by Barbara Ballard
Park your car at the top of a very steep cliff and walk down a twisting, turning, cobbled street to the ocean. On either side of you a village clings to the cliffside, defying gravity. Robin's Hood Bay has operated as a village under various aliases. Nothing exists in fact to determine where its name really came from. Once known as Bay Town, Robin Hood's Town and Robbyn Huddes Bay-whatever it is called-it is still a charming spot, with every twist and turn of a street bringing into view another picture postcard scene.
Viking raiders settled here. Fifty fishermen lived here in 1536, and the catching and drying of fish was a thriving industry-130 fishermen worked here until the end of the 19th century. Tourist trade soon took the place of the fishing trade as the development of railroads brought people to this area. Nobody knows how many smugglers plied their illicit trade at Robin Hood's Bay.
This former smugglers' den owes its reputation to its strategic position sitting below a steep cliff lapped by the sea. It was ideal for such nefarious activities. And its rabbit warren of narrow tumbled streets and alleyways made it ideal for escaping the law.
At low tide, 1800 feet (550m) of exposed sea floor make for great fossil hunting, tide pool investigation and exploring. You can walk to nearby Ravenscar at low tide when three miles (5km) of beach are exposed. But beware the swift turn of the tide that can cut beachcombers and walkers off in an instant. At high tide, the sea has been known to force its way up the main village street, which ends in the sea, where the ocean literally laps at your feet. This charming village takes on a different demeanor when fog and storm and high winds abound, and seas pound the cliffsides.
The narrow road down into the village was considered unsafe for carriages. It still is-for cars-as residents will attest. Trucks and cars, defying gravity and attempting to enter the village, have demolished walls on more than one occasion. One look at the stepped street with its handrails and sharp angles explains why.
Robin Hood's Bay with its labyrinth of streets and cottages piled on top of one another, clinging like wild goats to the cliffside, paints a vivid picture that stays long in one's memory.
See our Robin Hoods Bay Photo Gallery for more views of this lovely Yorkshire village
Robin's Hood Bay is located five miles (8km) south of Whitby and 15 miles (24km) north of Scarborough, on the B1447, off the A177, along the Heritage Coast in North Moors National Park.
The coast to coast walk, The Cleveland Way, (one of 12 designated National Trails) is nearby.
©2000 by Barbara Ballard. Reproduction of this work in whole or in part, and reproduction in electronic media, without documented permission from the author is prohibited.
Photos © David Ross and Britain Express
Address: Robin Hood's Bay,
Attraction Type: Town
OS: NZ951 053
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