The Cleveland Way – Robin Hoods Bay to Whitby

Robin Hoods Bay sits on the Cleveland Way and is also the finish (or start) of the famous 192 mile Coast to Coast walk devised by Alfred Wainwright. The Cleveland Way from Ravenscar to Robin Hood’s Bay is described elsewhere on this blog. This particular walk of about six and a half miles to Whitby is mostly along the clifftop and offers some amazing views of Robin Hoods Bay and Saltwick Bay.

The whole of the coastal section of the Cleveland Way is covered on the Ordnance Survey explorer map OL27, the North York Moors – Eastern area. With this map, you also get a code for use on your iOS or Android smartphone or tablet. The explorer map is available in both the standard paper version and weatherproof ‘Active’ version.

The walk undulates gently with three moderate climbs, about 300m of ascent altogether. The path is distinct throughout and easy to follow. There are parts where the original path has eroded, so please take care to follow the diversion signs. If you are taking children or a dog, be aware that parts of the path run very close to the cliff edge. Please keep an eye on your children and your dog on a lead.

The old railway line (Cinder Track) runs inland from Robin Hoods Bay to Whitby and could be used for a return journey if you are looking for a circular walk.

Robin Hoods Bay

Robin Hoods Bay is on the X93 bus route, running between Middlesborough and Scarborough via Guisborough and Whitby. This means you can start the walk from either direction. Then you can catch a bus back to your starting point. Car parking is available in Robin Hood’s Bay at the Old Railway Station car park (pay and display). There is plenty of car parking in Whitby.

Exploring the Village

The start of this walk is just a short distance from the Old Station car park or a short walk uphill from the bus stop. The Cleveland Way is clearly signposted. If you have the time it’s worth walking down into the village itself and exploring the jumble of picture-postcard cottages with red pantile roofs. There are lots of alleyways, snickets and ginnels to walk around.

If you make it down to the beach and it is low tide, there is usually an ice-cream van parked on the beach, and plenty of rockpools to walk around. There is also a National Trust visitor centre in the Old Coastguard Station by the quayside and plenty of cafes, pubs and shops lining the streets.

If you’re exploring the village it’s a steep climb back up the bank to the top. The coastal path heads out of the village via Mount Pleasant Street and joins the cliff top. The clifftop path starts at Rocket Post Field, which is owned by the National Trust. There is an old rocket post here. In the past, this was used for practising the rocket launching of lifebelts to stricken vessels. The path runs out along the top of the cliffs to Ness Point.

If you are walking northwards be sure to stop every once in a while and have a look back at Robin Hoods Bay and distant Ravenscar. The views from this clifftop vantage point are truly spectacular. If the tide is out you can clearly see the famous concentric rings of the sea bed.

Rain Dale, Maw Wyke Hole, Whitby Lighthouse

Heading north now, Robin Hood’s Bay disappears from view. The path dips and rises at Rain Dale and again when it crosses Oakham Beck at Maw Wyke Hole. Here there is a signpost marking the point where the Cleveland Way meets the Coast to Coast footpath which shares the route back to Robin Hood’s Bay. If you look at the Ordnance Survey map of this area you’ll see some fabulous names for the coastal features that you’ve passed, Bulmer Steel, Castle Chamber, Cow & Calf, Craze Naze, Clock Case Nab, Far Jetticks, Normanby Stye Batts and White Horse.

From Oakham Beck, the path continues below Hawsker Bottoms, onto Gnipe Howe and Widdy Head. As you reach Whitestone Point below Ling Hill there is a large seabird colony on the cliff and on the clifftop the white structure of the Whitby Lighthouse. This is an automated lighthouse and owned by Trinity House. The surrounding buildings are now available as holiday cottages. It’s also possible to stay in the adjacent fog signal station, which used to be called the Hawkser Bull when it was operational.

Saltwick Bay, Whitby

Leave the lighthouse behind and rejoin the Cleveland Way. At this point, the path crosses a couple of fields full of cows. Once past the livestock, Saltwick Bay comes into sight. This is an absolutely stunning place protected by two large rock outcrops made of shale. The southerly outcrop Black Nab looks like a surfacing submarine. When viewed from Black Nab, the northerly outcrop Saltwick Nab looks like a Sperm Whale. The bay is popular with photographers and it is well worth a detour down to the beach if you have time. There is a footpath close to the entrance to the holiday park.

The coastline here runs east to west, which means in summer the sun both rises and sets into the sea. The sun setting behind Saltwick Nab is a truly spectacular sight. In 1976 an old fishing vessel the Admiral Von Trump was wrecked in the bay. The wreckage adds some foreground interest to many a photograph taken in the bay. The Bay is also a great place for fossil hunting.


To continue on to Whitby the Cleveland Way passes through a caravan park.

The route climbs onto the Scar. If you look down at low tide there is another shipwreck, the MV Creteblock. Unbelievably this was a ship made out of concrete, a novel idea that was tried during the 1st World War when steel was in short supply. The MV Creteblock worked as a tugboat until 1934, when it was brought to Whitby to be dismantled. It was never dismantled, instead, the ship was scuttled and broken up with explosives where she now rests.

Whitby Abbey is now in view and the path soon arrives at St Mary’s Abbey and churchyard. If you want to explore Whitby or just catch a bus back to Robin Hood’s Bay, walk down the 199 steps into the town. The bus station is next to the railway station.

Read my Whitby guide.

In summary, this is an excellent walk full of interest and ever-changing clifftop views. It links Robin Hood’s Bay and Whitby – both places worth exploring in their own right.


Whilst I take every care to ensure the accuracy of the route descriptions, I cannot accept responsibility for errors or omissions. The route described may be pleasant for walking in fine weather but can become slippery, boggy and dangerous in wintry or wet weather. On days when visibility is impaired by fog, rain, cloud or mist, some landmarks used as direction aids in the route descriptions may not be visible.

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Exploring the Yorkshire Coast - Robin Hood's Bay to Whitby