Robin Hood's Bay, North Yorkshire
What a name for small and scenic village by the sea - Robin Hood's Bay.
It conjures up many visions but the reality is one of the most scenic bays in North Yorkshire.
Robin Hood's Bay lies about seven miles along the coast, to the south of Whitby. My first visit was about 16 years ago although we were actually holidaying in Whitby.
Wakening one morning to a beautiful, clear late spring day we grabbed a quick breakfast, crossed the bridge over the River Esk, walked through a cluster of quaint shops and set off up the 199 steps in Whitby which lead to the Abbey ruins that include Whitby Church and Monastery.
As the day looked so clear it was decided, keenly by me but reluctantly by my husband, that an after breakfast walk was needed.
We set out along the cliffs, following what is known as the Cleveland Way. It was not our intention to walk as far as Robin Hood's Bay but somehow we did.
This walk takes in a large part of the coastal countryside of North Yorkshire.
As we were both dressed in casual day wear, wearing only sandals on our feet, it was lucky that the day stayed so warm and clear. The North Yorkshire coast can have dense fogs, especially in spring and the walk turned into a bit of a marathon.
It became too far to go back, but still too long a distance to the Bay and it seemed as if the trek would go on forever.
Then all of a sudden we were there.
We had seen some fine scenery on our journey but nothing to compare to the sight of Robin Hood's Bay as we approached it. We were on the cliffs at the North of the bay and, as you look down, you can see the full sweep of the bay.
The traditional houses have red tiled roofs and are very higgledy piggledy in shape. We stopped at the first cafe which was just as we left the cliff approach.
After welcome refreshment we set off to explore.
There is a small village with a few bus stops and some lovely surrounding countryside.
However the tourists tend to head straight down to the sea front. The beach is not a lovely sandy beach although it is sandy in parts.
Fishing boats are launched from here and when the tide is out the beach is a mixture of sand, stones and rock pools.
It does feel like an unspoilt natural beach which is good.
It is one of those beaches that children who love exploring rock pools will adore. When the tide is in it comes very close to the buildings at the front.
The actual walk down to beach is part of the attraction of Robin Hood's Bay, as it is all downhill and through a real mish mash of shops, pubs and buildings. Parts of the walk down have railings which you can use to steady yourself in bad weather as it is so steep.
Obviously the walk down is generally a doddle but the walk back is another matter altogether.
Still you can keep stopping off at ice cream stalls, pubs and cafes for much needed refreshment. Among the buildings there is at least one museum, a church, some houses and many more unusual shops, rather than the old run of the mill seaside sellers.
I have visited Robin Hood's Bay many times since and have always enjoyed my visit.
The air is clean and fresh and the whole area is so picturesque whatever time of year, although it looks different depending on the particular season.
Robin Hood's Bay like Whitby and surrounding areas is very dog friendly. Though there are beach restrictions in the area many shops, bars and cafes allow dogs inside. Just make sure you ask first.
Where to stay
Images below are from a more recent visit to Robin Hood's Bay, late Summer 2017.
Just where is Whitby?
Let's start by making sure that we know where Whitby is. I gather that there are other towns with same name around the world. The Whitby in question here is in the North East of England on the River Esk.
It is close to seaside resorts such as Scarborough, Bridlington and Robin Hood's Bay. However unlike some British seaside resorts it has retained much of its charm and has limited its modern development. This means that, unless things have drastically changed recently, you will not find masses of amusement arcades and the like.
Whitby is primarily a fishing town but has much to attract visitors.
Whitby is easily accessible by road either by car or bus.
From where I live in Yorkshire Whitby is not very far. However getting there can be a little tricky unless you have your own vehicle or are able to hire one. There is a train link but this only takes me as far as Scarborough; then I have to travel by bus. This can make the journey a little long for a day visit. However there are coach trips which are much better for a day visit. If I visit by my local bus service it would take over fours hours to get to Whitby, without local travel counted in, and the same for a return journey; it is much better then if we visit for a short or long weekend.
Trains do visit Whitby but only from certain places and some are not direct.
Whitby is good for short breaks as it has many Bed and Breakfast, B & Bs, that are perfect for short or long vacations.
The one thing you have to remember is that as Whitby is in the North of England the weather can be a little cooler even in summer. However we have always been lucky when we have visited. At times Whitby does suffer from sea fog but this makes the place all the more atmospheric with its Dracula links.
As a child Whitby was one of those places that we visited but only occasionally. As it was a little further than resorts nearer home, such as Scarborough, Hornsea and Withernsea, Whitby was a special destination. As we still do not drive it is still a little off our beaten track.
The last time we visited we took the Northern Rail train from Kingston-Upon-Hull to Scarborough. This journey took just over an hour. We then took a bus from Scarborough to Whitby which was around a half-hour journey. This bus journey is lovely as you travel over the moors. At some times of the year the landscape is bare but at others it may be lush or even full of wild growing purple heather. The journey takes in the quaint resort of Robin Hood's Bay and then you make your dramatic entrance into Whitby.
The bus travels over a high road bridge, Scarborough Road Bridge, from which you can see Whitby before you. The Abbey, the harbour, the boats and the sea front are all visible as long as there is no fog.
We usually choose one of the B & Bs that sit at the top of the cliff near the whale bones. These huge bones are stood on the cliff opposite to Whitby Abbey. The Crescent here has a range of tall old buildings which make for a great base. If you choose to walk and explore you can set off along the cliffs. If not you can walk down to the town or across to the other side of the bay. The beach is just a short distance in front of you. Across the bay you will get a splendid view of Whitby Abbey.
There is no escaping steps so if you do not like walking or are less mobile research Whitby further. We heard a rather large young lady shout in no uncertain terms to her guy that she was "NOT WALKING UP ANYMORE BLOODY STEPS" last time we visited.
The abbey is accessed via 199 steps or a steep road. You can take a more round about means of visiting but will have to walk further. Take the steps and stop for breathers if necessary to take in the beautiful view. The red roofs of Whitby, the harbour, bridges, boats and, in general, the scenery is lovely.
There is an entrance fee to enter the Abbey but you can just wander around the church, the nearby ancient seafarer's cemetery or take a picnic on the cliffs. We chose to take a long walk along part of the Cleveland Way to Robin Hood's Bay. At 7 miles it is rather long and at times precarious but it was a beautiful sunny day. Approaching Robin Hood's Bay along the cliffs you are treat to a view that has been painted many times by various artists.
The shops around Whitby used to be full of black Whitby Jet. These days it is a scarcer commodity and, although still sold, is a little pricey and rarer.
With people's fascination with Dracula, Whitby has decided to utilise its links. Stoker's book has Dracula landing at Whitby in England. From our accommodation, looking across to the Abbey ruins at night one can almost believe it for real.
Many Goths now visit Whitby and there is a Dracula museum.
Whitby also has a Captain Cook Museum. It is housed in an old house where Cook lodged when he was an apprentice back in the 1800s. This museum is at the side of Whitby where the Abbey is. It is quite central and well sign-posted.
Cook's first sea journeys were out of Whitby. Running between the old houses there are more steps and little alleyways. As you explore it is easy to envisage a Whitby of the past with people such as Cook milling around.
Attractions and events
Whitby has a full program of events throughout the year. Some of these are simply tea dances at the old Pavilion but there are craft fairs and the like.
For many years now Whitby has held a folk festival at the end of August. This is usually well attended and it can be hard to find accommodation at short notice. However there are plenty of campsites if you feel like roughing it a little.
In 2017 the festival runs from August 18 for one week.
If the festivities are held later, as they are some years, remember the last Monday in August is a Bank Holiday and so public transport may be less frequent. Also shops away from tourist areas may be closed. As it is the last weekend, almost, before children return to school expect Whitby to be busy.
Whitby has a large park set high above the main town of Whitby. It is arranged beautifully on the slopes and so offers yet more great views of the town, the harbour and more.
Nearby places of interest
I have already touched upon Robin Hood's Bay but there is much more nearby.
Goathland is within easy reach of Whitby. In recent years this has been the setting for Yorkshire television's Heartbeat series. However now this program has finished Goathland may become quieter again. It is a small village that is set in beautiful countryside with lots of sheep, rolling hills and long nature walks. You will encounter small villages such as Beckhole, stumble across natural waterfalls and just feel at one with the world. It is a beautiful place.
Nearby Pickering is a larger village, perhaps a town. It has shops, lovely old world pubs and at times old working steam trains. It is possible to book a journey on one of these trains.
Walking along, the opposite direction from the Abbey in Whitby will bring you to tiny Sands End. This small village is literally at the end of the sand. It is quiet, and peaceful with a nice pub where you can drink or lunch and watch the world go by.
Hopefully this diary has given you a taster of Whitby and its local area. Whitby attracts visitors of all ages and tends to be loved for being different by youngsters but still enjoyed by older people for its quaint charm.
There are local restaurants which serve dishes such as local trout with almonds, without charging you an arm and a leg (Yorkshire saying). Alternatively there is one of the best Fish and Chip shops around where you can buy locally caught fish and eat it either in the shop or sit at the harbour, and go thoroughly British as you eat your meal out of the paper.
Many of the local pubs have a great atmosphere and also serve lovely, good value pub meals. Wander away from the main streets to find the best value and food.
At night Whitby is lively but not too much so. I guess it depends what time of year you visit. During the annual Folk Festival week everywhere will be overflowing with tourists. However, visit in late spring and you will find that there is plenty of room to breathe; just bear in mind that the weather could be inclement at such a time of year.
If you visit out of season, and the weather gets foggy, you may hear the constant droning of fog horns, throughout the night, which can be very annoying.
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