Since the 19th century, the stream has marked an administrative boundary and now forms the border between Redcar and Cleveland Council and Scarborough Borough Council, part of North Yorkshire.
Earlier this month, the small sliver belonging to Redcar and Cleveland was placed into Tier 2 restrictions, while the bulk of the village on the North Yorkshire side sits in Tier 1.
Colin Harrison, 59, a retired solicitor, lives on the north side of Roxby Beck, in a whitewashed cottage 100 yards up from the lifeboat station. “There’s so much confusion,” he said. “Because I live in a high risk area, I’m not supposed to go across the footbridge to the pub.
“My son recently completed his A-levels, and we have a friend who is a top scientist at Imperial and lives across the beck. He offered to have my son round to talk about a career in the sciences – but of course with the new rules we’re not supposed to go over there.
“I can understand that there’s got to be a boundary, and there will always be anomalies of one sort or another. But you’ve got to see some sort of reasoning behind these rules, or people will just think they are ridiculous and refuse to obey them.”
Both sides belong to giant rural wards in which the rate of coronavirus cases is similar to the national average and has fallen in the past week. The north side is part of Boosbeck, Lingdale and Easington, where only 10 cases were recorded in the week to October 14, while the south is part of Esk Valley and Runswick Coast, where four were recorded over the same period.
According to national guidance issued earlier this month, people in Tier 2 should stay put, with anyone in a ”high” area ”advised not to travel in and out of these areas”.
However, there was little sign on Monday that residents or visitors had taken heed of the Government’s advice.
Elderly couples strolled easily over the narrow footbridge past a sign encouraging social distancing, while a group of wet-haired surfers carried their surfboards back from the sea and up the steep hill to the car park high above.