Most people visit Ravenscar for the stunning views over Robin Hood’s Bay. These are spectacular all year round, but especially so in springtime when the gorse is in bloom and late summer when the heather is flowering. Robin Hood’s Bay refers to the Bay and also the picturesque old fishing village.
The whole of the coastal section of the Cleveland Way is covered on the Ordnance Survey map OL27, the North York Moors – Eastern area.
Ravenscar – History
The history of Ravenscar is strange, to say the least. After the Whitby to Scarborough railway line was built in 1885, Ravenscar was thought up by developers as a new resort to rival Scarborough. Drains were laid and some streets were marked out, ready for development. The plans included houses, shops, hotels, formal gardens and an esplanade along the clifftop.
However, the windswept clifftop location, together with a difficult descent to a rocky beach attracted few investors and developers. The scheme was eventually abandoned in 1913. Today it is a quiet place, the railway is long gone and only a few houses, a National Trust Visitor Centre and the splendid Raven Hall Hotel make up what is now little more than a hamlet.
Ravenscar – Geology
Ravenscar is geologically interesting. The Peak fault, a fracture line that can clearly be seen, has raised the land here by over 600 feet. This has exposed rock strata that would normally be deep underground. It also divides two different types of rock strata. South of Ravenscar down to Scalby Ness the cliffs are made of hard rocks. As a result, the cliff line is fairly straight with few coves. North of Ravenscar the coastline is mostly made up of softer rocks. These offer less resistance to erosion by the sea, so the coastline here is characterised by a number of scallop-shaped bays, with protective headlands made from harder, more resistant rock.
Alum reserves are found underneath the shales that make up much of the coastline from Ravenscar to Staithes. These were extensively mined up until the mid-1800s. The remains of the quarries and ports used to transport the alum can still be found in a number of places along this stretch of coastline.
Lyke Wake Walk
Spare a thought if you see an exhausted walker heading towards the Raven Hall Hotel. They are probably heading for a well-earned rest. Ravenscar is the end of the infamous Lyke Wake Walk, a 42-mile hike across the North Yorkshire Moors from Osmotherly. The walk is supposed to be completed in 24 hours.
There are four ways to get from Ravenscar to Robin Hood’s Bay. You can walk down the steep path to the rocky beach below Ravenscar. Once there, walk along the shoreline. This can only be done if the tide is out or going out. You can check the tides here.
If you prefer the cliff tops or the tide is not favourable, the normal route is to follow the Cleveland Way which runs along the cliff tops.
You can also follow the old railway line (Cinder Track) which goes through Fylingthorpe to the old Railway Station at Robin Hood’s Bay.
The final option is to climb high above the coast, across Howdale Moor for a truly spectacular view of Robin Hood’s Bay. Of course, any of these routes can be combined to make a nice circular walk.
This post describes the two coastal routes, which make a perfect walk of about 7 or 8 miles. The best option I think is to walk along the shoreline walk to Robin Hood’s Bay and return via the Cleveland Way. If you want to miss out some of the climbing on the Cleveland Way, then retrace your steps along the beach to Stoupe Beck (tide permitting) and join the Cleveland Way there.
Of course, you could reverse these walks and start in Robin Hood’s Bay. However, it’s probably easier and definitely cheaper to park in Ravenscar. As you drive down into Ravenscar there is plenty of free parking on the roadside (YO13 0NE). If you have arrived in Ravenscar from Scarborough, along the Cleveland Way, walk along the road or the clifftop path to the Raven Hall Hotel.
Shoreline Walk – Peak Steel
Firstly, if you want to walk along the shoreline and beach, plan your walk to start at or near low tide. The first part of the walk along to Stoupe Beck Sands is only possible when the tide is out, and it’s not possible to pass Boggle Hole at high tide. That said, the Cleveland Way can be accessed at both Stoupe Beck and Boggle Hole if you need to get off the beach.
Next to the entrance to the Raven Hall Hotel is a path which leads down to the golf course. Follow this until you reach a wooden “Footpath” sign. Follow this across the golf course to an area of long grass above the cliffs. The path here seems to lead nowhere, but persevere, it drops down onto the clifftop with some spectacular views to the left-hand side. Be careful as there are also some steep drops.
The path then swings to the right and drops steeply downhill towards the shore. Take care, especially as you near the rocky shore, the path is steep and slippy. You arrive on the shore between Old Peak and Peak Steel. The flat rocks around Peak Steel in front of you are home to a large group of common and grey seals. These are very noisy and you probably heard them on your descent. The seals are shy creatures and best observed from a distance. If you have a dog, best to keep them on a lead. (See my post about the Seal Colony at Ravenscar if you want more information)
Shoreline Walk – Stoupe Beck Sands and Boggle Hole
You could retrace your steps back up the cliff and pick up the Cleveland Way route to Robin Hood’s Bay. However, it is possible to walk along the base of the cliffs over the rocks and pools, eventually getting on to the sands around Stoupe Beck. Note that many of the rocks are covered in seaweed and can be very slippy. Also, the tide comes in quickly here so check the tides. You need to find your own route across. I would try and stay away from the base of the cliffs. Pieces of rock seem to continually fall from the cliffs, especially after it’s been raining.
From Stoupe Beck continue along the sands to Boggle Hole. At Boggle Hole, Mill Beck runs into the sea and if you feel in need of refreshment, there is a cafe near the Youth Hostel. The cave in the cliffs is presumably the Boggle’s Hole, a Boggle is a local name for a hobgoblin. Walk along the sands from Boggle Hole to arrive on the beach in Robin Hood’s Bay. Once at Robin Hood’s Bay, there are pubs, cafes, shops and fish and chips if you are feeling hungry or thirsty.
Ye Dolphin has a fine selection of ale with a rustic interior. The food menu has lots of fresh fish dishes and dogs are welcome. Watch how much you drink though, you still have to walk back to Ravenscar!
The Cleveland Way route rises and falls quite a bit, reaching sea level twice at Stoupe Beck and Boggle Hole, so there is a fair bit of climbing involved.
The path is picked up at the National Trust Visitor Centre and clearly signposted. A pleasant descent through woodland eventually brings you to the remains of the Low Peak Alum Works. This is now owned by the National Trust. The stone walls and foundations mark out the site of the various buildings that used to be here. It is also a great place to admire the view across the bay. This site is also home to both adders and slow worms.
The path continues along the cliff tops and eventually joins the road down to Stoupe Beck Farm. It then descends steeply down to Stoupe Beck and the beach. Ascending again on the other side the path runs on to Boggle Hole. A wooden bridge takes you over Mill Beck. The path then climbs again and runs along the cliff tops before arriving in the back lanes of Robin Hood’s Bay. If you are returning along this route the Cleveland Way starts next to the National Trust, Old Coastguard Station opposite the Bay Hotel.
Robin Hood’s Bay
Robin Hood’s Bay is one of the most picturesque villages on the coast. It is full of colour-washed stone cottages with red pantiled roofs hugging the steep slopes overlooking the bay. There are many legends about how it got its name, the most popular being that the famous outlaw kept boats here in case a quick getaway was needed.
Back in the 18th Century the cobbled streets twisting their way down to the sea were thick with smuggling activity. Many of the houses have ingenious hiding places as villagers would hide contraband from the customs men.
Today the streets are full of tourists making their way up and down. It is a very popular holiday destination, many of the old cottages are now holiday lets.
Robin Hood’s Bay is also at the end of a long-distance walk. You’ll quite likely see people heading for the Bay Hotel which is the finishing point of the Coast-to-Coast walk established by Alfred Wainwright.
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