Robin Hood’s Bay is a small coastal town on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors. It’s about 9 km (5 miles) from the centre of Whitby, to the north, and 20 km (12 miles)from Scarborough, to the South. If you are a fan of hiking, you may have passed through Robin Hood’s Bay while following the Cleveland Way or Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk.
The town is named after the legendary English outlaw Robin Hood, who allegedly robbed the rich to give to the poor. There is no proof that Robin Hood ever existed, but he became a popular folk figure during the 1400s. Many ballads from that period tell tales of Robin Hood and his merry men.
Most of the tales of Robin Hood are based in the Nottingham area, where he and his gang supposedly lived in Sherwood Forest. That’s 170 km (105 miles) south of Robin Hood’s Bay. The trip would take you 35 hours or more if you were travelling by foot or 16 to 24 hours, on the back of a horse. However, the lyrics of one ballad suggest he may have made the trip.
These days, Robin Hood’s Bay mainly generates money through tourism but, prior to the late 1900s, the main industry was fishing. Like many of the other towns on the North East Coast, such as Saltburn-by-the-Sea, there was also a lot of smuggling.
According to the ballad, Robin Hood arrived at the bay and helped the local fishermen fight some French Pirates who came to rob their boats. After killing the pirates with his bow and arrows, Hood took their booty and offered to split it with the local people. However, the people were so grateful, they told him to keep all the gold and named their town in his honour. It’s an interesting story, but you have to remember, there is no proof it is true.
Will Robin Hood’s Bay Be the Right Destination for You?
If you are looking for a “typical” British seaside resort that has plenty of amusement arcades and options for buying candy floss, Robins Hood’s Bay probably won’t be the right spot to choose. Although there are several places where you can go for a drink and/or enjoy a nice meal, it’s a quiet place that’s a better option for people who like to go exploring on foot. If you want a more lively time, you’d be better off choosing Whitby or Scarborough instead. (Things to See and Do (and Eat) on a Day Out in Whitby)
The original town is situated down in the bay and has plenty of narrow, cobbled streets with quaint cottages on either side. You need to be fit though. There are a lot of hills and steep banks to climb.
If you are interested in Archaeology, Robin Hood’s bay may also hold a special appeal. Its beaches and cliffs are full of ammonites, belemnites, and other types of fossils. You have to know what you are doing though. A lot of amateur fossil hunters leave Robin Hood’s Bay empty-handed. (https://ukfossils.co.uk/2007/03/18/robin-hoods-bay/)
Things to See and Do
I’m not going to try and provide a complete guide of things to see and do in Robin Hood’s Bay. I’m only going to mention some of the things that caught my eye while I was there.
The Millennium Statue
If you arrive at Robin Hoods Bay by bus, you will have to get off at the bus stop higher up the hill in the newer part of town and then walk down to the bay. As you are walking, you will notice a strange stone sculpture to your right.
The statue is very abstract. So it’s hard to figure out what it is. It’s equally difficult to find out any information about Robin Hood’s Bay “Millennium” statue.
However, René & Peter van der Krogt’s website is very helpful. If you want to know more about this unusual statue, it’s the best place to go.
The base of the statue apparently represents a fallen tree trunk. The somewhat owl-like structure on top bears an odd combination of carvings including, a fishing boat, Robin Hood, an owl, and ET. Yep! ET from the Stephen Spielberg movie.
This very imaginative work of art was created by David Ducalf. He’s a farmworker by trade. Sculpting is only his hobby but he appears to be quite talented.
Although the sculpture is meant to commemorate the new millennium, problems with finding suitably-shaped stone delayed things so it was wasn’t completed until 2004.
The Old Lifeboat Station
If you do decide to visit Robin Hood’s Bay, make a point of taking a look at the old lifeboat station. Although it hasn’t been used in many years, the lifeboat station is in an excellent location. It’s right next to the beach and, when the tide comes in, the water reaches the ramp at the side of the building. A lot of lifeboat stations in the UK are not so handy.
The Cash Cod
According to the heritage clothing brand Berties of Bay, which is based in Robin Hood’s Bay, the town is home to the oldest lifeboat collection box in the world. It’s been there since 1886 and is believed to be the smallest listed structure in the UK.
I hadn’t realised this when I visited the town so I never sought it out. The collection box is at the side of the ramp near the lifeboat station. I walked past it, and never even noticed it but it’s there in my picture of the lifeboat station. I can’t believe I never saw it. If you visit Robin Hood’s Bay, don’t make the same mistake.
On a side note, the North East coast appears to have quite an interesting RNLI (Royal Lifeboat Institution) heritage. The oldest lifeboat in the world is at Redcar. That’s only 46 km (30 miles) up the coast. (Zetland: The Oldest Lifeboat in the World)
The tide was in during my trip to Robin Hood’s Bay, so I didn’t get a chance to explore the beach. Hopefully, you will have better luck. However, if you don’t, there is a nice viewing area where you sit and enjoy the sea view and, if all that sea air makes you hungry, there’s a snack bar as well.
The bay is in a nice quiet cove so it’s a pretty good spot if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle.
If you take the path up the cliff, behind the snack bar, you can enjoy an even better view of the bay. The path goes all the way to Scarborough via Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk.
How to Get to Robin Hood’s Bay
If you are planning to visit Robin Hood’s Bay via car, all you need to do is seek the help of Google Maps.
It’s equally easy to make your way there by bus. The town is on the main route between Middlesbrough and Scarborough and there are buses every hour (Arriva North East X93). Of course, if you are coming from further afield, you may need to make your way to one of the larger towns, such as Middlesbrough or York first.
The best option is to buy an Explorer Ticket. That’s what I did. The ticket covers you for most of the North East buses and it only costs £10.90, so it’s pretty hard to complain.
However, the buses stop running early in the evening so I suggest playing it safe and leaving no later than 17:00 when you want to head back. Don’t believe the timetables posted at the bus stations. They are often wrong.
– – – – –
– – –
– – –
– – – – –