A Stroll With Stu - return to the coast for Robin Hood’s Bay walk

View across the bay towards Ravenscar.
View across the bay towards Ravenscar.

About time we returned to the coast, and the loveliness that is Robin Hood’s Bay, with or without an apostrophe.

It was a beautiful but blisteringly hot day, so this is another leisurely stroll taking in several strands of the web of paths and lanes hidden away a mile or two inland from the town.

Gravestones at Old St Stephen's Church.

Gravestones at Old St Stephen's Church.

I left the X93 bus from Whitby just as it started making its gravity assisted descent into Baytown, close to Old Stephen’s Church – built in 1822 and well worth a detour.

The graveyard is an extraordinary sight, with hundreds of headstones crammed into a cosy space.

If a clumsy sheep grazing in the churchyard knocked one of the stones down, you get the feeling that they would all go over in a spectacular 45-second display.

Inside the church, painted pew boxes and a triple-decker pulpit are original features and a leaflet to guide you through the churchyard is available. Many of the headstones have inscriptions revealing tragic deaths at sea and infant mortality, painting a picture of times that were a tad more worrisome than Brexit.

Great British countryside.

Great British countryside.

Walk up the tiny lane with the church on your left, then quickly take a right on the even tinier Raw Lane.

Quickly, on your right, is a bench adjacent to a little plaque explaining that the field behind was a pinfold.

No, I didn’t know what a pinfold was either, but the plaque explains that it was a sort of lost property office for livestock dating back before the church. Any sheep or cattle wandering around where they shouldn’t, would be taken here until the owner turned up to pay a small fee to

get them back.

“A sheep, you say.

“Can you describe it Sir?”

Admiring fabulous views over the bay to Ravenscar walk on for a few hundred yards past a cottage and as the road bends right and uphill, take a path through a wooden gate on your left.

For a few hundred yards, luxuriate in the greenness of rural England as you tread the lush grass and admire the wildflowers and the trees and the view to the coast.

Soon, after a young copper beech, you’ll emerge onto the road at Maple Farm in the pretty little hamlet of Raw, where it is thought the first Viking settlers lived to escape the prying eyes and attacks of passing pirates.

Turn left downhill for 30 steep yards, and go straight on over a stone stile when the road swings sharp right.

With the brook on your left, keep descending through two fields until you meet a thin metalled track.

Dogleg left, then right between a house and its garage to the rear of the attractive Glen Cottage, trying not to nip through the gate for a cup of tea in their garden.

A sign leads you across the grassy field, and down through trees to soon bear right in the next field leading to a gate onto the road at Harton House Farm.

After just 20 yards, a path on your right is worth taking if you want to meet the most ferocious bramble bush this side of Chernobyl.

What a brute – clearly a cheese grater in a previous life, this thing was animated, making great swooshing attacks and carving its name into my flailing arms while its feral kids bit my ankles.

Most annoyingly, I soon realised I‘d gone the wrong way, so I’ve taken that one for the team and you can actually avoid the carnage by continuing along the road around the sharp hairpin.

At the end of that U-bend, follow a path left marked ‘Unsuitable for motors’.

They ain’t kidding – this soon turns into a thin path that thinks it is a riverbed, before spitting you out onto the main road at Fylingthorpe.

Turn left, then right down Thorpe Green Bank and right again as it junctions with Middlewood Lane.

One hundred yards later, after a stone cottage on your left, take the signed path left leading down to the old railway line, heading right for a few pleasant minutes. (Feel free to make clickety-clack noises and blow your nose in the manner of a two-tone horn).

As you reach the expanding Middlewood Farm/Holiday Park on your right, take the signed track on your left which, after a mile or so, leads you directly to the touristy end of Robin Hoods Bay.

You actually come out next to the chippy and just a few yards from the beach and the Bay Hotel, whichever of these three take your fancy.

The tide couldn’t have been much further in, scuppering my plan to add a mile or two with a bit of beachcombing north of the slipway to the spooky sounding rocky outcrop of Dungeon Hole.

So guess what – I just had to go to the pub instead.