â€ś Robin HoodÂ’s Bay is a small fishing town (hardly more than a village) , five miles south of Whitby, on the coast of North Yorkshire, England. The town, which consists of a maze of tiny streets, has a tradition of smuggling, and there is reputed to be a network of subterranean passageways linking the houses. The main legitimate activity had always been fishing, but this started to decline in the late 19th century. These days most of its income comes from tourism. â€ž
~The Land that Time (and mobile phone masts) forgot~
Robin Hood's Bay on the North Yorkshire coast is one of those perfect little seaside towns that seem to have stepped straight out of a time warp from a more innocent and simpler age. Short of hijacking Dr Who's Tardis and setting it to the late 19th or early 20th century, a visit to Robin Hood's Bay is the closest thing to time travel. It's the sort of place where wholesome pursuits like hunting for tiddlers in rock pools with shrimping nets and taking bracing walks along the beach, quite possibly in horizontal rain, then returning to a tea shop for a scone and piping mug of tea are the order of the day. It's like stepping into an Enid Blyton novel where adventure lies just around the headland and there might just be a couple of men with no necks up to no good who would have 'gotten away with it if it hadn't been for those pesky kids'. Sorry - I think my Enid Blyton and Scooby Doo references were getting a bit confused there.
Robin Hood Bay is the type of town that has looked progress and modernity firmly in the eye and said "Thanks but no thanks!" although possibly they'd make an exception for four-wheel drive vehicles which are essential for dealing with the local roads especially in the winter. Whilst other seaside towns fell to the evils (or delights, depending on your perspective) of candy floss, amusement arcades, chip shops and J D Wetherspoon pubs, Robin Hood's Bay has turned its back on such distractions, knowing that no such 'modern' gimmicks are needed when you've got a perfect old fashioned village and a spectacular coast line. This is a place where every business is locally owned and run and where you'll find none of the normal stalwarts of the High Street. There's no W H Smith to deliver your newpaper or Boots to sell your headache tablets.
Of course it also helps to be cut off from the outside world by some of the steepest navigable roads in the country, by being separated from the motorways by a formidable and intimidating moor that looks like something out of 'An American Werewolf in London', and by a ban on cars entering the lower part of the town other than to pick up or drop off. All of this isolation serves to make it - put simply - the closest thing to the perfect seaside town that I have found.
~The end of the road - literally~
Robin Hood's Bay is also the start point or more typically the end point - it all depends which way you go - of the famous Coast to Coast Walk and it's a welcome sight for weary walkers who've literally crossed the country to reach it. For those walkers it offers comfy beds, filling meals and a chance to dip their path-weary feet into soothing salt water. It's literally the end of the (very long and uppy downy) road for such walkers and the sight of the sea marks the achievement of what for many is a long held ambition. You'll find a small store selling commemorative certificates, a bicycle propped against the sea wall declaring that you've reached the end of the walk, and a bar in the pub closest to the sea called 'Wainwrights' after the man who first defined the route of the Coast to Coast walk.
If you like a lively nightlife, then Robin Hood's Bay is not for you. When the sun goes down, the town goes to sleep. When the restaurants close, there's little to keep tired holiday makers from their beds. You can't fail to sleep like the dead when the surroundings are so quiet. And speaking of sleeping, there are few actual hotels in the lower part of the town, more up on the cliffs where cars are still permitted. Most of the accommodation is in small B&Bs, some of them with a restaurant or cafe on site but not much more. I would guess there are considerably more rooms available outside the lower town than within it. Other options include a surprisingly large number of rental properties - most of them tiny little cottages, often with open fires. If your idea of heaven at the end of your day is to sip champagne in the Jacuzzi then you'll be better looking further afield. But if you bounce out of bed with a yearning to jump between rock pools, look for fossils and clamber over the sea front, then you're in the right place.
~Bright Lights Big City~
Robin Hood's Bay has a small Fossil and Dinosaur Museum that also serves as a second hand book shop which plays on the town's historical significance as the location of some impressive dinosaur finds. It's unlikely you'll find anything big these days but there are plenty of small fossils to entertain beachcombers. If you like to shop, you'll find lots of arty stores selling hand-made ceramics and odd things fashioned out of bits of driftwood. You'll find traditional locally made ice-creams and sticks of tooth dissolvingly sweet sea-side rock and old fashioned boiled sweets. Museum hunters will find a museum of smuggling and the Old Coastguard's house which is now managed by the National Trust. But generally Robin Hood Bay is not about museums and organised activity - it's about getting down and dirty with nature, hanging out on the rock beach, or sitting on a bench and watching the tide come in and then go out again. If you're a high maintenance person in search of lots of 'stuff to do' then you may find Robin Hood's Bay intensely frustrating - or you might just surprise yourself and calm down and do nothing for a while.
Robin Hood's Bay is for the fit and mobile and hell on earth for those with mobility issues. To get into or out of the town you need to take on a fearsome slope of about 30 degrees or tackle hundreds of steps just to get up the hillside to find your car. Personally I find steps easier for going down hill and the slope better for going up but you'll have plenty of opportunity to test my theories. Most of the B&Bs have rickety staircases and getting to the beach in a wheelchair or on crutches is nigh on impossible. If you have a child in a buggy, check the brakes before you go to Robin Hood Bay - you wouldn't want your little one to get there faster than expected. But for those who can handle the physical challenges, there's an ice-cream van parked up at the bottom of the causeway to reward your efforts. There's also a fascinating exhibit in a shelter in the town centre that tells the history of the local lifeboat and the ships to whose rescue it has been deployed. This is a part of the world where the sea has long been both a source of wealth and a provider of great danger. Even if you're only planning a stroll on the beach, make sure you can see exactly how you'll get back again if the tide comes in.
We spent just two nights in Robin Hood's Bay and I loved it. It's not a cheap place to be because demand outstrips supply and rooms are fully booked for much of the year. Restaurants tend to be mid-range rather than cheap or particularly expensive. Mind you, aside from a bed and some food and the odd ice-lolly there's little else to part you from your money. The fresh sea air, the dramatic coast and the quaint old-world style of the place charmed me completely. I'd recommend a visit to anyone who thinks that sounds attractive and who can live without a mobile phone or internet signal for a couple of days - indeed even more so to those who'd see both things as a benefit to be enjoyed rather than a hardship to be endured.
I visited Robin Hoods Bay this summer. There are some very good views over the bay from the top of the town and bracing sea air. However, the town has very little to offer the day tripper. The shops are very poor with few places to eat lunch unless you go to a pub, indeed we chose to go to the Dolphin and found the staff very rude!It is a very long way down to the beach, and when you get there it is not that pretty! Don't expect wide expanses of sand - rather large boulders and a very grey sea.
Don't get me wrong. I love camping. It's just I don't really like trying to share a ramshackle mix of portakabins with two toilets and a shower with a fully booked field packed with strangers. So why have I returned to this camp site on more than a couple of occasions? Because even with the most modern facilities, cleanest toilets, showers and yes some camp sites even have a Starbucks now you quite simply can't buy a view like this. The view in question, sun shimmering over the sea, is overlooking Robin Hoods Bay towards the headland at Ravenscar. While amongst some other strong contenders its may not be THE best coastal view in the country it's certainly one of the best you can wake up to in a tent. But I digress. This review isn't about the campsite - because actually that's done - but Robin Hoods Bay in general.
So let's clear a couple of thing up straight away. Firstly where is it? Robin Hoods Bay is located on the coast on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park between two big, brasher and perhaps better known resorts in Scarborough and Whitby. Secondly and famously of course Robin Hood himself may have afforded the same view that I described above. Or rather he didn't. There doesn't seem to be any evidence that the name is linked in any way to Robin of Sherwood fame. However the name is said to perhaps be linked to a forest spirit and this somehow fits into the intrigue of this area with places such as "Boggle Hole" where smugglers used to land there contraband and Whitby with its Dracula connections.
So what is there to do in "Baytown", as some of the local's refer to it, aside from admiring the view? Well if you want arcades and kiss me quick hats this isn't the place for you. Nor is this really the best place on this coastline for buckets and spades as the beach is perhaps more suited to scouring rock pools with fishing nets than building sandcastles. This place seems to be more about ambling through the village and taking in the - and I really hate to use the word - quaint atmosphere. The village itself can be roughly seen as two parts. The top half of the village is new with a couple of car parks. As you descend down the steep lane into the village however you soon find yourself entering a fishing village that on a foggy day with the sounds of the sea and the boats you could still half expect to see some excise men hunting smugglers. But if you really have to do something you can paint your own pottery, take fossil walks or perhaps if you want a bit of history visit the Old Coastguard Station or Museum. The village even has a cinema. And guess what? It's quaint.
This is also walking country. As the end of the Coast to Coast walk you will understand why people in walking boots are hugging each at the bottom of the hill before dipping their toes into the cold North Sea. Others celebrate the end of the walk in other ways. A few empty champagne bottles can normally be spotted around here. As well as the Coast to Coast walk Robin Hoods Bay is one of the final stops on the Cleveland Way before it reaches Scarborough and ultimately Filey.
If it's shopping your after your going to be spoilt for buckets and spades. Apart from that you can buy anything from a freshly caught Lobster to Whitby Jet jewelry. The village also has a butchers, bakery and store should you need food provisions while staying over. No chains here but Whitby is just down the road if you can't live without a Co-op.
You are also spoilt for choice if staying over. Aside from the camping I previously mentioned (Hooks House Farm as featured in "Cool Camping") which is a 10 minute walk to the new part of the village and another 10 to the bottom you will find a profusion of B&B's and particularly holiday lets. In fact walking through the lower village and seeing the number of lets available you would question how many "locals" are actually left.
You shouldn't starve either with plenty of options available from take away to find dining. Down at the bottom of the village is a fish and chip shop and cafe which to be fair could probably get away with selling rubbish to people who aren't going to come back again but has always been pretty good in my opinion. The pubs all sell grub and if you want al fresco dining with a Sea view you have a few different options such as the Victoria Hotel's beer garden, Candy's CafĂ© and Swell a converted church which is also home to the cinema mentioned early.
One of the joys of Robin Hoods Bay, for me especially, if you are staying over or not on driving duty is checking out the different hostelries in the village. Starting at the top of the "new" village are the Grosvenor Hotel and the Victoria Hotel. I haven't been in the Grosvenor but it looked nice enough although I suspect it gets missed by a lot of people being slightly higher up the road and looking more like a hotel bar. The Victoria has a couple of fairly innocuous drinking rooms but does have a beer garden overlooking the bay which would probably do just fine even without decent beer. However they always so have some good local real ales on tap. Things get more than traditional by the time you hit the tiny Laurel Inn halfway down the hill towards the sea. Next up (or down) is The Dolphin. A bit of a mystery this one as you would get a totally different impression depending on which route you have taken. On my first visit it seemed like a dilapidated place with a heater and a fusty smell and a lonely barman as company. However the main entrance to the more lively side of the pub is in fact on the other side of the building on the street running parallel. Unless you get lost going to the toilets you probably aren't going to make this connection. Finally at the bottom of the lane as close to the sea as you can get is the Bay Hotel.
Finally Robin Hoods Bay makes a good base for other attractions in the area. A bus service runs to both Scarborough and Whitby if you don't have a car. The Moors are also on your doorstop if you want to explore Heartbeat country.
Robin Hoods Bay should suit most people. It's dramatic in its own way all year round. Like an actor playing different parts its can be totally different from splashy summer to mysterious winter. However what is hilly and pretty is good news for some but for others you will understand why the bay taxi company looks like it's doing so well picking people up from the bottom of the hill. The hill is not too bad for most aside from hands on hips at the top but not the most suitable place for those old or infirm. But if you like very old fashioned seaside scenery without the flashing lights and a bit of mystery thrown in for good measure this might be the place for you. Even if Robin Hood himself never got to check it out.
Robin Hood's Bay is in my opinion one of the most beautiful places to visit in this country. Situated just a few miles south of Whitby, there is so much to see and do as well as beautiful landscapes to explore. Having just come back from my 4th trip there, I am eager to book my next trip away at the beggining of next year.
Robin Hoods Bay itself is a small village full of lovely little shops, sweet shops, a few pubs and a beautiful beach. The Old Coastguard Station is a great place to visit to find out about high tides and rock pools, while the Village Hall regularly holds exhibitions with local artwork for sale and as a visitor you honestly feel just as welcome as any of the locals.
The Robin Hood's Bay Museum is totally run by volunteers and is really interesting. The things to view include a history of the village and it gives thorough detail of the many shipwrecks that have washed up on the coast near Robin Hoods Bay over the years. Watch out for the local fisherwife!!
Farsyde Riding Centre is a great place to visit with the children, allowing both experienced and inexperienced horse riders to trek along the beach and through moorland.
Swell Cinema is one place we haven't yet experienced, and with the pews dating back to the 17th century this is a unique way to experience cinema as we know it.
You certainly are spoilt for choice, given the size of this small village with The Victoria Hotel being my absolute favourite. Offering a pub style menu, the food is outstanding.
The Flyingdale Inn also offers traditional homemade pub food which promises to be sourced locally. This is the perfect place for families with gardens and a play area for the children.
Bramblewick is a restaurant in the centre of 'The Bay', and is an old house with loads of character, it also doubles as a hotel. It's menu selection ranges from cream tea's to paninnis and savoury dishes. Candlelit dining a la carte is what you can expect of an evening, perfect for a memorable trip to the sea.
Swell Cafe is nice during the day for tea and toast if a little expensive. With the doors open facing the sea and a small seating area outside, this place is perfect for soaking in the atmosphere. Swell Cafe also doubles as an art gallery with lots of beautiful artwork for sale (but take your credit card!!).
In the summer months, take advantage of the ice cream van and the deck chairs for hire!
Things to Do:
Trailways Cycle Hire and Railtrail Visitor Centre in Hawkser just outside of Robin Hoods Bay is perfect for hiring a bike for all of the family and taking advantage of the beautiful coastline.
Take advantage of the beautiful beach which is full of rockpools, perfect for taking the kids crabbing - but beware high tide - visit the Old Coastguard station for exact times.
Don't forget beautiful Whitby is just on your doorstep - less than 6 miles way, where you can visit the home of Dracula in the castle ruins, the gorgeous quirky gift shops (there are plenty!!), and of course the penny slots in the arcade. In Whitby visit the Magpie for the most beautiful fish and chips you will ever taste (but expect to pay around ÂŁ10 each for fish and chips!).
Where to stay:
You really are spoilt for choice here in Robin Hoods Bay, but do remember that as with anywhere by the coast, places get booked up quickly. There are plenty of private cottages for rent all year round, as well as Hotels, B & B's and a small holiday park in hawkser, just a few minutes drive away. We always book the same cottage year in year out, and we feel just as welcome each time we go.
What to expect:
As I have mentioned, Robin Hood's Bay is a small village, what I haven't mentioned is the extremely steep hill you have to walk down to get into the main part. There is a very small car park at the top of the hill, with no more than a hundred spaces, and if you are staying in a B & B in the lower part of The Bay, don't expect a parking space, the majority of these B & B's are down tiny little passageways with the only access by foot. You can also enter the lower part of The Bay through the scenic route, taking you directly onto the cliff face and down a small walking trail. I advise going down the main hill to get to the lower part, but coming up the scenic route, it seems easier this way for some reason!
As I have mentioned, we have just come back from Robin Hoods Bay after a four night stay during the 'Victorian Weekend' which I thoroughly recommend. Many of the locals dress up in Victorian Clothing, and wander through the village all weekend. There are activities such as face painting, tombolla, the stocks, a spectaular fireworks display and even a visit from Santa.
Although in Whitby the Goth weekend in mid April is certainly something you have to experience in this lifetime!
The Northern Soul weekend in July is also supposed to be fantastic although we have never managed to get booked in in time before everywhere gets booked up!
There are Angling weekends, 1970's weekends, 1940's weekends and a carnival in August. There really is something on all year round! What are you waiting for?! Get booking!
Did you know...:
Robin Hood's Bay is the setting for the Bramblewick books by the author Leo Walmsley, who was educated in the schoolroom of the old Wesleyan Chapel, in the lower village.
Folklore tells us that Robin Hood kept a couple of boats here, so that, if things got "too hot" for him in Sherwood Forest, he could escape to the continent!
Robin Hoods Bay is a gorgeous fishing village set into the cliffs of North Yorkshire. The centre of the village is down by the harbour, and the rest of the village spreads out along the road which leads up the cliff. 5 miles south of Whitby, Robin Hoods Bay is one of the termini of the Coast to Coast walk. Now that fishing isn't the industry it once was, tourism is the main industry in the village, with the fossils often found on the beach drawing a number of visitors.
There are countless places to stay in Robin Hoods Bay, I only have experiences of the campsite - there's Middlewood farm, which is inked to the Bay by a footpath down a valley, and costs around ÂŁ12-ÂŁ20 a night for a tent pitch including 2 people and a car. Bit pricey for my liking. The other campsite is Hooks House Farm, which costs just ÂŁ4 per person per night. For somewhere a bit more atmospheric, you could try the youth hostel at Boggle Hole, nestled into a valley just down the beach.
There are a number of places to eat and drink in the bay, but my favourite is the Bay Hotel, right by the slipway. I can't remember what the beer's like, but it's worth a visit just for its panoramic views across the sea. There's also a good cafe a bit further up the hill, I think it's called Splash, or something else watery sounding. Pretty good for a quiet sandwich on the sea facing patio. There are no atms in the village, so you'll need to bring some with you, or get some cash back from the post office at the top of the cliff. There's also limited parking in the bay, so leave your car in the car park at the top of the cliff, at the old train station.
It's a glorious place, come and enjoy!
Clinging hardily to the edge of the cliff, the village of Robin Hood's Bay offers Visitors more than just breathtaking scenery and beachcombing. Little changed in centuries, this remote community on the Jurassic shoreline offers a glimpse of a culture that made its living from the sea and its bounty, specifically the smuggling trade that flourished in quiet coastal regions from the Middle Ages onwards.
Visitors are usually looking to pass time in locations that would fit one or more of the following list: Quaint, Picturesque, Vertiginious, Local and Coastal.
Actually - I'll be honest. You won't find the smuggling tunnels rumoured to link the buildings at the base of the cliff, and there's a refreshing absence of attractions hawking 'get yer replica smugglers swag here', but all the other parts of my introduction are still correct.
The origins of the name are unknown and mostly subject to historical fog, although it is known that Robin Hood never actually visited the area. The first mention of the name of the Village is from Norman Times.
Located about 5 miles to the South East of Whitby in North Yorkshire, and Dooyoo take note, not in the North York Moors National Park, this scenic limpet of a community is part of a thriving populace struggling to keep apace with the problems that villages nationwide face in the 21st Century - depopulation and withdrawal of services. The railway station closed down in 1965, the village bobby left in 1991, the library closed in 1987, and even the Village Trust was wound up eventually. Nevertheless, the community has soldiered on, and has its own information website and paper called Bayside, and even has its own Broadband Co-Operative. Visitors will find no shortage of amenities and accommodation, and the friendliness of the locals is to the usual high standard in Yorkshire.
Strictly speaking, Robin Hood's Bay would, to most people, refer to 3 areas. Fylinghall is a small village that links the Bay to the A171 Moors Road, and largely runs into the part of Robin Hood's Bay that stands atop the cliff. There are great views from here, as well as a small car park that offers an enticing glimpse of the two methods of reaching the Bay and the Lower Village. The first is a road, for local access only, that drops dramatically down to its base by the harbourfront. The other is a coastal path that winds down to the necessarily enormous sea wall, a monster construction of concrete that preserves the integrity of the Lower Village from the elements. Locals refer to this section as Bay Village, and it is this charming array of architectural cunning that graces the postcards.
In reference to the Jurassic shoreline mention: this part of coastline from the Mouth of the Tees down as far as Bridlington has, in areas, the right proportion of cliff erosion accessible from beaches to uncover fossils dating back to the aforementioned geological period, approximately 150-200 million years ago. It isn't the definitive Jurassic Coast (in the South West), but nevertheless offers glimpses of Dinosaur related imaginings.
To the village itself. As you wend your way down the steep road, you pass a succession of tight, patchwork streets, that lead off on foot towards the sea wall. These seemingly random cottages and larger houses are still in excellent condition thanks to a combination of listing, repair work and constant habitation. Most houses in the Lower Village have signs on the windows displaying room/house rates by season, and this is the main source of Income for a large number of homeowners in the area, most of whom are actually locals, and not just rich second home hogs. Pubs are well served here with a selection of alehouses that either fit into tight corners or stand across a lump of rock that sits above the shoreline. Shops are aplenty - (nearly) countless gift shops (one of which sells painted pebbles on which you can have a name added), a local fish shop offering up lobster and whelks, two secondhand book shops, several jewellery and art stores, confirming the area as a haven of reflection and industry for creative types, and more than a few places to eat, including the pubs, a restaurant, quite a few cafes and the mixed use Swell - which houses a cafĂ©, gift shop and original 1820's furnished movie theatre.
At the bottom of the road, the ground gives way to the jetty, and is flanked on the steeper right hand side by the Old Coastguard Station. This centre offers a museum type setting to describe the local geology, weather and nature, as well as an education room (upstairs). A cunning path leads behind the Station to the beach on the Southern half of the bay. The necessity of the path can be seen by staying for a full range of the Tide. At its lowest, you can walk several hundred metres out from the Jetty, past dry-moored boats and across fingers of exposed sandbar, looking at seaweed patterns and marvelling at the life that potters about (mostly crustacean) in the resulting rockpools. At High Tide, the water surges all the way up the Jetty and right up to the Coastguard Station. Neap Tides and violent weather can even bring the water into the streets at the bottom of the Bay, cutting off the South Beach and leaving green marks up the street walls.
A walk through the streets, winding in a maze up small flights of stairs, through arches to dead end views over the Bay, will relax most visitors, and even in the height of summer there isn't a queue to get into or out of anywhere (I think the precipitous climb does the trick!).
Despite all the availabilities to shop or consume, a trip to the Bay never feels like overkill. The signs are discreet, the attractions fairly low key, and the resultant air is a pleasant and laid back one. I certainly didn't feel as if I were being made to part with my cash - except at the Car Park!
Once you've beachcombed, pottered through the gift shops, picked up a painted pebble, had some local fudge, a pint or two, seen the sign at the Jetty that announces the end of the Coast to Coast Walk (here to St Bees Head Cumbria, 192 miles), and feel up to the stiff walk back to the top of the cliff, you can console yourself with the thought of a deserving rest at The Grosvenor Hotel, sited opposite the Car Park and offering (as well as a nice pint and plenty of hotel rooms), an a la carte menu restaurant which comes well recommended by guidebooks and visitors alike.
My review barely does the village justice, and to understand the unique layout and charm of the place you would need to visit firstly the website (robin-hoods-bay.co.uk), and then get yourselves down there. To further encourage you - camping is available in the Upper Village at Hooks House Farm, and a monster site (friendly though) in Fylingthorpe at Middlewood Farm, both of which offer great views and good facilities at good prices. Neither however would substitute for staying at one of the many guesthouses or cottages in Bay Village, which range from 1-6 bedrooms, and a variety of prices depending on the level of accommodation and proximity to the seaviews. I sound like a local Tourist Board now!
We have just (boo hoo) returned from our yearly trip to Whitby. This invariably involves a few trips out to pubs and villages in the surrounding countryside and around the coast. On the last day of our lovely week we decided to revisit Robin Hoods Bay ~ a favourite haunt. We usually go to have a wander around the shops and have a little stroll on the beach, so this is really going to concentrate on these aspects rather then on the museums, etc (although I will tell you some of what else there is to do!).
~~~WHERE IS ROBIN HOODS BAY?
This lovely little fishing village is built down a steep hill around a bay to the south of Whitby and north of Scarborough, in North Yorkshire. We usually either get there by bus (the Arriva service 93 goes from Whitby bus station about every half hour) or by car.
My top tip if you are going by bus is to make sure you DONÂ’T catch the 93a because this is the one that avoids Robin Hoods Bay! My top tip by car is to park in the first car park you reach. There is a car park a little nearer but this one is a lot smaller. The first park is larger, has public toilets and doesnÂ’t get as busier as the one directly at the top of the hill down to the village.
Parking costs ÂŁ2.00 for up to four hours and ÂŁ4.00 for a day. We usually just park for four hours because we havenÂ’t stayed long enough to warrant the full day. I read that if you are staying for longer you can buy parking permits from the Post Office. There is no parking in the village itself and the roads are very steep and narrow ~ not really suitable for anyone who is a little less mobile.
~~~WHAT DO WE DO IN ROBIN HOODS BAY?
There are two ways up and down to and from the sea. One goes down the Â“mainÂ” road and winds around between the pretty cottages, meandering until you reach the jetty and the sand at the bottom. This is a very nice walk down, but a little steep on the way back up. There are quite a few cobbles, some steps and a VERY narrow road with little or no pavement on the sides. I prefer to walk back up this way because I have the excuse of calling in at the craft, antique, gift and book shops for a rest on the way. We usually also call in for a drink in the pubs on the way ~ but more about that later!
The second way up and down skirts the coast and goes down towards the beach. It isnÂ’t quite as steep as the road way but (apart from the views out to sea) there isnÂ’t as much to do on this way ~ no shops and nothing until you reach the ice cream van at the bottom (damn good ice creams though!). This is way I prefer to use to go down ~ it is quicker and there are no cars! My only word of warning is that this path gets a bit slippery if you go in wet weather.
The lower half of the village is called the Old Bay and is the original part of Robin Hoods Bay. This has lots of little cottages all higgledy piggledy, leading down the sea edge. There is no sea front or promenade to walk along. You will come to a pub at the bottom and the jetty going down to the sand. The sea goes out quite a way exposing seaweed and rock pools. During the summer months there seems to be a lot of school visits and there is a study centre too, so donÂ’t expect there to be only you wandering on the sands!
This used to be a big fishing village, but there are only a few boats now ~ it is still quite interesting to look at the boats. Although packed with tourists this is still a working place ~ so bear the poor residents in mind when you are peering through the cottage windows and coming home after a drink or two.
For somewhere of this size there are actually quite a few varied little shops. There are no supermarkets of course (they wouldnÂ’t fit down the hillside), but there are some creditable general stores for anyone going in the self catering cottages and a good selection of touristy shops. There are also a couple of cafes and places to get snacks.
I love looking in the little antique and craft shops and I could happily get lost in the book shops for hours ~ they are crammed full of second hand books and I always hope that I will find some gem lurking among the old shelves. On our last visit to the shops we went in a little craft shop and my friend bought a wonderful soft toy for her granddaughter ~ a cute looking thing with a heart shaped wooden tag that they personalized with the childÂ’s name.
There are also some good stores selling preserves, country wines and souvenirs ~ a bit more expensive than ordinary jams and the like, but excellent gifts and mementoes of your trip to this lovely village.
At first look it is quite amazing to think that a village built up on such a slope. Some of the houses look as though it is a bit of an effort to cling on to the side and not tumble down into the bay! Looking at the cottages is free and the little cobbled alleyways seem to have come from a bygone age. St. StephenÂ’s Church is a 19th Century gem and the churchyard is well worth a wander round ~ it open Wednesday to Sunday from 10 til 4 during June to the end of September.
The sea wall isnÂ’t the prettiest thing in the world but if you wander on the beach take a look ~ it is a monster of a structure and serves as a reminder of the power of the tide! The Old Coastguard station at the bottom of the village houses an education and exhibition centre ~ entry is free, but we didnÂ’t get inside because it was fill to bursting with schoolchildren!
As Real Ale fans we tend to take the Good Beer Guide with us and select our pubs from the ones in there. It isnÂ’t infallible, but it usually helps us find some nice places to drink and often have a good meal. It didnÂ’t let us down on this trip. We went in the two listed pubs ~ one just for a drink and the other for lunch and a drink. There are a couple of other pubs (including the one right at the bottom near the sea), but we reached them before opening time so couldnÂ’t check them out!
The first pub, called The Dolphin, is on King Street (a short way up the hill) and served a good selection of beers. The food menu looked inventive and interesting, but it was only 11.30am and we werenÂ’t quite ready to eat. The only downside to The Dolphin is that it is rather pricey ~ a pint of Old Peculier (granted it is quite a strong beer) came in at ÂŁ2.90 a pint! It is a nice atmospheric little pub with beams and interesting little knick-knacks, but I did think the prices were a little OTT even in a tourist resort.
The high prices were highlighted when we had (puffing a little) reached The Victoria Hotel (at the top of the hill between the two car parks) on Station Road. This seemed little posher with outside seating areas and a restaurant, but the prices were much better. A pint of Camerons Strongarm beer was just ÂŁ2.00 a pint and was extremely tasty indeed (it was MY round too so that was a result!).
We were ready for a meal after our walking and a quick look at the food menu was a great surprise. The menu was varied (snacks, deserts and big meals were offered) and main course were around 6 to 8 quid (more for steaks). I had mushroom, walnut and chestnut crepes and was amazed by the huge portions that arrived ~ none our party managed to finish our meals!
~~~TIME TO GO HOME!
From the Victoria there was a just a short walk back to the car (even shorter if we had parked in the smaller car park) and time to go back to Whitby. Our visit to Robin Hoods Bay had once again been a treat. It was sunny (which always helps) and not too busy so we were able to browse in the shops and get a meal without feeling rushed or too crowded.
The only downsides to the village are the prices and the lack of access for anyone who canÂ’t manage hills and cobbles. We donÂ’t find this a problem, but it does mean you have to make sure that you make arrangements to nip someone down in the car, drop them off, go back up and park and then go and get the car to pick them up later. It is do-able, but not ideal!
We didnÂ’t go to Robin Hoods Bay last September because my friend had only recently recovered from breaking her ankle and she couldnÂ’t manage the walk back up the hillÂ….just something to bear in mind when planning a visit.
The beach is lovely, but is a little difficult to get down to if it has been raining because the jetty can get a little slippery. There is just the one ice cream van at the bottom and no amusements, so if you are taking children make sure it is going to be a nice day otherwise you may find that little ones can get a bit bored ~ I would say that, as a holiday destination, Robin Hoods Bay is best for couples who enjoy a relaxing place, browsing in shops and stepping back in time!
IÂ’m pretty sure we will be visiting again in the future and I thoroughly recommend that you put it on your itinerary if you are visiting North Yorkshire. It is beautiful place and well worth the walk!
I've always wondered why ROBIN HOOD'S BAY was in North Yorkshire and not in Nottinghamshire. One explanation might be that Nottinghamshire, being landlocked, is not over-endowed with bays. Another is the sheer logistics of moving it from one county to another.
Robin Hood's Bay is around 5 miles south of Whitby, and some 15 miles north of Scarborough on the North Sea coast of North Yorks. I've researched a little, and I can find no explanation of why this place has such an interesting name - it doesn't matter anyway.
There are records dating back from 1536, apparently, of a small settlement of around 50 houses and 20 fishing boats but nothing about its namesake. besides, the locals prefer to call it Bay Town.
There may be some tenuous connection to the 'Prince of Thieves' though. Fishing has always been the mainstay of this picturesque little village, at least on the surface. But dig a little deeper (literally) and you'll find that smuggling is what this place is most famous for.
Lying at the foot of a steep cliff with one foot in the sea, it was perfectly situated for these shady going-ons.
Looking around the haphazard warren of narrow, and incredibly steep streets, it's not hard to imagine how difficult it must have been for the HM's excisemen to enforce the rule of law in this isolated place.
As if the logistical difficulties of the streets weren't enough, legend has it that many of the houses are linked by tunnels and underground passageways that make stashing and shifting contraband just that much easier. It's said that smuggled goods were able to be transported from the sea-shore to the top of the village (and open country) without ever seeing the light of day.
Fishing however, r
emained the legitimate mainstay of the village before that industry's decline in the late 19th century. But, the coming of the railway and the consequent growth in tourism ensured the village's survival. There's no railway now of course, but the tourists still keep a-coming.
There's not a lot in the way of attractions, the village itself is the draw, but there are a couple of things that might be of interest. There's SMUGGLERS! - an exhibition of life in the18th century with the emphasis on...you've guessed it, smuggling. Upstairs is the MUSIC in MINIATURE Exhibition. This sounded quite interesting, but unfortunately it wasn't open (Apparently, it only opened this year so I don't think it's gone out of business already. There's also the ROBIN HOOD'S BAY MUSEUM which has displays on the local geology, farming, shipping and local history. This was open, but to tell you the truth, we just didn't fancy it.
The OLD COASTGUARD STATION is run by the National Trust is the local Visitor Centre and has displays describing how the bay was formed.
But as I said, the village itself is the attraction.
You have to park your car at the top of the cliff in the Victorian part of town - residents can drive into the older part, but not visitors. Believe me though, you really wouldn't want to drive down the precipitous road to the sea front.
From then on, it's a gravity-defying 'stroll' down what is probably one of the steepest streets I've ever seen. You have to lean back to stop yourself falling over, I kid you not. Most of the
footpath consists of steps with hand-rails - I wouldn't want to attempt this in icy weather! The strange thing is, no matter how steep it is on the way down, it seems ten times steeper on the way back up!
There are plenty of little shops dotted around strategically to take advantage of the many rests pedestrians take while negotiating the climb. As you can imagine, the majority of these cater to the visitor, with book and antique shops, arts and local crafts, gifts and souvenirs, and a smattering of more everyday type stores. In fact I bought a few bottle of local beer form a grocer near the bottom of the hill. Well, it seemed pointless climbing back up without carrying something. A few of the shops specialise in rocks, fossils and shells. There are also quite a few pubs, cafes and tea-rooms where you can stop and rest a while - so there's no need to knock yourself out racing up and down the hill.
BAY TOWN is cut in two by a small gorge with a gushing stream tumbling through it. Many of the houses cling precariously to the sides of this gorge, probably as if the cliff isn't quite steep enough for them. A bridge crosses the stream and the village thankfully levels out a bit (level being a relative term, the lanes and alleyways leading off from the main street all seem to climb steeply away from it).
Although pausing to catch your breath and rest the weary legs is a necessity, it's also a pleasure. Almost anywhere you stop to take a breather affords spectacular views down into twisted, narrow, cobbled alleyways and over the huddled, red pantile roof-tops to the cliffs and sea beyond. The near absence of cars helps to invoke a feeling of yesteryear when fisher-wifes, sailors, smugglers and press-gangs roamed these evocative little streets.
There are more than enough choices for eating in the village. From a fresh
fish shop to a fried fish shop. From pub grub to fine restaurants and cafes to tea rooms, there's something to suit most tastes. Although only a few fishermen still ply their trade from Bay Town (mostly for crabs), it really is somewhere that you should eat fish. the chippy seemed to be doing great business when we were there, and many people were sitting at table outside the cafes tucking into cod and chips.
We stopped for a light lunch (soup for Mrs P, mussels for me) and a welcome pint at the Bay Hotel which lies at the very bottom of the main street and just a few feet above the sea at high tide. Very nice it was too. We sat outside and watched the the hordes of tourists milling around, trying to listen to the slap of the waves on the rocks below but having to strain above the incessant shrieking (and dive bombing) of a gazillion gulls. It all adds to the atmosphere. Incidentally, the Bay Hotel is the finishing point for the Cleveland Way, a coast-to-coast walk. I suppose it's also the starting point.
This is a great place for fossil hunting at low tide apparently, but care must be taken with the tides which have be known to venture some way up the village's main street. A huge sea wall was constructed in 1975 to try and stop the damage this caused (many houses have been lost to erosion over the years), and this has helped preserve the charm of this quaint old place as well as protect more buildings from collapsing into the sea. At 40 feet high and 500 feet long, it's the largest sea wall in Britain.
After our brief respite at the pub, it was a slow (and I mean SLOW) climb back to the top of the village and the car park. Sometimes you just wish there was a little more mountain goat in your genes.
Capital letters courtesy of: http://www.chuckleweb.co.uk