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Crossing the beach at low water from Boggle Hole to Robin Hood's Bay
Crossing the beach at low water from Boggle Hole to Robin Hood's Bay

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Route No. 466 - Wednesday 25 April 2012
Robin Hood's Bay, disused railway,
Park Wall, Boggle Hole circuit - 8km
Yorkshire Coast . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer OL27 North York Moors Eastern area


St Stephen's Church as we left the station car park
St Stephen's Church as we left the station car park

Sustrans mile post by the railway path
Sustrans mile post by the railway path

Crossing Middlewood Lane on the railway path
Crossing Middlewood Lane on the railway path

We parked in the station car park at map ref.NZ949054 and set off past the old station buildings to follow the path along the disused coastal railway. We walked along the cinder track for about 1.5km to map ref.NZ944035 where there is a stone bridge carrying a farm track over the railway.

The weather forecast today was for a wide band of persistent heavy rain to move across the country from the south west. It was expected to get here by early afternoon so my neighbour, Jim, and I set off early, about 8.30am and drove to Robin Hood's Bay.

Turning off the road to the railway path
Turning off the road to the railway path

Passing Middlewood Farm on the railway path
Passing Middlewood Farm on the railway path

The railway path through a wooded cutting
The railway path through a wooded cutting

Stone bridge carrying a farm track over the railway
Stone bridge carrying a farm track over the railway

Steps up from the railway path to the farm track
Steps up from the railway path to the farm track

Farm track up to Demesne Farm
Farm track up to Demesne Farm

The track passing Demesne Farm
The track passing Demesne Farm

Demesne is an ancient word that simply means the part of the Lord of the Manor's estate that was kept for his personal use rather than being let to tenants. We passed Demesne Farm and continued across the fields. The path was climbing steadily along the side of the valley of Ramsdale Beck with a hazy view back to Robin Hood's Bay.

We climbed some steps with a handrail up the side of the railway cutting by the bridge to the farm track, and followed the track for 200m out to a minor road at map ref.NZ943034. At the road we turned right to walk along it for 150m then we turned left off the road on to a farm access track signed to Demesne Farm.

Turning on to the road from the farm track
Turning on to the road from the farm track

Young cattle by the track
Young cattle by the track

The track across the fields
The track across the fields

A hazy view back to Robin Hood's Bay
A hazy view back to Robin Hood's Bay

The track climing up across the fields towards the 'Park Wall'
The track climbing up across the fields towards the 'Park Wall'

The track near the 'Park Wall'
The track near the 'Park Wall'

The cross motife built into the Park Wall
A cross motif built into the Park Wall

The inside face of the wall has built into it at about 30m intervals a 'cross' motif consisting of a stone sill, a stone column and a stone lintel. The stone of the wall is made using squared stone not just the normal random walling of the general field boundaries which normally are much later than the 'Park Wall'. The care of the wall is overseen by English Heritage but no general scheme of conservation is yet in hand. Meanwhile the need to contain livestock on a day to day basis compels local farmers to make repairs to the wall.

As we continued across the fields, above us to our left was the 'Park Wall' just out of sight over the brow of the hill. Our path turned right to a gate in a wall at the top of the field at map ref.NZ931029. This wall was the 'Park Wall' which was built in the mid 1100's to surround the private deer hunting park of the Bishop of Whitby. The park extended from Whitby Abbey all down the coast to this southern boundary wall. Outside the wall the earth is banked up against the wall and inside there was a ditch about 2m wide. This arrangement ensured that wild deer could easily leap into the park but once in they could not escape.

The cross motife built into the Park Wall
A cross motif built into the Park Wall

The Park Wall built from squared stones
The Park Wall built from squared stones

The Park Wall built from squared stones making a right angle turn
The Park Wall built from squared stones making a right angle turn

Track to Swallow Head Farm from the Park Wall
Track to Swallow Head Farm from the Park Wall

There was a larfe herd of Highland cattle by the track
There was a large herd of Highland cattle by the track

He also led guided walks in the area for visitors in the summer. After our chat with Dave perry, we continued along the track past Swallow Head farm and down to a minor road at map ref.NZ943028.

A little further on we saw the rebuilding of a dry stone wall field boundary in progress. The wall builder was a friendly chap who chatted to us about the Park Wall.

Track to Swallow Head Farm from the Park Wall
Track to Swallow Head Farm from the Park Wall

There was a large herd of Highland cattle by the track
There was a large herd of Highland cattle by the track

Dave Perry, repairing a dry stone wall near Swallow Head Farm
Dave Perry, repairing a dry stone wall near Swallow Head Farm

Looking over Swallow Head Farm to the coast
Looking over Swallow Head Farm to the coast

Swallow Head Farm
Swallow Head Farm

The gable end with false windows painted on it
The gable end with false windows painted on it

The road across the valley of Mill Beck
The road across the valley of Mill Beck

The Georgian house had fake windows painted on the gable end. This was a reminder of the days when people restricted the number of real windows in their houses to avoid paying the hated 'window tax' of that time. We crossed the route of the disused railway and the little wooded valley of Mill Beck and continued along the road

At the road we turned right and followed the road around a left hand bend past a large Georgian style house.

Track from Swallow Head Fm to Boggle Hole
Track from Swallow Head Fm to Boggle Hole

Looking back up the track to Swallow Head Farm
Looking back up the track to Swallow Head Farm

Primroses by the track
Primroses by the track

Looking inland along the valley of Stoupe Beck
Looking inland along the valley of Stoupe Beck

Looking across the valley of Stoupe Beck towards Ravenscar
Looking across the valley of Stoupe Beck towards Ravenscar

Boggle Hole youth hostel
Boggle Hole youth hostel

Setting out along the beach from Boggle Hole
Setting out along the beach from Boggle Hole

(I'd checked yesterday on the tide times and confirmed that today low water is 1.15pm BST, perfect!) The cloud had been building all morning and now the Ravenscar headland was lost in a thick bank of low cloud. The promised rain could not be far away.

After about 2km we reached Boggle Hole on the coast at map ref.NZ955040. About 150m from the cove we passed Boggle Hole Youth Hostel below the road next to Mill Beck. The main hostel building used to be the mill. We walked out onto the beach.

Approaching the beach at Boggle Hole
Approaching the beach at Boggle Hole

Crossing the beach to Robin Hood's Bay
Crossing the beach to Robin Hood's Bay

Robin Hood's Bay and Ness Point beyond
Robin Hood's Bay and Ness Point beyond

Approaching Robin Hood's Bay
Approaching Robin Hood's Bay

Low cloud over Ravenscar from the sea wall at Robin Hood's Bay
Low cloud over Ravenscar from the sea wall at Robin Hood's Bay

Ness Point from the cliff path
Ness Point from the cliff path

From there we walked back to the car park. Our timing was impeccable. We changed out of our boots, got into the car and shut the doors just as the first raindrops hit the windscreen. The rain gradually worsened as we drove home and did not stop at all for the rest of the day.

We walked across the beach for about 1.5km to the slipway at Robin Hood's Bay. There we walked up to the pedestrian walkway on the top of the retaining wall where we found some shelter from the cold wind to sit and eat our lunch before following the path from the walkway up to the road at the top of the village street.

The slipway at Robin Hood's Bay
The slipway at Robin Hood's Bay

Walkway along the sea wall at Robin Hood's Bay
Walkway along the sea wall at Robin Hood's Bay

Looking across the bay to Ravenscar
Looking across the bay to Ravenscar

The cliff path from the sea wall to the cliff top at Robin Hood's Bay
The cliff path from the sea wall to the cliff top at Robin Hood's Bay

Background Notes:
This route is a circular walk of 8km, about 5 miles from Robin Hood's Bay on the Yorkshire Coast. After the Norman conquest the land here was given to one of William the Conqueror's followers and a little later the land was passed on to Whitby Abbey and the Bishop of Whitby. We'll come across him again later in the walk. It seems likely that the name Robin Hood's Bay has nothing to do with the outlaw Robin Hood at all. The name Robin Hood is often used in English folklore for the pagan spirit of the forest known as the Green Man, sometimes also called Robin Goodfellow. There are numerous places all over the North of England called Robin Hood's this or that. It's a confusing picture because often the stories are mixed up with tales of Robin Hood the outlaw when the place was originally named after the forest spirit. We start from the large car park at the old Robin Hood's Bay railway station on the Scarborough to Whitby line. It was closed in 1965 after operating for 80 years. The line is now a cycleway and footpath, part of the national network of cycleways promoted by a charity called Sustrans and you can see their distinctive cast iron route markers along the way. We follow this path along the old railway bed out of Robin Hood's Bay for about two and a half kilometres to a stone arch bridge carrying a farm access road over the railway. There are some steps up the side of the bridge to a lane which we cross to walk along the access track to Demesne (said "dimayne") Farm. The word demesne comes from feudal times and means that part of the lord's estate that he kept for his own personal use and management as opposed to the rest of his lands that were let out to tenants. About a kilometer past this farm our path crosses a wall that is marked on the map as 'Park Wall'. Have a careful look at this wall and you will see that it's not like the usual dry stone field walls built of random stones with sloping sides. This wall is built with squared stones and vertical sides and if you walk along it a few metres there's a motif built into the wall at intervals consisting of a heavy stone sill, a vertical stone shaft and a heavy stone lintel. Apparently this represents the Cross and the wall, (there's about 1km of it left), it marks the south western corner of the Bishop of Whitby's hunting park, dating from the mid 1100's. Have another look at the wall where our path crosses it and you can see that the ground is quite high up the wall on the outside of the park and inside you can just see traces of what was originally a deep wide ditch. The idea was that deer could easily leap into the park but once there they could not get out again. It's amazing to me that this wall has stood here for about 900 years. Originally it would have been about half a metre higher than it is now. From the wall we walk out to the road at a bend where there is a property called Fyling Old Hall with elaborate fake windows painted on to the gable end. Sometimes this was done simply for the appearance of the building but more often it was done to avoid the hated 'window tax' of the 1700's & 1800's. In this case it must be for easthetic reasons because the house was rebuilt around 1630 so it existed more or less in it's present form for over 60 years before the window tax was introduced in 1696. The phrase 'Daylight Robbery' was coined to describe people's outrage at the imposition of this tax. We follow the lane down to the coast at Boggle Hole, next to the youth hostel and if the tide is right you can walk back to Robin Hood's Bay for about 1.5km along the beach, otherwise follow the Cleveland way cliff top path. It's a steep climb from the slipway at the village either up the village street or up the path from the sea wall. The alley ways off the village street are worth exploring with their shops and cafes as you make you way back to the car park and the end of our walk.

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