The best coastal walks in Yorkshire

22nd October 2020

Robin Hood's Bay

A lovely coastal walk is one of the most relaxing of activities, especially right now when life is so strange and uncertain for many of us. Fortunately, the great county of Yorkshire is replete with beautiful coastal walks with stunning seaside scenery to enjoy, many of which will be perfect for those staying at hotels in Scarborough. In this guide, we highlight some of the very best coastal walks available in Yorkshire, so take a look and make sure to give one or two a go during your next visit to this magnificent part of the UK.

Ravenscar to Robin Hood’s Bay

Ravenscar to Robin Hood's Bay

Image credit: Paul Beal

Ravenscar to Robin Hood’s Bay is a lovely walk which is about four miles long with a return loop available (11 miles) that takes you inland to enjoy the area’s beautiful North York Moors. You can start at the craggy heights of Ravenscar and enjoy the stunning clifftop views available as you make your way along the coast and Cleveland Way National Trail.

We spoke to North York Moors National Park Authority and Malcolm Hodgson, Trail Manager for the Cleveland Way National Trail, who told us what he believes makes this trail and the Cleveland Way so special: “The wonderful variety of the coastal Cleveland Way lends itself to inspirational strolls. On any stretch, you can see dramatic cliff tops with waves crashing beneath, beautiful sandy bays and delightfully historic fishing villages with cobbled streets and unique shops.”

Once you get to the picturesque Robin Hood’s Bay you can turn inland on to the old Scarborough to Whitby railway and then experience some classic moorland scenery on the way home. Of course, you can always do the loop the other way around or just take a stroll as far along the coast as you wish. Whatever you decide, finishing back at Raven Hall for a refreshment will cap off a memorable walk.

Describing some of the scenery, Paul Beal – a blogger with a bevy of walking route suggestions and tips – has shared: “The views from the top of the high cliffs at Ravenscar, especially north towards Robin Hood’s Bay, are superb. Downhill and just north of the village is an old alum works, once an important part of the country’s fabric dyeing industry, and now an interesting National Trust site.

Walkers at Ravenscar

Image credit: Paul Beal

This is truly a wonderful location for a coastal walk and someone who is certainly a fan of the area is Vicki Broadbent, a former Yorkshire resident and founder of the family blog Honest Mum. Vicki has spent time in both Ravenscar and Robin Hood’s Bay and shared some glowing words of praise with us: “Ravenscar is an achingly beautiful spot for families to enjoy a coastal walk and reset. We've enjoyed many trips to Ravenscar and its picture-perfect neighbour, the old, quaint fishing village, Robin Hood's Bay. Being Yorkshire-born, I always feel instantly at home there. Now is the perfect time to hike across the landscape, throw pebbles in the sea or row a boat on the river in Ruswarp nearby.”

Michael B Shannon, a travel and walking guides blogger, only had positive things to say when speaking to us about this particular walk: “Robin Hood's Bay is perhaps one of the most scenic bays in the country. It also has a lot of interest geologically - Peak Fault and the concentric rings visible from Ravenscar at low tide are of particular interest. The area has lots of wildlife too. I think the bay has lots of interest and the walk from Ravenscar to the village of Robin Hood's Bay across the bay can be completed in four ways which I have described on my website, each of which is quite different in character.

“The scenery varies from season to season, in springtime, the bay is predominantly yellow as the Gorse comes into bloom and in late summer purple as the moorland heather flowers. I would imagine that any photographer would find plenty of inspiration. The reward at the end of the walk would be Robin Hood's Bay itself - a picture-postcard village with the narrow winding street, old cottages, pubs with lots of character and some excellent fish and chip shops.”

Runswick to Staithes

Runswick Bay

The walk between villages Runswick and Staithes is about 4.5 miles and is typically a linear route. Starting off in Runswick Bay, this former fishing village is just a short distance from Whitby. Located at the end of a beautiful beach, the charming fisherman-style cottages provide for a lovely local atmosphere. With panoramic sea views, this route to Staithes is a delight, another fishing village that was once the home of Captain James Cook! There is a heritage centre that can be enjoyed too before you amble home along the cliffs. For those who only fancy a walk-in one direction, you can always park at Runswick, catch the 10-minute bus to Staithes and then enjoy the delights of this coastal walk in one direction – something that National Trail recommends.

Andrew, from the walking diary/blog Andrew’s Walks, has enjoyed the walk between these two villages himself and shared with us his recollections: “Staithes and Runswick Bay are both attractive and unspoilt little fishing villages, and in a beauty contest would probably share the first prize. A walk between the two, following the course of the Cleveland Way, takes in some of Yorkshire's finest clifftop scenery and a chance to wander around the quiet village streets and passageways.”

Michael B Shannon praises this coastal walk as perhaps his favourite in the county: “I have walked the whole of the Yorkshire Coast many times and it offers some of the country’s best coastal walking. Difficult to choose just one walk, Ravenscar to Robin Hood's Bay would be up there, but if pressed I think the walk from Runswick Bay to Staithes would be my favourite. This is only a short walk along the cliff tops, but as you come close to Staithes the view of the village from the cliff top is absolutely stunning, I have never tired of it.”

Bempton Cliffs and Flamborough Head

Flamborough Head

Image credit: Paul Beal

This walk is along the coast at Bempton Cliffs and Flamborough Head. Bempton Cliffs is home to a nature reserve and therefore has a spectacular array of natural life to enjoy. Andrew from Andrew’s Walks is a big fan of the area and describes the amazing wildlife that exists here: “My favourite coastal walk in Yorkshire is Bempton Cliffs, a spectacular section of towering chalk cliffs, and home to one of the UK's top wildlife spectacles. Between March and October, half a million seabirds gather here to breed, offering close sightings of gannets, puffins and many other species.”

Just along the coast is Flamborough Head with its sheer white cliffs and two lighthouse towers – one of which dates all the way back to 1669. This particular spot is somewhere Paul Beal loves when it comes to coastal walks: “Another coastal walk I particularly enjoy is around Flamborough Head, taking in North Landing and Thornwick Bay. The cliffs are fascinating and the views amazing.

Bays, caves, arches, stacks, stumps and wave-cut platforms, all part of the coastal erosion process, feature prominently in this area.”

You can even combine these two gorgeous Yorkshire coastal areas and walk between them for a truly picture-perfect coastal walk.

Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay

Whitby Abbey

Taking us back to Robin Hood’s Bay is the walk from wonderful Whitby. The walk is about six miles in one direction and is part of the Cleveland Way. Whitby is a historic Yorkshire location with its famous abbey even inspiring Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the journey along the cliffs to picturesque Robin Hood’s Bay with the moors in the background is a true delight. Someone who has enjoyed this walk herself is Maja from the travel blog Away with Maja, and she has described to us what it is she loves about it:

“My favourite part of the walk from Whitby to Robin Hood's Bay would have to be the views over the cliffs along the coast! The walk isn't too long or strenuous, and it's very easy and straightforward to navigate. I also love that you get to visit two wonderful towns on either end of the walk - both Whitby and Robin Hood's Bay are charming seaside destinations and hiking between them is a perfect way to explore both. This walk is also a great choice for those using public transportation, as there are bus and train connections to Whitby, and regular bus service between Robin Hood's Bay and Whitby.”

Maja also told us what she believes makes Yorkshire the perfect location for coastal walks: “I think Yorkshire's coastal walks are so unique simply because of the diversity of the coast itself. There are beautiful villages (like Staithes and Robin Hood's Bay), chalky high cliffs such as those around Flamborough, and amazing opportunities for wildlife sightings, like spotting puffins at Bempton Cliffs. There is just so much to see in a compact area! I also think coastal walks in Yorkshire are special due to the fact that much of the coast is part of a National Trail, the Cleveland Way. Therefore, much of the coastal paths are well-signposted and regularly maintained.”

Coastal walks to enjoy in Yorkshire

- Ravenscar to Robin Hood’s Bay

- Runswick to Staithes

- Bempton Cliffs

- Flamborough Head

- Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay

As you can see, there are some truly special coastal walks available in Yorkshire. If you have decided to spend some time along the coast, you are truly spoiled for choice. With majestic views, abundant natural life, and charming villages, you can’t go wrong.

For more tips, guides, and advice, make sure to visit our blog.