The Bogtrotter

Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay coastal walk

by on May.09, 2009, under Britain, British Walks, Walks

Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay is one of the most renowned coastal walks in England. As long as the wind is not in your face, it is an enjoyable seven mile walk taking in some spectacular cliffs and scenery.

When you hear the town of Whitby mentioned you immediately think of fish. Not only is it one of the biggest fishing harbours in the UK, it also is the spiritual home to fish and chips. Wander down into the town on any evening and your nose will be assaulted by the smell of fish and chips drifting out of the numerous cafes that line the streets. You know you shouldn’t, but how can you resist?

Whitby Abbey

Whitby Abbey


The walk starts from Whitby centre. Walk through the old part of town on the east side of the river, and head for the 199 steps up to Whitby Abbey. After you climb the steps, pass through St Mary’s churchyard to reach the majestic ruins of the abbey, sat high up on the top of the cliffs. Follow the wall around the abbey until you reach the signed path (marked Cleveland Way) which crosses a field to get to the cliff edge. From here the route follows the sea edge all the way. After about one mile you reach a caravan park. Just follow the road through it for 200 yards before picking up the path again and returning to the cliff tops.
Sea Cliffs towards Whitby

Sea Cliffs towards Whitby

The views out to sea and along the coast are great. It’s no surprise therefore that this is part of the Cleveland Way long distance trail, and also the final stage of Alfred Wainwright’s famous Coast-to-Coast walk. Many of the cliffs are packed with seagulls and other birds nesting, and their calls are a steady background soundtrack as you progress along the route.

The next landmark on the route is Whitby Fog Signal, two great loudspeakers sat on top of what looks like a converted concrete bunker. Alongside the fog signal is a rather stunted lighthouse, that makes use of it’s position high on the cliffs to negate the need to tower up as we expect our lighthouses to behave. The path goes round the back of the lighthouse and continues along the clifftops.

The route then progresses across a small valley that cut across, giving you a short steep drop down some steps to cross a stream then up the other side. You then pass a curious uphill waterfall, where the decending water is caught by the wind and ends up being blown back up the hill. A second similar valley a bit further along was covered in Spring flowers when we went though, taking advantage of the shelter and the sun on it’s South-facing edge.

As the route progresses you gradually turn from facing east as you leave Whitby until you round the headland above Robin Hood’s bay. The path turns around the headland until you are facing SouthWest as you approach the outskirts of the village. A couple of kissing-gates later you start to pass the guest houses as you descend towards the village centre.

Gorse bushes add to the views

Gorse bushes add to the views

The old part of Robin Hood’s Bay at the bottom of the hill is a picture-postcard coastal village, with the usual supply of small tourist shops and cafes to replenish you. There are regular buses back to Whitby, with even a roughly hourly service on Sundays. Whilst it’s not easy to get lost, you should really get the OS map OL27 (North Yorks Moors Eastern Area) or download a map from Anquet Maps.

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2 comments for this entry:
  1. Elizabeth Folkie

    Thank you for this very descriptive itinerary. I’m looking forward to trying this walk when I get to Whitby next year and yours is the best web page I’ve found about the walk so far. xx

  2. Jayne

    Thanks for this. My partner, dog and I did this walk in reverse – from Robin Hoods Bay to Whitby, and it was definetly worth it. Such fantastic, picturesque scenery. My only criticism is that there are about 4 or 5 stiles that are NOT dog friendly. If you have a small dog this isnt so much of a problem, as you can carry the dog over it. But because I have a big dog (German Shephard)I had to pick her up to ger her across it. Not a pleasant experience for either of us.

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