Our group sometimes makes good use of local buses as part of our events: buses offer advantages in enabling us to see more of the countryside, they can be a convivial way to travel, you can organise a one-way walk that doesn’t have to end where it started, and supporting local buses helps to make them more sustainable for everyone. Today we started from Guisborough on the edge of the North York Moors National Park and travelled on the upper deck to Robin Hood’s Bay on the X93, which had to be one of Britain’s most scenic bus routes, travelling in splendid fashion across the moors, through the seaside town of Whitby and to the dramatically-located coastal settlement of Robin Hood’s Bay.
Actually to avoid a bit of an initial climb for our walk, we alighted a little beyond the town at the top of the hill, and set off across the open moor with the sea behind us. August is when the moors are at their best, with the purple heather and dark green grasses rolling to the horizon (although we thought maybe the purple was perhaps not as pronounced this year). Across the moors we found lots of interesting evidence of earlier activity, in the form of ancient trackways, carved stones and burial mounds; and in the distance expansive views led back towards the coast, and to Whitby with its distinctive Abbey.
We stopped for a brief coffee by some of the stones, and then started to descend along an increasingly narrow path through some increasingly tall bracken, and reached the bottom of a valley where we were able to enjoy a slightly longer stop for our lunchtime sandwiches. With the fine weather to enjoy we didn’t feel any need to rush.
In contrast to the open moor, we now followed the stream, named Little Beck, along a woodland path, with a bit of a wiggle to our route as we realised we were initially on the wrong side of the water. A few ups and downs brought us after half an hour or so to Falling Foss, a large waterfall half-hidden in the trees. A short way beyond the fall we encountered The Hermitage, a large rock that had been hollowed out and which we could enter and spend a few moments pretending to be hermits. The initials GOC were (almost) carved on the rock for us, as well as the date, 1790. On climbing to the top we found a seat carved in the rock which, we were told, offered a chance to make a wish for anyone who sat on it.
We were now following part of Wainwright’s Coast to Coast walk which goes from St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay. Further on we passed some spoil heaps, being evidence of former quarrying activity, and arrived at the tiny hamlet of Littlebeck, an idyllic place with rustic cottages where the ford across the road was looking very dry. We climbed a short way up a minor road to regain the footpath along the valley, and after a further mile or so reached the edge of Sleights, a large residential village where the Little Beck met the main River Esk valley. We skirted most of the village along a further footpath and reached the railway station and the end of the walk.
The footbridge across the river Esk at this location replaced an earlier road bridge that was washed away by dramatic floods in 1930. The railway is part of the original Whitby & Pickering line which was built initially for horse traffic and is now used by the North Yorkshire Moors Railway’s trains as well as the local service to and from Middlesbrough. From the far side of the footbridge a local bus took us back to Whitby where we found a café for late afternoon refreshment, and another bus took those of us requiring it back to Guisborough.
This was another splendid day’s walking for us, and we thanked Peter for arranging it. Thanks once again are due to Ivor for the illustrations.