Ravenscar has defied development over the centuries on account of its steep and geologically unstable cliffs. A developer named John Septimus Bland intended creating a holiday resort to rival Whitby and Scarborough, but it was not to be. You can still see the station, and traces of the layout of streets, but building plots proposed, are now overgrown. Consequently clear views out to sea remain to be admired.
Ravenscar is a small village about 10 miles NNE of Scarborough. It stands 600ft above sea level, on the coast overlooking Robin Hood’s Bay. The scenery is most attractive and attracts many visitors.
Access to Ravenscar is along the A171 heading north from Scarborough as far as Cloughton, then bearing right via Staintondale and meeting a road junction at the Beacon Windmill. Here, turn right and head for the Raven Hall Hotel, where one may park by the roadside.
Scarborough and District buses run a daily service to Ravenscar. There are public toilets opposite the roadside parking area. This short walk of about three miles presents fantastic coastal views and easy walking, using a bridleway, quiet lane, and disused railway track.
Starting in the vicinity of the Raven Hall Hotel, it may be of interest to learn that when it was built in 1774 it was simply the Raven Hall. King George III came here to recuperate from his bouts of melancholia and madness.
The Romans built a signal station here. Its foundations, and an inscribed stone were unearthed when Raven Hall’s own foundations were being laid. It would be used to relay warnings of Anglo-Saxon invaders to military bases.
From the Raven Hall Hotel walk back up the road you came along, away from the hotel. Then, passing the church and a cricket field turn right along Robin Hood Road, originally named School Lane.
This metalled road shortly ends, but keep straight on to maintain the same line of direction, following a public bridleway.
This part of the coastline was exploited from as early as the 17th century for alum. This valuable chemical was used in the dyeing industry to fix colours permanently. You’ll notice the remains of alum quarries along this walk.
At the entrance to Brickyard Cottage, take the left fork and keep to the path as it slightly ascends through bracken. [There was once a brickworks, with ‘Ravenscar’ indented on each brick. You may still find some along the pathway.]
A little further along you meet another forking of ways. Here bear left onto a narrow path leading uphill to the road. Turn right immediately down the steep Stoupe Brow hill. [Stoupe Brow rises to about 1,000ft above sea level.]
When the road veers sharply right over the bridge, continue for several steps and then turn off right to join the old disused railway track.
Then go left at the track in order to follow its swift return route to the entrance of the Raven Hall Hotel. [This is the track bed of the old Scarborough to Whitby railway.] Ravenscar also provides the finish to the 42 mile hike across the moors from Osmotherley, which is known as the Lyke Wake Walk, but we’ll save that route for another day!]
Meanwhile, enjoy refreshment in the Raven Hall Hotel, and maybe call at the National Trust Centre close by, for any information, maps, booklets, or possibly an ice cream.
*NB Ravenscar’s Coastline.
At low tide one may see the rocky shoreline as a series of concentric curves. They are formed from alternating layers of hard and soft rock. These have been eroded by waves over millions of years.
Map Ref: Ordnance Survey North York Moors, Eastern Area OL27. Explorer Map. Scale: 2.5 inches to 1 mile.
Distance: 3 miles. Allow 1.5 hours for observations etc.
Refreshment: The Raven Hall Hotel and National Trust Centre. A picnic is always welcome!
Toilets: Opposite roadside parking area.