This 7-mile stretch of the Cleveland Way between Whitby and Robin Hood's Bay takes in some of the best of the North York Moors heritage coastline with a cliff-top path that looks out over the beautiful bays and beaches below.
The pathway is easy to follow and with some climbs along the way it is suitable for anyone with moderate fitness ability. Remember you are walking along the clifftops so sensible footwear is a must.
The walk ends in Robin Hood's Bay where you’ll be able to catch a bus to Whitby on one of the regular daily services. However, if you fancy extending your walk further, you can follow the path of a disused railway called the Cinder Track which makes a lovely circular route that you can follow all the way back to Whitby. Alternatively, you can carry on along the Cleveland Way to Ravenscar, a dramatic headland that is around 4 miles from Robin Hood's Bay.
We recommend starting the walk from Whitby’s harbour quayside which is usually bustling with activity as fishermen bring in their catch of the day and pleasure boats fill with passengers ready to take to the sea. From here, you’ll wander through the characterful streets of Whitby old town before climbing the 199 steps to the clifftop where Gothic Whitby Abbey is perched. The abbey provided inspiration to Dracula author Bram Stoker when he lived in Whitby and the 199 steps are famously featured in the novel.
Other Whitby highlights include:
- Climbing aboard the HM Bark Endeavour, a replica of the ship that famously carried Captain Cook on his expedition from Whitby to Australia
- Walking along Whitby’s Blue Flag beach to nearby Sandsend
- Grabbing some tasty fish and chips from one of the many beachfront fisheries in town
The cliffs by Whitby Abbey are where you’ll pick up the Cleveland Way path and it’s worth spending some time exploring the abbey ruins before heading off along the waymarked trail. This spot also has magnificent views over Whitby, so we recommend lingering here for a photo or two.
Fossils and fog horns
The path follows along cliffs that date back to the Jurassic period and fossils are regularly found within the rocks and beaches below. One of the first places of interest that you’ll come across is Saltwick Bay which is well-known for the ammonites, fossils and precious gemstone Whitby Jet which are all regularly discovered here. Look out for the remains of the historic Saltwick Nab alum quarry which was a vital part of the textile industry until it closed in the mid-19th century and the Von Tromp shipwreck which can be seen in the bay during low tides.
A little bit further along the walk, you’ll come across Whitby Lighthouse and the old Whitby Fog Horn. This distinctive white building features twin 20 ft trumpets that were used to sound loud warnings to sailors about the dangers below.
Seabirds, streams and the first sighting of Robin Hood’s Bay
Continue the path upwards and you will see hundreds of seabirds nesting on the cliffs below as you climb towards Widdy Point. This is an ideal spot to pause and enjoy the fantastic view before descending to the sheltered May Wyke Hole which crosses by a lovely stream of water called Oakham Beck. In spring and summer, look out for a colony of kittiwakes who nest at May Wyke - you can recognise the birds from their black wing tips which look as though they have been dipped in ink.
Carry on from here up to Ness Point and you’ll catch your first sighting of magical Robin Hood’s Bay, one of the prettiest villages in Yorkshire. The jagged cliffs here are particularly treacherous and the RNLI has saved many fishermen with their vitally important lifeboats.
After Ness Point you’ll pass through Rocket Post Field which features a replica of the posts that were once used to rescue stranded sailors. Rockets with ropes were fired to the ship and passengers were hauled to safety clinging onto an attached lifebuoy.
You are now almost at Robin Hood’s Bay where you’ll find a wide range of cafes, pubs and restaurants where you can stop for some well-deserved refreshments.
Explore Robin Hood’s Bay
Many people’s favourite Yorkshire Coast village, Robin Hood’s Bay was once a haven for smugglers who transported their contraband goods up through a maze of narrow streets and cobbled alleyways. Traditional fishermen’s cottages seemingly cling to the side of the cliff and there are treasures to be found around every corner with an assortment of pubs, cafes, and shops to call in as you make your way down to the beach below.
Other highlights include:
- Robin Hood’s Bay’s Old Coastguard Station, an informative National Trust site where you can learn more about the coast’s wildlife and geology
- Berties of Bay, a wonderful heritage clothing store where you can pick up traditional gansey jumpers and knitted beanie hats
- The Bay Hotel pub which marks the official end of Alfred Wainwright's coast-to-coast walk; it serves home-cooked meals in a bar that looks out to sea.
Where to stay
A charming barn conversion with a sun trap south-facing courtyard that’s ideal for both solo travellers and couples looking to explore the Cleveland Way coastline. Granary Cottage is full of stylish touches and located high in the gorgeous moorland above Robin Hood’s Bay.
This stylish two-bedroom apartment is located in a historic Grade II-listed Sea Captain’s house with a central Whitby location and views across to the famous abbey. The holiday home is set over three floors and the lovely interiors were created by a Yorkshire-based interior designer.
This unique three-bedroom holiday home was once Sandsend's school house and has been transformed into a contemporary coastal retreat with New England clapboard walls and dramatic double-height living space. It's just a short walk away from Whitby - either via the clifftop Cleveland Way path or along the sandy beach.
Fancy walking this coastal selection of the Cleveland Way? Browse our full range of Yorkshire Coast cottages and find the perfect place to rest your head.