Home Cameras/Lenses Leica The Cinder Track: Robin Hood’s Bay to Ravenscar, Seals and a Leica...

The Cinder Track: Robin Hood’s Bay to Ravenscar, Seals and a Leica X

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  Ravenscar, Leica X, converted to B&W in Lightroom 5
Ravenscar, Leica X, converted to B&W in Lightroom 5

In October, last year I took a couple of days out of the routine for a well-earned break in Robin Hood’s Bay. My wife and I wanted to walk the Cinder Track from the bay to Ravenscar, a walk we had done before and enjoyed immensely. However, this year we were hoping to add a new twist to it – a visit to the seal colony. 

  Top, the Cinder Track, strong boots recommended. Above: Colour on the Cinder Track
Top, the Cinder Track, strong boots recommended. Above: Colour on the Cinder Track

After a quick check with the tide tables, prospects looked favourable with low tide being just after lunchtime. The images in this article where shot over two days, as the weather wasn’t excellent on day one, so we did it again on day two. Any excuse for cake at the half-way café, and more cake at the Coffee Shack upon return to Robin Hood’s Bay. 

I was armed on both days with my Leica X, as I am sure you would expect after my separate article written about my year with the Leica X

The Cinder Track is the old Whitby to Scarborough railway line that was removed in the 1960’s, and has been either maintained, or partially restored to its former glory. It now provides around 20 miles of walking or cycling track between the two North Yorkshire towns. I have spent hours walking the track, and the Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay section is a constant component, although I usually do the return walk to Whitby along the Cleveland Way and the cliff tops. 

  View towards Robin Hoods Bay from the Cinder Track
View towards Robin Hoods Bay from the Cinder Track

The Ravenscar section starts at the back end of Robin Hood’s Bay between the bay and the village of Fylingthorpe. It is easy going, very flat, although rugged shoes or boots are advisable because of one or two muddy patches which are scattered along the route. The track hugs the edges of the hills around bay, leading you all the way directly into Ravenscar.

  The descent to Ravenscar rocks and beach
The descent to Ravenscar rocks and beach

Ravenscar itself is the Victorian holiday resort that time forgot. They built the hotel, a handful of houses and apparently fell out of love with the idea of adding another Yorkshire coast holiday resort to their portfolio. 

  Rainbow at sea over Ravenscar
Rainbow at sea over Ravenscar

From the hotel follow the road for a further 500 yards or so, where you will find the most wonderful café, which produces amazingly delicious homemade cakes. The Rocky Road cake is stupendous, and worthy of the walk alone. Be careful though — the owners told me that they would be closed from early November until the following March. I assume the winter season is scarce of walkers braving the inhospitable North Yorkshire weather. 

  The sight that greets you at the bottom — like the surface of the moon
The sight that greets you at the bottom — like the surface of the moon

A word of warning before you consider following the next set of instructions, you do need to check the tide times. I use the Tidetimes website. If the tides are not with you, then the walk back to Robin Hood’s Bay is via the alum mines, and along the cliff tops until you reach the bay – it is a wonderful walk in its own right, but my objective here is to tell you of a beautifully hidden delight. 

  The reason for the journey — the seals
The reason for the journey — the seals

To access the beach at Ravenscar, you need to stand at the driveway entrance to the Ravenscar Hotel, and then follow the track to the left of it. It quickly peters out in to a stony track, and then you find yourself walking amidst the golf course. As the track bends back on itself you break off and effectively cross the golf course – pay attention for incoming golf balls, but in fairness the golfers seem to keep an eye out for you. 

Once across the golf course, there is a rough track that follows the land and passes under the headland. Half way down you will find a bench, an information board and some wonderful views. You will also begin to pick up on the noises coming from below. This next section is fairly interesting, and possibly not for those who are less able. The track gets rougher, and while there are a few sets of wooden steps, at times it is a case of almost climbing down the muddy slopes. The views make it worthwhile though. 

  What awaits at the bottom
What awaits at the bottom

The greeting at the bottom of this tumulous trek is what the first visitors to the moon must have felt like. A barren, rocky world surrounds you with a heaving mass of large bull seals (scary up-close, trust me), and boulders significantly larger than either people or the seals. 

The behaviour of the seals is amazing to watch. The colony has both common seals, and grey seals. The pups let you get a little closer, but not too close. Photographs are easily made as they like to pose – some seemingly enjoying the experience. The adults tolerate our presence, but keep an eye on their fellow seals and often stick together in larger intimidating groups. 

  Part of the colony operates a meet and greet on the shore
Part of the colony operates a meet and greet on the shore

If you have the tides with you and you hit the bottom around low tide, preferably slightly earlier, then there is an added bonus in that you can walk along the beach and rocks following the cove back to Robin Hood’s Bay. Here you will pass through Stoupe Beck, and Boggle Hole. If the tide does catch you out then both places will allow you access back to the cliff top paths. 

  Hide and seek seal style
Hide and seek seal style

The beach at the Bay end of this walk has a conveniently placed ice cream van for those few hot days of the year. If that is not to your liking then, once in the Bay itself, you have the Bay Hotel, nice to have a drink and rest outside. It also does food. There are two fish-and-chip outlets, one in the bay itself, and one at the top of the hill leaving the bay (I tend to use the upper one as it is a little nicer). There is also the Coffee Shack (awesome cakes) and Tea Toast’N’Post, another café with a nice twee twist to it. 

  Are you looking at me?
Are you looking at me?

There you have it, an excellent walk which my Apple Watch suggests is around 7.5 miles using the beach return; it is longer if you go back via the cliff tops, and a bit longer still if you return on the Cinder Track. However, all three routes are wonderful and worthy of exploration. 

  Posing for the camera. It is a Leica, after all
Posing for the camera. It is a Leica, after all
  Rock reflections
Rock reflections
  This is the moon
This is the moon
  The Waterfall Dancer – by the way this was really fun, and Gortex has a lot to answer for
The Waterfall Dancer – by the way this was really fun, and Gortex has a lot to answer for
  Looking back towards Ravenscar
Looking back towards Ravenscar
  Stoupe Beck
Stoupe Beck
  Looking towards Robin Hood
Looking towards Robin Hood’s Bay
  Rock Pool
Rock Pool
  The Bay, through the pools
The Bay, through the pools
  Finally, something man made, or man churned. A Ninety-Nine at the end of a long walk is welcome
Finally, something man made, or man churned. A Ninety-Nine at the end of a long walk is welcome

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13 COMMENTS

  1. Lovely photos, Dave. This is what photography is all about, creating memories. My eldest daughter studied in Hull at one stage, but the furthest I got up the coast was to Scarborough. The coast line in North East Yorkshire seems to resemble that of the West of Ireland, although we have some fine cliff walks near Dublin around Howth Head to the north and between Bray and Greystones to the south. We have seals on all coasts of Ireland, but they are much more common in the West. I was on a photographic trip to Achill island about 5 years ago, when we came across a young seal that had become stranded on the rocks. We were assured that the seal would get free once the tide came in, but I was a little bit concerned about all of the guys (mainly from other countries) with spear guns on the beach. Achill is one of those places where fishermen once hunted basking sharks with spears in rowing boats.

    The moon type surface is very familiar to us from the Burren in County Clare. I was, however, in a place in North Yorkshire called Malham Cove, which is very similar. I am sure that you have been there.

    William

    • Thank you William, The Jurassic Coast above Scarborough to around Redcar in the North East is worthy of exploration. I am always grateful to have frequented this area most of my life from early childhood. I would love to see and photograph some of the coast of Ireland, It always looks wonderful on TV, and in other peoples images. Dave

  2. Wonderful memories, of a wonderful holiday.
    BTW
    If you suffer with asthma waterfall dancing is not a good idea.
    Thanks for the lovely article Dave .

    • We have some wonderful scenery John, its why I enjoy exploring it. Stoupe Beck is a lovely little stop off point. It is also a nice retreat back to the cliff tops if the tide catches out the less attentive on the return journey from Ravenscar. Dave

  3. Fabulous pictures and I love the colour of that blue sky. More years ago than I care to remember, my wife and I started the walk from Salisbury to Bath on the footpaths. By the end of day two we reached Trowbridge and the blisters and sore calves discouraged us from going further. Yet in that whole trip I didn’t produce anywhere near the number of great photos you made here. Well done!

  4. Very nice visual travelogue, Dave. Probably due to a love affair with the James Herriott books, I have always determined that when i finally make it to the UK, North Yorkshire is a place i will certainly tour around.

    • Sorry for the delay in responding, if you do make a tour of the UK – please make sure you visit the Jurassic coast line between Whitby and Ravenscar, there is so much to photograph.

      If Herriott does take your fancy, then also try the Eden Valley in Cumbria. That is often less photographed, but equally beautiful all year round.

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