Whitby via Robin Hood's Bay - Eastern England - CycleBlaze

July 6, 2018

Whitby via Robin Hood's Bay

on the Moor to Sea trail

The huge dining room is a frenzy of activity at 8:30 when I walk down the carpeted stairs. There are school groups and families and elderly couples and getting a seat is hard work. I find an empty one and sit down and sip the orange juice on the table only to be then tapped on the shoulder by a guy in his sixties who informs me that it's his juice and seat.

The lobby in the Grand Hotel, Scarborough
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The computer in the reception area that I used last night to let Debbie know where I am is not working and getting a member of staff to sort it out is impossible, so I wheel my bike outside and walk towards the nearby shopping thoroughfare of Westborough where I know there are half a dozen charity shops that I can check out. I buy a cheap shirt.

Scarborough train station is just up Westborough and I reckon there'll be tourism info' of some sort there and there is - a large map on the wall showing me where a bicycle route starts. It's called Cinder Track and it's not far away.

Cycle path signs point the way and the route goes down small streets and cuts through a park and I then get to a large group of primary school children being addressed by an official in a fancy red hat who I hear talk about a group of cyclists that will be arriving here shortly.

Dignitary addressing a bunch of school children
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It seems like a good idea to stop and see what's happening, and I get my camera fully zoomed in on the man's face and his pointed hat and take a snap and am surprised that its pretty clear bearing in mind he's quite a way off and that I hadn't been able to brace myself when pressing the shutter release. One of the teachers soon approaches me and says taking snaps of the children isn't allowed and I show him my close-up and he seems satisfied.

Leaving before the group of cyclists arrive, I soon have to pull to one side as they all approach. There must be 40 or so of them and they are quite young and take up the narrow path. They seem tired and damp and their faces tell me they've had enough of cycling for a while.

The paved route becomes the Cinder Track - a disused railway - as marked on the big map, but at times there's no cinder, just compressed dirt, which is muddy in places where it weaves through woodland.

Most of the bike path was rough and wet
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A few dog-walkers and joggers come and go, but only a couple of cyclists and after a while a couple out with their dog tell me it's uphill all the way to Whitby, which I reckon is crap as the town is at sea level.

The trail is seriously rutted and a bit dodgy and I wonder how all the school children managed to ride along it. It'd be easy to fall as there's just a narrow section that's actually rideable. The local authorities should spend a bit of cash to resurface it as right now it's basically off-road stuff. It's not enjoyable.

The Cinder Track rises up into mist and my light jacket is a bit damp, but I feel warm - so warm that my glasses keep misting up and it's annoying having to stop and wipe them.

Moor to Sea
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The cafe is a welcome sight as it's now noon and been 18km uphill kilometres so far. It's a popular place with 10 bikes parked outside and there are no seats spare in the front part so I walk into the back room, which is empty, after ordering a bowl of soup and a wedge of flapjack covered in chocolate. Together with a pot of tea, it costs me just under nine quid and I sit beside a window and look out at the grey sky and feel a mixture contentment and relief at making it to this little haven in the middle of nowhere.

In the late 1800s, Ravenscar was slated to become a resort to rival nearby Scarborough and streets and roads were built, but it was then realised that the beach was too far away - the station is almost 200m above sea level. The coastal railway line got shut down in the 1960s when the government cuts lots of rural routes that had often been built by competing companies.

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Looking north up the coast
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The route starts to drop down and it's very steep for a short while but soon the paved section ends and I'm back on a rough trail, with occasional views of the sea on my right. There's a lot of grey to look at.

It doesn't take me long to cruise into Robin Hood's Bay. The small town's main lane is super steep as it drops to the wharf and my brakes start to squeal as I inch along with caution.

It's now slightly raining and after taking a photo of the wet rocks and small strip of sand my bike gets locked at the back of The Bay Hotel and I go inside and order a coffee and a piece of cake and sit down and weigh my options.

Robin Hood's Bay, with The Bay Hotel on the right
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The receptionist says they have a room, but it's expensive anyway, as I knew it would be in this location and once outside I wander around the cobbled alleys that weave between tight rows of old fisherman's cottages. Some have steps and they are steep and only just wide enough for my bike.

The rain stops so it seems like a good time to get going as Whitby isn't too far and they'll be rooms aplenty there.

When planning this trip I found a hiking trail along the edge of the cliff, but it's too wet today to ride along it and I go on the bicycle route following a disused rail line. I eventually reach a station building that's been turned into a bicycle rental place that sells and repairs bikes. The owner looks at my rear changer for me because a couple of times it's thrown the chain into the rear sprocket. Luckily me speed at the time was a snail's pace and it didn't do any damage. He kindly adjusts the small screw and we chat for a while before I set off.

Former fisherman's homes in Robin Hood's Bay
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The bike path eventually leads me on to the busy road into Whitby and the town's famous ruined abbey is visible and I want to cut across to it, but there's no path there. In the end I drop down to a quay-side road and then turn right and start going up a serious hill which is hard to ride up and I walk roughly 100m.

Entrance to the abbey isn't cheap and it seems pointless paying as it's just a ruin, so I go back to the high stone wall that circles its grounds and poke my camera over the top and take some snaps before dropping back down the steep road and making my way to the centre of town.

Whitby Abbey
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Across the harbour are rows of houses rising up from the quay and fisherman's gear is strewn over the walls beside the road. After making a left down a side street, I spot the painted house where Captain Cook lived when young. It's a museum now. The street takes me to a bridge and once across I keep an eye out for a place to sleep.

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It's damp and windy as I walk the bike up the West Cliff, past a statue of Cook and a whalebone arch and find the Royal Hotel. It's another Victorian monster, looking out to sea and the receptionist quotes me 69 quid, which seems OK, so I wheel my bike across the lobby and into a luggage room then climb the rabbit warren of stairs and corridors and make myself at home in the somewhat dinky room with its hard-to-open window offering a view of a grey expanse of North Sea.

Captain Cook's old house in Whitby
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My palms ache from the bumping of the wheels going along the rough track and while it's been a short day, it's something of a struggle to get myself back down West Cliff to the quayside where I find a pub and order a meal and a pint. I just have the one.

Today's ride: 41 km (25 miles)
Total: 239 km (148 miles)

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