Scarborough is renowned for its architectural splendour and dramatic views across its North and South Bays. Add to these the town’s seafront features, award-winning cafe, golden sandy beaches, a fantastic harbour marina and superb dining places, and you’ve all the ingredients for a perfect day out. Then there’s the marvellous Marine Drive, from the gleaming tunny fish sculpture near the coastguard station, followed to Royal Albert Park, and ascending to Scarborough Castle – a major tourist attraction.
Start from Scarborough’s Town Hall on St Nicholas Street. Built in the mid-19th Century as a residence for John Woodall. It’s Jacobean in style and was designed by Henry Wyatt. Leaving here, turn left by Queen Victoria’s statue, and descend the walkways and steps through St Nicholas Gardens.
Reaching Foreshore Road, go left in front of the controversial future of the Futurist, and continue by its many attractions to the harbour. At Luna Park’s big wheel, ascend steps to the right of Shell Shack and Tea Pot Cafe. Discover the symbol of Scarborough’s tunny fishing heritage. The stainless steel tunny was designed and sculpted by Ray Lonsdale. Read the wall plaque detailing tunny fishing, and continue along the ever-popular Marine Drive, with the chance of viewing a shark or dolphin! In summertime the cliffs are thronged with nesting kittiwakes and fulmars etc.
Rounding the headland, seek Hairy Bob’s Cave near the skateboard park on Royal Albert Drive. It’s a rock with face-like features believed to have been the cave dwelling of a hermit! Continue beyond the skateboard park to an obvious entrance indicating your footpath route up Castle Hill with picnic tables and seating. A bold sign announces: “Welcome to Royal Albert Park.” Leaving the sea wall, pass between boulders and enjoy the easy walk along ascending, tarmac paths and good steps leading to Scarborough Castle.
At the top, pass beneath the castle’s stone archway and bear right up a few steps to discover the castle’s entrance. This 12th Century Norman castle has a peaceful role today as a tourist attraction. Quite a contrast to its often war-like and bloodthirsty past! Sitting atop the magnificent headland and steeped in history, this castle is one of the town’s oldest relics and its most famous landmark.
Rising majestically above the harbour and town, this castle has 2,500 years of turbulent history behind it. There has been a stone castle here since 1135 when the Earl of Albemarle, William Le Gros, first decided to fortify the headland. Remains of the early building include a chapel and the curtain walls. These were strengthened by Henry II in the latter half of the 12th Century. It started life as an Iron Age fort, before serving as a Roman signal station and Viking settlement before reaching its heyday under Henry II.
It has endured sieges including the Great Siege of Scarborough Castle in 1645 – one of the most bloody of the English Civil War. In 1914 it was damaged by the German naval bombardment, and during the Second World War it was used as listening station. Explore the 16-acre grounds and make history come alive at this English Heritage site.
Leaving the castle, turn right to view Anne Brontë’s grave beyond the car park wall, and visit St Mary’s Church just ahead. A church may have occupied this position even before the first castle was erected, with the first single-aisled structure of around 1150 being extended and restored later.
Proceed along Castle Road and turn off left down Tollergate. Cross Longwestgate, and continuing via Friargate go straight forward into Leading Post Street. Bear left by The Duke of York into Merchants Row, with its heritage of smuggling. The life-size sculptures depict a smuggler with his apprentice, created by sculptor Ray Lonsdale. Ray’s sensitive portrayal of characters is revealed in the two contrasting faces. Do read his most appropriate verse on the plaque. This sculpture is another symbol of Scarborough’s heritage.
Now discover, a little lower along Eastborough, Scarborough’s new Maritime Heritage Centre at number 45. The previous premises were at number 36 just across the road. Do call in at our local heritage centre, which aims to conserve all Scarborough’s maritime history for interested parties to research and appreciate.
Turn around and walk up Eastborough with its fascinating shops, cafes and inns.
Reaching King Street (opposite Queen Street) turn left and walk along King Street and up to the top of St Nicholas Gardens.
Bear right by Queen Victoria’s statue, and return to the town hall on St Nicholas Street.
Distance: Three miles approximately. Allow 1.5 to two hours walking and extra for castle visit.
Terrain: Very good throughout, but some steep gradients and steps.
Refreshment: An abundance of cafes, restaurants, inns and snack bars along Foreshore Road to coastguard station. The Tea Pot Cafe below tunny sculpture is popular. Other refreshment stops up Eastborough and in Scarborough itself.
NB. Scarborough Castle open 10am-5pm in winter, 10am-6pm in summer.