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Robin Hoods Bay

In general tourist traps like this are best avoided by sensible people, but The Bay has enough going for it to be worth visiting regardless.

Robin Hoods Bay from the beach What the Robin Hood connection is nobody seems to know, but what you do have is a quite stunning collection of houses perched one above the other on the steepest possible street all  intersected by connecting passageways and ginnels.  Fortunately tourists' cars have to stop in the car park at the top of the hill so while the place may be overrun by gawping grockles at least you don't have to worry about being run over.

At the top of the hill you have a collection of guest houses and a couple of small hotels, and a bigger pub with a nice conservatory. The views are good, and this is as far as some folk get when they see how steep the hill down is.

At the bottom of the town you have the "Bay Hotel", the official end of Wainwright's Coast to Coast walk where on an evening you can often spot tired "coast to coasters" having a celebration meal and a pint. The shops at the bottom of the hill are a bit rundown, which considering the number of visitors they have to cater for is inexplicable. There's another two pubs in the old town, the Dolphin and the Laurel. I've eaten in both while camping nearby, and while it aint haute cuisine it's good honest pub grub. There's a chippy at the bottom of the hill which has enormously long opening hours, and when I last went a pair of young lads in charge who delighted in verbally abusing the customers. Hopefully they're history now because the fish and chips were good and there's but the one chippy in the village.

From the side of the chippy there's a gentle(ish) footpath up through the woods which leads to a really good campsite above the village. Just dwell on that for a moment. A  quiet child friendly campsite with a footpath directly down to a largely pedestrianised village. That's a pretty safe environment for a family holiday. It's even better now they've invested in a new ablution block in the big field. It does get full though, so if you're going in high season book in advance. There's another couple of campsites nearby, but they're further up the hill so it's a long way to walk off the beer on an evening.

The Beach

Last year I spluttered my Sunday morning cuppa all over the dining room carpet when I read a travel article in one of the Sunday broadsheets describe Robin Hoods Bay as having a fine sandy beach. If you're looking for sand, look elsewhere. The beach is pure rock backed by high cliffs. The cliffs are eroding as you'd expect, but that's quite a bonus as this is one of the UK's top fossil hunting grounds. Even the most casual browser will find an ammonite or something. The beach is impassable to the North, but when the tide's out you can walk all the way to Ravenscar passing the Youth Hostel at Boggle Hole as you go. If you plan on stopping at the Youth Hostel be sure to book as it's a favourite with school parties, and it's on the Cleveland Way and it's on the Coast to Coast.

You can also walk along the cliff top to Ravenscar along the old railway track; so along the beach when the tide's out and back along the tops after poking round Ravenscar is the classic walk round here.


Now Ravenscar is my kind of place, an absolute gem packed full of interest. In the middle ages Alum was mined and refined here. You can wander round the remains of the old Alum works, set in the heather and gorse of the hillside. As it's owned by the National Trust now everything's been infoboarded and the footpaths are all in good order.

As you walk up to the village from Robin Hoods Bay you come to the NT shop with Ice Creams and the usual stuff, which is just below the Raven Hall Hotel. The hotel is quite something with battlements on the cliff top and gardens blasted from the cliff face. It has a lot of history which I won't bore you with, except to mention that George III was treated here for his insanity.  It's used as the venue for very posh weddings, but accommodation is actually quite reasonably priced and I shall report back if I get round to finally staying there this year. They have a bar where they happily serve beer to passing walkers and a few tables to sit round outside, but if you want to sit in the garden they do charge for that. And I almost forgot to mention, they have a quite ridiculous looking golf course set among the cliffs.

Moving just on from the hotel is the rest of Ravenscar which is really rather silly. A whole new seaside resort was laid out by developers in the  early years of the 20th century when the Whitby to Scarborough railway was being built. The roads and the sewers were built and are still there, but only a handfull of buildings ever went up. Perhaps this was because this is one of the windiest places on the coast being 200m above sea level. Still, ever cloud has a silver lining, and one of the few buildings to go up is now a tearoom where you can sit outside on a nice day.

Cycle path rising up towards Ravenscar The railway is long since closed and has been turned into a cycle path/bridleway. But be warned, flat it is not. There's a long slow climb from Whitby to Ravenscar, and even more of a climb from Whitby towards Robin Hoods Bay. You can hire bikes just outside whitby at High Hawsker, where a very friendly man fixed my daughter's bike after the seat post collapsed. The one great disappointment is that the railway tunnel at Ravenscar is now closed and you have to cycle round. It probably just needs a bit of pointing, but it's far easier for those who would have us live our lives encased in cotton wool to close it than put it right. I mean, it's only a hundred and twenty years old and the Victorian's did know a bit about civil engineering. Not like today when the public sector build stuff and then knock it down  thirty or forty years later as being unfit for modern usage. And not only do they demolish perfectly serviceable buildings, they rebuild them on PFI contracts (that's the never never to thee and me) which at some point is going to come home to roost. I feel sorry for whoever has to pick up the pieces of  this sorry debt fuelled economy of ours after Gordon ("my middle name is prudence") Brown steps down.


Robin Hood's Bay and the surrounding area is packed with holiday cottages. A Google search will pull up plenty of individual ones, but here's some of the big players:

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Comments (10)
posted by HT - SHEFFEILD 01/04/2009 21:11:04
did victor meldrew write this article! cheer up
posted by j smith yorks 23/04/2009 16:50:55
What has Gordon Brown ever done for us?

The collapse of the banking industry, housing market, ever diminishing national assets, bus lanes. Oh and not enough cycle paths.
posted by Voyage34 22/06/2009 14:01:06
Enjoyed your comments and insight into this part of the coastline until you started moaning on about Gordon Brown and New Labour policies. This is for people looking for useful information about the coast and we don't want to be lectured by you.

posted by Birdbath 22/06/2009 21:47:07
"Prudence" that gave me quite a chuckle. I'll never look at him in the same way again. You know I may even smile now when he appears on the news instead of swearing at the TV.
posted by Phil 25/06/2009 16:10:02
What has Gordon Brown ever done for us? The collapse of the banking industry, housing market, ever diminishing national assets, bus lanes. Oh and not enough cycle paths. I don't think you can blame the recession on Gordy can you, not unless he controls the rest of the worlds economies as well!! and i do believe we are now ahead of the others in coming out of it, sorry is this a holiday review site, oops! Read more about Rally driving in yorkshire from www.yorkshire-guide.co.uk
posted by Kevin 26/02/2010 20:06:54
I am very pleased to pictures of a very fine old friend, I spent many many hours walking the area and fishing the seas here. Leave plitics out of our fine coast line, enjoy what has been and will be here for a very long time. Nature at its best, raw and magic. Anthony D Smith
posted by Anthony D Smith 03/06/2010 12:40:49
posted by D EVANS 11/09/2010 21:58:23
What do you mean, no sandy beach? There's plenty of sandy beach at the bay between the slipway and Boggle Hole.
posted by Mikey D 27/03/2011 22:02:34
oh dear there are some tetchy people, anyway just to say what a fantastic informative website. living in lincs the north east coast is available to us as a day trip and your hard work at posting all this info is greatly appreciated
posted by dunc near grimsby 16/10/2011 20:53:48
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