Fancy challenging yourself? You can walk from Whitby to Scarborough and enjoy one of the most magnificent coastlines in the UK. It’s 21 miles and best completed over two days; here’s all you need to know about the walk from Whitby to Scarborough.
The walk from Whitby to Scarborough is 21 miles long, so we suggest giving yourself two days to complete it. In our opinion, this is one of the best coastal walks in the UK. This route follows parts of the Cleveland Way, takes you to Whitby Abbey, Robin Hood’s Bay and Scarborough Castle and has a few challenging climbs along the way.
How long will this walk take, and how difficult is it?
This is a 21 miles long route that takes 2 days to complete. This is not a technical walk. The route is straightforward to follow. However, this is a moderate walk with uneven terrain at points, occasional steep inclines and declines, and it can be very slippy in parts. Walking boots/ the correct footwear is essential. The most significant rise up is to Ravenscar (188metres)
Day 1: Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay, 6.9 miles
Start at Whitby Abbey
This route begins to the left of Whitby Abbey, where you join the Cleveland Way.
Whitby Abbey has been enchanting visitors for nearly 1500 years, so it’s worth checking out before you begin your walk. It is an excellent example of an Abbey, its prominence on the cliff and weathered stone arches have captivated tourists, writers, artists and photographers over the years.
Today, maintained by English Heritage, there is a visitor centre and museum at the Abbey. In The Ammonite Quest exhibition, you can explore 3,000 years of history with displays and a free interactive experience. They hold different events throughout the year.
Whitby Abbey is a great spot that offers stunning views of Whitby harbour and town. Outdoors, the courtyard area has seating and green spaces planted with herbs, perfect for a relaxed coffee or a picnic. There is also a coffee shop near the entrance to the Abbey, where you can grab some refreshments before you head off.
From our detailed article here, you can learn more about Whitby Abbey, its history and its connections with Dracula.
The route is straightforward. From here, you simply walk, keeping the sea on your left until you reach Scarborough. The signposts for the Cleveland Way are clear, and there are maps available here.
Pass Saltwick Bay
Once you start this walk, you will quickly see Saltwick Bay, across from Whitby Holiday park. You can get to the beach; it’s an excellent spot for fossil hunting and jet collecting. It is a steep path that can get very slippery so take care if you choose to go down.
There are a couple of shipwrecks to see from here. You will notice the MV Creteblock on the way to Saltwick Bay and Admiral Von Tromp. They are a harsh reminder of the power of this stretch of coastline. Always check the tide times before heading down to Saltwick Bay.
Pass Whitby High Lighthouse
After Saltwick Bay, continue, and you will soon reach Whitby High Lighthouse, which stands 70 metres above sea level. Operated by Trinity House, Whitby High Lighthouse is the remaining half of two towers aligned North-South and known as the twin lights of Whitby. The South lighthouse is the one that remains today. The keeper’s cottages still stand and are rented out; a place to enjoy a holiday or short break! You can book them here.
Carry on and appreciate the magnificent coastline until you reach Robin Hood’s Bay.
Stay overnight in Robin Hood’s Bay
Once you reach Robin Hood’s Bay, it’s a good idea to rest up, enjoy this magical fishing town and stay over. This makes the walk much more manageable and enjoyable. In addition, it means you get more time to explore Robin Hood’s Bay.
Robin Hood’s Bay has been named since the 16th century, but nobody knows how it got its name! There are many myths, and local legends such as Little John and Robin Hood had a competition, and whoever shot furthest had the Bay named after them.
It’s a fascinating place bursting with smuggling history. Because of the burden of high taxes and the remote location of Robin Hood’s Bay, smuggling was commonplace. There is a network of underground tunnels here that people would use to smuggle goods into the town. At one time, three-quarters of all the tea drunk in Britain was believed to be smuggled. Brandy, gin and silk would also be brought in under darkness.
It has plenty of places to stay, things to do, restaurants and pubs, and a whole lot of history. Here, you can read our guide to spending 7 days in Robin Hood’s Bay. We suggest watching the sunset from the beach and warming up with food and drinks before resting for your next day of walking.
Stay at Boggle Hole Youth Hostel
This Old Mill will exceed your expectations! Boggle Hole Youth Hostel has received rave reviews since being fully refurbished. It’s an ideal place to stop for a night when taking part in this walk, or for longer breaks with family. It’s near Whitby, and Robin Hood’s Bay, just tucked away in an old smuggler’s cove. It features free wifi, treasure trails, stunning sea views and wooded grounds. The Quarterdeck café here offers hearty food at reasonable prices. Find more information and book here.
Boggle Hole is a mile south of Robin Hood’s Bay; it is a small cove said to have been the home to a small mythical creature called a Boggle. You can reach Boggle Hole via the Cleveland Way footpath. You can find more information about boggles and the walk to Boggle Hole.
Day 2: Robin Hood’s bay to Scarborough, 13.9 miles
Now for the second day of your walk. The second half starts from Robin Hood’s Bay. Then, you continue along the Cleveland Way until you reach your final point at the ruins of Scarborough Castle.
From Robin Hood’s bay, you will soon pass the Peak Alum works at Ravenscar and Ravenscar itself. The process of making alum took place here: the world’s first chemical industry. Unfortunately, the developers went bust before they could transform this planned Victorian settlement, and now it’s a haven for wildlife. Here you will spot many coastal birds and if you’re lucky (and pack some binoculars), seals from the Ravenscar seal colony.
Pass Hayburn Wyke Nature Reserve
Further along the walk, you will reach Hayburn Wyke Nature Reserve, with its beautiful hidden cove backed by ancient woodland. Hayburn Wyke is a lovely place to visit as it has a beautiful beach, woodland trails and a pretty waterfall. This is a great place to stop for lunch and refreshments, especially at the Hayburn Wyke Inn. Set on 10 acres of its own grounds, there is ample outside seating and gardens for you to enjoy all year round.
Finally, you will reach Scarborough Castle.
Continue until you reach Scarborough Castle and its 16-acre headland home to wildflowers and wildlife. You can miss it; it dominates the view for this last part of the walk. English Heritage manages the ruins; they date back to Norman times. Today you can explore the castle ruins, follow the long curtain wall with its many towers and climb viewing platforms in the Inner Bailey and the 12th-century Great Tower. It’s a great place to learn about Scarborough’s history and have a family-friendly adventure in the fresh air.
Now you’re in Scarborough, make the most of this seaside gem. Scarborough is one of the North East Coast’s most vibrant and diverse coastal towns. There are many activities to cater to all age groups and tastes here. In our in-depth article, you can find more information about Scarborough and things to do there.
Buses and trains
The Yorkshire Coastliner bus runs daily between Leeds, York, Whitby and Scarborough. Visit www.coastliner.co.uk for details.
In addition, for those walking one day only from Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay or Robin Hood’s Bay to Scarborough, there is a regular bus service between Whitby and Scarborough that calls at Robin Hood’s Bay. Visit www.yorkshiretravel.net. For more information.
Extend this walk to Filey
You can extend this walk and continue along the Cleveland Way on the Scarborough to Filey Walk. It’s another beautiful stretch of coast with more exhilarating cliff tops and great views.
I’d say I have a moderate fitness level, and this walk is challenging. However, the incredible coastal views, constant feeling of peace, and wildlife galore made this walk so perfect. It’s an exceptional route you won’t regret taking. Please let us know in the comments if you have ever completed this walk; we would love to hear about your own experiences.