Commanding views

The castle headland has offered occupiers of the town a defensive stronghold.
The castle headland has offered occupiers of the town a defensive stronghold.

Written by Maureen Robinson

Scarborough’s massive headland – Castle Hill – rises to a height of about 300ft above sea level, and 100ft above the town. It separates the North and South Bays. The remains of Scarborough Castle on the edge of a cliff is a majestic landmark with 3,000 years of history.

Nearby, beside Castle Road, is St Mary’s Church, from where this walk begins.

Start. St Mary’s has been Scarborough’s parish church for more than 800 years. It was established by the Cistercian monks and commands extensive views of the coast as far as Flamborough Head.

This circular route of only two-and-a-half miles is ideal for visitors and residents alike. It encompasses areas that have been restored, along with the Marine Drive, complete with its wave-return wall. This was a major feat of engineering, along with work done on the East Pier. New pontoons were installed at a cost of £500,000 in the inner harbour, and a sculpture of a Diving Belle was sited near the lighthouse. See these along with Hairy Bob’s Cave, a skate park, and the 
Coffee Pot Rock for a good hour’s pleasant walking.

From St Mary’s Church on Castle Road, walk by the churchyard and past Church Lane to follow the cemetery wall alongside a small car park. Beyond a wall plaque you’ll see the grave of Anne Bronte, one of the famous Bronte sisters of Haworth, West Yorkshire.

Continue up the hill (ie forking left) to the castle which is now in the care of English Heritage. The remains of this 12th century castle should be visited on another occasion.

From the castle entrance bear right and follow the sign to North Bay, not to the harbour. Descend steps to a second post and go left under the arch for a fabulous view of North Bay and as far as Ravenscar etc. Those white, pyramid-style buildings some distance away constitute the Sea Life Centre and Marine Sanctuary.

From this vantage point bear right and keep to the main path as it zig-zags gently down The Holms, ie Royal Albert Park.

Reaching a cross-path turn right away from the Albert Drive Cafe and drop down to meet the Marine Drive. Cross the drive with care, and turning right keep alongside the sea-walling. These sea defences protecting the coastline must be one of the largest civil engineering projects in the country.

To the right you may spot Hairy Bob’s Cave. This huge block of stone has several holes which collectively resemble a face. Close by is the ever-popular skateboard park. Then, at low tide one rock rises above the rest and has been named the Coffee Pot!

Rounding the headland, during the nesting season the steep, rocky ledges provide popular nesting sites for colonies of kittiwakes and fulmars.

Leaving the Marine Drive by the old toll bar, which is now a coastguard station, you’ll see a plaque above which reads: “Major coastal road link between North and South Bays. Constructed 1897.”

Next feature the popular stalls which have diversified into selling fish and chips and ice cream, as well as providing a burger bar and Shell Shack kiosk. Take the few steps between the Shell Shack and Luna Park to access East Pier. Here, where the walk-way widens, is the proposed site for Ray Lonsdale’s stainless steel sculpture of a 7ft tunny fish, suspended from a support of 12ft 6in in height. Huge tunny, up to 851lbs in weight, were caught locally between 1930 and 1954 when herring were more plentiful, and pursued by the tunny.

Descend the steps, and passing Luna Park, turn left into Vincent Pier. Pontoons have been installed in the inner harbour to 
accommodate up to 60 craft. There are pleasure craft and the pirate ship Hispaniola, while anglers too can take a trip out to sea. [You 
may choose to continue to the lighthouse and view, at 
the end of the pier, Craig Knowles’ sculpture, the Diving Belle.]

Returning to Sandside, cross the road to Sunrise Cafe selling hot and cold food. At Castle Foot ascend steps with stone walling to the right. Enjoy views over the Old Town. Continue as signed to St Mary’s Church, castle 
entrance, and town centre.

Proceed past Castle Gardens, and keeping to the main pathway with its high-backed seats, reach a forking of ways. Directly ahead is the car park near St Mary’s Church, and your route is complete.

But wait! Cross the road to enter Mulgrave Place. You’ll discover Castle-by-the-Sea, which was the home of the famous artist John Atkinson Grimshaw for several years until 1879.

Just beyond, from Cottage-by-the-Sea, a charming view reveals part of your varied route and creates a lasting 
impression of North Bay.

Distance: 2.5 miles 

Refreshment: The Sunrise Cafe at Castle Foot; varied bars near Vincent Pier and Luna Park, and a good selection along Sandside.