The Cleveland Way starts from the market town of Helmsley in North Yorkshire, skirts its way clockwise around the North York Moors via the Cleveland Hills, joins the coast at Saltburn-by-the-Sea and follows it all the way down to Filey. If you’re out for a longer walk, you could start by joining the path at Whitby, and walk the additional five miles or so down to Robin Hood’s Bay.
However, this short section should provide enough fresh air to reinvigorate the spirits, with plenty of spare time for investigating the fossil cliffs
and exploring the rockpools
as you go.
Robin Hood’s Bay
Start at the station car park on Station Road in Robin Hood’s Bay. As you emerge, turn right to head down the main road through the heart of the village (known as Bay Town to the locals) in the direction of the beach, passing Station Road post office on your left, which sells copies of the tide timetable.
The road winds its way around the hugely pretty higgledy-piggedly fishermen’s cottages, passing quirky shops, inviting tea rooms and secret-looking cobbled paths leading off the main street. At the bottom you’ll find the Old Coastguard Station, now a visitor centre run by the National Trust, and there’s also the Yorkshire Dinosaur & Fossil Museum along the way, ideal for young fossil-hunters to build up an appetite for the coastal adventure to come.
Once you’re sure the tide is out and set to remain that way for the next hour, head on to the beach, walk south with the cliff face on your right. At a march, you could probably reach Boggle Hole in about 10 minutes, but you’ll see that the soft rocks of the cliffs and exposed rocks of the seabed make this bay perfect for discovering all sorts of mysterious objects. Look for creatures and fossils in the rockpools, the debris at the foot of the cliffs, or strewn in the mud and sand along the way.
Boggle Hole itself is a crevice in the cliff with uniquely curved-out hollows, worn away by the sea. Legend has it that the hole was named after the boggle, or goblin, said to haunt the cove, and that it was once a favourite spot for smugglers – so there’s plenty to feed youngsters’ imaginations as they search for lost treasure of one sort or another. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, so do confiscate any hammers before beginning the journey.
The hole also has fantastic acoustics if you fancy trying out your best sheepdog whistles here while your little hobgoblins explore. Be aware that the beach is dog-friendly, so you may end up with a few new friends if your whistling’s up to much – my musical friend was nearly knocked off his feet by an ecstatic greyhound on its first ever trip to the seaside.
The Cleveland Way
When you’re ready to head back to Robin Hood’s Bay, it’s worth taking the Cleveland Way along the cliff-top simply for the stunning views. Walk into the inlet next to Boggle Hole, where you’ll see the YHA café (friendly staff, local information, toilets, pirate decorations and good coffee).
Take the steps to the right of the café, signposted as a National Trail. This is a steep climb up steps, so do factor that in (you could always walk back along the beach, if the tide is out). The path takes you up through woodland and out on to the edge of fields curving around and overlooking the bay.
Following the signs for Robin Hood’s Bay, you’ll pass brambly hedges and go through an enchanting arched walkway before being met with an idyllic pastoral scene where fat milky-white cows graze against the backdrop of the blue sea. Do take extreme care with children and dogs as you go, as there is at least one point along the path without a fence between you and the drop down the cliff-face, where you’ll be treading only a metre or two from the edge.
Take your time to savour the spectacular views before heading back down woodland steps and out on to the concrete suntrap of the sea wall picnic area, just above the beach. Follow the path to your left up some stone steps between a couple of houses to emerge by the coastguard station once more, with time to enjoy
the cafés and other delights of Robin Hood’s Bay.
HOW TO GET THERE
By car, from the north, take the A1/A19 to A171 or A170. From the south, take the M1/M18 or A1 to A64 via Malton and Pickering. By public transport, Arriva runs buses from Scarborough to Middlesborough through Robin Hood’s Bay and Whitby.
FIND OUT MORE
North York Moors National Park
The Cleveland Way
The Dock, Old Village, Robin Hood’s Bay YO22 4SH
Cafe-style refreshments or hearty Yorkshire meals in what was once the old bakery.
La Rosa Campsite
Near Goathland, North York Moors YO22 5AS
Stay in vintage caravans heated by wood-burning stoves at this colourful eco-friendly campsite on the North York Moors.
Abbey Lane, Whitby, North Yorkshire YO22 4JT
Set high above Whitby and definitely worth a visit. Open Saturdays and Sundays during winter, except 24 Dec 2012 to 1 Jan 2013.
OS Explorer 27
Grid reference: NZ 950 054