Twelve months ago, I recommended a short walk around Robin Hoods Bay to shake off the festive excesses.
This year, to mirror all those repeats on the telly, I’m doing exactly the same (a different route though).
So, put the turkey and sprout curry in a slow cooker, smack Del Boy in the face with the off button, and get your boots on. At the top end of the town near the Grosvenor Hotel, head down Mount Pleasant North then through a gate takes you on to the Cleveland Way. At a handy bench, fabulous views open up through the bushes, revealing the bay and the beach stretching back to the high cliffs at Ravenscar. You’ve only just set off, but do pause a while as in anything other than fog, this is one of the finest coastal vistas in the UK.
The path – smidge claggy at this time of the year – curls left along the cliff edge (close enough to diagnose vertigo at times), until after a mile or so you reach the ravaged and barren shalebeds at Rain Dale. The National route slithers on up the slope towards Whitby, but at a fingerpost you should start climbing to your left on a steep grassy slope adjacent to a fence.
The climb should see off the effects of a mince pie or two, as you turn left down what is quite a steep slope for an old railway line. I doubt if Northern Trains’ clapped out old Pacer stock could have coped with the climb north without shedding several dozen nuts and bolts and a large cloud of black smoke, but the old Metro-Cammell DMUs plodded merrily along here 50 years ago before the infamous mad doctor sacrificed the line to gain some brownie points from the Exchequer.
You return to a point very close to where you started, but turn right, then quickly left down an alley with houses on either side to soon drop onto the Hawsker Road. Go left, but at the bend, climb the grassy slope and go through a gap in the fence onto a car park.
The building at the end is the Fylingdales Village Hall, and behind that is the old Robin Hoods Bay railway station.
The building is now converted to include two self-catering rooms, and the owner Rob Rymer (and a lady whose name I feebly forgot to ask) kindly showed us round. Downstairs, he has retained some original features such as the waiting room benches, the ticket window and an old desk where the Station Master presumably used to fill in all the bits of paper required to run a railway in those pre-computer days.
A similar office now would need several year planners, a motivational poster, a liberal scattering of Health & Safety notices warning of the dangers of paper cuts and Dengue Fever, a glass table for the staff’s holiday brochure collection and a computer surrounded by three blokes from the IT department (one pressing random buttons, one on the phone to somebody who knows what he’s talking about and one fiddling with his ponytail).
Carry on along a path rising above the access road, and drop onto the main road where you should turn right. The Cinder Track soon continues left at a signpost directing you through a gate. Carry on past Middlewood Farm and eventually another missing bridge obliges you to drop down to a minor road which you should follow to the left for half a mile or so. As it descends steeply to cross Mill Beck at a ford, a path goes left into the woods and crosses the water on a footbridge before you rejoin the road and climb upwards to South House Farm.
At a junction, turn left to head down to the beach at Boggle Hole. The large building on the left is a Youth Hostel and I can testify to the strength of its drainpipes, having got back here many years ago at 1.30am after a stoppy-back in the pub. With a 10.30 curfew, the third floor window was our only means of access and in truth we nearly ended up coming back through it as one of our number climbed into his bunk to be met with an angry cry from a sleepy occupant of “ ’ere, wot’s your game mate?” (We were in the wrong dorm).
If the tide is out, finish your stroll with a breezy mile down the beach, but if the sea prevents you getting around the bluff called The Nab, you’ll have to climb the steps adjacent to the Youth Hostel to return on the cliff top path.
You can indulge in further calories in one of Bay’s splendid pubs or cafes.