On this page is:
Local useful information
Places to Eat (local and further afield)
Places to Visit
Things to Do
Smugglers Rock history
LOCAL USEFUL INFORMATION
The nearest telephone box is in Ravenscar village ½ mile away on the left hand side of the road opposite the church. The next one is on the main road in Staintondale opposite the village hall.
The nearest post box is at the front of the guesthouse on the corner of the road.
The nearest bus stop is on the main road by the windmill on the corner (the buses run only to Scarborough, not Whitby, and there are very few daily buses with none on Sundays!). Returning buses tend to stop on the corner of the road in front of the guesthouse. The bus service is number 115 (there is a timetable with the information leaflets in the drawer).
The nearest free cashpoint machines are at ‘Proudfoot’ supermarket on the left hand side of the road in Scalby on the A171 towards Scarborough. Alternatively there is the Tesco Express on Coastal Road heading towards Scarborough (turn left at the Jolly Sailors mini roundabout. (All these cashpoints are about 8 miles from here). The next ones are in Scarborough or Whitby (none in Robin Hoods Bay!)
We have an honesty shop in Ravenscar village. It sells tinned and dried goods, stamps, local maps and a few bits and pieces. To find it, turn right out of the main gate and then left at the junction towards the village. The cricket ground and church are on the right hand side of the road, and approximately 200 yards further down (again on the right) is the last set of semi-detached houses called ‘Dunelm’
The nearest place for newspapers is the post office in Burniston, which is just before the mini roundabout on the A171 towards Scarborough.
If you turn right from the honesty shop and follow the road down there is the National Trust Visitor Centre, which is usually open from 1st April to the end of September from 10.30am-5.00pm (weekends only until Spring Bank). The centre and the staff are very useful sources of information and they sell a good selection of maps and walks covering the area.
In front of the National Trust Visitor Centre is a lane that passes several houses. After this the lane splits and the left fork leads onto the disused railway line (the right fork leads down to the Cleveland Way). The railway line was closed as part of the Beeching cuts in 1965 and has fairly recently been resurfaced, making it very pleasant to walk or cycle on – you can go as far as Whitby, passing through Robin Hood’s Bay. The views are very good and the path is less muddy underfoot than the Cleveland Way when the weather is wet.
If you follow the right hand path down onto the Cleveland Way, there is access to the old Alum Works (more information about that in the little blue book and the map in the drawer, as well as on the ‘beaches’ page in this folder).
The railway line also runs in the other direction right to Scarborough. To get on the southbound path you need to go back to the main road and head along towards Station Square. Once there, the railway line is in the opposite corner of the square to the tearoom. [Ravenscar tearooms open everyday during the summer, selling teas, light meals and ice creams ass well as souvenirs.]
NB There was originally a tunnel connecting the two parts of the line but it is now closed as it was unsafe.
EATING PLACES (local)
All the information here was correct at time of writing, but may change from time to time and is for information purposes, not necessarily recommendations
Raven Hall hotel is perched on the cliff top and is open to non-residents for morning coffee, bar lunches, afternoon teas and evening meals in the a la carte restaurant. On a nice day the views from the dining room, bar and lounge are fabulous. The hotel has a 9-hole golf course and crown green bowling. These facilities are available to non-residents. The hotel’s telephone number is 01723 870353.
There is also Ravenscar Tea Rooms which is currently open every day from Easter to October half term. Coffees, ice creams, snacks and light meals are served from 10.00am-5.00pm.
The Falcon Inn, Whitby Road, Cloughton. Tel. 01723 870717
Follow the main road away from the village and after the left hand bend is a right turn which is signposted to Whitby. Take this turning and follow the road for approximately 2 miles. The road forks (both directions join the A171). Take the right hand fork and the Falcon is on your right in a couple of hundred yards before you join the main road.
Bar meals are served very day except on Sundays when there is a choice of roasts served between 12.00noon and 2.00pm. There is a sunny beer garden at the side of the pub.
The Hayburn Wyke Inn, Newlands Road, Cloughton. Tel. 01723 870202
Follow the road away from the village but continue on the road through Staintondale towards Cloughton. The Hayburn Wyke is signposted approximately 4 miles from Ravenscar on the left hand side of the road. Take the left turn and follow the road past a private driveway. The road consists of a couple of ‘hairpin’ bends down to the inn and into the large car park. There is an outside eating area and large childrens’ play area. Food is served from 12.00noon-2.15pm and from 6.30(ish)pm-9.00pm (but the pub is open all day during the summer). There is a good variety of home-made food including daily specials and various fish options. Vegetarian food is also served. A carvery is served on a Sunday lunchtime (no bar meals) between 12noon and 2.00pm, but prior booking is recommended, particularly in the summer time.
NB. Bar meals are not served on Sunday or Monday evenings throughout the year.
The Bryherstones Country Inn, Newlands, Cloughton. Tel. 01723 870744
Follow the road away from the village but continue on the road through Staintondale towards Cloughton (past the Hayburn Wyke sign). The inn is situated on the right hand side of the road approximately 4½ miles from Ravenscar. The food here is excellent and is served from 12.00noon-3.00pm (Thursday to Sunday) and from 6.00pm in the evenings seven days a week. There is a pleasant eating area in the bar, or a separate restaurant section as well as a beer garden and childrens’ play area.
Slightly further afield is The Three Jolly Sailors which is on the main road into Scarborough and is sited on the mini roundabout at the end of Burniston village. Tel. 01723 879001.
If you turn left at the roundabout onto Coastal Road, there is, immediately after the large Scalby caravan park (the third one on this road!) Scalby Manor which is a Stonehouse Pizza and Carvery restaurant with indoor and outdoor play areas for the children. Tel. 01723 503452. There is also The Tunny Catch which is a Generous George chain. Tel. 01723 282131 www.tunnycatchpub.com. It is situated in the car park of the Alpamare Water Park on Burniston Road nearly at Peasholm Park. www.alpamare.co.uk
All these pubs/restaurants are open and serve food all day.
EATING PLACES (Scarborough and Whitby)
When visiting Whitby, there are several places for fish and chips. The top of our list is the Fisherman’s Wife which is situated on the Khyber Pass (passed the fish market and the Magpie Cafe. They are both essentially a fish restaurant but there is other food available. There are several different sorts of fish (served in different sized portions) and lots of other seafood available.
The other place, which attracts a lot of people is Trenches. This is opposite the station and is always busy. It is a bit more expensive than the Magpie, but lots of people recommend it. There are lots of other fish restaurants on both sides of the town.
If you want something other than fish and chips, try the Moon and Sixpence, Tel. 01947604416 alongside the harbour going towards the fish market. There is also a Spanish Tapas bar which is reported to be very good on the same street and a couple of other places too.
There are of course Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonalds eating places in the main shopping precinct in Scarborough (as well as a McDonalds further out near the Morrisons supermarket at Eastfield).
Tricolos is a good place to eat especially for families (pizza and pasta mainly, but also steaks, burgers and chicken dishes). ‘Early bird’ special prices from 4.30pm-6.30pm. Sited on Newborough (which is across the road from the bottom of the precinct and almost opposite Argos. Tel. 01723 367842.
Other Italian places are Ask, and Pizza Express on the harbour and Tuscany Too on the South Cliff. The latter is more upmarket and is probably better for couples than families.
For Chinese food, the best restaurant we have found is the Kam Sang at 3 North Marine Road on the former of Castle road and next door to the fire station. From the Peasholm Park roundabout go up past the cricket ground to the roundabout. Kam Sang is here on the left corner. It is open at lunchtimes as well as evenings and does a Sunday buffet at lunchtime. Tel. 01723 501718. There are lots of Indian restaurants in Scarborough too.
The nearest beach is accessible at Stoupe Brow. To get to the beach, turn left out of the main gate and follow the road up the hill and past the mast. After about 1½ miles, the road forks with both ways showing a ‘no through road’ sign. Take the right hand fork and follow the road down through a couple of very steep bends. The road ends after another mile in a small car park. (NB. it only holds about 8 cars and is usually very busy during weekends and in the summer months.) From the car park are steps (about 100) which are part of the Cleveland Way and lead down to the beach. Tide permitting, you can walk along the beach, past Boggle Hole youth hostel to the village of Robin Hood’s Bay. Once in Bay there is the newly restored Coastguard station that was re-opened to the public as a National Trust Centre at the end of 2001. The tides can be very dangerous on this part of the coastline and unless you have at least 2½ hours before high tide, you shouldn’t attempt to walk back from Bay. Instead, you can use the Cleveland Way along the cliff top, which takes about double the amount of time (45 minutes) to walking on the beach. There is a small booklet of tide times in the drawer for your reference.
If you don’t fancy going to Stoupe Brow, the nearest other easily accessible beach is the North bay in Scarborough. There is also the South bay in Scarborough but it does get busier in the summer. Both of these have dog restrictions in parts of the beach during the season.
Whitby also has a lovely beach, as does Sandsend (a couple of miles north of Whitby).
There is access to Ravenscar beach (but only at low tide) below Raven Hall hotel. Access is across the golf course and down the cliff path (600 ft in total and very steep in places!) The last 10/12ft can be quite a scramble but it is a lovely walk to Stoupe Brow or on to Boggle Hole and Robin Hood’s Bay. You may see seals on the beach and deer on your descent. If you look carefully when on the beach, you may see the remains of the old harbours and post holes used by the boats loading and unloading at the alum works. You can of course walk the other way from Stoupe Brow but there is nowhere to get up the cliff if you get cut off by the tide. Only attempt the walk at low tide.
NB. All of the beaches in the area (except Stoupe Brow) have dog restrictions from 1st May to 30th September.
In the event of an emergency in the guesthouse, please contact the owners in the first instance (either by ringing the kitchen doorbell, calling at the front door or telephoning 01723 870044, or 078767 43414). Failing this, please call 999. The meeting point in case of fire or other emergency is across the road at the gateway to the windmill.
ACCIDENT AND EMERGENCY, Scarborough Hospital. Tel. 01723 342145
Located on the right hand side of the A171 Scalby Road 2 miles before Scarborough (turn off just before the Pickering turn).
NHS DIRECT tel. 111 www.england.nhs.uk
Scarborough Medical Group, Danes Dyke Surgery, 463A Scalby Road, Newby.
Appointments Tel. 01723 500238 Enquiries/Visits Tel. 01723 375343
Peasholm Surgery, 98 Tennyson Avenue, Scarborough. Tel. 01723 361268
Whitby Group Practice, Spring Vale Medical Centre, Whitby. Tel. 01947 820888
Valley Bridge Dental Practice, 4 Cambridge Terrace, Scarborough. Tel. 01723 362020
Whitby Dental Practice, Whitby. Tel. 01947 602040
Cundall and Duffy, The Veterinary Surgery, 156A Falsgrave Road, Scarborough, YO12 5BE. Tel. 01723 375947
Swanzdale, 99 Scalby Road, Scarborough, YO12 5QL. Tel. 01723 363006
Alma, 11 Alma Square, Scarborough, YO11 1JR . Tel. 01723 360484
Beck Vets, The Animal Health Centre, High Stakesby, Whitby, YO21 1HL. Tel. 01947 820333
Clevedale Vets, 10 The Parade, Whitby, YO21 3JP. Tel. 01947 825042
All of the practices on this list have been taken from the Yellow Pages and should not be taken as personal recommendations.
PLACES TO VISIT
Goathland is the setting for the ITV series ‘Heartbeat’. There are lots of recognisable places such as the village green, the garage and shops and the pub (filming was actually done inside the pub).
The south cliff in Scarborough is where you will find the ‘Royal’ hospital, which is a relatively new ITV series connected to ‘Heartbeat’. You may see filming at either of these locations.
Pickering is a lovely market town and is at one end of the North York Moors steam railway. Trains run very frequently during the summer (less so out of season), and you can get on and off at each of the stations en-route. The end (or start!) point is Grosmont and the train journey takes about 1 ¼ hours.
Scarborough is a large busy town with a wide variety of shops, although not so much of the old town is immediately visible. The major supermarkets can all be found in Scarborough. Speedboat and fishing trips are available from the harbour.
Whitby by contrast is a smaller town and retains many more of the old buildings and charm. There is a lot to see with the old cobbled streets and the abbey high above the town up the famous 199 steps. There is also a smokehouse where you can buy kippers. There is also the estuary (with boat trips available up-stream). There are a reasonable selection of shops and a good-sized Co-op supermarket. There is also an Aldi and Lidl, and a Sainsburys on the main road into Whitby.
There are many good places for morning coffee and afternoon teas. Of course, there are lots of fish restaurants, the most well known being The Magpie and Trenches.
Robin Hood’s Bay is very well known and is a quaint old fishing town (known as ‘Bay’ to the locals). Parking is at the top of the hill with a very steep walk down to the shore and the old town. Bay is very popular with visitors and there are several good pubs, a fish and chip shop and the National Trust Centre.
Falling Foss Tea Garden is a delightful place in the woods on the Ruswarp road (which is the turn off before Robin Hood's Bay). It is signposted from this road and there is car parking and lots of lovely walks from here. They serve snacks and light lunches and there's a stream for little ones and dogs to paddle. One of our favourite spots in the nice weather :) Note there is no inside space but some of the outdoor seating is covered
Further up the coast just above Whitby is Sandsend, which has a beautiful beach at road level. You can park fairly easily here and walk to Whitby along the beach. The ‘Hart Inn’ serves wonderful lunches (including a lovely crab salad!) Runswick Bay is just a little further up the coast and is a picturesque little village. Parking here is at the bottom of the hill and there is a nice sandy beach. The houses are all set on the hillside with little walkways and passages between them.
THINGS TO DO
RIDING AND TREKKING
Pony trekking is available at: Snainton Riding Centre, Station Road, Snainton. Tel .01723 859218 www.snaintonridingcentre.co.uk , at Farsyde Riding Centre, Robin Hood’s Bay, tel. 01974 890205, and also at Irton Riding Centre, 93a Main Street, Irton, Scarborough tel. 01723 863466 www.irtonridingcentre.co.uk
Raven Hall Hotel (9 hole). Tel. 01723 870353
INTERESTING LOCAL INFORMATION
Extract from the visitor’s guide to North York Moors York, and the Coast
By Brian Spencer
Published by Moorland Publishing Co. Ltd.
About a mile along the shore from Robin Hood’s Bay is the tiny cove of Boggle Hole and just a few yards behind it is an old water mill, which used to be powered by Mill Beck. The mill is now a Youth Hostel and field study centre. Access to the shore is by the side road from the Scarborough to Whitby road (A171) and cars must be parked at the small car park about a quarter of a mile inland. A ‘boggle’ is another form of Yorkshire sprite or hobgoblin.
There is a pleasant walk along either the shore or cliff-top from Robin Hood’s Bay to Boggle Hole. Try to arrange this walk when the tide is going out and wander around the tidal pools, or look for jet and other semi-precious stones along the beach. The way back is through farmland and not so interesting as the outwards stretch, and so it need not take as long as the beach section of this walk.
The seaward-facing hillside south of Robin Hood’s Bay as far as Ravenscar known as Stoupe Brow is dominated by the weathered remains of two quarries where alum was worked as late as the nineteenth century. Partially refined alum was carried by sea in specially designed flat-bottomed boats, each capable of carrying up to sixty tons. They brought in coal and were beached in channels cut through the rocks. Some of the channels can still be seen at low tide around Stoupe Beck Sands; alum was loaded for the return journey when a convenient high tide refloated the vessel. The quarries can be seen at close quarters by following a walk along the railway track or road below Ravenscar. A geological nature trail has been laid out to interpret this strange and yet once useful stone. The trail, which starts at the Raven Hall Hotel, is described on an information sheet, which is available locally. It visits the old alum workings where the alum shale is exposed together with sandstones. Many interesting fossils can be seen, but by far the best source is on the beach beneath Old Peak where successive tides wash out circular ammonites and bullet shaped belemnites. These strange creatures were deposited in the mud of the ancient Jurassic Sea.
RAVENSCAR could be called ‘the town that never was’. On the right of Raven Hall Hotel a series of streets leading to nowhere and dotted with the occasional house is all that remains of a grandiose scheme in 1895, the brainchild of a group of Bradford businessmen, who wanted to create another Scarborough. The main reason it failed was due to the unstable geology of the area; problem railway builders had to cope with when building the track from Scarborough to Whitby.
Extract from a ‘Portrait of the North York Moors’
By Nicholas Rhea
Published by Robert Hale, London
From Raven Hall Hotel, the climb down the Cheek cliff to the rock-strewn beach is worth every ache and pained breath. There can be few better coastal climbs. There are wide views of Robin Hood’s Bay with red-roofed cottages dotted along the cliffs, while the cliffs at sea level are continually shedding tiny flakes of shale. It tumbles endlessly like tiny pebbles to form soft heaps below, giving the rocky beach a curious black tint.
The area is now called Ravenscar. These cliffs rise to some 585 feet and once produced alum, while tradition says the Danes hoisted a flat here which bore a raven’s image. One story says their leader was Ubba, who landed in either 866 AD or 867 AD and later sacked Whitby Abbey. The image of the raven dominates this sprawling collection of houses and farms. But there were earlier visitors. The Romans built a fort in either the third or fourth century. Its purpose being to observe and protect the coastline. Evidence of its presence came to light in 1774 when building started on Ravenshill Hall. There is now the Raven Hall Hotel.
South of Ravenscar is Beast Cliff, once called Bees Cliff or Darn Cliff. It is rich with springs, where bygone sailors would fill their casks from a waterfall known as the Watersplash, which fell over the cliffs into the sea. The isolated nature of this stretch of coastline makes it popular with nature lovers, when once it was popular with smugglers. Rumours say that treasure is buried below Beast Cliff.
Throughout the centuries, the difference in taxes on little luxuries between Britain and the rest of Europe have encouraged smugglers to use fishing boats to bring contraband into the isolated bays and tiny fishing villages of North Yorkshire. At times in the past, Revenue troops were permanently stationed in the area but their presence seems to have made little difference as baccie and brandy were always available. It is rumoured that a tunnel exists from the cellar of the old Blue Robin Inn (now the Smugglers Rock Guesthouse) down to the beach at Ravenscar (a distance of ½ mile and a drop of 600 feet). Through this tunnel contraband was reputedly delivered directly to the thirsty consumers.
From 1640 to 1862 Ravenscar had an industry of world class importance. A chemical called Alum was produced from the local shale. Alum was used to cure leather and fix dyes in cloth as well as for medicinal uses. This chemical was of huge economic importance and the Peak Alum Works even attracted raids by foreign pirates and was guarded by cannons set into the cliff top. The extraction process to produce alum was peculiar, involving burning the rock for months over huge bonfires then pouring human urine over the heaps of rock. Ravenscar had always had a sparse population and so the urine had to be collected from cities all over England and imported by the boatload. It is said that the first public toilet in the world was built in Hull to provide solvent for the Alum trade. Quite how this method of production was discovered is not recorded!
The Rev. Francis Willis was a heavy gambler and it is said that in the 1840’s he lost Peak House (now the Raven Hall hotel), and its extensive grounds to a gentleman called Hammond in a single bet on two woodlice running across a saucer.
At the beginning of this century, a Victorian entrepreneur decided that a town should be developed around the village then known as Peak. A railway line was being built to link the towns of Scarborough and Whitby, and Peak was the central point. Roads were built, sewers were laid and plots of land sold to city dwellers who liked the idea of living by the beach. The plan was badly researched as the route to the shore is precarious and the area, though beautiful, is very exposed. The building company folded in 1913 having built less than a dozen houses but it had altered the area forever. Peak was re-named Ravenscar, the wide roads remained and the houses built for a new town look strangely out of place in the middle of open countryside. Ravenscar tearooms is part of this history, being situated in part of the old Ravenscar House hotel, built to house the city dwellers visiting to choose their plots. Outside, an overgrown station stands next to the old railway line, which is now a bridleway.
Ravenscar and Staintondale have a long and unusual history. Dinosaurs left their footprints along the coast (some can still be seen today if you’re lucky, along with lots of other fossils.) Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age man erected barrows and standing stones in profusion on what is now moorland. The Romans were here, and built a Signal Station as part of their East Coast defences on the site of the Raven Hall Hotel. From soon after the Conquest until the Reformation, the land at the heart of the village was granted by Royal Charter to the Knights Hospitallers (with a number of interesting attendant privileges thought by some to have been transferred ultimately to today’s freeholders, when the land was sold after the Dissolution of the Monasteries.) The area was a centre of both Quakerism and of Methodism in their early years, and indeed did not possess an Anglican church as such until the beginning of the 20th century. Ravenscar boasted a large and intermittently successful alum works from the early 17thuntil the late 19th centuries, supporting workers, managers and owners all resident in the area. Raven Hall, now a hotel developed into a fine residence over the years, one of its 19th century owners erecting Ravenscar Church as well as various other buildings.
The attempt to turn Ravenscar into a coastal resort failed, despite the building of the Scarborough and Whitby railway. With the collapse of the alum industry towards the end of the 19th century, the failure of the Ravenscar Estate Company and the coming of the internal combustion engine, the railway became merely a seasonal attraction. It eventually closed in 1965 as part of the Beeching cuts – its legacy being a very pleasant walk and cycle path.
Today the area is delightfully unspoilt. It boasts around 300 inhabitants, many of whom are still involved with farming. Not only is it a tranquil holiday location; it has the added advantage of being within easy reach of Scarborough, Whitby and York, as well as a host of coastal and moorland beauty spots.
Smugglers Rock Country House was built in approximately 1840. It was built as a Temperance Inn for the workers at the Alum Works in the village. (More information on this in another part of the folder.) The stone to build the house (as well as the windmill and Mill House opposite us) was dug from the ground at the local quarry. The story goes that the workers left the quarry one lunchtime and when they returned, they found that they had hit a natural spring that had filled the quarry with water and so the quarry was abandoned to nature. Our wildlife pond at the front of the house is what was the old quarry, and is now home to our ducks and geese.
This part of the Yorkshire coast is well known for smuggling and there are many secret passageways, particularly in Robin Hood’s Bay, to aid the distribution of the contraband brought in by sea. Smugglers Rock was situated on what was the main coaching road between Scarborough and Whitby and had a clear view in both directions. In the eastern wall at the front part of the house there is a 9”x3” glass window, into which a lighted candle was placed. This was to alert smugglers to the fact that the area was clear of constabulary and that it was safe to bring the contraband up from the beach. There is also allegedly a tunnel from the cellar of Smugglers Rock to the beach (a distance of ½ miles and over 600 feet!) – it has not yet been found!
Smugglers Rock was originally known as the Raven Hill Inn and closed at around the time the Alum Works closed (apx. 1862). The original bar rooms of the inn are now our dining room and lounge. The part of the building that was built as the stables for the inn guests’ horses has been converted into two self-catering cottages. We have a picture in the guesthouse hallway showing the meeting of the Staintondale Hunt in1891 – Smugglers Rock is the house in the picture.
In 1913 our house was left in the Will of John Hammond as part of a very large area of land in Ravenscar to the Peak Estate Company in trust to be sold. At this time the house was called Moorfield House. The house changed hands again and became the Blue Robin Inn (reputedly named after the landlady who wore a blue apron!) The house later became a farm, and was re-named Blue Robin Farm. Following this, the house fell into disrepair for a while until a new owner bought it and restoration work began. The house name was then changed to Smugglers Rock, and the property became a guesthouse and café. The house changed hands again in1979 and had considerable improvements made and extensions built. We took over the property in November 1999 and are continuing with the programme of renovations and improvements. In 2003 we added a third cottage, and in 2004 we extended our own accommodation at the back of the house. During the winter of 2005/06 we installed solar panels to heat 90% of our hot water during the season. In the winter of 2013/14 we installed a biomass wood pellet boiler to provide heating and hot water to the guesthouse and one of the cottages