238. Scarborough to Robin Hood’s Bay

May 2009

This was a fantastic walk along the North Yorkshire coast. It was a very varied walk with high cliffs, beautiful beaches (both sand and pebble) and several pretty towns and villages. I also passed the town that never was, Ravenscar. There is also a good path the whole way and I briefly enter a new (to me) National Park, the North Yorkshire Moors.

I was doing this walk from home, so I took a train to London Waterloo, two tube trains to get to London Kings Cross station. Then I took a train from there to York and finally another train from York to Scarborough. By booking around 3 months in advance I managed to get the ticket cost down to £17.80 return from London, which was a bargain (though this was 10 years ago now, so prices have surely increased a lot since then!). I arrived around 11:30am.

This was actually my first visit to Scarborough (as the last walk I wrote up was actually done later), so I didn’t know what to expect, but I quickly liked what I saw. I headed down from the station to the sea front, emerging onto the south bay just near the Grand Hotel.

The Grand Hotel, Scarborough

This time the tide was a long way out so I headed down onto the firm sands of the beach and turned left (north), continuing on the beach until I reached the north end of the bay and the harbour wall.

South Bay, Scarborough

Here I headed along the promenade beside the road. The harbour on the right was now mostly filled with leisure craft rather than fishing boats, however there were a few fishing boats at the back of the harbour.

Scarborough Harbour

Scarborough Harbour

I was already rather taken with Scarborough, the brightly coloured buildings looked beautiful with their red roofs and cream-coloured bricks.

Scarborough Harbour

Scarborough

Reaching the far side of the harbour the path now follows the road below castle cliffs. I suspect these cliffs are the original sea cliffs and the road and promenade were later built below them.

Up on the top of this high cliffs is the ruins of the castle (which I walked up to on the previous walk I wrote up).

The promenade continued passing under the arch of a very unusual and attractive building which was now in the middle of the promenade!

Coastguard building, Scarborough

A sign on the building indicated it was used by the coast guard – it must be one of the more characterful buildings used by the coastguard.

I was impressed by the yellow sand-stone cliffs to my left. No longer exposed to the full force of the sea, quite a bit of grass had grown on the cliff face.

Cliffs at Scarborough

Rounding the corner I was now on the North Sands. I could now see a long way around the coast with an impressive large headland visible in the distance (which I’d be walking around later in the day).

North Bay, Scarborough

The North Beach was much quieter. The buildings of the town were now high up on the cliffs tops with just a road and parking below the cliffs.

North Bay, Scarborough

I continued along the promenade enjoying the fine views of the ruined castle on the hill behind me.

The ruins of Scarborough Castle

I would have liked to have taken a closer look but I had a long way to go and a fixed departure time so I decided to save it for my next visit.

The North Bay also has limited beach at high tide, though the tide was currently quite low.  It was mostly very pretty apart from a really really ugly development of flats that had been built below the cliffs part way around the beach. It stuck out like a sore thumb.

North Bay, Scarborough

I also wondered how long it would be before they are flooded from the sea, given the rest of the buildings in the bay are built on top of the cliffs, rather than below them (and probably for a good reason).

The back of the beach initially had some rocky defences at the back but soon I was able to head down onto the sands again and continue my walk north on the beautiful beach.

North Bay, Scarborough

I soon passed the ugly block of flats and the colourful beach huts beyond.

North Bay, Scarborough

North Bay, Scarborough

As I headed north along the beach it became increasingly rocky and at the far end I had to leave the beach and return to the promenade.

North Bay, Scarborough

Behind the promenade was now the North Bay miniature railway. This miniature steam railway runs for almost a mile along the back of the north beach to Scalby Mills, where I was heading.

North Bay, Scarborough

The promenade soon reached the mouth of the Scalby Beck river. At the mouth of the river is the Old Scalby Mills, now a pub.

Scalby Back, Scalby Mills, North Yorkshire

I suspect once there was a mill here, hence the name of the community that is now built around it.

The river itself had cut a beautiful deep valley, which had rocks on either side and was particularly pretty with the gorse on the cliffs in flower.

Scalby Back, Scalby Mills, North Yorkshire

Thankfully I did not have to head far inland to cross it, as there was a footbridge at the mouth of the river (I took the photo above from it).

I’d now left the town of Scarborough behind and onwards was now a proper coast path. This is part of the Cleveland Way, one of National Trails of Britain. The path now climbed up steps out of the valley and I soon had a fine view back over the North Bay to Scarborough castle in the distance.

The coast at Scalby Mills, North Yorkshire

In the other direction I could see right around the bay to the headland of Long Nab at the end.

The coast at Scalby Mills, North Yorkshire

The beach below the cliffs was a mixture of sand and rock but with limited access to the beach it was now deserted.

The coast at Scalby Mills, North Yorkshire

The path now rounds the north side of the valley at Scalby Mills for a few hundred metres, giving a fine view back along the valley to the north bay in Scarborough, the last view I’d see right into the bay.

Scalby Beck, Scalby Mills, North Yorkshire

The coast ahead was very beautiful with the cliffs faces a mixture of bare earth, rock and grass. Where the cliffs were free of vegetation they had a slightly pink hue, presumably due to high iron content.

The coast north of Scalby Mills, North Yorkshire

The path now undulates along the cliff top, going a very short distance inland to get around a couple of small valleys that are beginning to form.

The coast north of Scalby Mills, North Yorkshire

In a little over a mile I came to a longer and deeper valley at Crook Ness, where the path headed a bit further inland around the valley and back to the cliff top beyond.

The coast north of Scalby Mills, North Yorkshire

It was now a short distance further along the cliff top path to reach the next headland, Long Nab.

The coast near Long Nab, North Yorkshire

At the end of this was some sort of lookout building (not used when I walked past) and a mast, perhaps for radio transmissions.

The coast near Long Nab, North Yorkshire

The coast near Long Nab, North Yorkshire

Just beyond this I entered the North Yorkshire Moors National Park. This National Park stretches some distance inland but also covers the coastal area for many miles ahead, so I was expecting the scenery to become more dramatic. It soon did, as the path continued along the cliff tops for a further half a mile until the next valley, Hun Dale.

Hun Dale, North Yorkshire

Here things were a bit more rugged, as I had to descend to the valley floor to cross a bridge and then follow the steps back up the other side. The little valley was very pretty, with most of the gorse in flower.

Below the path I could see what I presumed were the base of the cliffs that had been eroded away over the years, leaving a line of rocks, criss-crossed with lines below the cliffs.

The coast at Cloughton Wyke, North Yorkshire

Now I was heading into the bay of Cloughton Wyke. This had a rocky beach and some interesting cliffs, in which I could clearly see the lines of the different types of rocks forming horizontal lines.

The coast at Cloughton Wyke, North Yorkshire

The yellow field of rape-seed oil above also made it a very colourful scene!

Again the path descended a bit into the valley at the back of this beach and back up the other side, where I had a fine view of the interesting cliffs ahead.

The coast at Cloughton Wyke, North Yorkshire

The coast at Cloughton Wyke, North Yorkshire

The path now steadily climbs to the wooded hill near Sycarham Farm. The cliffs here must be more stable because quite a few trees and bushes had grown right down the cliff face to the sea.

The coast at Cloughton Wyke, North Yorkshire

I headed briefly through these trees and emerged from the other side on the cliff top, where again I could just make out the castle at Scarborough on the cliff top, now some way away in the distance.

View back to Scarborough

The coast and hence footpath continued to climb to a viewpoint called Rodger Trod. I’m not sure who Rodger was, but he presumably trod here. This marked more or less the high point of this stretch of coast and so it offered me a stunning view of the coast ahead. Ahead is Hayburn Wyke and I could see the coast stretching a long way beyond it – it looked lovely.

Hayburn Wyke, North Yorkshire

The view inland was equally good.

Hayburn Wyke, North Yorkshire

The coast path soon turned a bit left to give me a fine view of the beach at Hayburn Wyke, a long way below me.

Hayburn Wyke, North Yorkshire

However I’d soon be down there, as the path soon entered the woodland of Hayburn Wyke, now in the care of the National Trust, where many many steps took me down through the wooded valley to sea level.

Hayburn Wyke, North Yorkshire

This was a lovely stretch of the walk with the sound of the rushing waters of the Hayburn Beck which form a little waterfall as they reach the coast. The path crosses this on a small bridge and from here there is access down to the beach.

Hayburn Wyke, North Yorkshire

The beach large pebbles and rocks, but it is a very sheltered place when the wind is coming from the west, as it does for most of the time.

Hayburn Wyke, North Yorkshire

Still time was pressing on so I had to continue climbing back up the steep path on the other side of the valley to the cliff top.

The coast south of Ravenscar

I had a fine view back over the wooded cliffs on the other side of the valley where I had walked earlier.

The path continued to climb fairly gently and ran right along the cliff top. It was magnificent walking. Below the cliff there was now quite a wooded “undercliff”. It looked a bit like a jungle down there!

The coast south of Ravenscar

The Ordnance Survey Map did show a path running through this area (the first part of which is called Beast Cifff), but I had my doubts that it would be open the whole way. I also decided that even if it was, I would not see the coast in all those trees, so I stuck to the official coast path on the cliff top.

The coast south of Ravenscar

A sign on a wooden gate told me this was also part of the North Sea Trail. This was an attempt to create a long-distance path around the coast of seven countries in North Europe, around the North Sea. As I was to find when I got to Scotland (the next time I came across it) it seems to have been largely abandonded now, or at least large sections of the path are incomplete.

The path continued passing several small streams and waterfalls and continued to climb fairly gently. The undercliff to my right was getting larger and wider with areas of heathland now appearing between the trees.

The coast south of Ravenscar

Just ahead I came to the remains of the Ravenscar Radar Station.

Ravenscar Radar Station

This was used during World War II to detect invading German ships and aircraft in the channel. Now it is abandonded, but the buildings are still largely complete and it was clear from the size of them that this was once a busy place.

Beyond the old Radar station the path continued to climb and the cliffs were now extremely high, almost 200 metres above sea level. It was spectacular and the “Undercliff” area below the path was still continuing to get wider.

The coast at Ravenscar

I continued ahead to more or less the highest point of the cliffs.

The coast at Ravenscar

This was the site of the planned village of Ravenscar. It was planned to turn this small village into a large resort to rival that of Scarborough. To this end, roads and sewers were laid out, a railway station was opened and a hotel built. However the long and difficult walk from the top of the cliffs to the rocky beach almost 200 metres below meant it never achieved popularity. In addition it’s high cliff-top location meant it was far more exposed to the weather than other nearby resorts. As a result, most of the planned buildings were never built. The railway station closed in 1965.

The coast at Ravenscar

One of the few buildings that was completed was the hotel. Still open, it is now called the Raven Hall Country House Hotel. Unfortunately the grounds of the hotel occupy all the cliffs ahead so I now had to leave the coast (for the first time) to head beside the hotel on it’s landward side to the road (Station Road). Here I had to turn right and follow the road in front of the hotel. At the end of the hotel grounds the path turned left along a track to soon join the route of the old railway line.

Ravenscar

This closed in 1965, but trains used to run along it between Scarborough and Whitby.

Soon the route of the Cleveland Way turned right, off the former railway, to a parallel route closer to the coast and around the inland of a golf course, which was largely out of sight.

Ravenscar

This soon turns right past the site of old Alum works to return to the coast.

Ravenscar

Ravenscar

The Cleveland Way near Ravenscar

View back to Ravenscar

I could now see my destination, Robin Hood’s Bay ahead. It looked very pretty, climbing up through a steep valley from the beach.

View to Robin Hood's Bay

Ahead the geology had changed again and the cliffs showed signs of extensive erosion, like the soft cliffs of The East Riding of Yorkshire. I followed the path along the cliff top for around 3/4 of a mile gradually descending and then meeting a minor road.

View to Robin Hood's Bay

The road is a dead-end that serves Stoupebrow Cottage Farm and then becomes a steep track with steps to help you descend to the shore.

The Cleveland Way near Stoupebrow

At the bottom of the steps (there are a lot of steps!) I reached the beach at Stoupe Beck Sands. As the tide was in there wasn’t much in the way of sand today, however.

Stoupe Beck Sands, North Yorkshire

Instead I crossed the bridge of the Stoupe Beck which had cut this deep valley and climbed steeply back up the other side. Soon I emerged from the wooded valley back up to the cliff tops. I could look back to the headland at Ravenscar in the distance and ahead make out the pretty looking village of Robin Hood’s Bay.

Looking to Ravenscar from near Boggle Hole

The coast south of Boggle Hole

However the view ahead is deceptive because largely out of sight until you are on top of it is another steep valley. Here the path descends once more down to the pretty little bay with the wonderful name of Boggle Hole.

Boggle Hole

The valley has steep cliffs on either side and a rock, sand and shingle beach. To my surprise there is a Youth Hostel here (which also has a bar open to the public) though not much else.

That path crosses the Mill Beck stream via a bridge and then climbs up beside the Youth Hostel and through the woods via steps back to the cliff tops – the last climb before Robin Hood’s Bay.

It had been getting darker for a while and just as I emerged from the woodland the rain started. Light at first it unfortunately quickly got very heavy.

Robin Hood's Bay

The cliffs showed evidence of recent erosion and soon the path descended through woodland to the harbour at Robin Hood’s Bay.

This village is an absolute delight. It reminded me of Clovelly on the North Devon coast with very pretty houses lining the very steep and narrow main cobbled street through the village. It is rumoured that much of the village exists because it was a popular place for smuggling and that as a result there is a network of tunnels under the houses.

Whatever it’s history, it is exceptionally pretty, with the red tiled houses and the beautiful cobbled street. It is also very popular with walkers. Not only those walking the Cleveland Way along the coast, as I had been, but the Coast to Coast Walk devised by Alfred Wainwright that links St Bee’s on the Cumbria Coast to Robin Hood’s Bay via the National Parks of the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and North Yorkshire Moors. It is another route I’d like to follow sometime – but today was not the day.

Sadly I was in a hurry. I didn’t much have much time to spare to catch the bus I needed to get back to Scarborough in time for my train home. The heavy rain meant I had to keep the camera protected in my bag so I didn’t take any photos of the village itself (something I rectified on the next walk!).

Instead I hurried up the hill. I hadn’t counted on having to do this. I assumed when planning this walk that the buses would stop at the bottom near the coast and harbour. I soon realised when I arrived however that the road down to the coast was clearly far too steep and narrow to be usable by buses, so I had to hurry up the hill in search of a bus stop. I continued up the hill until the road widened and I passed the visitor car park. Just ahead I could see the bus stop and made it to the bus stop with less than 1 minute to spare!

From here I took the bus back to Scarborough. By the time I reached Scarborough the rain had cleared and it was back to sunshine. Due to the bus timings I had nearly an hour to wait in Scarborough so explored the town again, which was exceptionally pretty in the low evening sunshine.

Scarborough

I was surprised to find this Swiss-style cottage in one of the streets!

Swiss-style house in Scarborough

I walked along the promenade as far as the Spa to enjoy the fine view.

Scarborough looking south

Scarborough

From here I headed back to the town and then onwards to the railway station for my train home.

Scarborough station

This was a terrific walk. There was an excellent coast path the whole way and the scenery was incredibly varied and beautiful throughout. The walk reminded me very much of parts of the North Devon coast and was similarly demanding in places. I enjoyed exploring the little coves and rocky beaches. The village of Ravenscar was very interesting to see – the resort that was mostly never built. Lastly the places at either end were also really beautiful and I liked both Scarborough and Robin Hood’s Bay very much. I was really enjoying the coast of North Yorkshire and looking forward to my next walk already!

Here are details of the public transport needed for this walk.

Arriva bus route X93 : Middlesbrough – Ormesby – Guisborough -Scaling Dam – Aislaby – Whitby – Hawsker – Robin Hood’s Bay – Fylingthorpe – Cloughton – Scarborough. Buses run hourly seven days per week (but the service starts later and ends earlier on Sundays). Additional buses run in the summer months. It takes 40 minutes to travel between Robin Hood’s Bay and Scarborough.

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5 Responses to 238. Scarborough to Robin Hood’s Bay

  1. Fabulous scenery – just the sort I like, although I find the hidden ups and downs a bit frustrating on walks like this!

  2. jcombe says:

    Yes I agree about the hidden ups and downs. I still have memories of that “surprise” up and down near St Aldhelms Head in Dorset. At least the hidden one on this walk was not so bad as that one!

    • owdjockey says:

      Hi Jon, I remember that one really well, my first jaunt on the SWCP and I was doing a mega walk from Poole to Kimmeridge. I think I swore a little when I came upon that down&up before the Royal Marine memorial above Chapman pool.
      BTW, heres abit of trivia, James Blunt video of Carry You Home features St.Albans. Adhelms head at the conclusion

      cheers
      Alan

  3. I always save your walks for future reading. Thank you.

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