Whitby, Scarborough, Whitby by Kate and Andy
Thursday 2 September 2010, Filed in: General
The route follows the old railway track bed from Whitby to Scarborough, which, in most parts is surface with old ash, however there are some areas where there are bricks, tarmac, in some places uneven farm tracks crossing the line and finally in Scarborough a made up foot/cycle path.
Whitby to Scarborough return gives an approximate total journey distance of 50 miles.
High Hawsker to Robin Hood’s Bay
We have now ridden the route on two separate occasions, hiring a tandem from a local tandem hire shop just outside of Whitby at High Hawsker.
The route we took us across the main Scarborough to Whitby road, which can be used to access the town of Whitby should you wish to make a visit, and then on past a caravan park where we got our fist real sea views, which are spectacular.
The railway track, at this point, runs along the top edge of the cliffs, so you are looking down on the bays below. On our first visit it was quite windy. This made the sea look white from the foam created where the sea was breaking on the rocks.
As you progress towards Robin Hood’s Bay down the track bed the large bay itself comes into view, and what a view it was – stunning. At this point you are still high up and looking down on the bay, where again the sea looked white from the foam created by the sea breaking on the rocks in the bay.
At this point we could see the 500 ft (sorry not sure of the metres) climb up to Ravenscar from Robin Hood’s Bay, as we do not do much in the way of hill climbing, the climbed looked very high and quite steep.
On arrival in Robin Hood’s Bay, where we got a little lost, which was our fault, we had a toilet stop, Kate likes to try the toilets when were passing. The route is signed in Robin Hood’s Bay, however, it was our first time on the route and by this time it was raining (that’s our excuse).
Robin Hood’s Bay to Ravenscar
At the start of the ride from Robin Hood’s Bay to Ravenscar the ride runs through a wooded area, a legacy from the old railway days, it also, at one point doubles back on itself, you have to turn left onto a very quiet road for about 20 metres and then right back onto the railway track bed. The track bed is quite poor in this area, loads of deep ruts, old bricks, etc, mountain bikes coming down from Ravenscar and no coastal views.
It’s not long before you start the 500ft climb up to Ravenscar, which remarkably, does not feel as hard as you would expect. It is also where you start to get the stunning see views again, as you are climbing up the cliff edge. I always know when to look for the good views as I either get a poke in the back from my stoker, or the tandem starts to wobble as Kate moves to get a better view of the scenery.
If you do not wish to cover the whole route to Scarborough, we suggest that you ride to Ravenscar as the views up to and from the top are stunning, you can see right back over the Robin Hood’s bay, out to sea, the moors inland.
At Ravenscar you will see a sign for the old Ravenscar tunnels, which was built because the old landlord did not want the railway to pass over his land (a blot on the landscape). We were going to use the tunnel, primarily to save riding right to the top of the hill into the village, the cycle path, at this point becomes a concrete path and climbs steeply to the village. However the tunnel is blocked off and we had to ride to rise to the challenge and cycle to the top.
At this point I must point out that after inspection of the toilets, Kate decided to cross her legs until Scarborough and that’s not easy on a tandem.
Ravenscar to Scarborough
Once again we took an unplanned detour before finding the railway again, you cannot get lost, just take detours. The local villagers, who told us they used to see a lot of tandems at one time (they don’t see many anymore, not sure why because it’s a great ride), where very friendly and pointed us in the right direction.
The ride from Ravenscar to Scarborough drops down along tree lined track bed, quite pleasant after the climb up to the Ravenscar summit. The sea views are left at Ravenscar, however, these are replaced with nice birds, fields with farm animals and a very stimulating downhill rides. The track bed is in better condition this side as it is protected from the elements.
As it was quite early in the day we did not come across many ramblers, dog walkers, families, etc, so we could enjoy the speed that we could maintain on the decent from Ravenscar.
The track bed crosses the main Scarborough to Whitby road just outside Scarborough. There is a Toucan crossing in place so there is no danger to either party when crossing (car or biker). There are also several cafes where you can get a meal, drink, ice cream, etc or, should you wish plants at the garden centre.
The railway line crosses over a small river at this point, the bridge is poorly designed for a tandem, narrow and at a 45 degree angle each side, however, don’t let it put you off as it is passable.
You are now approximately 4 miles now from the end of the track bed where the line runs out in a small housing estate, its not hard to find the track bed again (if you hire a bike, as we did, you get a map), which at this point, becomes a tarmac cycle path.
If you follow this route you finally arrive at the largest supermarket in Scarborough, we stopped for banana, drink and toilet. Kate approved these toilets, so I went as well, they are very nice and clean.
On your return you can either ride through Scarborough and join the railway on the Scarborough to Whitby road, or, as we did, follow the route in reverse.
The only advice we could give is that the ride from Scarborough to Ravenscar is long and can be hard, we had the wind against us going back, by the time we got to Ravenscar we were tired, it is up nearly all the way.
On arrival at the bike hire location, although soaked, it does rain very hard in that region, we were having so much fun (we are a little mad) we made the final part of the journey to Whitby.
It’s at this point you need to decide if you want to visit Whitby or just finish the ride on the railway line:
To Visit Whitby: when you cross the main Whitby to Scarborough road at High Hawsker, which is only just outside Whitby, turn right and stay on the main road
We stayed on the railway track, which is downhill ride passing open fields, one dangerous bridge, you have to cross the old metal bridge structure, which is not open, just slippery, or it was when we crossed it.
The end of the line is stunning and well worth staying on the railway line for, it’s the old railway viaduct spanning the river valley, it has lover views both towards Whitby and up the valley. The current railway to Whitby passes under the viaduct at this point.
This is the end of the official route, however, we went on to see where the railway went, sadly, Whitby is not, or was not in 2005, accessible as the gate off the railway line is not large enough to get a tandem through.
At this point we were very wet, with Kate pebble dashed by the ash track bed. She was covered, fortunately the people in the hire shop let us change on site, we took a change of clothes in anticipation of the rain, which is a tip we would recommend to anyone. We sneaked the clothes into the hotel and washed them in the shower, drying them on the radiator.
We would recommend the route to anyone, it is fun, has stunning views and is not particularly hard, as long as you remember that you will have a good return climb one way or the other on your return.
Good luck and have fun
Kate and Andy.
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