Spa, stars and landslip

The information board at the site of the former Holbeck Hotel which fell into the sea in a massive landslip in 1993.
The information board at the site of the former Holbeck Hotel which fell into the sea in a massive landslip in 1993.

Written by Maureen Robinson

This popular coastal walk commences from the roundabout, near road junctions with the southern end of Foreshore Road, towards the Spa complex. See the Spa waters, which made Scarborough the first Spa to gain national recognition. Savour tea and scones at the Clock Cafe before visiting the Star Disc and the site of the Holbeck landslide. Follow the Cleveland Way with its fantastic coastal views as you head southwards. Return through the stunning gardens of South Cliff and discover artistic information boards.

Start at the roundabout near road junctions with Foreshore Road below the Grand Hotel and nearby Rotunda Museum.

Remain alongside the beach rails towards the Spa complex. Nearing the Spa, where buses turn around, seek in left walling steps descending to an alcove part-way down to the beach. You’ll find water trickles through the sea wall as it has for decades, staining stone-work brown due to the mineral content of the water.

Continue past shops and the Spa’s sun-lounge to discover a fine information board, ‘Scarborough at Night’, dated 1879. It’s the reproduction of a painting by Francis Sydney Muschamp, produced during the Spa’s 19th century heyday.

Proceed beneath the covered way, past the tram lift, shop, toilets and chalets. The Clock Cafe is just up the steps, but please return to this path. If conditions are favourable, proceed by the coastal rail with rocky cliffs to the right.

Ahead is the Star Disc which was formerly the site of an outdoor bathing pool. Embedded lights marked out the constellations of the night sky.

Continue by the foot of the cliff to meet descending steps and a warning sign of danger from high seas over sea walls etc.

Cross a short, sandy stretch to resume the ascending path ahead. Observe the ‘rock armour’ at the base of the cliff as a means of protection, since the Holbeck landslide on June 3-4, 1993. Keep to the main, pebbly track flanked by verges rich in wild flowers. Pass behind a row of six seats to reach a second information board. This details ‘A Seaside Favourite’, painted by Turner in 1801 from sketches he made.

Next, ascend the path from a seat to your right and take care on loose pebbles. At an off-shoot right, halt. Ignore this path up to Holbeck car park. Keep straight ahead along the Cleveland Way, as signed to Filey. The views are stunning – especially at low tide when the beach is revealed. Beyond a short, hedged section, where you may meet a rabbit, your well-defined path keeps close to the cliff edge, but beware of erosion! Foxgloves of early summer give way to tall, rose-purple spires of the Rosebay Willowherb and other interesting flowers.

Skirting the perimeter of a golf-course, your path eventually veers right to descend about 43 steps into a small wooded ravine. Here you meet a cross-track accompanied by a small stream. Bear slightly right to cross the stream by good, substantial stepping stones. Continue up the steep, rough track through woodland. Swiftly reaching the top, you’ll find the Wheatcroft Waste Water Pumping Station just beyond Cleveland Way signs. Keep this building to your left and enter a handgate alongside a field gate into a car park. Follow the narrow lane ahead to meet Cornelian Drive. Turn right along this drive, overlooking the end of the golf course.

Meeting the old Filey Road keep right and follow the road past St Martin’s Schools to turn right down Wheatcroft Avenue. Regaining the cliff top, enter Holbeck car park and walk in front of seating. On the bend in a stone-walled recess, read ‘The Scarborough Experience’, regarding the Holbeck landslide on June 3-4 1993.

Follow the netted barrier to your right up Sea Cliff Road as far as the road junction. Here turn right along Holbeck Hill. Wooden palings skirt a deep, wooded ravine to the right. Very shortly seek an entrance. Leave Holbeck Hill and descend woodland, using the rustic railed footpath. Keep to the railed path.

When the rustic barrier cuts across your path and veers right, go under the rail and straight ahead. These footpaths are collapsing in places. Do take care as you proceed to more rustic fencing. Go through the next barrier and bear left uphill.

Meeting a tarmac path with open views to Castle Hill, turn left between shrubs, fantastic flower beds and seating. These gardens are crowned by the Holbeck Clock Tower, presented by Alfred Shuttleworth to the Borough of Scarborough in the year of the Coronation of King George V, AD 1911. The benefactor lived across the road at Red Court. On the opposite corner is the Shuttleworth Garden, well worth visiting!

Next, return to Holbeck Clock Tower and continue along the Esplanade with its artistic flower beds, bushes and trees to admire. To your right feature the Italian Gardens, with the Rose Gardens beyond if you wish to view them. The Italian Gardens started before 1914 as private gardens. The Rose Garden started around 1883 as private gardens too, and these are at present being replenished.

Beyond signs to these gardens you’ll find a boat nicely sited on the green.

Keep straight ahead as to the town centre and aim for the turquoise-painted Cliff Bridge, which opened in July 1827. This crossing is to the Grand Hotel, with your ‘island’ of departure just below.

Distance: 4.25 miles approximately.

Refreshments: Spa Sun Lounge Cafe, Clock Cafe, Caffe Italia (near the Grand Hotel) plus hotels and shops in passing.

Map reference: Ordnance Survey, Explorer 301 Scarborough, Bridlington and Flamborough Head. Scale 2½ = 1 mile.