Two adults and a child had set up a tent on top of the cliff. As well as the proximity to the sheer drop, rescuers said that area of the coast is also vulnerable to landslips.
Adam Turner, senior coastal operations officer for HM Coastguard, said: “The family were in an extremely perilous position with no idea of the extreme danger they were in.
“Cliff edges are really unstable and can easily collapse, as recent landslips in the area have shown.
“If you live near the coast and are in a position to take exercise there in line with current Covid-19 restrictions, please take care near cliffs.
“Keep to paths and stay well back from the cliff edge.
“Check the weather and tides before you head out, wear appropriate sturdy footwear and take a fully charged mobile phone, so if the worst should happen you can call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”
Campsites, hotels and hostels were ordered to close during the third nationwide lockdown.
In a statement on Facebook, Staithes Coastguard added: “Safety advice was given from Coastguard rescue officers due to the dangerous location of their tent, especially with recent landslips.
“An officer from North Yorkshire Police also attended due to breach of coronavirus restrictions.”
The statement added: “If walking the Cleveland Way, please stay on designated footpaths.”
Additional reporting by PA Media.