Last summer saw us back in Whitby for a few days. (yep – I am THAT behind on writing things up – good job I have notes and lots of photos!) Previously, we had wanted to take the cliff top walk from Robin Hood’s Bay to Boggle Hole, but I had been too poorly. After exploring the town the night before we had woken to glorious sunshine – today would be the day.
We decided it would be more relaxing to take the bus than drive so we made the short walk from our B&B to Whitby Bus Station then caught the X93 for the 20 minute journey to Robin Hoods Bay. (You can look for timetable and ticket information here)
The bus dropped us at the top of a steep road that led down to the beach. We called at the toilets then strolled down towards the bay, passing a few little gift shops, before spotting the Yorkshire Coast Dinosaur and Fossil Museum. It was impossible to pass by the small but vicious looking velociraptor skeleton in the window, so we popped inside for a nosey. This tiny treasure trove was full of fossils and dinosaur bones, including a tyrannosaurus rex and triceratops skull. John Hammond eat your heart out.
After a good look round, with Rowan successfully convincing me that he needed a replica velociraptor claw, we left the shop to make our way down to the slipway. Here, we spotted the Old Coastguard Station and called in for a look around. This National Trust visitor centre has plenty of hands on activities to learn about the history and geology of the area, the different sea creatures you may find in the rock pools and Rowan’s favourite – a wave machine.
Eventually, we decided we’d best be on our way. Our route to Boggle Hole would follow the Cleveland Way, a 109 mile National Trail taking in much of the varied landscape of the North York Moors National Park. Following a sign indicating the way, we rounded a corner to be met with a sweeping view along the coastline. From here, we could see that at high tide, the waves lapped the bottom of the cliffs meaning a walk back along the beach at the wrong time could lead to the danger of getting cut off by the tide. We would be only walking a mile of the coastal section of the Cleveland Way, but had checked the tide times before we left as we were planning to walk back along the beach. You can find them here. Turning right, we took the steps to begin our walk proper.
The steps led to the cover of some trees and a boardwalk which climbed around 100 feet to take us to the cliff tops. Here, the trees cleared and we found ourselves on a flagged path running alongside a fence. Rowan enjoyed running on ahead but in places, the cliffs were eroded closer to the path, making me really nervous. It’s sometimes hard to strike a balance between giving the boy freedom to explore, keeping him safe and my heart rate down. We had a chat so I could make him aware of the where the edge was, how it was safer to stay close to the fence and how it was better to walk rather than run when the cliff edge was close to the path. The occasional yell of “Rowan! Walk!” could still be heard as we made our way towards Boggle Hole, but that was more down to my nerves.
Shrubs and trees lined the path in places and soon we came to a gate on our left, with a finger-post directing the way to Boggle Hole and the Cleveland Way
We passed through the gate and with the fence now between us and the edge, I was able to come off high alert. Shady, green arches added a sense of magic to the walk as we arrived at another gate to enter the Boggle Hole National Trust site.
Taking advantage of a bench perfectly angled to admire the view back to Robin Hood’s Bay we sat for a time, while Rowan pondered about what a boggle was. We decided on friendly imp-like creatures, and absolutely nothing like Gollum. Once we were ready to move on, Rowan spotted a family of boggles peering out of the long grass. They wanted to hitch a lift to Boggle Hole in his pocket, so off he popped to pick them up.
From here, we descended a steep staircase into the shadow of the trees, taking care not to trip on the kick boards – who knew what creatures may be hiding in there.
As we came out of the trees, we discovered we had reached Boggle Hole. The little cove is named after a boggle – a kind of mythical hobgoblin – said to live in the caves worn into the cliffs. There are many different stories about the boggle’s character, some suggesting the boggle had healing powers, and others saying they turn milk sour and hide belongings. The signs at the youth hostel in this amazing place suggested that in general, they would be nice if you were kind, but more mischievous if you were mean. And I think that’s fair enough. More importantly, the particular boggle that lived here was happy when he was making other people smile, and I imagine that may be a relief to some children, Rowan included.
The youth hostel itself was brilliant. In addition to being only a few steps from the beach, they was also an activity sheet with treasure hunts that the kids could complete and litter pickers hung on the side so you could do your bit to give nature a hand. We stopped for dinner in the pirate themed bar, complete with kids menu and vegan options. The pasta and meatballs was a winner for Rowan and I still have craving for the vegan chocolate fudge cake.
After filling our faces and having a look round some of the communal areas in the youth hostel (making a mental note that we needed to stay there at some point), we decided to grab a bucket and litter picker and go on a little beach clean. There was very little to be found, but Rowan did enjoy having a go. We also spotted boggle’s cave – it looked a bit damp, but maybe he had a warm, snug tunnel further inside.
Making our way to the beach, we decided to do a bit of fossil hunting. We wandered as close as I was comfortable to the cliffs whilst peering onto the rocks looking for signs of prehistoric creatures. Rowan spotted a man and his grandson splitting some of the shale rocks with a small hammer and edged closer to see what they were doing. The two of them were lovely, and explained to Rowan the different types of fossils and how they can be found on the slabs we were walking on. Rowan continued hunting and was very proud of his belemnite find.
Mindful of the time and tides, I began to corral Rowan’s hunt in the direction of Robin Hood’s Bay. It was just over half a mile back so I figured we would be back in plenty of time if we began to head in that general direction. With his trainers stuffed in my rucksack, Rowan was free to run through every pool he saw, having a whale of a time.
As we got closer to Robin Hood’s Bay, there were more and more rock pools to explore, and any concern to keep Rowan’s pants vaguely dry went completely out of the window. Ah well. It was warm enough and the joy of just splashing around to just too much to quash with worry about wet clothes.
We spent ages paddling and looking what creatures we could find in the many pools. But as it got later, we decided there was just time enough for an ice cream from the van on the beach before we dragged ourselves up the steep road and back to the bus stop. We’d walked around two miles with nearly 400 feet of ascent, but spread through the day, it felt like very little. If you fancy this brilliant relaxing day out, you can find the route map here.