A steep stepped climb leads towards the ruins of Whitby Abbey, before a path leads along the cliff edge. What follows are a few miles of near-constant ascent and descent; these are rarely particularly high, but are often wearying, although the views out to sea reward the effort. A final steep descent along a road leads to the picturesque village of Robin Hood's Bay, famous as the eastern trailhead of Wainwright's Coast-to-Coast walk.
3 hours 34 minutes
Map of the leg
Maps courtesy of Google Maps. Route for indicative purposes only, and may have been plotted after the walk. Please let me have comments on what you think of this new format.
This leg starts off at the lift bridge over the river in the centre of Whitby at NZ899110.
Cross the bridge and continue on the other side. As the road curves to the right, turn left down Church Street. At the Board Inn, turn right to head up Church Lane; after a few yards a series of 199 steps lead up onto the clifftop to the east of the town. At the top follow the path as it passes St Mary's church on the left and go through a gate to reach a car park beside the ruins of Whitby Abbey on the right.
Turn half-left to head diagonally across the car park to join the access road. Immediately after the road curves to the right, turn left down a footpath. This slowly curves to the right and passes seaward of a series of buildings. When the surfaced path ends at a gate, turn left down a path that skirts a fence on the right. It squeezes past a wall into another field and follows a fence on the right. The path passes a caravan park on the right and descends some steps to reach a track that climbs up to run through the middle of the caravan site.
Follow the track as it heads through the caravan park. When it rejoins the clifftop once more, turn left to join a footpath. Go through a clapper gate and follow a fence on the left. At the end of the field go through a second clapper gate and continue following a fence on the left to reach the corner of the field. Here go through a third clapper gate down a little dip and up the other side to reach a fourth clapper gate. The path descends some wooden steps before climbing once more along the edge of the field. It climbs to reach a stile, and then runs between two fences to another stile. Some steps lead down to cross a boggy area, after which the path rises once more to pass seaward of a foghorn. The path continues on to reach the wall protecting Whitby Lighthouse at NZ928101.
At the wall, turn right to head uphill with the wall and lighthouse to the left. Cross a stone stile that leads to the access road to the lighthouse. Cross the road and climb steps that lead to a squeeze stile. The path curves to the left to follow a wall on the left eastwards. The wall ends and the path continues on; it drops downhill and climbs up steps to reach a small summit. The path then descends, following a fence on the right. Go through a pedestrian gate through a stone wall and follow a fence on the left downhill to reach a short but steep ascent. Cross a stile at the top and follow a fence on the right. Soon there is another stile; cross this and follow a hedge on the left to another stile. Go down some steps to another stile, and then down some stone steps to reach a stream at NZ933090.
Cross the stream and climb up stone steps on the other side. A flat level stretch heads on along the edge of the cliff before more steps lead down into trees. Cross a footbridge over a stream and then climb up wooden steps before climbing to enter another field. Follow a fence on the right along another relatively level section, before the path curves to the right and heads down steps into another wooded gully. Go through a pedestrian gate and cross a footbridge over Oakham Beck at NZ940082.
A path slopes up out of the gully into a field. It shortly descends into another gully at Limekiln Slack via steps and crosses a stream on a stone bridge, before more steps lead back up into a field. The path follows a fence on the right, climbing steadily. It crosses a shallow gully; the path curves to the right and continues climbing, and then curves to the left. As the path starts to fall a clapper gate is reached; this leads to steps and a slope that leads to a stream in Rain Dale. Cross the stream on a footbridge and climb out of the gully. Continue following the cliffs on the left as they curves around to take a more southwesterly heading.
Descend to cross another gully at Ness Ruck, and then another at Bay Ness, with an old railway trackbed off to the right. Soon a pedestrian gate leads through the fence on the right; this is a diversionary path due to coastal erosion. On the other side turn left to follow a fence on the left to reach another clapper gate that rejoins the original path. Follow the fence on the right to a pedestrian gate; the path passes hedges on the right belonging to houses. It emerges through a pedestrian gate onto a road called Mount Pleasant North. Follow this road westwards for a short distance until it ends at a T-junction with the B1447 road in Robin Hood's Bay at NZ950054.
Continue straight on along the road to pass the Grosvenor Hotel on the left. The road curves to the left past the hotel to head south downhill; 0.4 miles after the hotel it reaches the Bay Hotel at the bottom of the village at NZ952048.
Places of interest
Yarmouth and Yarmouth Castle
The town of Yarmouth was granted the first royal town charter on the Isle of Wight in 1135. It nestles at the mouth of the River Yar (as there are two Yar's on the small island, this one is known as the ‘western’ Yar).
Several sackings by the French led Henry VIII to construct Yarmouth Castle in 1547. This is in the care of English Heritage, although it is rather dominated by the ferry terminal and pier that lie on either side. The castle secured the town and led to the wonderful mix of buildings that stand around the High Street.
location UID #34
The ruins of Whitby Abbey would be dramatic enough, without its spectacular location on the clifftop above the harbour, the famous 199 steps that lead up to it, or its rather famous literary connection.
The first abbey on the site was founded in 657 by Oswy, then King of Northumbria, as a double monastery for nuns and monks. In 664 the famous Synod of Whitby was held at the abbey, during which it was decided that the Northumbria church would follow Roman practice rather than traditional Celtic Ionan traditions. This led to the eventual conversion of England to the Roman traditions. Hence a debate on the proper date of Easter and tonsures changed British history.
The first abbey was destroyed by marauding Danes (was there any other kind at the time?) between 867 and 870, and lay derelict for two centuries until a Benedictine abbey was founded by Reinfrid, one of William the Conquerorâ€™s soldiers. This thrived until it succumbed to the dissolution in 1540. The ruins became a landmark for local soldiers, which helped preserve them â€“ at least until German sailors caused considerable damage by shelling them in 1914!
But for many people, the abbey is best known through a literary connection: Bram Stokerâ€™s novel â€˜Draculaâ€™ features the creature landing at Whitby and climbing the steps to the ruins. Rumours that I have been mistaken for the creature whilst climbing the steps are, sadly, false.
location UID #355
Robin Hoodâ€™s Bay
Robin Hoodâ€™s Bay is yet another small fishing village on the northeast Yorkshire coast. It has a rather dubious connection with Robin Hood: allegedly French Pirates were pillaging the local fishermenâ€™s boats, and Robin hood fought them off and managed to return the plunder. Since Robin Hood himself is entirely fictional, I think the bay can claim the fictional connection! The village was famous for smuggling, so perhaps the locals were more on the side of the French than Robin Hood.
The village has a couple of pubs, many B&Bs, shops, a campsite and a museum.
The Cleveland Way passes through Robin Hoodâ€™s Bay, and it is also the eastern trailhead of the Coast-to-Coast path.
location UID #356
The Scarborough to Whitby railway
The Scarborough to Whitby railway was opened in 1885, connecting in the north at Whitby with the coastal line to Middlesborough, and in the south with Scarborough station. It was a steeply-graded line, with reversals required at both ends. The gradients were particularly troublesome in poor weather, as sea mists and rain would make the rails slippery. The line closed in 1965.
The route of the line between Whitby and Scarborough is now a cycle path.
location UID #357
Whitby has a railway station, which is a terminus of the Esk Valley Line to Middlesborough (the same line also serves Kildale station on the trail). See the National railway enquiries website for more information.
There are also regular bus services to Scarborough from the bus station, which is right outside the railway station.
Robin Hood's Bay has frequent services between Scarborough, WHutby and Middlesborough.