War stories hidden under the North Sea

Sandstone and limestone cliffs at Ravenscar at the southern end of Robin Hood's Bay, by Joe Cornish, National Trust Images.
Sandstone and limestone cliffs at Ravenscar at the southern end of Robin Hood's Bay, by Joe Cornish, National Trust Images.

Throughout 2017 National Trust ranger Zoe Frank will lead a new series of walks on the Yorkshire Coast, uncovering the secrets of World War One shipwrecks.

The first takes place next Thursday (Feb 16), marking the 100th anniversary – to the day - of the sinking of the SS Lady Ann, a cargo ship carrying coal.

The wrecks of over 1,000 ships sunk during WWI (1914-1918) lie under the sea off the UK’s east coast.

Destroyed mainly by German U-boats, the ships were mostly cargo vessels, fishing boats and the minor warships – such as minesweepers and patrol craft – that sought to protect them.

For many years, these wrecks have lain relatively forgotten, with their stories locked in an underwater world.

National Trust ranger Zoe Frank, who will lead the walks in partnership with Scarborough Sub Aqua Club, said: “The wrecks have a really interesting and poignant history. I’m a keen diver myself and I’m looking forward to bringing their stories to a wider audience on these walks.

“We’ll be making our way along the cliff tops to point out the sites of various wrecks.

“Remembering the ships that were lost, such as the SS Lady Ann, is a way to commemorate a largely forgotten battleground.

“Many of their crew and the crew’s families were from the local area, so there’s a real connection for a lot of people.”

The first East Coast War Channels Walk from Ravenscar Visitor Centre takes place on February 16, 10am to 1pm.

The cost is £4 per person and places can be booked by calling 01947 885900.

Visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/yorkshire-coast for a downloadable Yorkshire Coast War Channels Walk plus details of further guided walks in August and October, coming soon.