From Bay to Peak

Stroll with Stuart
Stroll with Stuart

I share the same name (Stuart Bell) as the MP for Middlesbrough and, of course, I have a regular column in a newspaper.

Accordingly, I regularly hack into my own phone, I’m claiming expenses for a second home (The Duke of York, Church Street) and I am constantly on edge in case someone sneaks up on me with a foam pie.

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It’s particularly nice therefore to get away from life’s aggravations with a walk through Yorkshire’s green and pleasant, and this week it’s a relatively easy eight mile circular walk from Robin Hood’s Bay. Outbound we’ll climb slowly along the old Whitby to Scarborough railway line, and the return route offers wonderful views across the bay as we descend via the Cleveland Way.

Along the way there are opportunities to explore local history such as the alum industry or Ravenscar’s doomed plans to become a major tourist resort. Check out the Whitby Visitor Centre first if these things float your boat.

Much has been written in these pages of Arriva buses 93 service and little has been complimentary. Reluctantly, I have to concur.

Arriva took three and a half hours to get me from Redcar to Robin Hood’s Bay (15 minutes longer than it took me to get to Corfu in June), and the last leg was spent role-playing a sardine in the 93 from Whitby. It took that long I thought my all-day ticket would expire before I got there.

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So, having alighted joyfully from the bus, go straight down the steep road to the sea and turn right immediately before Dollies sweet shop.

Turn left up steps after the chippy and curl right and upwards to reach the footpath atop the boulder clay cliffs. Soon, where the Cleveland Way heads south through a gate, carry on inland to the pretty pebbled yard of Farsyde Farm and Stud.

Go straight on down the metalled lane to a road junction. Turn right, then quickly left through a wooden gate to access the trackbed of the Whitby-Scarborough railway line. Follow this to your left and stay on the track for three miles all the way to Ravenscar.

You climb some 500 feet along this secluded cinder track in a long avenue of maturing trees, passing Fyling Hall old station on the way.

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Just when you may be growing tired at the lack of a view afforded by the railway cutting, you suddenly emerge near Browside Farm and are rewarded with a fabulous outlook back across the fields to Robin Hood’s Bay.

Shortly before reaching Ravenscar, the track diverts left onto a distinct paved path. The old railway actually disappears into a tunnel (hidden away in the gorse to your right) hewn from the rockbed by a gang of navvies over 120 years ago, and – goodness knows how they did it – without the assistance of a small army of Health and Safety Managers, IT specialists and assorted men in yellow jackets.

By all means head on up to Ravenscar to explore the unfinished village, or perform a Cameron-esque U-turn and head downhill on the signposted Cleveland Way path.

Have you ever heard of Geocaching? No, neither had I until alerted by a friend to this new-age treasure hunt game.

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Essentially, someone hides a “cache” in a dry stone wall, or in a hole in a tree or wherever, then uploads the exact co-ordinates to the geocaching website www.geocaching.com

Enthusiasts then try to find the cache – typically a plastic box of some sort – using a hand held GPS device and a good old fashioned OS map.

Usually, you’d park some way off and enjoy a walk to your destination, then scratch around in the bushes looking for a Tupperware box containing a logbook to sign and maybe some trinket/toy which should be replaced with your own offering.

A few weeks ago, someone planted such a cache under a seat in Wetherby Town Centre, but they were rather unfortunately spotted by a nervous local who thought “Taliban” and called the Police. They, in turn, called the Catterick bomb squad who cordoned off the town centre for several hours before gingerly opening a small box to find a note saying “Congratulations! Hope you enjoy the Kinder egg!!”

I mention this because there are a number of caches in the Ravenscar area, and I spent some minutes vainly poking around near an old brickworks before realising I was at my furthest point from the pub and hastily giving up. Good fun though, and if it gets people out walking – and maybe a little treasure hunt would help to get the kids involved – all well and good.

So head downhill and bear right at a sign that indicates the alternative route to those old brickworks, then continue your journey back to the coast.

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A further diversion goes off to the old Alum works whilst the wide main path takes you back to the Bay.

One decision you need to make is whether to walk the last mile along the beach (accessible at Stoupe Bank Sands or Boggle Hole), or along the cliffs to that gate you passed at Farsyde Farm just above Robin Hoods Bay.

The tide could make that decision for you, but if you do manage to get along the beach, look out for ammonites and Whitby Jet in the Jurassic rocks. (I knew A-Level Geology would come in handy sooner or later).

Beware though, that if it’s in a Tupperware box, someone may have got there before you.

Whichever way you go, the cafes and pubs of Robin Hoods Bay are just 20 minutes away.

Enjoy!