Ravenscar & Boggle Hole

Between Robin Hood's Bay and Scarborough

Ravenscar is a small village situated on the headland which juts out into the sea, south of Robin Hood's Bay. It is home to a small number of residents, including several farms in the surrounding countryside.

During the Victorian era, developers planned on making Ravenscar a sought-after destination. Yet, despite the arrival of the railway, the location never proved particularly popular. To this day, the hotel remains, but much of the proposed building works never got off the ground.

On the beach below the headland, Ravenscar is home to a seal colony who enjoy the rocky beach. Although there is a footpath down to sea level, it is not an easily accessible beach to humans. This makes it a quiet and secluded habitat for the seals!

Between Ravenscar and Robin Hood's Bay lies Boggle Hole. This is a small ravine, where a stream cuts it's way through the rock to reach the sea. The Cleveland Way passes this way and Boggle Hole is also home to a Youth Hostel with an excellent cafe. The tale of the Boggle is local folklore, and his cave can be found on the beach, in the cliff to the side of the stream.

Seal Colony at Ravenscar

Yorkshire is home to some of the country's most spectacular scenery. This also means it's also home to some wonderful wildlife - particularly on the coast. There are around 300 seals living at the foot of Ravenscar.

Close up portrait of Grey Seal pup in profile

If you're prepared for a bit of a climb, the seal colony at Ravenscar is well worth visiting. It's not advisable to get too close to the common and grey seals as they lounge around on the rocky beach. But, you can get an excellent view of them from the foot of the cliff, below Ravenhall Hotel.

To get close to them you can park in Ravenscar village. There's plenty of on-street parking available, though it can get busy in the summer.

To the right of the National Trust shop you'll see a rocky track heading down onto Ravenhall Golf Course. A couple of hundred meters down the track you'll see a wooden signpost directing you down across the grass towards the cliff edge.

Follow the path all the way down to the beach. The last section is a bit tricky, and can be slippy if there's been rain recently, so be careful!

This is not an advisable walk for those with mobility issues, or particularly young children (it is not pushchair friendly!). But, if you're up for a bit of mud and the occasional scramble it's definitely worth the effort.

Make sure you always check the tide times too - you don't want to get cut off!

Ravenscar and Boggle Hole Photo Gallery

The History of Ravenscar

Ravenscar has been inhabited for millenia. It was the location of a late 4th century Roman signal station, part of a chain that extended along the Yorkshire coast.

To the north of the village is the old Peak alum works, now a National Trust site, but once an important part of the dyeing industry. More on that further down.

At the edge of the village is a disused windmill, Peak Mill, which dates from 1858. Until the early 20th century Ravenscar was known as 'Peak' or 'The Peak'.

At the turn of the 19th–20th century, plans were made to turn the village into a holiday resort to rival nearby Scarborough. Roads were laid out, some houses were built and sewers were laid.

Unfortunetely the plans never came to fruition. Ravenscar never achieved popularity, and the development was left unfinished. A town with sewers and streets but very few houses!

The village was served by Ravenscar railway station between 1885 and 1965.

Robin hoods bay

In 1540, a farm known as Peak House owned by the Beswick family occupied the site of a 5th-century Roman fort. In 1774 Raven Hall was built on the site for Captain William Childs of London. He was a captain in the King's Regiment of Light Dragoons, who came to Yorkshire with the army. Subsequently he became the owner of the Alum Works at Ravenscar. On his death in 1829 the hall passed to his daughter Ann Willis. Her family had become wealthy from treating George III and other royalty for their medical conditions. Ann's son, the eccentric Rev Dr Richard Willis, built the gardens and battlements which surround the house. In 1845 the property passed into the hands of William Hammond of London.

Hammond became a prominent local benefactor, building the village church and the windmill. He became a director of the Scarborough to Whitby railway line. He insisted that the railway pass through his property via a tunnel and that Ravenscar should have a station.

On his widow's death in 1890 the estate was sold to the Peak Estate Company for development as a holiday resort. The house was extended for use as a hotel from 1895, and its golf course opened in 1898.

It was sold by auction in 1911 after the company went bankrup. After several more changes of ownership and use as a billet in wartime it was acquired by the present owners.

Walking in and Around Ravenscar and Boggle Hole

The Cleveland Way

The Cleveland Way is a 109 mile National Trail walking route. Starting in Helmsley, most people walk it in the 'clockwise' direction. The route heads west to the North Sea at Saltburn. Then it begins following the cliff-tops and beaches of the North Yorkshire coast.

Walking on the Cleveland Way between Robin Hoods Bay and Cloughton in North Yorkshire

On its way south it passes through pretty villages such as Staithes and Runswick Bay. It also runs through larger towns including Whitby. Ultimately the trail ends in Filey, a small town south of Scarborough.

It has long been a favourite with walkers and trail runners. It can be easily broken up into sections - very few tackle the entire length in one go! From Ravenscar why not head north to Robin Hood's Bay, or even to Whitby. Or, follow it south to Hayburn Wyke or on to Scarborough. Whichever way you head, you'll enjoy wonderful views of this stretch of coastline.

The Cinder Track

The Cinder Track is the disused railway path, running from Whitby to Scarborough, passing through Ravenscar. It is a well-used path, suitable for walkers, cyclists and even pushchairs in places.

Leaving Whitby it heads out of town, passing through Stainsacre and Hawsker. As the track approaches Robin Hood's Bay it affords stunning views across to Ravenscar. The route of the original railway line passes through what is now the Village Hall car park. Between Robin Hood's Bay and Fylingthorpe, the track heads inland. Passing through Boggle Hole, it starts the ascent to Ravenscar village.

Close up of adventure woman feet walk on a mountain path.

From Ravenscar, a walk in either direction (towards Robin Hood's Bay or Scarborough) is recommended. You'll enjoy some wonderfully unspoilt countryside. Despite being well-used, the Cinder Track is a quiet and peaceful location. Sheltered in part by ancient woodland it provides a haven for wildlife.

Footpaths and Trails

In the surrounding countryside, you'll also find footpaths in all directions. Some make enjoying both the Cleveland Way and the Cinder Track easier by linking the two. Others head off onto the higher land behind Ravenscar, across Fylingdales Moor.

A favourite route for keener walkers is to walk up to the radio mast which sits on top of Ravenscar. From there you can head across the top of the moor, then down into some sheltered woodland, home to an old water wheel. From there you can drop down into Fylingthorpe and Robin Hoods Bay.

Wherever you go, you're bound to find stunning views! There are numerous locations for picnics or to spend time just enjoying nature.

Sunset over heather in bloom on the North York Moors National Park

The National Trust at Ravenscar

The National Trust operate a small shop at Ravenscar. They have a small catering outlet at Ravenscar Visitor Centre serving a limited range of takeaway hot and cold drinks and some light snacks.

In the surrounding area, the National Trust own and look after various areas of land. These provide safe havens for the area's abundant wildlife. If you're walking along The Cleveland Way or the Cinder Track you will pass National Trust signs at various locations.

They also run the Old Coastguard Station in Robin Hood's Bay. This has a small shop as well as interactive exhibits to help visitors learn about the coastline.

Find out more about the work of the National Trust by visiting their website.

Woodland Trust

The Woodland Trust also look after various areas of ancient woodland on Ravenscar. These are small patches of woodland, generally without car parking or other facilities.

Ravenscar Cliffs, Ravenscar Quarries, Boggle Top and Hone Wood are all accessible to the public. They are home to semi-natural ancient woodland as well as some new woodland. They're home to a diverse array of wildlife.

For more information on the work of the Woodland Trust, visit their website.

Alum Mining at Ravenscar

The Yorkshire Coast can seem like a rugged natural landscape created by time and tide. In fact, human history has had a significant impact on the appearance of this beautiful coastline.

Alum is a mineral which was essential in the textile industry as a fixative for dyes. It was used extensively through the 16th century. Originally, it was imported from Italy. However, the supply to Great Britain was cut off during the Reformation. In response Thomas Challoner set up Britain's first Alum works in Guisborough. Thomas recognised that the fossils found around the Yorkshire coast were similar to those found in the Alum quarries of Europe.

As the industry grew, sites along the coast were favoured as access to the shales and subsequent transportation was much easier.

Boggle Hole - Robin Hoods Bay

Alum was quarried from shales through a complicated process which took months to complete. The process involved extracting then burning huge piles of shale for 9 months. It was then transferred to leaching pits to extract an aluminium sulphate liquor. This passed along channels to the alum works where human urine was added! At the peak of alum production the industry required 200 tonnes of urine every year. This is equivalent to the produce of 1,000 people!

The demand was such that it was imported from London and Newcastle. Buckets were left on street corners for collection and reportedly public toilets were built in Hull in order to supply the alum works. This unsavoury liquor was left until the alum crystals settled out, ready to be removed.

An intriguing method was employed to judge when the optimum amount of alum had been extracted from the liquor. When it was ready an egg could be floated in the solution.

The last Alum works on the Yorkshire Coast closed in 1871. This was due to the invention of manufacturing synthetic alum in 1855. Subsequently the creation of aniline dyes which contained their own fixative sealed alum's fate.

There are many sites along the Yorkshire Coast which bear evidence of the alum industry. The Ravenscar Alum Works are well preserved. Visitors can wander amongst the remains on the buildings. From the National Trust shop, head down the hill to the left. You'll see signposts guiding you down onto the Cleveland Way. Follow the signs towards the cliff edge. The remains of the alum works make a great sheltered spot for a picnic!

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