The Cleveland Way ~ Day Eight (Sandsend to Robin Hood's Bay)
As we set off from the pretty seaside village of Sandsend towards Robin Hood's Bay on day eight of the Cleveland Way, we'd managed to beat the holiday makers but not the sun which was already feeling ferociously hot.
There are two ways to reach Whitby from here; along the beach if the tide is out or along the road for a short while before turning left to pass the golf course and onto a path that leads to Upgang beach.
We chose the official Cleveland Way and pretty soon we were on the outskirts of Whitby. This route turned out to be a lovely approach to Whitby, taking us along a tarmac path at the top of a slope overlooking the beach with its jolly beach huts lined up along the seafront.
We paused for a photo of the famous whalebone arch and to take in the view across to the abbey before heading into Whitby, peering into the windows of the lovely shops that line the cobbled streets.
Then we reached the 199 steps with a steep climb up to St Mary's Church and Whitby Abbey. Despite the many rocky ups and downs we have encountered along the way, it definitely felt like we plodded up these steps.
As we've learnt along the Cleveland Way so far, there is always a reward after such a climb and today's bonus was the view back across the town. Whitby boasts a fascinating history from Captain Cook to its shipbuilding past (it was the fifth biggest shipbuilding centre in England in 1828) not to mention its dramatic literary connections. No wonder the place gave Bram Stoker the inspiration for his novel, Dracula, which in turn has spawned a whole goth cultural scene in Whitby.
At the top of the steps you pass the churchyard and church and walk alongside a tall stone wall alongside the abbey, a 7th century Anglo-Saxon monastery and later a Benedictine abbey. Both the abbey and its possessions were confiscated by Henry VIII under the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
After the hustle and bustle of Whitby town you are soon back on the rugged cliff top coastal path. Looking back at the abbey from here, it appears quite forlorn from this angle yet in its heyday I imagine it would have been an imposing landmark.
The cliff path hugs the coastline once again with some beautiful coastal scenery either side. Not far out of Whitby you come to a caravan park at Saltwick Nab with various amenities. The park overlooks a lovely little curve of sand at Saltwick Bay. There are some decent steps down to the beach here but today we stuck to the route.
Here's looking back to Saltwick Bay and in the distance to Whitby.
As I've mentioned before I'm always on the lookout for a seaside bolthole on my travels and this time we came across the old Whitby Fog Warning Station which actually turned out to be for sale! Let's see if the family are up for a lifestyle change when I get home...
Next door is the old lighthouse, now holiday accommodation. The Cleveland Way path runs on the landward side of the lighthouse complex with a few rises and dips not far from the village of the Hawsker. The scenery is some of the best you'll find on the coastal path with stunning views all around.
Alongside the occasional fellow walkers, there were just a few sheep for company as we passed through gently undulating meadows.
The track dips almost to sea level in parts crossing small becks in places. The shade of a couple of wooded valleys was welcome as the heat was quite stifling at this point.
Around here The Cleveland Way meets the Coast to Coast trail once again (last crossing each other on the highest point of the North York Moors). We met a group of Americans who were on their grande finale into Robin Hood's Bay having started out 12 days before at St Bees in Cumbria.
The cliffside is a mix of lush greenery - you can see it is covered in a vast swath of ferns - and it is also shaped in parts as a result of quarrying of alum shales.
As we walked around Ness Point, the little fishing village of Robin Hood's Bay came into view. With the tide out this glimpse of the village looked a little bleak although for anyone rock pooling down on the beach, there was probably a treasure trove of natural finds to discover.
The route brings you through fields and into the top of the village along a residential street. We wandered down to the Old Coastguard Station, now a National Trust visitor centre, before walking back up the hill to enjoy our well-earned fish and chips and a mug of tea.
Looking back at the sands, I spotted the group of Coast to Coast walkers we'd met an hour or so earlier, dipping their toes into the salty waters of Robin Hood's Bay, the traditional way to finish the Coast to Coast walk. They had a fair way to walk today to reach the shoreline.
After our fish and chips, we hopped on the X4, an easy, direct bus route straight back to Sandsend where I'd parked the car. This stretch of the Cleveland Way is another beautiful hike taking in the best of the Yorkshire coast, with its stunning cliff top views, lovely seaside villages and towns and beautiful scenery inland. Definitely one to return to. But in the meantime I'll give the boots a rest until next time...Robin Hood's Bay to Cloughton here we come!