There is still much to enjoy at the Yorkshire coast during autumn

PUBLISHED: 16:59 10 October 2012 | UPDATED: 22:02 20 February 2013

Sunset at Hornsea

Sunset at Hornsea

There is still much to enjoy at the Yorkshire coast during autumn as Heather Dixon discovers<br/>Photographs by Andy Bulmer

Yorkshires beautiful coastline stretches from the remote wilderness of Spurn Head curving protectively around the mouth of the Humber, to the historic northern fishing village of Staithes.

Between these two extremes are miles of unspoiled beaches, towering cliffs teeming with birdlife, sheltered coves, cliff-top pathways and bustling historic harbours which offer more variety than almost any other stretch of coastline in the British Isles.

This beautiful part of Yorkshire is so diverse that it attracts visitors from all over the country.

A sunny Bank Holiday sees a trail of cars stretching in an unbroken chain from motorway to sea as day-trippers escape the stress of the city, while the winter seafronts of Scarborough, Whitby and Bridlington draw those who enjoy a bracing walk in the fresh sea-salt air.

But one of the best times to visit these coastal gems is in the autumn when the tourist season has waned but there is still enough warmth in the sun to make a trip to the seaside a pleasure rather than a feat of endurance. The question is where to go when the Yorkshire coast is so diverse it offers an overwhelming choice.

If its tranquillity you are looking for then head for the remote shorelines of Spurn Point. Renowned for its abundance of wild flowers and breathtaking solitude; this unusual peninsular offers an ever-changing and beautiful unspoiled landscape stretching for three and a half miles across the Humber Estuary.

Hornsea, once known for its pottery, is now home to the popular Freeport shopping outlet, but there are plenty of other attractions to draw visitors. As well award-winning blue flag beaches and a refurbished promenade, the town contains Yorkshires largest freshwater lake, Hornsea Mere, which offers boating, a caf and leisurely walks.

And check out the gallery of nationally renowned coastal artist Tracy Savage, whose quirky paintings sell all over the world from her pottery and art gallery in the centre of town.

If youre looking for a bit of harbour-side buzz, head for Bridlington, one of the biggest shell-fishing ports in the country. The town is divided into two areas: the old town is about a mile from the harbour and has one of the most complete Georgian streets in England, now brimming with antique shops, art galleries and cafes.

The second and larger area is sometimes known as the Quay which combines the shops, harbour and Heritage Museum along with the colourful Beside the Seaside experience.

This fun-filled venue takes visitors back to the 1950s and 1960s, when day trips to the beach, donkey rides, ice creams, beach huts and amusement arcades made an idyllic British seaside holiday. And lets not forget that favourite of all sweet seaside treats the stick of rock which can be seen in the making at the John Bull World of Rock in nearby Carnaby.

Fancy something a bit more well, genteel? Then head north towards Sewerby, noted for the gardens, zoo and museum of Sewerby Hall. This elegant Grade 1 listed property contains a fascinating collection of memorabilia relating to Hull-born Amy Johnson, who made a record-breaking flight when she few solo to Australia a distance of 10,000 miles - in a Gypsy Moth in 1930. Absorbing so much history is enough to work up a healthy seaside appetite and Sewerbys fish and chips are well worth queuing for.

For those who prefer something distinctly rugged, nothing can beat the seven mile stretch of towering cliffs, dark caves and rocky coves that stretch from Flamborough Head along the glorious Heritage Coast. Gleaming as white as the 170ft high chalk cliff on which it stands,

Flamborough lighthouse, 85 ft tall, over-shadows the old beacon light, the only one of its kind in England and which dates back to 1674.

This spectacular headland remains largely unspoiled and three generations of my family still visit this breath-taking part of the Yorkshire coast to clamber over rocks, fish for crabs in the rock pools and watch the powerful waves crash against the cliffs for hours on end.

Throughout the year, these sheer chalk faces are home to thousands of birds which nest on the narrow ledges and crevices, their raucous cries heard above the waves as they wheel and dive on the unforgiving sea winds. One of the best places to observe them is at Bempton Cliffs, an RSPB nature reserve, which is a popular breeding ground for the Northern Gannet and Atlantic Puffin.

Scarborough is a great place for an autumn getaway, with its two large bays, wide, sandy beaches, amusement arcades, harbour and castle. Its claims to fame are many - as the birthplace of poet Edith Sitwell and the burial place of literary sister Anne Bronte, who wrote Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. She is buried in St Marys churchyard. She spent many mid-19th century summers on holiday in Scarborough, when she was governess for a family near York.

Award-winning dramatist Alan Ayckbourn was the artistic director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre between 1972 and 2009 and he continues to premiere the majority of his work here. Scarborough also houses Britains oldest geology museum, the Rotunda, designed by the father of geology, William Smith, who lived in Scarborough in the early 19th century.

No trip to Scarborough is complete without a visit to Olivers Mount, the British mainlands only natural roads circuit which has, over the years, been the proving ground for many future world bike champions.

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