As the name suggests, Sandsend lies at the end of almost 3 miles of sandy beach, west along the bay from Whitby. A favourite spot for many, to stretch their legs when the tide is out (see the tide timetable) or watch the surfers when the waves are 'up'.
The village clusters around twin becks that have carved parallel routes to the sea. Where the East Beck flows across the beach to the sea is a favourite, sheltered spot for families with young children to play with toy boats and build sandcastles. Leading upstream away from the beach, past the old mill, there are pretty walks through the woods to the site of the ruined Mulgrave castle. (Walks open Wed, Sat & Sun. Closed during May)
Further west, Sandsend Beck offers a shorter walk around 'the valley' with its picturesque cottages, many with a pretty garden making the most of the shelter offered by the very steep hill lead to Lythe. When the tide is low, the exposed rocky shore curving out to the headland holds endless delights, with many fossils easily visible and rock pools alive with sea creatures - though for safety' sake, stay well clear of the shaly, unstable cliffs.
The Cleveland Way footpath rises steeply from the car park at the foot of Lythe Bank and follows the track of the old Whitby-Saltburn-Middlesbrough railway. Offering panoramic sea views, it crosses the extensive remains and shale heaps of the Sandsend alum works opened in 1605. This weird 'moonscape', appropriately whitened by computer graphics, was used as the Antarctic scenery in the film 'Shackleton' starring Kenneth Branagh.
Situated at the top of the steep road, rising from Sandsend, St Oswalds Church overlooks the whole bay from Sandsend to Whitby. Though the church was much restored in the early 1900's, this is a very ancient site of worship. Believed to have been the site of Christian burials since 950AD, the church contains an exhibition of rare 'humpback' Viking gravestones as well as fine memorials to the Earls of Mulgrave. It is thought that Sandsend beach was a 'market-place' where Viking traders gathered to trade goods with the many Viking settlements in this area. The humpback stones seem to have a particular connection to such traders. Forever looking out to sea from the top of Lythe bank would have been a fitting final resting place for such skilled seafarers.