Yorkshire Walks - Burniston, Scarborough

Terry Fletcher takes advantage of good walking on Scarborough's doorstep

As spring slowly turns to summer after the coldest winter for decades the lure of the seaside is almost irresistible. But there’s a lot more to the Yorkshire coast than sand castles and candyfloss. This half day walk follows a spectacular line of cliffs to a local beauty spot before swinging inland to make use of one of the many paths Dr Beeching unwittingly bequeathed to the nation when he took his notorious axe to our rural branch lines.

In fact the handy juxtaposition of the seaward leg of the Cleveland Way, which throws a 110 mile long lasso round the North York Moors, with the disused Whitby to Scarborough railway line means that with the help of an Ordnance Survey map this delightful walk could be extended or shortened almost at whim. And with few major navigation worries you can enjoy the views without constantly having to refer to the map.

Fact File

Start/finish: Car park overlooking cliffs at BurnistonDistance: 7 milesTime: 4 hoursTerrain: Open cliff tops and a former railway line with the occasional steep but short climb and descent. Take care near unfenced cliff edgesRefreshments: Pubs and caf� at Burniston, pub at Hayburn Wyke and tea shop at Cloughton Station. Candyfloss and fish and chips galore in Scarborough.Map: OS Explorer North York Moors East


It begins in the village of Burniston, almost on Scarborough’s back doorstep. To reach the car park, turn off the A165 coast road into Cross Lane just by the Oak Wheel pub. At the next T-junction turn right and follow the narrow lane under a railway bridge to where it ends at a small car park overlooking Crook Ness.

Most Read

From the car park ignore the ravine leading to the beach but instead take the path leading leftwards around the field edge to the cliff top. Within a hundred yards there is the first of several benches along the route. It offers distant views down the scalloped coastline to Scarborough’s ruined castle high on its headland, a magnificent sight at any time but especially impressive when the waves are pounding onto the rocks below.

The drop is a useful reminder that much of the fencing along the cliffs is at best rudimentary and children and pets should be kept under close control.The next landmark is the tiny white coastguard station at Long Nab. During the Second World War it was a lookout point for tracking enemy submarines. Today it has a more peaceful use for watching the seabirds which sail effortlessly across the cliff faces. Further out to sea passing freighters and tiny fishing boats provide constant interest.

The path continues, rising and falling round Hundale Point to Cloughton Wyke where the sea takes a great bite out of the cliffs. The path drops down and then climbs wooden steps to reach one of the places where it is possible to shorten the walk by turning inland. Our route, however, continues along the switchback path to cross another headland before a National Trust sign announces the arrival at Hayburn Wyke

A flight of muddy steps drop down the slope and leads to the shoreline where the Hayburn Beck tumbles in a twin waterfall to the boulder-strewn beach. Although there is not enough sand to make a self-respecting castle there is no shortage of interest along the tideline, making this a good spot for a picnic or quick lunch stop.

Leave the beach by retracing the descent path until, near the top, it turns sharp left below some wooden steps. Go up these and over a stile to follow the signed path up a sunken way. At the top of the slope turn left and cross another stile to pass in front of the Hayburn Wyke Inn. Follow the metalled road which curves to the right to reach the old railway track, now part of the national cycle network. Turn left along this towards Scarborough.

By now the nature of the walk has changed entirely from blustery cliff top to a broad enclosed track with the cries of the gulls replaced by the singing of woodland birds. This is a carefree section of the walk but remember it is shared with horse riders and cyclists so be prepared for other users.

On the delightfully situated Northend House a railway engine weathervane is a reminder of the track’s former use.

Where the track reaches a road the former railway station at Cloughton has been converted into a tea room decorated with vintage signs. The track passes to the right of it before resuming its course. The next village is Burniston. As the track crosses the road on the bridge we passed beneath earlier, a flight of steps drops down to the right and turn back under the bridge to follow the lane back to the car park.