Day Out: Robin Hood’s Bay, North Yorkshire

On the North Yorkshire coast, you’ll hear tales of a town that was preyed on by pirates until an outlaw from Sherwood Forest showed up to save it. Roly Smith finds out if the legends are to be believed

United Kingdom, UK, England, North Yorkshire, Great Britain, North York Moors National Park, British Isles, Robin Hood�s Bay at dusk

Robin Hood, Britain’s most popular and enduring folk hero,
is usually associated with Sherwood Forest, which is about as far as you can get from the sea in England.
So why does a bay on the North Yorkshire coast
bear his name? 


There are several versions of the story, but the most widely accepted seems to be that our hero in Lincoln Green once successfully fought a battle with a notorious piratical cleric known as Damon the Monk, who had been harrying coastal villages. In true swashbuckling style, Robin strung Damon and his crew up from their own yard-arm.

The truth is, of course, that Robin was a kind of medieval superhero, and his moniker crops up in place names all over the country, from Cornwall to Caithness. 

But there may just be an inkling of truth in the local legend, for on Stoupe Brow on the moors above the bay, there is a Robin Hood’s Butts, where the man in tights could have practised his archery. 

1. Follow the line

Our walk starts from the former station car park at the top of the village, and takes us south along the line of the former Scarborough to Whitby railway, which opened in 1885. Leaving the line at the bridge crossing Middlewood Lane, drop steeply down on a lane that crosses chattering Mill Beck by a footbridge.

2. Onion rings

Passing through Mill Beck, is a geologist’s and rockpooler’s paradise. The concentric scalloped scars of 

ts wave-cut Jurassic Lower Lias limestone, best seen at low tide, are prime examples of ‘onion weathering’, where the rocks have been peeled away like a slice through a huge onion. In addition to curled rams-horn ammonite fossils, over 500 species of modern marine life, including many varieties of seaweed, shellfish and sea urchins, can be found here.

3. Coastal cottages

Turn left to cross the bridge at Boggle Hole and follow the Cleveland Way north along the cliff-top path back to the jumble of cottages of Robin Hood’s Bay, which marks the eastern end of Wainwright’s Coast to Coast marathon.


Ye Dolphin is appropriately only 50 yards from the sea, and a real smugglers’ pub, with low ceilings, cosy open fires, real ales and a fish-dominated menu. And if you visit on a Friday night, you’re bound hear some sea shanties, as the Robin Hood’s Bay Folk Club meets here.


Ye Dolphin, King Street, Robin Hood’s Bay, North Yorkshire, YO22 4SH