Yorkshire Coastal walk - Scalby Mills, near Scarborough

Scarborough's North Bay and castle

Scarborough's North Bay and castle - Credit: Archant

Enjoy spectacular coastal walking with ever-changing views

The old Scarborough-Whitby railway track the Cinder Track used by horse riders, cyclists and walkers

The old Scarborough-Whitby railway track the Cinder Track used by horse riders, cyclists and walkers - Credit: Archant

There is a long-term project underway to create a new national trail completely encircling England. When complete, the path will follow some 2,800 miles/4,500km of coastline and is intended to give access rights which will mimic the so-called Right to Roam legislation that opened up vast areas of inland moors and hills in 2000. The coast trail is due to be completed in 2020 but Yorkshire was half a century ahead of much of the rest of the country.

The Cleveland Way, which traces a horseshoe-shaped line around much of the North York Moors National Park was created in 1969 and gives unfettered access to the spectacular cliffs stretching north of Scarborough to Saltburn. It makes for terrific walking in its own right with ever-changing views but by good fortune much of it is also shadowed a little further inland by the old Scarborough to Whitby railway line, now known as the Cinder Track which offers the opportunity to devise delightful and varied circular routes to suit almost any level of fitness.

This loop sets off from Scarborough’s doorstep and makes its way to Cloughton with the added bonus of a unique tea shop for refreshments half way round.


1. Cross the footbridge behind the Old Scalby Mills Hotel and climb the steep flight of steps signed to Ravenscar. This section is part of the Cleveland Way which is followed for the first half of the walk. It has an almost suburban feel with houses on the inland side and a view back across the sweep of the North Bay to Scarborough Castle with the tooting of the miniature railway in the background. However the view ahead is one of steep cliffs sloping down to the North Sea with the onward path clinging to their edge. As you head northwards, the path marks a sharp change in the landscape. To your right are the cliffs, and scaurs – flat shelves of rock thrusting out to sea – and the waves while to the left are gently undulating rolling fields, reminiscent of the nearby Wolds. Eventually the path arrives at Crook Ness where there is a small car park, at one of the few places where it is possible to get down to sea level. Today the track down a narrow ravine is used by those in search of solitude and avoiding the popular beaches of Scarborough but in past centuries laden donkeys carried panniers of tide-washed stones uphill for building and road making.

The next landmark is the white-painted hut at the Long Nab coastguard station. Originally built in 1927, it was used to keep watch for enemy ships and during the Cold War became part of the nuclear early warning system before eventually assuming its current, more peaceful, role as a base for birdwatchers studying migration.

2. The track works its way round another headland and into the small bay of Cloughton Wyke. Here three paths head inland in quick succession. Ignore the first knee-high sign and take the second track marked by a more usual finger post. The track curls rightwards round the top of the field and goes on to meet a narrow lane. Turn left along this to reach a railway bridge where a flight of steps drops down to the old Scarborough-Whitby railway track. The line, which once carried tourists between the two towns, closed in 1965 and now, with the rails removed, it is known as the Cinder Track and provides an inland route for walkers, cyclists and horse riders parallel to the coast.

3. At the foot of the steps turn right back towards Scarborough. At the next lane crossing you reach the former railway station, now a café which is open Saturday to Wednesday and makes a handy mid-way refreshment stop. From the station, carry on along the line to the next road crossing at Burniston. Here cross over and turn left for a few paces to the continuation of the line. Soon Scarborough’s castle comes into view.

4. When the path arrives at Scalby village walk down the road, turning left at the first T-junction and then left again into Station Road. Go straight on at a roundabout to reach the main road. Turn right down this and as it dips just before the youth hostel, take a farm road on the left with a signpost to Cleveland Way almost lost in the bushes. Follow this to the clifftop path and turn right down this back to Scalby Mills.

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Compass Points

Start/finish: Scalby Mills, near Scarborough

Distance: 8 miles/13km

Ascent: A couple of short climbs

Terrain: Clifftop paths and an old railway line

Time: 3-4hours

Parking: On or off street in Scalby Mills

Refreshment: Cafés at Cloughton Station, pub at Scalby Mills, spoiled for choice in Scarborough

Map: OS OL27 North York Moors Eastern

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