20090830_Boggle Hole-Robin Hoods Bay-Whitby Walk
When : 30th August 2009
Who : Just Me
Where : Boggle Hole Youth Hostel, Robin Hoods Bay and Whitby on the North Yorkshire / North Sea Coast.
Map : 1:25,000 OS Outdoor Leisure map North York Moors NE sheet
Start Point : 955,040 (Boggle Hole Youth Hostel).
Finish Point : 905,110 (ish) Car Park near Whitby Abbey.
Approx Distance : 9.75 miles (15.6 km)
Approx Heights climbed : 1800 ft, [but most of that would be up through Robin Hoods Bay Village and two hills climbed in Whitby all on roads/pavements… probably not much of the height climbed was on the coast path itself, although there were one or two pulls (it is a cliff top path after-all).]
Summary : A linear walk on the Cleveland Way coast path between Boggle Hole and Whitby.
There’s not that much to say in the way of a pre-amble to this walk, other to say we decided to go our separate ways as a family, me taking myself off for a relatively energetic walk, at least until just after lunch when I was to meet up with my lovely wife and kids in Whitby. They were to drive up to Whitby and do a bit of shopping and touristy things and meet up with me as I finished my little trek along the coast on The Cleveland Way. Pulling on my memory from way back when, I suggested meeting under the arch made of whale bones on the hill above the River Esk … I vaguely remembered it being up near the Abbey ruins, incorrectly as it happens, as it’s actually on the hill on the other side of the River Esk … which added a bit of distance [and height] at the end of the walk.
As I left the youth hostel at Boggle Hole, I immediately had a choice to make :-
1) Climb up onto the cliff top path … or …
2) Head out onto the beach.
The tide was out, so it didn’t take long to decide on the beach route ….. if the tide had been in, the beach route would have been a no-no and the cliff top the only choice. Either way the path ends up on the front at Robin Hoods Bay village.
It was a stunningly beautiful morning with bright blue skies and only one or two high white clouds to be seen … a perfect start to late summer’s day.
The wander along the beach (about a mile) took a bit longer than it might otherwise have done, just because I took quite a bit of time trying to find interesting places to take some photo’s : I think I did OK looking back to the land from the lines of rocks heading out into the sea. I also tried to capture the dramatic scale of the fairly new sea wall that’s been built to stop Robin Hood’s Bay (the village) falling into Robin Hood’s Bay (the North Sea).
Leaving the beach via the large slipway, next to The Bay Hotel, I decided to make my way up through Robin Hood’s Bay via back-streets and alley-ways as much as possible (just for a bit of an explore) to find some nooks and crannies not seen when I was there earlier in the hol’s. I particularly liked the red tiled roofs, almost piled one on top of another as the settlement climbed up the steep hill side. Eventually I had to join the main road up the hill to the top of the village (near the main car-park) and I retraced my earlier walk route to join the coast path to the north of the village, to reach the rocket post on the cliff top.
From now, I anticipated route finding was to be very easy … just keep the sea on my right, land on my left and eventually I’d end up in Whitby. The weather had changed quite quickly, with a good deal of cloud rolling in obliterating much of the blue sky, although it remained quite bright and I really liked the way patches of light sparkled their way across the bay. The path ahead was indeed easy to follow, in fact in places it felt a bit like a 6-lane motorway as it hugged the cliff tops. On the whole the way ahead was quite easy with gentle ups and downs, but every now and again there was a short stiffer climb to negotiate, nothing really to write home about though.
Something that might have warranted a write home – even a note to the national press – happened as I looked out to sea. I’d been watching a tall sailing ship heading north some way off the shore, but, moving much quicker coming up behind was a much larger cargo ship. Maybe it was my line of sight, but it looked like a collision was inevitable. I stood transfixed for some minutes and was relieved to see the larger ship pass behind the sails of the smaller vessel. It certainly looked a very near miss but maybe there was more water between them than I could see.
Once that drama was over, I moved on, really enjoying the expanse of the cliffs both in front and behind me but it wasn’t long before another mini drama unfolded ahead of me and much closer as well. All was peaceful butterflies flitting about between wild flowers and then, all of a sudden, I heard a low rumbling sound up ahead and then a large plume of dust appeared in front of me, marking a landslide of rocks down the cliff face to the rocks below. The sound didn’t last long but it took some time for the dust to settle and disperse ,,, and then it dawned on me – I had to walk over the top of that very cliff that had just partially collapsed; I didn’t hang around over that section let me tell you. In fact I guess it brings it home that when the authorities say “unstable cliffs”-“do not climb”-“stay away from the edge”, they say it with good reason!
Although the clouds hadn’t dispersed completely it was still a really nice day for walking and I pressed on passing the Whitby Fog Signal Station on route, It’s lighthouse tower really short and squat looking, but it doesn’t need to be a tall construction being perched on the cliff tops some 50 metres above the rocks of Whitestone point.
Not long after, after a short break watching a large gull wheeling around under a particularly craggy cliff, a shapely rock formation came into view. I couldn’t help thinking it looked like a distorted giant submarine, its stump of a stack forming the conning tower (oh the power of imagination). In fact this is Black Nab, and apparently it can be walked to when the tide is out and I believe there are the bones of at least one wrecked ship on the beach nearby.
Black Nab marks one end of Saltwick Bay; the other end is bounded by the more substantial Saltwick Nab. Between these two markers lies a small beach accessed by a steep path. An even better view of Black Nab was had from above the beach and it wasn’t long before I reached the first major settlement seen since Robin Hood’s Bay. I say settlement but really it was a sprawl of holiday homes/caravans and the obligatory service and reception buildings …. a bit of an eyesore to be honest. The path itself goes straight through the holiday parks which took a little concentration on map my reading, not aided by some sort of fete going on with stalls and VERY loud pop music blaring out from numerous speakers. There were a lot of people milling around and I felt quite over dressed in my hiking gear as I passed through. I wasn’t sorry to leave this behind.
From here the path was much more made up with a gravel surface and bounded by wire fences and it didn’t take long before Whitby Abbey came into view. The old ruins make a superb landmark and dominate the skyline above Whitby Town.
The Abbey, and nearby church, kind of marked the end of the walk …. but this was a false ending as there was still some more distance to be done, as I realised that the whale bone arch wasn’t here as I had thought first thing in the morning! …. No it was through the town, over the River Esk and up the hill on the other side. The church was used in the original Dracula story, a thing not lost on the tourist industry in Whitby. The views down into the town and over the River Esk’s outflow into the North Sea are brill. The piers protruding out into the sea form a safe haven for the mix of craft that moor by the quaysides in the town.
There were crowds of people milling around the Abbey area, but this was nothing to those in the narrow streets I had to negotiate after the steep descent into the town.
The good bank holiday weather had seemingly brought out the whole of the North East and they’d all come to Whitby!
Eventually, I managed to get through the crowds to reach the bridge over The Esk, only to cross into even more crowds on the opposite bank! I started to lose the worst of the crush as I climbed up to the whale bone arch adjacent to a statue of Captain James Cook, commemorating the ships “Endeavour”, “Resolution”, “Adventure” and “Discovery”. I hung around for a while trying to find my family … no-where to be seen! So after finding a signal on my mobile phone I had a conversation with my wife, who was somewhere beneath me on the beach …. so, I took a long sloping path down to the beach (heading away from the town) and I was soon on Whitby Sands. I turned to head back towards the town figuring I’d meet my family somewhere along the way … I did eventually, they were almost sat under the walls of the west pier and were happily playing in the sand.
After a while, we all headed back into the crowds, buying some dressed crab on the way from one of the many quayside stalls as a tasty little snack. Then, once we’d re-crossed the bridge we had to fairly push our way back through the narrow streets and climb back up to the car-park up near the Abbey. I felt extremely large in the throng (which I suppose I am really at 6’4”and the best part of 16 st.) but even more so because of my ruck-sack slung on my back. Apart from leaving at the end of a football match or rock concert, I don’t think I’ve seen so many people together in one place. All shuffling along at a snail’s pace …. but it was short lived and it wasn’t long before we’d climbed the steep hill out of the town to reach the car to head back to Boggle Hole along the A171.
And that was that, walk done and a good one too !
I hope you enjoyed my scribblings,
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