Stroll With Stu: swapping sunny Greece for the seaside splendour of Robin Hood's Bay

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Mrs Stu and I normally holiday in Greece, but this year we exchanged security checks and passport control with a bus ride, to spend a week in gorgeous Robin Hood’s Bay.

So, the next two walks are around Baytown, the first of which is a nice circular of only four miles - but with two lung-busting climbs, you’ll earn your post-match refreshments in the beer garden of the Victoria Hotel.

Start on Thorpe lane, where the Arriva X93/94 bus stops for a breather.

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Head towards the sea but turn left in front of the shop and carry on uphill the past the Grosvenor Hotel, following the road as it bend sharply left and starts to climb with purpose.

Robin Hood's Bay, from the Cleveland Way.Robin Hood's Bay, from the Cleveland Way.
Robin Hood's Bay, from the Cleveland Way.

Ignore several private paths that snake up the slope, to soon turn right on a lane, then fairly quickly left to begin a long uphill slog along tiny Smay Lane.

Height means views and when you finally reach the summit you are rewarded with a stupendous panorama across the bay.

Turn left along the cunningly named High Lane and after a few hundred yards look out for a stile on your left which takes you to a lovely path through two fields back down to the main road to Hawsker.

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One hundred yards to your right, another footpath sign points you down through a campsite at Hooks House Farm (some of these tents are bigger than my house).

Racing the waves at Robin Hood's Bay.Racing the waves at Robin Hood's Bay.
Racing the waves at Robin Hood's Bay.

The path continues through an open field beyond the campsite and you may want to pause awhile to admire the array of butterflies that have made their home here.

Red Admirals, Meadow Browns, Skippers, various whites and more flit effortlessly around as the aroma of Camping Gaz, bacon, damp socks and Ibuprofen gel fades into the background.

The path bends right at an impressive cottage at the bottom, before dropping on to the road.

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Cross over and carry straight on along the cinder track – the trackbed of the Whitby to Scarborough railway that Dr Beeching gleefully erased with some of the industrial quantities of correction fluid that he’d ordered from Ebay, after publishing his Reshaping of British Railways report on 27 March 1963.

Robin Hood's Bay from High Lane.Robin Hood's Bay from High Lane.
Robin Hood's Bay from High Lane.

Much has been written about the Beeching cuts which were (often with that shrewd investigative tool, hindsight), a tad critical.

I found a response, also from 1963, that was scathing about the detailed justifications for the nationwide cuts, noting that “a 12-year-old schoolboy had faulted some information” and “This will benefit private road hauliers and bus companies, will enrich the petrol and car magnates …. and will punish the aged, infirm and poorer people” (Nothing much changes in the world of politics, eh?).

That report was written by the National Union of Railwaymen (perhaps not desperately impartial) and I should probably add that they observe that one of Beeching’s justifications was to prepare the railway for the concept of the Channel Tunnel.

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The NUR suggested that this was “another Common Market fiasco” as the tunnel may be rendered obsolete by “100mph hovercraft”!


Anyhow, trains won’t be back anytime soon – though I have wondered if pedal powered rickshaws might be a decent business idea – so, keep walking for a mile or so past Middlewood Farm, until you drop onto the road just beyond the local cricket pitch, away to your right.

Turn left along the road, then quickly left again down Mark Lane, leading down to Farsyde Farm.

Turn left in front of the farm, following diversion signs as the path skirts the buildings to reach a clear track heading towards the sea through a lovely little tunnel of trees.

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On reaching the Cleveland Way above the cliffs, you may wish to turn right to get to Boggle Hole Youth Hostel and café, then return to Robin Hoods Bay along the beach.

But beware!

Two of three hours either side of high tide render that impossible, and if there has been heavy rain, Mill Beck – which cuts across the beach – might need negotiating with the aid of bare feet and a towel. (The recent storm Antoni turned Mill Beck into the Amazon).

I advise turning left, where you will soon enjoy fabulous views over the village, before dropping down lots and lots of steps to the raised Quarterdeck above the beach.

So, what will it be?

A slushy at the Galley?

Coffee and cake (orange and poppy seed) at the Old Coastguard Station?

Outdoor pint at the Bay Hotel?

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A slog up the hill for a sandwich in the exquisite Victoria Hotel beer garden?

I recommend a quick detour into the tiny Robin Hood’s Bay Museum (the pubs and cafes will still be there when you come out).

Find it by turning left up the alleys after the Smugglers Alehouse, to get a brief inkling of life when all these cottages didn’t have leaflets outside in little Perspex boxes.

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