If winter sun breaks abroad are not worth the hassle, could English seaside resorts flourish once lockdown lifts? Natalie Bowen find out.

What do you think of, when you think of Scarborough in North Yorkshire? Parsley, sage? Lairy hen and stag dos? Overcrowded amusement arcades? All outdated concepts now – yet perhaps unexpectedly, the pandemic may give such seaside towns a winter boost.

Traditionally, from October, British coastal resorts hunker down and wait for spring. This year may herald a change of heart. Once the second lockdown lifts, many of us will be eager to explore close to home.

With this in mind, my household (me, husband, eight-month-old daughter) drove north-east to Cayton Sands, just outside Scarborough. We’d booked a weekend in the Caravan and Motorhome Club site, but had embraced a modern trend and chosen a glamping pod with affiliated company Experience Freedom.

We had waterproofs, solid shoes and a rain cover for the pram – yet on the first morning, the sun fought through the clouds to welcome us into Filey. This former fishing village, 10 minutes’ drive south-east from Cayton, has transformed itself into perhaps the perfect day trip destination.

There are plenty of independent retailers, a healthy number of fish and chip shops, and a long stretch of golden sand protected by a high, narrow, rocky peninsula called Filey Brigg, which protrudes like a densely packed row of sandbags north of the bay.

As the beach was still too wet to risk pushing our rather heavy pram, we strolled along the short promenade, sipping hot chocolates bought from visor-wearing kiosk owners on the Coble Landing. A coble, Google revealed, is a flat-bottomed, open fishing boat traditionally used in the area.

We passed a couple playing crazy golf, a row of colourful beach huts, and many, many people with dogs. It was so quaint that it almost veered into hipster. No bingo hall callers or tacky tat shops lowered the tone among the seafront artisan ice-cream sellers.

We headed inland, and uphill, to the Grade I-listed St Oswald’s Church, which has stood on the site since the 1100s and is unusually large for the size of the town. It wasn’t open, so after a quick scoot around the graveyard, we pressed on to Filey Country Park, which contains the Brigg. We gamely trundled the pram over grass towards the cliff edge path and attempted to walk to the peninsula until we hit a set of steep, narrow steps. It started drizzling again. Ambitions of spotting seals from the top of the Brigg were abandoned.

Back into town we went, stopping at Dicky Bee’s chippy for the traditional seaside lunch. It was cash-only, but otherwise the social distancing measures were excellent: I ordered at a stable door and collected the wrapped goods from a hatch around the corner. We scarpered towards the sea to enjoy our meal on a bench in Northcliffe Gardens, but the rain, and the grumpy baby, meant the food was more scoffed than savoured.

Forced to return to the pod early, we found it was like staying in an Ikea show-home: every nook and cranny had a nifty use, from the double bed that folded up into a wall, to the bunk-bed ladder stowed behind the bathroom door. The pod sleeps up to two adults and two children (there are also cabins, which sleep up to six, and accessible pods for guest with disabilities).

As it was only a step up from camping, there were limited cooking facilities but a hob, kettle and microwave were more than enough to whip up a simple dinner – and eating in front of a TV felt luxurious.

The next day was brighter, so we drove 10 minutes north-west, to Scarborough. Its late Georgian and Victorian architecture is beautifully maintained.

This main beach was another long swathe of sand that in summer would be filled with families with buckets and spades. In October, dogs are allowed to run free and almost everyone was in waterproof coats and wellies, with about 20 brave souls surfing in the North Sea.

We explored the Rose Garden and Italian Gardens in the South Cliff area, in which our daughter was entranced by squirrels so unafraid they came almost close enough for her outstretched fingers to touch.

There was a panoramic spot that offered views of the sweep up to the impressive clifftop ruin of Scarborough Castle, which waits patiently to greet the tourists prepared to pre-book tickets before hiking up. It is worth the climb to gaze over North and South Bay, and because the youngest Brontë sister, Anne, is buried nearby in St Mary’s Churchyard.

Back at sea level, the amusement arcades were not packed with weary parents and hyperactive children; instead, entrances and exits were clearly marked and coin-pusher machines were largely unattended.

After another round of fish and chips from Papas, we discovered the compacted South Bay sand would hold the pram’s weight, so we pushed our daughter all the way along, enjoying her delighted laughter at seeing dozens of dogs splashing and seagulls flapping. It wasn’t the beach holiday in the Balearics we’d envisaged, but Yorkshire did just as well.

How to plan your trip

Experience Freedom (experiencefreedom.co.uk; 01342 777533) offers glamping pods and accessible pods from £59 per night; glamping cabins from £69 per night.