In a fresh summer of almost three years ago, while searching for a weekend getaway, I discovered the village of Robin Hood’s bay in North Yorkshire. What to say, it was love at first sight and since that moment I keep returning every summer! If you never heard about this place, well, read below because this probably gonna be one of your favourite villages in the whole UK! ATTENTION: this blog piece contains lot of pictures!
Robin Hood’s Bay History
From the name of this village, you can already anticipate it has a very interesting history lost between legends and actual historical facts. The origins of its name are quite uncertain. There are evidences that a small settlement existed already during the Bronze Age (probably under a different name) and the Roman period. Nevertheless, the first stable inhabitants were Norse. These survived until the Norman Conquest in 1066, a period in which the village passed under the protectorate of the nearby Whitby. Already in 1322-46 the village was known with the name ” Robin Oode Bay” .
However, it still unexplained why the village took this name. The legend says that Robin Hood defended the village from a group of pirates who wanted to steal the fishermen boats. From this moment, the village was named in his honour. Although, it’s clear this is not historically confirmed. If you are wandering why Robin Hood was in this remote area of Yorkshire, well, there is actually a branch of historical studies aiming to prove that the most famous hooded man (and his adventures) was not actually located in Nottinghamshire but in Yorkshire! This because the dialect in which some of the famous ballads are written appears to be from the area of Yorkshire rather than Nottinghamshire. This investigation into Robin Hood legend’s origins is still ongoing and I hope it can reveals interesting facts! During the 16th century, it looks like Robin Hood’s Bay was even more important than the nearby Whitby for its mercantile and fishermen business. Nevertheless, in the 18th century, the village had also the fame of smuggler’s haunt. The secluded coast, plus the maze of small alleys, secret passages and the complicity of the local community made this village one of the busiest smuggling centre of the entire Yorkshire! Among the most smuggled products, there were silk, whiskey and tobacco from the Netherlands and France. Today the village is famous for it’s beautiful coast and for the more than photogenic little alleys. Moreover, Robin Hood’s Bay is part of a famous 192 miles footpath connecting to the village of St. Bee in Cumbria. Definitely, a nice (and long) walk to do!
Visit Robin Hood’s Bay: what you need to know.
Robin Hood’s Bay is located in the north coast of Yorkshire at 5 miles from Whitby and 15 miles from Scarborough. Until 1965, the village was visitable by train served by the Robin Hood’s Bay Railway Station. Now, is it possible to reach the village by car, footpath and by cycling. If you want to reach the village from York, you have to take the train to Scarborough and there catch the bus X93 to Whitby stopping at “Thorpe Lane”. The major footpath connecting the coastal villages is called “Cleveland Way” and passes through the North York Moors National Park. You can also cycle to the village from Withby or Scarborough using the old railway station trail now turned into a cycle track. The most convenient route by car is the A171. Be aware that you can’t actually go inside Robin Hood’s Bay by car as the area is a car-free zone. You must use one of the two parking outside the village (one by the old railway station and one by the Mount Pleasant hotel) and walk for about 15 mins down the steep hill. This is not helpful if you have mobility issues as the path is quite steep. It may be worth, in this case, ask to the local council if there is any special permission to enter by car. The best season to go is summer (May to July) as the weather tend to be sunny and warmer and it’s pleasant to stay outside near the coast. You can pop for a visit also during the spring months but check the weather first as it may be quite windy!
Robin Hood’s Bay most photogenic spots.
I think that one of the nicest things to do in Robin Hood’s Bay is explore its hidden corners and find some photogenic spots to photograph by yourself! It’s really part of the experience and for a photographer there is anything more satisfying than finding secret spots in a new location! Every time I return to this place I find new corners and this make me feel this village has still lot to offer! So, I don’t want to spoil you with so many places and ruin your personal photo-hunt, but I will give you a small list of my most favourites spots to photograph!
- The coastal walk in Cleveland Way
The Cleveland Way is long 110 miles and cross Robin Hood’s Bay from its coastal side. It’s a great scenic walk (perfect for landscape pictures) and you can see the village and the entire coast from the hill. If you come from Withby the coastal walk will be around 8 miles, while from Scarborough is about 16.5 miles. The walk ends at the Bay Hotel (second photogenic point of this list).
- The Bay Hotel
The Bay Hotel is the walkers’ most known place as it define the end of the Cleveland Way. People who finish their walks tend to gather here to relax and enjoy a pint of real ale in company of a superb view. The hotel building dates back to 1822 and it’s one of the historic building of the village. I personally never dined here because it’s always too crowded for me but I like its position by the sea.
- The Old Bakery Tea Rooms
The Old Bakery Tea Room is a timeless tea room and café part of the Robin Hood’s Bay most famous spots. Last year, unfortunately, it was closed and sold (that’s why is so empty) but luckily it has now a new owner no and if you want to go it’s operating as usual again!
- Sunny Place
Sunny Place is this little and cute alley leading to the upper side of Robin Hood’s Bay. It’s made of a myriad of little houses full of flowers and photogenic corners! If you go in summer, the alley is literally covered with roses, poppies and many other colourful flowers!
- Secret Panorama Hill
The name is a little vague because actually I couldn’t find a proper name for this location! I discovered it just last year and couldn’t believe how well hidden his! There isn’t anything special in this little hill except the fact you can see the entire layering of the buildings of Robin Hood’s Bay like in a postcard! The only suggestion I can give you to find it is follow the directions for the Robin Hood’s Bay Museum as it is nearby!
Where to eat in Robin Hood’s Bay
There are plenty of places where to eat in Robin Hood’s Bay but I have a favourite one. Not much for the food (which is very good btw) but for the opportunity to dine with one of the best view of the entire Yorkshire coast. The Victoria Hotel is my favourite place! Is located on the top of the hill of Robin Hood’s Bay near the old railway station. During the mild season, people have the opportunity to dine in the garden overlooking the coastline and I can grant you that the view is breathtaking!
From Robin Hood’s Bay is everything! I hope you will bring your camera and plan an escape in this quaint village soon!
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