Ravenscar and Robin Hood's Bay

From Ravenscar 8.75 miles (14.08km)

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Starting from the windswept heights of Ravenscar, this walk has a diverse variety of impressive scenery to enjoy. The outward path utilises a former railway line which undulates gently to Robin Hood’s Bay. Then we follow the graceful curve of the bay, clinging to the coastline for the return to Ravenscar.

In 1895 Victorian entrepreneurs made ambitious plans to turn Ravenscar into a luxurious holiday resort to rival Scarborough and Whitby. The proposals included private houses, hotels, shops, formal gardens, promenade walks and a Marine Esplanade along the cliff top. The company immediately took on 300 workers to construct roads, lay mains drainage and mark out 1500 building plots. In 1900 a brickworks opened, expecting to supply materials for the new town. Unfortunately, few people invested in the project and the company eventually went bankrupt in 1913, after which Ravenscar became famous as ‘the town that never was’. However, the remains of the roads and kerb­stones are still visible around the village.

The Raven Hall Hotel, which dates from 1774, was once a private residence owned by King George III’s physician, Dr Francis Willis; there is a rumour that the King stayed at the hall for treatment during his bouts of madness. Although the Willis family acquired great wealth, their son Rev. Dr Richard Willis soon squandered his inheritance through an addiction to gambling. According to one story, he lost the hall in a wager which involved two lice crawling across a plate!

Millenium Boggle Statue, Robin Hood's Bay
Millenium Statue, Robin Hoods Bay

Between Ravenscar and Robin Hood’s Bay, the route follows the trackbed of the former Scarborough and Whitby Railway line, now known as the ‘Cinder Track’. The trail passes the old alum quarry, which was also the site of the Whitaker Brick Company. Despite Ravenscar’s demise, the brickworks continued in production, benefitting from having a private railway siding. The company supplied bricks to the expanding town of Scarborough until the 1930s. Demolition of the chimneys took place in the 1960s, but there are substantial remains of the Hoffman kiln.

Raven Hall Hotel, Ravenscar
Raven Hall Hotel, Ravenscar

The track meanders its way around to the former station buildings at Robin Hood’s Bay. The waiting rooms and stationmaster’s house now provide holiday accommodation, and the station yard serves as the village’s main car park. The town has always had a strong connection with the sea, although its thriving fishing fleet began to dwindle in the late nineteenth century, and nowadays, most of its income derives from tourism.

The picturesque village of Coneysthorpe has a large green lined with stone cottages. Standing at the top of the green is the 1835 chapel of ease, refurbished in 1894 by Temple Moore; it has a sizeable bell-cote housing one bell. The former schoolhouse and reading room built in 1852 now serves as the village hall, and the War Memorial sits at the bottom of the green near the road.

Leaving the village, we re-enter the estate grounds and continue to the boundary of Ray Wood, a walled garden containing an impressive collection of trees, shrubs and flowers gathered from exotic places around the world. The pavilion on the south east corner of Ray Wood is the Temple of the Four Winds, designed by Vanbrugh in 1724. However, the building was not completed until 1738.

Further on, we cross an impressive Italianate bridge spanning the New River Pond. From the centre of the bridge there are views of the mansion and the temple, but the Mausoleum is the most conspicuous. Built from 1728-42, the Mausoleum stands 90 feet (27.4m) in height and has twenty Doric columns to support it. Inside, the chapel ceiling rises 70 feet (21.3m), and the crypt beneath the chapel has sixty-three recesses for coffins.

Before entering the woodland at East Moor Banks, look back for views of the Pyramid, the mansion and the Mausoleum. The path through the wood leads to an enigmatic statue with Four Faces, another of Hawksmoor’s designs c.1727, restored 1997-2003. From the Four Faces, we follow the Centenary Way footpath to the main road and then return to Welburn.

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