Route details, maps, pubs, features, local history and folklore for a wide variety of walks focusing primarily on Norfolk and Suffolk

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Cleveland Way - Whitby to Robin Hoods Bay

Black Nab

An 8 mile walk following the Cleveland Way between Whitby and Robin Hoods Bay

A fairly easy ramble across the cliffs from Whitby to Robin Hoods Bay with some spectacular views and scenery. It is worth taking some additional time to wander around Whitby before embarking on this walk. But beware of the Beguist, a legendary hellhound that is said to stalk the streets of Whitby.

Whitby to Robin Hoods Bay Walk - Essential Information

Walk Statistics:

Start point
WhitbyView in OS Map | View in Google Map
End Point
Robin Hoods BayView in OS Map | View in Google Map
Total Walk distance
8.0 miles
Walk difficulty
Moderate
Terrain
Cliff top paths
Obstacles
Do not stray too close to the cliff edges

Accommodation:

Middlewood Farm, Fylingthorpe Camp site View in OS Map | View in Google Map
Website
Description
A family run touring site within a short walk to Fylingthorpe village and Robin Hoods Bay

Transport:

Arriva Buses - Bus Service
Service Number
X93 - Arriva bus service lining Scarborough, Whitby and Middlesborough
Timetable

Walk Data

Date of Walk
2016-09-10
Walk Time
13:30 to 18:30
Walkers
Griffmonster, Kat
Weather Conditions
Bright sunny warm afternoon and early evening

Walk Notes

This was to be the first walk along the coastal section of the Cleveland Way, a most glorious section of the British coastline. At only seven miles this was to be undertaken as an afternoon walk after pitching camp at the village of Fylinthorpe, just inland from Robins Hood Bay, and then taking the bus into Whitby.

Whitby bus station is next to the train station and this provides the first distraction from the walk, the spectacle being a steam train waiting to leave the station. These days the North Yorkshire Moors railway extends some of its steam services along the Network Rail tracks into Whitby. The service runs alongside the regular rail service as far as Grosmont station where the steam service departs onto NYMR metals.

Obviously a steam train awaiting departure is a photographic opportunity for just about anyone. You don't have to be a train spotter to appreciate these amazing pieces of engineering. Consequently half an hour was taken out watching this beast prepare for leaving and then chug up the Esk valley following the river as it twists through the landscape.

The steam railway is not the only distraction for the station waiting room has been converted into a micropub. Anyone who delights in all manifestations of the flowering body of the Humulus lupulus plant could not pass this feast of ale by. Aptly named The Waiting Room, this small station room provides a friendly and welcoming retreat where conversation is the only form of entertainment. Just the way a pub should be. And it was conversation that ensued after entering the premises that soon revealed a somewhat frightening thought. There were a few locals from the village of Fylinthorpe in the pub and the topic of discussion was the forced closure of all the pubs in Robin Hoods Bay. Forced Closure. Shocking. At least Fylinthorpe had a pub. Well that idea was soon dashed as that was also included in the forced pub closures. Where would the happy campers of Fylinthorpe be able to savour an evening pint of beer. The answer was clear. They couldn't!

With a few more interrogative questions, the truth of the matter became evident. There were five pubs in the district, namely The Bay Hotel, The Dolphin Hotel, The Laurel Inn, The Bridge Inn and The Fylingdales Inn which were all owned by one man, a chap by the name of Martin Tucker. Mr Tucker had unexpectedly passed away the previous December. The pubs had carried on trading as the solicitors determined the fate of the estate. Unfortunately no-one had the foresight to check the premises licence which lapsed 21 days after the owner had died. In fact the pubs had traded throughout the year until one week prior to our visit when the local council noticed this discrepancy and immediately ordered all the pubs to stop serving alcohol from that point forward. The landlords were somewhat disgruntled for there was beer in the cellar, there were plenty of thirsty customers yet they could not make the two meet! They could still serve food and customers were allowed to bring in drinks as long as they were not purchased on the premises. What a mess. There was talk of each pub applying for a temporary licence which would last a week, and then they would have to close for a week before applying for the next temporary licence. What an utter mess. The full story can be found in The Yorks Press.

Another pint of beer was called for as such drinks seemed to be in short supply around these parts. More questions were asked. There was some suspicion that the Grosvenor Hotel in Robin Hoods Bay had not been owned by Mr Tucker and was continuing to serve beer. That would be our quest, to find this establishment!

Eventually one has to tear oneself away from all this. A short walk past a street entertainer provided a brief interlude whilst the swing bridge allowed a boat to pass through. This chap sat on a tricycle and all was decorated in silver paint. He sat there as stiff and unmoving as a statue. A tin in front of the trike had some coins in it and each time a curious onlooker added to this collection the statue would burst into life, honk a horn and frantically pedal for 10 seconds before returning to his statue impressions.

The route for the Cleveland Way is not well signposted through the town but is simple enough to follow from a map. Cross the swing bridge then turn left to follow the lanes through to the 199 steps up to the ruins of the abbey. It was Saturday and the good weather had brought hoards of sightseers into town. The streets were heaving. The steps were a constant barrage of bodies going up and down. There were plenty of pirates in attendance. I dare say these were not real salty seadog pirates but something to do with a pirate festival where everyone can dress up and utter a preponderance of ooo-arrr's.

The first landmark at the top of the steps is the church which was worth taking a few minutes out to wander through its interior. The path then reveals itself cutting across from the abbey to the cliff-top. However a distraction prevented us from immediately venturing onto this. Another micropub. Not just a micropub but a brewery and its attached micropub. This is the Whitby brewery. One could not get fresher beer, straight from the brewery to the pump.

It was well and truly mid to late afternoon before we set out walking. The sun was slowly lowering in the sky presenting some gorgeous yellow light and contrasting the aqua blues from the placid water of the sea below. A spectacular display and every bay and cliff was a new photographic opportunity.

The first section of the walk is through to a holiday park and there are plenty of people heading into Whitby from here. Beyond this one finds solitude all the way through to Robin Hoods Bay.

Just south of saltwick Bay, as the path passes Ling Hill, one encounters a building with a giant foghorn attached to its roof followed by a lighthouse. The Fog Signal Station as it is officially known is more fondly referred to as the Whitby or Hawkser Bull. The two large horns were powered by two 25 horsepower oil engines but were made redundant in 1987 when an electronic hooter replaced the assembly. Probably not quite the same and it must have been quite a blast that emitted from the horns. Not a place to stand close to on a foggy day pre-1987. The lighthouse sits a little further on which is automated these days with its buildings rented out as holiday cottages

At Maw Wyke the footpath junctions with Wainwright Coast to Coast path. This was a bit of a revelation as the fact that it ends at Robins Hoods Bay was well known but I for one certainly did not know it followed the Cleveland Way coastal route for several miles. The Coast to coast path is one that is a lure to many walker, myself included. Maybe one day. But for now I can say I have walked a few miles along it!

It is not till one gets to the turn of the coast at Cow and Calf rocks that Robin Hoods Bay comes into view and the path emerges at the top of the village. True enough the Grosvenor Hotel was open and serving beer. It was very popular. Well, it would be given that all the other pubs could not serve beer. In fact passing the other pubs, they all looked decidedly empty.

The final part of the walk, after chips at the local chippy, is up the footpath that leads off the end of the road in Robins Hoods Bay to Middlewood Farm campsite.

Robin Hoods Bay
Robin Hoods Bay

Directions

The Cleveland Way is clearly marked with the usual acorn markers of a national trail

From Whitby bus station head past the railway station and towards the river along New Quay road. Cross the swing bridge and immediately turn left. Continue until there is an open square with a large building that loks like a town hall. Proceed down the side of this and then left onto Church Street. Continue to near the end where Church Lane leads off to the right and up the 199 steps.

As stated there are 199 steps to climb up to the top of the cliff where St MArys Church and the ruins of Whitby Abbey sit. Continue past the church , cut diagonally across the car park and then take the roadway that leads towards the cliff edge. When this ends the Cleveland Way continues along the cliff top.

From this point to Robin Hoods Bay the path faithfully follows the cliff tops virtually all the way. The notable exceptions at the Whitby holiday park where one needs to follow the main track through the park, continuing straight ahead along the cliff tops when the road bends around. At the lighthouse the path runs behind the back of the complex.

The path emerges on Mount Pleasant North, in Robin Hoods Bay. Continue along this road and then follow it round to the left by the Grosvenor Hotel. Keep to the road which will steeply descend down into the old village. Just before the road ends at the bay, there is a road on the right by the Smugglers restaurant. This is more of an alley with a chip shop a few yards along it. To find the campsite keep to this track until it ends from where a footpath runs alongside the Marnar Dale Beck up through some woodland. Keep to the footpath after the woodland, around the side of a field and across the old railway track. This now enters the campsite.

199 steps Whitby
199 steps Whitby

Pubs

The Waiting Room, Whitby View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub

With no apologies, the quote from their face book page sums up this excellent little micropub: We are trying to create the essence of what a good pub was in the not too distant past. To this end, we are creating a convivial atmosphere where conversation takes over from electronics, people enjoy each others company and the drink provided is of a high standard. A good range of ales is accompanied by wines, ciders and soft drinks in the atmosphere of an old English station waiting rooms, complete with steam engines that terminate from the North Yorkshire Moors Railway

Review

If one finds this little micropub then there is no need to find another as there is nothing better, that I am certain. This really is what a pub should be. They care about their drinks, they care about their customers. Conversation is the order of the day and there is always an ale to suit everyones tastes

Whitby Brewery, Whitby View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub
Address
East Cliff, Whitby
Website

The Whitby brewery started up in 2013 moving up to a location in a converted barn opposite the Abbey ruins in 2016. This site includes a shop and micropub offering a variety of their ales, tapped straight from the brewery. One cannot getter fresher ale.

Review

What a discovery this little bar was. A brewery tap in a converted barn. Great ale. And the numerous customers certainly shown it was very popular. Once again the entertainment is conversation. Like it should be.

Grosvenor Hotel, Whitby View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub
Address
Station Road, Whitby
Website

This hotel offers all the usual creature comforts in its clean and comfortable rooms and bar and restaurant area. Food and drinks available with live music on selected nights. Ales include Wainwrights Golden

Review

With all other pubs in Robin Hoods Bay forced to relinquish their licence, this exception was proving to be very popular with locals and visitors alike. The ale was well kept and the Wainrights was refreshing although it has to be said not as distinctive as I was hoping. Nonetheless a rewarding end to the days walk.

Whitby abbey
Whitby abbey

Features

BarguestsView in OS Map | View in Google Map

North English folklore includes tales of a beast known as a Barguest or Barghest which is pronounced as 'bar-ghost'. There are various accounts of this form which is said to be either human or animal although most popular descriptions are of a huge black dog with large teeth, claws and wide fiery eyes. The eyes are often described as 'glaring saucers' and 'burning like coals' and witnessing such a presence is seen as a sign of a death is imminent. Even hearing a barguests haunting howl is a harbinger of the fate of someone close.

The Barguests haunts are generally lonely lanes at night or standing guard by gates or styles. There are several stories that have been handed down through the ages of such encounters. One comes from 1865 publication of the Monthly Packet which has a note from a resident from Whitby who informs us that

the barguest at Whitby used to be a frequent nightly visitor from 30 to 40 years ago particularly about the gauts (openings between the houses which lead from the streets to the water). All accounts invest these beings with 'saucer eyes'. One which haunted Haggesgate, at the junction of that street with the pier, had the power of expansion, and has even seen to grow bigger and bigger, until it blocked up the avenue! The popular notion is that the Barguest is either animal or human in form [and a sailor whom I well knew, went to his grave believing that a swollen leg, which once laid him up for a couple of months, was caused by an immense shadowy white dog, with saucer eyes coming between him and the wall as he was going through a dark narrow thoroughfare at night.

Another story comes from the village of Egton, close to Grosmount in the North Yorkshire Moors, although there is no indication of the period the story is set in. The tale is related by the Rev. John Christopher Atkinson, who was Vicar of Danby between 1850 and 1900, and tells of a young man venturing through St Hildas Church in Egton after a few drinks. Here, he encountered a donkey shaped Barguest which prevented him from passing through the churchyard. Being tenacious, he retreated to a nearby lane and managed to jump back into the churchyard at a point further on. This time the darkness hid an open grave into which he fell and broke his neck. There is no indication whether he survived and if he did not how the tale was ever told.

This folklore bears many similarities with the East Anglian hellhound known as Black Shuck. The fiery eyes, the portents of doom and the encounters in lonely lanes are all common themes in both tales. In a similar vein to the unearthed skeleton of a huge dog at Leiston Abbey in 2014, which the media soon connected to being the remains of a Shuck, it would appear Yorkshire has a corresponding discovery some decades before this. In 1951 at the coastal community of Kettleness the remains of a man and a large dog were uncovered during archaeological dig of a Roman signalling station. The position of the skeletons indicated that the pair were fighting at the time of their death. It was quoted that The jaws of the large creature were found curled around the man’s throat, the dog had died from a stab wounds and the man from his throat being ripped out. Of course the media jumped on this discovery as proof of the existence of a Barguest.

References
Cow and Calf
Cow and Calf

Images

Below are a selection of images taken from from the photo album for this walk. Feel free to browse through these or click on any image to view a larger version in the Gallery.

Click on an image below to view the Image Gallery

Maps

Below is the route depicted on the OpenStreetMap, Ordnance Survey Map and Google Map. Links to full page versions are found in the Essential Information

Summary of Document Changes

Last Updated: ... 2017-08-01

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