North York Moors

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Ravenscar to Robin Hood's Bay photo by Mike Kipling

Ravenscar to Robin Hood's Bay

Enjoy the National Park in a nutshell on this 11-mile walk through some of the North York Moors’ most characteristic landscapes. From the craggy heights of Ravenscar the route runs across Howdale Moor for some classic moorland scenery before dropping down to the old Scarborough-to-Whitby railway line and along to the famous smugglers’ haunt of Robin Hood’s Bay. Both here and at nearby Boggle Hole you can indulge in a spot of rock-pooling and fossil-hunting, before returning along an exhilarating clifftop stretch of the Cleveland Way National Trail, via the old alum works industrial site. Sea views, cobbled lanes, cinder tracks, archaeological ruins and spreading moorland heather – that’s a powerful combination of the best National Park experiences in one big day out.

Walk info

Great for:
coastal capers, more than a stroll, big-sky views, history buffs, list-tickers
11 miles (17.7km)
6 hours 30 minutes
Ravenscar National Trust Coastal Centre
Grid Ref:
NZ 981 016
OS Map:
Ordnance Survey OL27
Ravenscar and Boggle Hole
GPX file, MMO file

About this walk

WalkThis is a long and reasonably challenging walk, with steep descents and ascents at Boggle Hole and Stoupe Beck and a moorland section with rough tracks. Weather can change quickly on the moor and sea cliffs – be prepared for poor visibility, even in summer .The section across Howdale Moor is on Open Access land, which means that walkers do not have to stick to footpaths or other public rights of way.

DogsDogs must stay on public rights of way on Howdale Moor (between points 5 and 7), and please also keep them on a short lead or to heel at all times (and always on a lead near livestock). They also should be kept on a short lead between 1 March and 31 July when birds are nesting on the ground. There are stiles en route, and you're likely to encounter cyclists and horse-riders on the old railway track.

The resort that never was

In 1895 a group of property developers bought up the land at Ravenscar with dreams of turning it into a smart holiday resort to rival nearby Scarborough. There were to be houses, shops, hotels, formal gardens and an esplanade along the cliff top. But the dreams were never to be realised. Only a few holiday homes, a road and some sewers were completed before the money ran out. The developers went bust, leaving a half-built resort with one large hotel, the Raven Hall. It was an optimistic – perhaps unrealistic – scheme in the first place. Being such an exposed place, sited high above the shore, Ravenscar would have appealed only to the hardiest of holidaymakers!

An early chemical industry

In the 17th century the grey shale at Ravenscar was discovered to contain alum, a chemical used to fix and brighten dyes in the textile and tanning industries until the 19th century. Alum production transformed the coastal landscape into an industrial site for nearly 250 years – with quarries and spoil heaps on the hillside, cottages for hundreds of workers, and a busy harbour in the bay below.

The Cleveland Way National Trail runs through the site of the Peak Alum Works, where stone walls and foundations mark the site of the winding engine, boiler house, cooling tanks and alum warehouses. The site is owned by the National Trust and makes a fascinating visit – it's only a short walk from the Visitor Centre at Ravenscar.