One of the prettiest coastal villages in England, Robin Hood's Bay attracts thousands of visitors each year to its steep narrow streets of huddled houses perched on the edge of a wide, sweeping bay.
Distance: 8 miles
Time: 4 hours
Conditions: field paths and well made tracks
Refreshments: Robin Hood's Bay
OS Explorer Map OL27
Originally published: 30 November 2007
Behind the village is a broad semicircle of farmland where settlement began and it is this fascinating area with its constant views of the sea that is explored in this most rewarding 8 mile walk.
From the car park by the roundabout at the top of the steep village bank take the road to Whitby and 150 yards past the Victorian villas of Mount Pleasant turn right on to Smay Lane. After a sharp bend to the left this scales the heights to Smailes Moor Farm. When you have recovered and enjoyed the breathtaking vistas of the bay which curves round to the distant headland of Ravenscar, go left along High Lane where the sturdy hedgerow has been bent and bowed by the prevailing winds.
In half a mile you cross the Whitby road to St. Stephen's church, built in 1821 on the site of an earlier chapel of ease to serve the scattered farms of the parish of Fylingdales. It is worth a visit for its original Georgian box pews, a three deck pulpit and, to the left of the altar, the memorial stone for the Farsyde family.
Next, take the lane opposite the church gate. In 150 yards you will pass the parish pinfold, first mentioned in 1718. It was still in use in 1918 when it cost 8d, (3p), to recover a stray beast. In another 200 yards, and just past a cottage, go left on a path which leads to the 17th and 18th houses of Raw, an early centre of the Bay community.
At the village street, turn right, uphill and, shortly after passing a phone box, go left on a path which stays high up on the edge of the moor which encircles the bay. In half a mile go straight over the access track to Skerry Hall. The path, which can be muddy even in dry conditions, passes through thick gorse to reach the Scarborough road from Fylingthorpe. Turn left.
In about 100 yards go right, signed to Fyling Hall, now a school. The lane soon drops through woods to this imposing house, built in 1819 for John Barry, a Whitby shipowner.
Go right opposite the hall on a bridleway which penetrates into the valley of the Ramsdale Beck. In about a mile you reach Ramsdale Mill, an early corn mill, still with its wheel, rebuilt in 1859 after a flood had destroyed its predecessor. The mill is in a dramatic setting overlooking a densely wooded deep ravine.
Continue past the mill to the nearby farm and turn right on to a little used bridleway which climbs through Carr Wood to a T junction. Turn left.
After a gate cross one field to another T junction. It is worth walking 100 yards or so down the arm to the left to have a look at a well preserved section of the medieval wall which surrounded the deer park of the Abbots of Whitby. Half a dozen huge stone crosses some 5 feet high are built into the wall here to mark the boundary of the monastic land. Over 20 similar crosses have been found on other sections of the wall.
Retrace your steps and resume the walk along the other arm of the T. The deeply rutted bridleway soon goes left, continuing downhill to Swallow Head Farm and from there on an easier surface to a tarred lane. Turn right to pass Fyling Old Hall, a stately house once owned by the abbots and rebuilt in 1629 by Sir Hugh Cholmley who developed the local alum industry.
100 yards beyond the hall our lane is crossed by the trackbed of the coastal railway, closed in 1965. Here you could go left, along the line directly back to Robin Hood's Bay, saving about 2 miles. However our longer route goes right, along the broad track as it climbs in a great loop towards Ravenscar. It is well used by cyclists.
Where it straightens out, at Browside Farm, there are panoramic coastal views. Look out here too for another of the area's curiosities. Just over a mile away, and to the left of the readily
visible Fyling Hall School are the brightly coloured columns and pediment of a miniature Greek temple. It was built by the Barry family in 1891 as a folly. Initially used as a pigsty, it is now an attractive holiday cottage.
We continue along the railway track a few yards beyond Ewefield House and then go left over a stile and down the concreted approach to Home Farm. Our way bears to the right of the buildings and descends across another field to a farm track. Go right to reach Scarborough Lane where we turn left. The Cleveland Way is joined in another 200 yards close to the cliff edge.
From here Robin Hood's Bay village is about a mile and a half distant along one of the finest stretches of the coastal path. There are two sharp climbs, from Stoupe Beck and from the Boggle Hole Youth Hostel. The reward is at the end where the picturesque tightly packed 17th century houses suddenly appear on their ridge below, sheltered from the winds and protected from the ravages of the North Sea by a massive wall.