar, 'Seafest' a sea themed arts festival takes place in July, whilst in February 2009, 'Coastival' a musical arts extravaganza was launched.


The Scarborough Amateur Rowing Club was founded in May 1869, and is the oldest surviving rowing club on the north-east coast. For more than 100 years, sea rowing has taken place on the Yorkshire coast between the Tees and the Humber. Beginning with friendly rivalry between the fishermen and the jet miners from Blyth (the German Ocean Race), the sport has progressed to what it is today. More recent successes for the club include Bob Hewitt, who now competes as a lightweight rower for the national team. In 2006 the club finally won the acclaimed Wilson Cup, until then held by rival clubs in neighbouring town Whitby for over eighty years. Rowing takes place throughout the summer months.

The Blue Ribbon event for Scarborough Yacht Club, is the annual 210 nautical mile race, from the town, to Ijmuiden in the Netherlands.

In 2007, the town hosted the World Thundercat Championships for powerboats, and similar events in 2008.

The text on this HISTORY page is covered by the following licence

Eating, Drinking & Entertainment

In a town the size of Scarborough, especially as it is a resort town, you will find no shortage of things to do and places to go. Cinemas, museums and even theatres... classical concerts... in the summer is all available here.

The visitor will have to take a good wander around to see what's available, but rest assured dining out and pubs to suit all tastes will be found. If all that wandering up and down steep hills is too much to contemplate you are sure to find something very close to the harbour.

Departing from our usual format, we provide a link below to a site with a lot of local knowledge and advice:



Your Ratings & Comments

Update Spring 2019
Written by Don Thomson 3 | 18th Apr 2019
These notes were reviewed in April 2019. It's good news all round!! They have maintained their prices at the pre 2017 level and have built a new shower block. New charts can be found in the chart gallery and I've uploaded a chartlet of the harbour in the nav images section.
1 of 1 people found this helpful
Written by Don Thomson | 31st Mar 2017
These notes were reviewed by Don in March 2017. They are holding their prices for yet another year despite the fact that they have done some dredging in the Inner Harbour around the pontoons.
Update 2015
Written by dononshytalk | 10th Mar 2015
These notes were reviewed by Don in March 2015. Be aware that the Scarborough Harbour (Yorkshire Ports) web site is way out of date - the up to date information is here. They are not changing their prices for visiting craft this year.
Update 2013
Written by dononshytalk | 10th Apr 2013
These notes were updated by Don T on the 10th April 2013. The mooring situation for visiting boats has improved to the extent that there are now serviced floating berths available in the Inner Harbour. I've updated the prices for this summer (2013). I think the submerged wall that Tom refers to in his comments (below) is the old bottom cleaning grid shown on the Admiralty chart which will indeed be submerged at HW so that you can dry out on it at LW!
Tom Webb, around Britain on a 21' Beneteau 2011
Written by Tom Webb Sailing | 31st Oct 2011
15-16/7 - Scarborough - It’s a good 12 hour sail to Scarborough from Grimsby, on approach to Scarborough there may be quite a few small fishing boats trawling nets which you have to be wary of, when you enter you have to pass the old inner harbour to get to the new inner marina which, the old harbour entrance is the first that you see which can be fairly confusing but the new pontoons are very nice and right next to the busy waterfront. Something else to be wary of is at high tide an old wall is submerged by about 1.5m, it is located in between the furthest pontoon away from the entrance and the harbour wall although the berths next this are normally occupied by speed boats.
0 of 1 people found this helpful
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