The Cinder Track: Robin Hood's Bay to Ravenscar, Seals and a Leica X
In October, last year I took a couple of days out of the routine for a well-earned break in Robin Hood’s Bay. My wife and I wanted to walk the Cinder Track from the bay to Ravenscar, a walk we had done before and enjoyed immensely. However, this year we were hoping to add a new twist to it – a visit to the seal colony.
After a quick check with the tide tables, prospects looked favourable with low tide being just after lunchtime. The images in this article where shot over two days, as the weather wasn’t excellent on day one, so we did it again on day two. Any excuse for cake at the half-way café, and more cake at the Coffee Shack upon return to Robin Hood’s Bay.
I was armed on both days with my Leica X, as I am sure you would expect after my separate article written about my year with the Leica X.
The Cinder Track is the old Whitby to Scarborough railway line that was removed in the 1960’s, and has been either maintained, or partially restored to its former glory. It now provides around 20 miles of walking or cycling track between the two North Yorkshire towns. I have spent hours walking the track, and the Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay section is a constant component, although I usually do the return walk to Whitby along the Cleveland Way and the cliff tops.
The Ravenscar section starts at the back end of Robin Hood’s Bay between the bay and the village of Fylingthorpe. It is easy going, very flat, although rugged shoes or boots are advisable because of one or two muddy patches which are scattered along the route. The track hugs the edges of the hills around bay, leading you all the way directly into Ravenscar.
Ravenscar itself is the Victorian holiday resort that time forgot. They built the hotel, a handful of houses and apparently fell out of love with the idea of adding another Yorkshire coast holiday resort to their portfolio.
From the hotel follow the road for a further 500 yards or so, where you will find the most wonderful café, which produces amazingly delicious homemade cakes. The Rocky Road cake is stupendous, and worthy of the walk alone. Be careful though — the owners told me that they would be closed from early November until the following March. I assume the winter season is scarce of walkers braving the inhospitable North Yorkshire weather.
A word of warning before you consider following the next set of instructions, you do need to check the tide times. I use the Tidetimes website. If the tides are not with you, then the walk back to Robin Hood’s Bay is via the alum mines, and along the cliff tops until you reach the bay – it is a wonderful walk in its own right, but my objective here is to tell you of a beautifully hidden delight.
To access the beach at Ravenscar, you need to stand at the driveway entrance to the Ravenscar Hotel, and then follow the track to the left of it. It quickly peters out in to a stony track, and then you find yourself walking amidst the golf course. As the track bends back on itself you break off and effectively cross the golf course – pay attention for incoming golf balls, but in fairness the golfers seem to keep an eye out for you.
Once across the golf course, there is a rough track that follows the land and passes under the headland. Half way down you will find a bench, an information board and some wonderful views. You will also begin to pick up on the noises coming from below. This next section is fairly interesting, and possibly not for those who are less able. The track gets rougher, and while there are a few sets of wooden steps, at times it is a case of almost climbing down the muddy slopes. The views make it worthwhile though.
The greeting at the bottom of this tumulous trek is what the first visitors to the moon must have felt like. A barren, rocky world surrounds you with a heaving mass of large bull seals (scary up-close, trust me), and boulders significantly larger than either people or the seals.
The behaviour of the seals is amazing to watch. The colony has both common seals, and grey seals. The pups let you get a little closer, but not too close. Photographs are easily made as they like to pose – some seemingly enjoying the experience. The adults tolerate our presence, but keep an eye on their fellow seals and often stick together in larger intimidating groups.
If you have the tides with you and you hit the bottom around low tide, preferably slightly earlier, then there is an added bonus in that you can walk along the beach and rocks following the cove back to Robin Hood’s Bay. Here you will pass through Stoupe Beck, and Boggle Hole. If the tide does catch you out then both places will allow you access back to the cliff top paths.
The beach at the Bay end of this walk has a conveniently placed ice cream van for those few hot days of the year. If that is not to your liking then, once in the Bay itself, you have the Bay Hotel, nice to have a drink and rest outside. It also does food. There are two fish-and-chip outlets, one in the bay itself, and one at the top of the hill leaving the bay (I tend to use the upper one as it is a little nicer). There is also the Coffee Shack (awesome cakes) and Tea Toast’N’Post, another café with a nice twee twist to it.
There you have it, an excellent walk which my Apple Watch suggests is around 7.5 miles using the beach return; it is longer if you go back via the cliff tops, and a bit longer still if you return on the Cinder Track. However, all three routes are wonderful and worthy of exploration.