Perched on the great 600-foot high headland at the southern end of Robin Hoods Bay is the scattered village of Ravencar, the finishing point of the Lyke Wake Walk over the North York Moors from Osmotherly.
The Raven Hall Hotel has cliff-top gardens, which non-residents can access to enjoy the spectacular views and visit the site of the Roman signal station – one of a chain along this coast, constructed around 400AD in the closing days of Roman rule, to warn of Saxon raids. The foundation stone of the fort can be seen in Whitby Museum. The Danes did subsequently destroy the fort and their emblem of a raven gave the name to the new settlement. The local dialect has many words derived from early Danish.
The Hall itself was founded in 1774. Later owned by the King’s physician, Mr Willis, it was reputedly used to house King George III during his bouts of madness. The Willis family fortune was later lost through gambling – with the Hall being lost on a wager over two lice crawling across a plate! The Hall remained in private hands until 1895, when it was sold for development and became a hotel. The development company tried to establish a new sea-side resort on the estate land, but went bankrupt in 1913. Few houses were actually built but the planned roads can still be seen on the headland. The resort was to be served by the then Scarborough to Whitby railway line, which is now a cycling and walking trail offering relatively easy gradients from which to enjoy the views.
Following the trail towards Robin Hoods Bay will take you through the remains of the Peak alum works, opened in 1615. The National Trust Information Centre, alongside the trail, has good displays about local geology and wildlife, particularly about the local alum industry which provided the spur for the early 17th century development of shipbuilding in the Whitby area.